The Arizona Cardinals have struggled regardless of which city they called home throughout their 100-plus years of existence. And they’ve made plenty of big mistakes via trade during their time in the desert from 1988 to the present.
Below, you will find the top 10 biggest trade mistakes in team history since they moved to Arizona. Some trades didn’t cost much, but the player didn’t perform as expected. Other trades had fools gold written all over them, and still others were just outright disasters from the beginning.
So what trades caused nothing but headaches for the Cardinals? Let’s count them down.
10 biggest trade mistakes in Arizona Cardinals history since 1988
10 - Trading for Chosen Anderson
Former general manager Steve Keim made a lot of ill-fated decisions as he tried to trade his way to a Super Bowl Championship. But the strategy resulted in just one playoff win during his 10-season tenure in the desert.
At least in the case regarding his trade for Chosen Anderson, Keim didn’t completely mess it up, giving the Carolina Panthers just a sixth round pick in 2024 and a seventh rounder in 2025. The problem was that Anderson logged just seven catches in 17 targets across 10 contests.
The Anderson trade wasn’t the biggest mistake out there thanks to the low cost. But nonetheless, this move was supposed to be a steal, and Anderson gave the Cardinals nothing.
9 - Trading Anquan Boldin
In March 2010, the Arizona Cardinals sent star receiver Anquan Boldin to the Baltimore Ravens for the 88th and 123rd overall picks. With the 88th pick, they drafted a potential replacement in Andre Roberts while they traded the 123rd pick away to the New Orleans Saints.
Roberts lasted just four seasons in the desert, tallying 182 catches, 2,123 yards, and 11 touchdowns with a 54.0% catch percentage. Roberts made a name for himself later in his career as a return man, but with the Cards, his statistics were marginal, at best.
8 - Trading for Adrian Peterson
When Adrian Peterson left the Minnesota Vikings, he signed with the New Orleans Saints. But things didn’t work out as well as he’d hoped in New Orleans, so the Cardinals traded a sixth round pick for him on October 20th, 2017.
Once again, they got the aging Peterson for a minimal price, but it was the lack of production he gave the Redbirds. Over six games, Peterson rushed for just 448 yards on 129 carries for two touchdowns and 3.5 yards per attempt. He later resurrected his career with Washington and Detroit, putting together three serviceable seasons between 2018 and 2020.
7 - Trading for Adrian Murrell
In 1998, the Arizona Cardinals swapped a third round pick for Adrian Murrell, who was coming off of back-to-back 1,000-plus-yard seasons. Murrell scored 13 rushing touchdowns between 1996 and 1997, and the Cards thought he could emulate that success in the desert.
In Year 1, the Murrell trade looked like a good one, as he rushed for 1,042 yards and eight touchdowns on 4.2 yards per attempt. He also scored another two touchdowns through the air that season.
Unfortunately, Murrell’s play tanked in 1999, when in 16 games (12 starts), he rushed for just 553 yards on 193 carries. Murrell didn’t score a single touchdown that season, and averaged a paltry 2.9 yards per carry, though he did haul in 49 receptions during what would be his last year in the desert.