With the 2020 NFL Draft just a week away, the internet is in a frenzy over potential trades, picks and more. On Sunday, a 1999 draft trade involving the Redskins began to circulate on Twitter, creating quite the discussion.
ESPN’s Ben Fawkes tweeted out a graphic of the 1999 trade between the Saints and Redskins. Washington sent the No. 5 pick to New Orleans, and what the team got back in return does not even seem real.
Imagine if Twitter was around in 1999 when the Saints traded an entire year’s draft (and a 1 and a 3) to draft RB Ricky Williams at No. 5. pic.twitter.com/WzEvsTHkxh
— Ben Fawkes (@BFawkesESPN) April 19, 2020
Yes, rub your eyes all you want younger Skins fans. That is actually the haul the Redskins received in return.
Six picks in the 1999 draft, and a first and third-round selection in the 2000 draft. Washington traded one pick for eight selections, two of them first rounders. That’s something that doesn’t even seem reasonable when «force trade» is used in Madden, and yet it happened in the real world.
What is even more shocking is who the Saints used that No. 5 pick on: Ricky Williams.
Yes, coming out of college at the University of Texas, Williams was an electric, generational-type runner. It would also be hard for the Saints to see a scenario in which Williams only spent three relatively productive seasons in New Orleans before bouncing around the league. He was a very good player when motivated. However, eight total picks for a running back would make Twitter explode in modern times. The NFL and its offenses were different back in 1999, but that is still an inconceivable amount of draft capital to give up in return for a running back.
As for Washington, GM Charley Casserly had the Saints’ No. 12 pick after the Williams deal. He parlayed that and New Orleans’ third, fourth and fifth-round picks into Chicago’s No. 7 overall pick and snagged future Hall-of-Fame cornerback Champ Bailey.
The next year the Redskins used a combination of their own 2000 draft picks that spring – and a previous first rounder acquired from Carolina two years earlier – in a trade with San Francisco in return for the No. 3 overall pick. They grabbed offensive tackle Chris Samuels, a perennial Pro Bowler for years. And LaVar Arrington was taken at No. 2 thanks to the New Orleans trade the previous year. It was an immense amount of talent, but the Redskins were never able to do a ton with it in terms of playoff success. Looking back on it 21 years later, Washington may not have gotten everything it wanted out of the trade, but the franchise certainly didn’t lose it.
Besides being a wild moment to look back on, the trade does provide some insight into the current situation the Redskins find themselves in. Holding the No. 2 pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, some believe it would be in their interest to pass on the likes of Chase Young and instead trade down, earning future picks in return. Those in that corner of the ring most likely assume that any trade for such a high pick or prospect would in return bring a king’s ransom of future draft capital.
The ridiculousness of the haul from the 1999 trade can help show that won’t be the case.
Why is a swap from 21 years ago looked at with such surprise? Because the Saints gave up eight picks for one player, and that player wasn’t even a quarterback. In 2020, no NFL team is going to do that. No NFL team is going to come close to that even if it was to get a quarterback.
A question that does come up is why there aren’t more offers for the No. 2 pick if Young is such a highly-touted prospect? It’s because the 1999 trade — and others like it — have shown that mortgaging the future for one player is not a logical decision. As good as Young is, he can only do so much to help a team improve immediately. Trading up to grab Young but then releasing more picks that could bring in help is almost always taking one step forward, two steps back.
Maybe a team that wants Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa offers more, but it still won’t be anything like what one running back got the Redskins in 1999. Times have changed, and the absurdity of that draft-day deal years ago proves it.
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