With the Redskins announcing today that they have cut ties with Clinton Portis and with Denver resigning Champ Bailey to a 4-year contract last week, DBSF felt it fitting to review the 2004 trade that sent Portis to Washington in exchange for Champ Bailey and a second round pick. Over 7 seasons, Portis gave the Redskins four impressive seasons and three mediocre ones, all cut short by injury.
From 2004 to 2010 Portis played 84 games, compiled over 6,800 yards, and 49 TDs on 4.1 ypc. However, in two seasons with the Broncos he put up over 3,000 yards, and 31 TDs, on 5.5 ypc. He was a Pro Bowler once with each team and in 2008 he was second team all NFL.
Champ, on the other hand, played 101 games for Denver, was a Pro Bowler 6 times with the Bronco's (4 with the Skin's), and in his first 3 seasons with Denver he was First-Team All Pro. Similar to Portis, Bailey's numbers were more impressive with his first team, but over the last 7 seasons he has 30 interceptions and 3 INTs returned for TDs. In 2006, Champ led the NFL in interceptions (10) and interception return yards (162).
In addition, to Champ the Broncos picked Tatum Bell with the second round pick to replace Portis. While Bell never came close to Portis's numbers in Denver (or, in Washington for that matter), he played 4 seasons with the Broncos and in 2006 he had a 1,000+ yard season. Thus, at face value it appears that the Broncos benefited most in the trade.
But, consider that since the trade each team has appeared in the playoffs twice and only won 1 game each. Further, in only 2 out of the last 6 seasons has Denver as a team given up less than the NFL average for total passing yards in a season. Of course, team passing defensive statistics can't reflect the play of one player--especially, considering Denver's anemic defensive lines of the last 7 years--but clearly Champ's presence didn't prevent teams from moving the ball in the air against the Broncos.
And, Portis's stats fail to reflect his non-quantified contributions, such as his success as a blocking back. Perhaps Portis's greatest value as a Redskin was that he gave Skin's fans a star to identify with on teams of over-payed, underachievers that were milking an organization that appeared disinterested in its fans at its most amiable. Although his numbers don't capture it, the exuberant Portis made his worth in solidifying a Redskin's fan base that had been alienated by an owner and free agent busts over 7 tumultuous years.