Saints' Ricky Williams trade still one of most infamous in draft history

Then-Saints coach Mike Ditka sported a unique look the day after the team drafted Ricky Williams in 1999. AP Photo/Judi Bottoni

Breaking down one of the riskiest draft moves by the New Orleans Saints over the past 25 years -- when they traded their entire 1999 draft and their first- and third-round picks in 2000 for running back Ricky Williams:

Round/overall selection: First/fifth

Did the risk pay off? Of course not. Nearly 20 years later, the stunning trade still stands as one of the most ridiculed in NFL history. The Saints sent eight picks to the Washington Redskins, including two first-rounders, just to move up seven spots from No. 12 to No. 5 and draft the Heisman Trophy winner from Texas.

Coach Mike Ditka was all-in on Williams. He orchestrated the deal, then he showed up wearing Williams' signature dreadlocks at a fan fest the next day and even posed as the groom next to Williams, who wore a wedding dress, on a famous ESPN The Magazine cover that summer. But Ditka wound up getting fired at the end of the year after Williams battled injuries and the Saints finished 3-13.

Williams also revealed that he battled a social anxiety disorder while in New Orleans. He infamously conducted some of his media interviews behind a helmet and visor. And his quirky personality reportedly alienated him from some teammates.

However, it is worth noting that Williams had more success than people might realize during his three years in New Orleans.

He ran for 1,000 yards in just 10 games in 2000; that season, the Saints picked up the first playoff victory in franchise history. Then Williams gained 1,756 yards from scrimmage in 2001. He was then traded to the Miami Dolphins for two first-round draft picks, which helped New Orleans salvage something from that 1999 mess.

Williams wound up running for more than 10,000 yards in a unique 12-year career that included a surprising yearlong retirement in the middle of his prime and multiple suspensions for violating the NFL's drug policy.

Was there a safer move? Surely the Saints could have found a way to get Williams for less. Maybe just the two first-round picks? Or maybe six picks instead of eight?

And even if they were determined to move up, they would have had more success with the guys picked fourth, sixth and seventh in that 1999 draft: RB Edgerrin James, WR Torry Holt and CB Champ Bailey.

Then again, the Saints' No. 12 pick might have just been doomed from the start. That pick wound up getting traded to the Chicago Bears, who didn't fare much better with quarterback Cade McNown.