Ricky Williams trade

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The Ricky Williams trade was a trade between the New Orleans Saints and Washington Redskins of the National Football League (NFL), which occurred prior to the 1999 NFL draft. Mike Ditka of the Saints wanted to move up in the draft order to ensure that he would be able to select Ricky Williams from the University of Texas at Austin. To do so, he traded every pick he had in the draft for the fifth overall selection, which he used to select Williams.

The Saints struggled in the 1999 season, and Ditka was fired. Williams played for the Saints for three seasons before he was traded to the Miami Dolphins.

Background[edit]

Ricky Williams, a running back, played college football for the Texas Longhorns of the University of Texas at Austin. In 1998, Williams set the National Collegiate Athletic Association record for rushing yards and won the Heisman Trophy.[1] Meanwhile, the New Orleans Saints of the National Football League (NFL), with Mike Ditka as head coach, had two consecutive seasons with a 6–10 record.[2] The Saints tried to trade all of their picks in the 1998 NFL Draft to acquire one of the top two picks, which they intended to use on Peyton Manning or Ryan Leaf, but their overtures were rejected.[3]

Leading up to the 1999 NFL Draft, Ditka decided that he wanted Williams to play for the Saints. At the NFL owners meetings held two months before the draft, he publicly stated that he would trade his entire draft to acquire Williams.[1][4] Ditka compared Williams to Walter Payton, who was his star running back while he coached the Chicago Bears in the 1980s.[2] However, other teams had doubts about Williams' passion for the game, and judgment in hiring Master P as his agent.[1]

The trade[edit]

With limited leverage, Saints' general manager Bill Kuharich began discussing trades with the teams holding the first five selections.[5] The Saints offered nine draft picks to the Cincinnati Bengals for the third overall choice, but the Bengals declined the deal.[6]

The Saints traded their first round, third round, fourth round, fifth round, sixth round, and seventh round picks in the 1999 NFL Draft,[7][8] and their first-round and third-round picks from the 2000 NFL Draft to the Washington Redskins for the fifth overall pick of the 1999 NFL Draft.[9] This became the biggest NFL trade for one player since 1959.[1]

The Redskins traded the 12th overall pick, the third-round draft pick acquired from the Saints, and their fourth- and fifth-round picks to the Chicago Bears to acquire the seventh overall pick. The Redskins used the pick to select Champ Bailey,[10] the player they had coveted. They also made a second trade with the Bears, acquiring a second-round pick that allowed them to select Jon Jansen, in exchange for a second round pick and the fifth round pick acquired from the Saints.[11][12]

Traded to New Orleans

Traded to Washington[13]

  • 1999 first round pick (12th overall, later traded to Chicago, used to select Cade McNown)[14]
  • 1999 third round pick (71st overall, later traded to Chicago, used to select D'Wayne Bates)[14]
  • 1999 fourth round pick (107th overall, used to select Nate Stimson)[15]
  • 1999 fifth round pick (144th overall, later traded to Chicago, used to select Khari Samuel)[16]
  • 1999 sixth round pick (179th overall, later traded to Denver, used to select Desmond Clark)[15]
  • 1999 seventh round pick (218th overall, later traded to Denver, used to select Billy Miller)[15]
  • 2000 first round pick (2nd overall, used to select LaVar Arrington)[13]
  • 2000 third round pick (64th overall, used to select Lloyd Harrison)[13]

Aftermath[edit]

Williams and Ditka on the cover of ESPN The Magazine's issue of August 9, 1999

After the trade, Ditka and Williams appeared on the cover of the August 9, 1999, issue of ESPN The Magazine, dressed as a bride and groom. Ditka agreed to the photoshoot as long as he wasn't wearing the wedding dress. Photographer Greg Heisler chose this pose to illustrate how enamored Ditka was with Williams, and considers it to be one of his favorite photos.[17] Williams signed a contract with an $8 million signing bonus and salary incentives that would be worth between $11 million to $68 million, though many of the incentives were difficult to attain.[18] Many agents and sportswriters criticized the contract, saying that Williams should have received more guaranteed money in his contract.[19]

The Saints struggled to a 3–13 season in the 1999 season, their second-worst in franchise history.[20] Williams had a disappointing rookie season, due to various injuries that limited him to 884 rushing yards and two touchdowns in 12 games,[21] as well as alienating teammates through his off-field behavior.[1] The Saints fired Ditka and Kuharich after the season.[20][22] Without the traded draft picks, Randy Mueller and Jim Haslett, the new general manager and coach respectively, signed 27 free agents to a total of $15 million to fill out the roster.[1]

