In the weeks preceding the 1999 draft, Mike Ditka was running around telling anyone that would listen that he would trade the entire Saints draft for the rights to draft Ricky Williams. One would have thought that the Cleveland Browns, who drafted #1 that year may have taken him up on that offer…but they were locked in on one of the biggest busts of all-time, Tim Couch. The Eagles ignored Ditka and drafted Donovan McNabb. The Bengals weren’t listening and drafted another bust, Akili Smith. The Colts then drafted the best running back in the draft Edgerrin James with the 4th pick. Suddenly, the Redskins were on the clock and Charley Casserly was listening to the crazy man in the Rastafarian wig. But, the price of poker was going up. Casserly raised Ditka, he had the Saints throw in their 1st and 3rd rounders from 2000 for the rights to the Redskins #5 pick and the deal was made.
Looking back, we have to give props to Casserly for what was ultimately his going away present to the Redskins organization. Casserly would be fired by Dan Snyder the same year he was named NFL Executive of the Year by Sports Illustrated, Pro Football Weekly, The Sporting News and USA Today. How the 8 draft picks we picked up from the Saints and all the trades that happened from them would take forever to describe, so I’m going to simplify just how well Casserly set up the Skins in 1999:
Casserly traded back up to #7 to draft the player the Redskins coveted the entire time, Champ Bailey. Bailey is arguably the best player from this draft and a future Hall of Famer…and of course Bailey turned into Clinton Portis.
In the 2nd round Casserly drafted Jon Jansen who would be a rock at right tackle for the next 10 seasons.
Casserly had the 2000 draft set up so well after various trades…even Vinny Cerrato couldn’t F it up. The Redskins had the #2 and #3 picks in the draft which were used on the 2 best players available, LaVar Arrington and Chris Samuels.
The rest of the 99’ draft was a bust for Casserly and the Redskins, but I’d say he faired more than well. After the dust was settled from the Saints trade, the Skins got a Hall of Fame cornerback, a franchise running back, a 3-time Pro Bowl linebacker and cornerstone left and right tackles for the decade of the 90’s.
And to think that Casserly got fired in favor of Norv Turner and Redskins fans had to deal with a decade of Vinny. One of the first bad decisions in a long line of them for Dan Snyder.
Cheers and Hail.