The year was 1999, and teams were just as stupid as they are now. Two of the more stupid ones combined for a trade offer that is so unbelievably stupid, I still don’t really believe it happened.
The Bengals were a franchise that had gone through years of sucking so much that them being decent was considered a success. The Saints were in the middle of being run into the ground by Mike Ditka. Both teams were desperate for a reversal of fortune, and that redemption came in the right arm of a quarterback from Oregon named Akili Smith.
After two quarterbacks, Tim Couch and Donovan McNabb, went off the board with the first two picks, the Bengals were on the clock. The Saints called and made a “Godfather” offer. Ditka offered every pick he had in the 1999 Draft, and his first rounds picks in 2000 and 2001, and his second round pick in 2002. Typically, any team that finds someone stupid enough to offer that many picks for one player would jump at the opportunity. One would imagine that the team won’t be great for the next few years with that kind of management, resulting in you getting multiple high draft picks. But, of course, the Bengals are the Bengals, and decided to turn down all 9 picks for the right to draft Smith. Honestly, with his career NFL stats, who can blame them
The Bengals, as we know, have sucked and have not won a playoff game since. But fear not, the Saints found a willing recipient for their stupidity, trading with the Washington Redskins to draft Ricky Williams. They only gave up their entire draft in 1999 and their first round pick in 2000, which ended up being #2. For their trouble, the Redskins ended up with Champ Bailey, Jon Jansen, and LaVar Arrington. Not too shabby. The Saints did get one of the best cover photos of all time though, so it may be a fair trade after all.
So remember, draft the player who you think will help you the most, but always make sure you’re willing to take advantage of another team’s stupidity. Enjoy the draft, and best of luck to your team(as long as that team is the Patriots).
Pat is the host of the Weekend Warrior Podcast
You can interact with him on Twitter @wkndwarpod