At the end of his rookie season, Williams expressed resentment towards Ditka and New Orleans.[23] He rebounded to two straight seasons with 1,000 rushing yards or more.[1] However, Williams expressed an interest in playing baseball, leading the Saints to select Deuce McAllister in the first round of the 2001 NFL draft.[21] With the emergence of McAllister and Williams' off-field issues,[24] the Saints traded Williams away after three seasons.[25] In exchange for Williams and their fourth round pick in the 2002 NFL draft (used on Randy McMichael), New Orleans acquired the Miami Dolphins' first round pick (25th overall, Charles Grant), fourth round pick (125th overall, Keyuo Craver) and first round pick in the 2003 NFL draft (18th overall, subsequently traded to the Arizona Cardinals, Calvin Pace). Williams ended his tenure with the Saints with 3,129 rushing yards in three seasons.[26]

Neither the Redskins nor the Bears benefited from the trade greatly. The Redskins acquired Bailey and LaVar Arrington. Both were elected to the Pro Bowl.[27] While the Redskins made the 1999 postseason, they failed to return until 2005.[1] The Redskins later traded Bailey to the Denver Broncos for Clinton Portis.[27] The Bears used the Saints' original first round pick to select Cade McNown, who had a 3–12 winning record in two seasons before he was released.[1]

Ditka ended his tenure with the Saints with a 15–33 win-loss record in three seasons.[1] He did not coach again.[28] When asked about the trade in 2010, Ditka said he would make it again.[26]

In a 2013 list of the worst NFL trades ever made, Sports Illustrated ranked the Ricky Williams trade as the second-worst, following only the Herschel Walker trade.[29]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j "When the New Orleans Saints drafted Ricky Williams 10 years ago, it set the franchise back". NOLA.com. Retrieved February 27, 2016. 
  2. ^ a b "Herald-Journal – Google News Archive Search". Retrieved February 27, 2016. [full citation needed]
  3. ^ "The Argus-Press – Google News Archive Search". Retrieved February 27, 2016. [full citation needed]
  4. ^ "McCook Daily Gazette – Google News Archive Search". Retrieved February 27, 2016. [full citation needed]
  5. ^ "Beaver County Times – Google News Archive Search". Retrieved February 27, 2016. [full citation needed]
  6. ^ "Bengals turn down treasure chest of picks for Smith". Retrieved February 27, 2016. 
  7. ^ The Saints had already traded their 1999 second-round pick in a separate transaction.
  8. ^ "Lawrence Journal-World – Google News Archive Search". Retrieved February 27, 2016. [full citation needed]
  9. ^ "The Free Lance-Star – Google News Archive Search". Retrieved February 27, 2016. [full citation needed]
  10. ^ "Champ Bailey, Ricky Williams and deals that made 1999 draft memorable". Chicago Tribune. April 29, 2015. Retrieved February 27, 2016. 
  11. ^ "Redskins Wheel, Deal, Draft a Champ". Washington Post. Retrieved February 27, 2016. 
  12. ^ "Ditka: Washington's Patron Saint". Washington Post. Retrieved February 27, 2016. 
  13. ^ a b c d "1999 New Orleans Saints". Pro-Football-Reference.com. Retrieved May 25, 2016. 
  14. ^ a b "Trade Finder". Pro-Football-Reference.com. Retrieved May 25, 2016. 
  15. ^ a b c "Trade Finder". Pro-Football-Reference.com. Retrieved May 25, 2016. 
  16. ^ "Trade Finder". Pro-Football-Reference.com. Retrieved May 25, 2016. 
  17. ^ "'Wedding photo' of Mike Ditka and Ricky Williams was worth a thousand words". NOLA.com. Retrieved February 27, 2016. 
  18. ^ "Williams Agrees To Large Deal". New York Times. May 15, 1999. Retrieved May 25, 2016. 
  19. ^ Kirwan, Pat (May 19, 1999), "Rookie mistake: Williams contract loaded with difficult to reach incentives", Sports Illustrated, retrieved May 25, 2016 
  20. ^ a b "Pittsburgh Post-Gazette – Google News Archive Search". Retrieved February 27, 2016. [full citation needed]
  21. ^ a b "Ricky Williams Timeline". tribunedigital-orlandosentinel. Retrieved February 27, 2016. 
  22. ^ "Ditka fired as coach of Saints". tribunedigital-baltimoresun. Retrieved February 27, 2016. 
  23. ^ "Sun Journal – Google News Archive Search". Retrieved February 27, 2016. [full citation needed]
  24. ^ "Beaver County Times – Google News Archive Search". Retrieved February 27, 2016. [full citation needed]
  25. ^ "The Tuscaloosa News – Google News Archive Search". Retrieved February 27, 2016. [full citation needed]
  26. ^ a b "Mike Ditka tells 'Men's Nite Out' he'd still trade whole draft for Ricky Williams". Retrieved February 27, 2016. 
  27. ^ a b "The Ricky Williams trade: Where are they now?". NOLA.com. Retrieved February 27, 2016. 
  28. ^ "Draft Diaries – 1999, Let's Make a Deal". Archived from the original on March 4, 2016. Retrieved May 25, 2016. 
  29. ^ Chris Burke (December 12, 2013). "Sour Rankings: From John Elway to Ricky Williams, the 15 worst trades in NFL history". Retrieved February 27, 2016. 

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