Ricky Williams trade

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.


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

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]


Ricky Ditka ESPN the Magazine
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


  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.
  3. ^ "The Argus-Press – Google News Archive Search". Retrieved February 27, 2016.
  4. ^ "McCook Daily Gazette – Google News Archive Search". Retrieved February 27, 2016.
  5. ^ "Beaver County Times – Google News Archive Search". Retrieved February 27, 2016.
  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.
  9. ^ "The Free Lance-Star – Google News Archive Search". Retrieved February 27, 2016.
  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.
  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.
  24. ^ "Beaver County Times – Google News Archive Search". Retrieved February 27, 2016.
  25. ^ "The Tuscaloosa News – Google News Archive Search". Retrieved February 27, 2016.
  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.

External links

1999 NFL Draft

The 1999 NFL draft was the procedure by which National Football League teams selected amateur college football players. It is officially known as the NFL Annual Player Selection Meeting. The draft was held April 17–18, 1999, at the Theater at Madison Square Garden in New York City, New York. The league also held a supplemental draft after the regular draft and before the regular season.

Five quarterbacks were selected in the first round - Tim Couch, Donovan McNabb, Akili Smith, Daunte Culpepper, and Cade McNown - the second most (along with the 2018 NFL Draft) after the 1983 NFL Draft. Only McNabb and Culpepper, however, would have successful careers, while Couch, Smith, and McNown are generally regarded as draft busts. McNabb, the most successful of the five, was also the only first-round quarterback from the draft to appear in the Super Bowl.

The draft is also noted for the Ricky Williams trade, which saw the New Orleans Saints trade all six of their draft picks to the Washington Redskins for the fifth overall selection in order to draft running back Ricky Williams. New Orleans finished with a 3-13 record following the trade and Williams struggled as a rookie, resulting in the firing of Saints head coach Mike Ditka and general manager Bill Kuharich.

Brock for Broglio

The phrase "Brock for Broglio" is sometimes used in the sport of baseball to signify a trade that in hindsight, turns out to be an extremely lopsided transaction.The names in the phrase refer to Lou Brock and Ernie Broglio respectively, the centerpieces of a June 15, 1964, six-player deal: Brock, Jack Spring and Paul Toth were traded from the Chicago Cubs to the St. Louis Cardinals in exchange for Broglio, Bobby Shantz, and Doug Clemens.It was thought initially the Cubs had done better in the deal, as Broglio was coming off some impressive seasons while pitching for the Cardinals, while Brock had been considered a disappointment for the Cubs.Almost immediately the effects of the trade were felt, as Brock batted .348 for the Cardinals and led them to winning the 1964 World Series. Brock also helped the Cardinals to another World Series title in 1967, a pennant in 1968, and played successfully for St. Louis through 1979, amassing 3,023 hits and 938 stolen bases (at the time becoming baseball's all-time leader in stolen bases) en route to his Hall of Fame election in 1985. Meanwhile, Broglio went only 4-7 with a 4.04 ERA for the Cubs, and by 1966 was out of Major League Baseball. Broglio did not tell anyone at the time, but he was suffering from an injured elbow since the second half of the 1963 season, and in November 1964, had his ulnar nerve reset.This is sometimes referred to as the most lopsided trade in baseball history.The Emil Verban Society, an association of Cubs fans in the Washington, D.C. area, which includes national political leaders and journalists, occasionally recognizes bad decision-making with the "Brock-for-Broglio Judgment Award"—presented, for example, to Saddam Hussein for his invasion of Kuwait in 1990.

Eric Lindros trade

The Eric Lindros trade was the culmination of a holdout by Eric Lindros from the Quebec Nordiques of the National Hockey League (NHL). The Nordiques selected Lindros in the 1991 NHL Entry Draft with the first overall selection, but Lindros refused to play for them. After holding out from Quebec for a year, the Nordiques agreed to two trades involving Lindros at the onset of the 1992 NHL Entry Draft, one with the Philadelphia Flyers and one with the New York Rangers. An arbitrator ruled in favor of the Flyers on June 30, 1992.

Lindros played for the Flyers until 2001. He was awarded the Hart Memorial Trophy as the league's Most Valuable Player, however, the Flyers never won the Stanley Cup with Lindros. The Nordiques, who moved to Denver, Colorado, and became the Colorado Avalanche, won the Stanley Cup in 1996 and 2001 with contributions from players acquired in the Lindros trade, including Peter Forsberg and Mike Ricci.

Herschel Walker trade

The Herschel Walker trade was the largest player trade in the history of the National Football League. This deal on October 12, 1989, centered on sending running back Herschel Walker from the Dallas Cowboys to the Minnesota Vikings. Including Walker and a transaction involving the San Diego Chargers, the trade eventually involved 18 players and draft picks. At the time of the deal, the Cowboys were one of the worst teams in the league (the team finished the 1989 season with its worst post-merger record, 1-15), trading away their best player, while the Vikings believed that Walker was the missing piece they needed to make to a Super Bowl run. Thus, Minnesota originally felt that they got the better end of the deal. Instead, the Cowboys used the draft picks acquired in this trade to get the players they needed to help them win three Super Bowls in the 1990s. Meanwhile, the Vikings did not make a Super Bowl appearance with Walker.

List of New Orleans Saints first-round draft picks

The New Orleans Saints joined the National Football League (NFL) as an expansion team in 1967 and first participated in the 1967 NFL Annual Player Selection Meeting, more commonly known as the NFL Draft. In the NFL Draft, each NFL franchise annually seeks to add new players to its roster. Teams are ranked in inverse order based on the previous season's record, with the worst record picking first, and the second-worst picking second and so on. The team which wins the Super Bowl receives the last pick in the subsequent Draft, with the penultimate pick going to the losing team. Teams have the option of trading away their picks to other teams for different picks, players, cash, or a combination thereof. Thus, it is not uncommon for a team's actual draft pick to differ from their assigned draft pick, or for a team to have extra or no draft picks in any round due to these trades.In the 1967 NFL Draft, the Saints had two first-round picks; first and last. They traded away the first overall pick to the Baltimore Colts, while with the 26th pick, they selected Leslie Kelley, a running back from Alabama. The Saints have selected first overall once, drafting George Rogers in 1981, second overall twice, drafting Archie Manning in 1971 and Reggie Bush in 2006, and third overall once, drafting Wes Chandler in 1978. The team's most recent first-round selections was defensive end Marcus Davenport.

Operation Flagship

Operation Flagship was a joint effort by law enforcement to lure wanted fugitives by means of advertising and inviting them to Washington D.C's convention center for a party and a Washington Redskins ticket giveaway. The event purported to promote a new channel, Flagship International Sports Television. The first letters of this new channel were the same as the acronym for the Fugitive Investigative Strike Team of the United States Marshals Service.

White Flag Trade

The White Flag Trade was a trade made between two Major League Baseball teams in 1997. On July 31, 1997, the Chicago White Sox traded three major players to the San Francisco Giants for six minor leaguers. At the time, the trade was maligned by the vast majority of White Sox fans as Jerry Reinsdorf giving up on the team, as they were only ​3 1⁄2 games behind the Cleveland Indians for the American League Central Division lead. "Anyone who thinks we can catch Cleveland is crazy," stated Reinsdorf. In 2000, however, the White Sox won the Central Division title, receiving large contributions from two of the players received in this trade (Keith Foulke and Bob Howry).

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