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saintz08 12-11-2002 07:34 PM

Ricky Williams trade arguement
Saints maximize surplus

McAllister made Williams expendable.
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

By Don Banks
One can't effectively argue that there was a clear winner and loser in the Ricky Williams trade. But there are degrees of winning, and I'm convinced the Saints won bigger than the Dolphins in the offseason's most significant deal south of Drew Bledsoe.

Ironically, New Orleans in part has Williams himself to thank for that. When the Miami running back hit the 1,500-yard rushing plateau Monday, he assured the Saints of receiving the Dolphins' No. 1 draft pick in April, to go with the No. 1 that Miami sent New Orleans last spring.

Was giving up Williams for two picks in the lower third of the opening round worth it? The early returns say yes. Think of it this way: With Deuce McAllister on hand, the Saints had a surplus at a position that calls for one leading man. Having drafted McAllister in 2001's first round, the bigger mistake would have been to waste him in a secondary role behind Williams.

Is McAllister going to wind up matching Williams' season? Probably not, but it's close enough for debate: Would you rather have Williams, with his 1,801 total yards and 15 touchdowns, or McAllister, with 1,491 total yards, 15 touchdowns, plus another starter this year and one next year?

Because that's what New Orleans likely will wind up with in return for sacrificing those 310 yards of offense. The Saints landed defensive end Charles Grant with Miami's No. 1 pick in 2002 (25th overall), and they'll fill another need with a relatively cheap first-rounder next spring. That's how a good young team is built in this salary-cap era.

All in all, the Saints are going to realize a pretty healthy haul for a player who fairly or unfairly had become a perceived problem in New Orleans. Grant, playing the key left end spot, has shown strong potential, with four sacks, a fumble recovery for a touchdown, and six starts in 13 games.

And there's this on the Saints' side of the ledger: Williams, 25, has nearly four full seasons of NFL wear and tear on him at a position where careers can be dangerously short. McAllister, 23, is just finishing his second season.

Lastly, let's not forget the point of a trade is to improve. With Williams, Miami is 8-5 and tied for first. But the Fish will have to win out to merely equal their 11-5 finishes of 2000-2001.

Meanwhile the Saints clearly have gotten better. At 9-4, with three games left, New Orleans is just a game out of the division lead, and already has two more wins than 2001's 7-9 mark.

It was no rout. But the Saints won out.
Dolphins reel in bounty

Williams: Miami's top single-season rusher.
Eliot J. Schechter/Getty Images

By Peter King

There is no question the Ricky Williams-to-Miami trade by the Saints last spring helped both teams. The Saints fell out of love with the Dreadman, and in love with Deuce McAllister, and they found a place to pawn off Williams for two high draft choices. Not exactly an even swap, considering they paid half a franchise for Williams in the draft in the Ditka era, but a good recovery by the Saints.

Miami did better. For two reasons:

1. In the past 28 years, since an in-his-prime Larry Csonka jumped to the World Football League, the Dolphins have been looking for a franchise back. Csonka obviously was a different kind of back, but he was a stud nonetheless. They've spent first-round picks on David Overstreet, Lorenzo Hampton, Sammie Smith and John Avery trying to find said great back. And of course, they've never found that back. Until now. Williams is a legitimate hoss, one of the five best backs in the game.

2. The price Miami paid is reasonable for the pick. Two first-round picks -- in fact, two low first-round picks, the 25th last year and, let's be charitable for a second, maybe the 22nd this year -- isn't exactly a king's ransom for a guy who's one of the best five players on your team.

Now I'm not saying the Saints did a bad job. They recovered nicely. But the Dolphins surrendered two picks in the twenties for a stud. What do those picks translate to? In the last four years, the 25th picks have been Charles Grant, Freddie Mitchell, Chris Hovan and Antuan Edwards; the 22nd picks (and I'm using an arbitrary pick, assuming the Dolphins will finish 10-6 and draft right around No. 22) have been Bryan Thomas, Will Allen, Chris McIntosh and Lamar King.

You have to ask yourself: Take the best 25th pick and the best 22nd pick -- let's say you pick Hovan, a very good force on the front for the Vikings, and Giants starting corner Allen -- and if you're the Dolphins, would you trade for Williams if it cost you those two players? Absolutely.

A coaching staff needs to coach the way it feels gives it the best chance to win. Dave Wannstedt is a hog guy. He wants big linemen clearing the way for a big back. Norv Turner is very smart in the passing game, but look back on the offenses he coordinated in Dallas.

What's the common theme? Great back mashing for big yards. Now he has exactly what he wants -- and what his head coach wants -- again.

I almost forgot to mention something that should be unforgettable in Miami's favor: Ricky Williams is 25.

whodatsaintsfan26 12-11-2002 09:08 PM

Ricky Williams trade arguement
I really dont think until a couple of years down the line you can make an argument either way. The draft picks will have to play out and see exactly what we got from them. Ricky is having a great year, so is Duece. Ricky wasnt a good fit with the offense we were trying to run in New Orleans. I dont think that there is a right or wrong awnser to this debate. I happen to think the Saints got the better end of the stick with Dueces running style. I dont think Duece is a better back the Ricky, I just think he is a better back in our system that Ricky was.

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