Green Bay Packers: Best players that were traded away

SEATTLE - AUGUST 22: Matt Hasselbeck #8 of the Seattle Seahawks looks to pass the ball during the game against the Denver Broncos on August 22, 2009 at Qwest Field in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)
SEATTLE - AUGUST 22: Matt Hasselbeck #8 of the Seattle Seahawks looks to pass the ball during the game against the Denver Broncos on August 22, 2009 at Qwest Field in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images) /
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Green Bay Packers, Vince Lombardi
GREEN BAY, WI Vince Lombardi Statue (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images) /

Pre-2000s trades

Other than Jim Brown and Herb Adderley, there were really only three great players that were traded by the Green Bay Packers before the turn of the millennium. They were Willie Buchanon, James Lofton, and Tim Harris.

Willie Buchanon

Willie Buchanon had a fast start to his NFL career, winning Defensive Rookie of the Year in 1972 when he had four interceptions and three fumble recoveries. Two years later, in 1974, he matched that interception total of four and made his first Pro Bowl.

His best season came in 1978, the season before he was traded to the San Diego Chargers. That season, he picked off nine passes. Coincidentally, four of those interceptions came against the Chargers in a 24-3 victory, and one was a 77-yard pick six.

That season netted him the second, and final Pro Bowl appearance of his career in addition to a first team All-Pro nod. His approximate value of 14 also ranked him tenth in the entire National Football League.

After being traded, he played four more serviceable years with the Chargers. He put together two good years back to back in 1980 and 1981 when he intercepted a combined seven passes and recovered six fumbles. 1981 was also the only year that he had an interception in the playoffs.

Buchanon was a multiple-time Pro-Bowler who played well after being traded, but it was not the worst loss in Green Bay Packers’ history.

James Lofton

James Lofton is one of the best players to ever play for the Green Bay Packers and an NFL Hall-of-Famer. Lofton spent his first nine years in Green Bay before being shipped to the Los Angeles Raiders. After being traded, he played for four different teams in his final seven seasons.

Lofton earned his Hall of Fame jacket in Green Bay but was still affective after being traded. With the Packers, he made seven Pro Bowl Appearances and one All-Pro team. He also had five seasons with over 1000 receiving yards.

Lofton was an electric playmaker and led the league in yards per reception twice with the Packers in 1983 and 1984 with 22.4 and 22.0 yards per catch respectively. He continued that trend through his career and had a total of five seasons averaging over 20 yards per reception. His most impressive stat may be that he is the NFL all-time leader in yards per touch at 17.9.

Lofton had plenty of versatility as he also ran the ball 31 times in his Packer career for 245 yards, an average of 7.9 yards per carry. Lofton also threw five passes as a Packer and completed one for 43 yards.

After leaving the Green Bay Packers, he had some good seasons with the Raiders, but really had a resurgence with the Buffalo Bills in 1991, when he made his eighth and final Pro Bowl and tied his career high for receiving touchdowns with eight.

He was a part of the first three Super Bowl losing teams in Buffalo and played a big role in all three teams with over 700 yards receiving each season and a total of five playoff touchdowns across those three seasons.

Lofton has many accolades, highlighted by his Hall of Fame status, and also including the 1978 All-Rookie team, Pro Football Hall of Fame 2nd team All-1980s, and Pro Football Reference 1st team All-1980s.

Tim Harris

The Green Bay Packers found a gem in the fourth round of the 1986 NFL Draft in Tim Harris. He spent the first five seasons of his career in Green Bay and never had less than seven sacks in a season for the Packers.

His career in Green Bay was highlighted by his 1988 and 1989 seasons. In 1988 he led the league in safeties with two, enough to make him 22nd all time in career safeties. He also had 13.5 sacks, 110 total tackles, and recovered a blocked punt for a touchdown. His 1989 was even better as he totaled 19.5 sacks, 13th most for a single season in NFL history. He also recovered three fumbles and made 86 tackles en route to Pro Bowl and All-Pro selections.

After being very durable with the Packers, missing only four games in five years, he had injury problems almost every season after, playing the full 16 games only one more time in his career. He still was a great player when healthy, however, in 1992, he racked up 17 sacks and forced the first fumble of his career for the San Francisco 49ers. In 1994, he was a big part of a Super Bowl winning team, making four and a half sacks in three playoff games.

Harris had some special seasons in Green Bay but reached the ultimate goal of a Super Bowl elsewhere after being traded. That is the biggest pain to take when a great player is traded away.