Ricky Williams Trade Will Likely Never Be Topped

Published on July 9th, 2022 9:35 am EST
Written By: Dave Manuel

A true blockbuster trade took place in the 1999 NFL Draft. Mortgaging your team's future for a player that turns out to be a Hall of Famer is one thing.

Mortgaging your team's future for a player that turns out to be a messy flop is quite another.


It's one thing to move a pile of assets to acquire the #1 spot in the NFL draft, as there is usually a stud quarterback there waiting to be taken.

The Saints, on the other hand, were picking 12th in the 1999 NFL Draft and really, really wanted one player in particular: Ricky Williams.

In order to get Williams, the Saints were going to have to move up in the draft.

Ricky Williams was a stud running back coming out of Texas, and Saints coach Mike Ditka compared him to Walter Payton.

In his final season with Texas, Williams ran for 2,327 yards, found the endzone 30 times and added another 307 receiving yards.

Ricky Williams, Ditka thought, was a transformational talent that would change the Saints franchise.


The Saints struggled to find a willing trade partner but finally found one in the form of the Washington Redskins.

Keep in mind - the Saints were only moving up from #12 to #5.

In order to do this, the Saints would trade EVERY pick that they had in the 1999 NFL Draft, as well as two picks the following year (including their first-round pick).

In exchange for giving the Saints the #5 spot in the draft, the Redskins received:

1. Saints #12 pick in the 1999 draft
2. Saints third round pick in the 1999 draft
3. Saints fourth round pick in the 1999 draft
4. Saints fifth round pick in the 1999 draft
5. Saints sixth round pick in the 1999 draft
6. Saints seventh round pick in the 1999 draft
7. Saints first round pick in the 2000 draft
8. Saints third round pick in the 2000 draft

The Saints gave up all of that just to move up 7 spots to take Ricky Williams.


For the Redskins, this trade was found money, as they had wanted to take Champ Bailey anyways, and they were able to get him at #12.

Another benefit of the trade for the Redskins? The Saints were a disaster in the 1999 season, going 3-13, which meant that the Redskins got the #2 overall pick in the 2000 NFL Draft, which they used to select LaVar Arrington, who was a 3x Pro Bowler.


Ricky Williams had one really good season where he lived up to the hype, and that was the 2002 season.

Too bad for the Saints that they had elected to part ways with Williams after 2001, as they missed out on Williams' 1,853 yard, 16 touchdown season.

That would be his peak, however, as Williams would have a number of issues that would frustrate the teams that he played for.

Sure, Williams would rush for 10,009 over the course of his decade-plus in the NFL, though he was a constant source of headaches for the teams that he played for, and he never lived up to the hype.

In terms of the price that the Saints paid for him, Williams was extremely overvalued and a bust from their perspective.


The trade that shocked the football world would end up costing Mike Ditka his job, as the Saints would fire him after the 1999 season.

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