The New York Giants are one of the best franchises in NFL history dating back to 1925. The Giants have always been well run from the owner to the head coach on the sidelines. In recent years, that narrative has changed just a bit.
The Giants have not been able to find a stable head coach since Tom Coughlin left. They are hoping that Joe Judge, along with Daniel Jones, can turn the team back into a winner. The Giants have done well in free agency and in the draft along with trades.
New York made headlines in 2018 when they traded Odell Beckham Jr. to the Cleveland Browns. This was a positive trade for the Giants given Beckham’s contract and unpredictable behavior on and off the field. As good as it was, this trade did not make the list. Here are the top five trades in franchise history.
5. Dick Lynch (1959)
Lynch was an absolute steal and, to make it better, they got him from a division rival. He spent the 1958 season with the Washington Redskins before being traded for a 1960 fourth-round pick. The Giants were already a top team in the league and adding Lynch solidified it.
The Giants won 10 games in Lynch’s first season in New York. This was one of four NFL Championship Game appearances for Lynch with the Giants. Unfortunately, the Giants were 0-4 in those games, but Lynch’s tenure was extremely strong. He finished with 35 career interceptions and led the league twice. Lynch finished with nine interceptions in 1961 and 1963.
In 1963, Lynch was named All-Pro First Team after returning three interceptions for touchdowns and totaling 251 return yards; both led the NFL. Lynch remained with the Giants after his retirement. He spent nearly 40 years as an analyst on the Giants’ radio broadcast. Lynch is in the Notre Dame Hall of Fame. He was a huge part of the Giants’ defense for eight years and was a complete steal.
4. Ottis Anderson (1986)
Anderson was an elite back for the St. Louis Cardinals for eight years. He burst onto the scene out of the University of Miami and rushed for 1,605 yards and eight touchdowns as a rookie. This was one of five 1,000 yard seasons that Anderson had with the Cardinals. In 1985, Anderson missed time with a foot injury and the Cardinals thought he was done.
This worked in the Giants’ favor. Stump Mitchell took over as the starter in St. Louis and Anderson landed in New York. It was clear right away that Anderson was not finished. In 1986, Anderson served as a backup to Joe Morris as the Giants won the Super Bowl. Anderson became the starter in 1989 and rushed for 1,023 yards and 14 touchdowns. Anderson won his second Super Bowl with the Giants in 1990 after finished with 11 touchdowns. He was named Super Bowl MVP after rushing for 102 yards and a touchdown in the 20-19 victory over the Buffalo Bills.
Anderson was an incredible addition for the Giants for two undisclosed draft picks. He finished his Giants’ career with 35 touchdowns and two Super Bowl rings. Not a bad finish to a career that was labeled as finished by the Cardinals.
3. Andy Robustelli (1956)
Robustelli began his career with the Los Angeles Rams. He spent five years with the Rams and was named first-team All-Pro twice. Robustelli helped lead the Rams to two NFL Championship Games with one victory. In 1956, Robustelli and his wife were expecting their fourth child and the defensive end asked to report to camp two weeks late. The Rams did not grant the request and then traded him to the Giants.
The Giants gave up a first-round pick in 1956 for Robustelli. The draft pick ended up being Baylor receiver Del Shofner. This was a Giants team that was struggling. They had not played in an NFL Championship Game since 1946 and did not win since 1938. Robustelli turned the defense around immediately. He registered his first of six Pro Bowl appearances and four first-team All-Pro nods in 1956. The Giants ended up winning the NFL Championship in blowout fashion over the Chicago Bears.
Robuestelli would help the Giants reach five more NFL championships during his tenure. He retired in 1964 as one of the most successful players in franchise history. He missed just one game during his 14 year career. Robustelli was a proven winner. He played in eight NFL Championship Games and was given the 1962 Bert Bell Award given to the NFL Player of the Year.
2. Y.A. Tittle (1961)
Usually when a team trades for a 34-year-old, 13-year NFL veteran, it does not turn out like Tittle did for the Giants. Tittle spent the beginning of his career with the San Francisco 49ers and did not want to come east. San Francisco had different plans when they sent their quarterback to the Giants in exchange for guard Lou Cordileone. That is a win by itself.
Tittle spent four years under center for the Giants and saw nothing but success. In four years, Tittle was named to three Pro Bowls and was first-team All-Pro twice. He was the NFL MVP in 1962 and 1963. In 1962, Tittle set an NFL record throwing 33 touchdowns. The following year, he would finish with 36 touchdowns, breaking his own record from the previous season.
During his first three years as a Giant, Tittle led the Giants to a 31-5-1 record and three straight NFL Championship Game appearances. He would retire after the 1964 season and is remembered as one of the top players in Giants history.
1. Eli Manning (2004)
Manning had quite the career with the Giants. It did not begin like that when he entered the 2004 NFL Draft. The San Diego Chargers held the first overall pick and wanted the Ole Miss quarterback. Manning made it clear that he did not want to land in San Diego and even threatened to sit out the season if selected by the Chargers. Ultimately, the Chargers selected Manning and the negotiations began.
After much deliberation, Manning was sent to the Giants for a high price. The Giants sent the Chargers Philip Rivers, a 2004 fourth-round pick (Nate Kaeding), a 2005 first-round pick (Shawn Merriman), and a 2005 fifth-round pick. Manning ended up being a top-three player in Giants history. He spent 16 years under center for the Giants and won two Super Bowls. Manning was named Super Bowl MVP during their two titles in 2007 and 2011.
Manning made 234 starts for the Giants including a 210 consecutive start streak. In 2016, Manning was named NFL Co-Walter Payton Man of the Year along with Larry Fitzgerald. The 2004 draft was an ugly one for the Chargers, but the trade worked for both sides. Despite the big haul sent to San Diego, this is a trade that the Giants would not take back. It is definitely the top trade in franchise history.