Former Washington Redskins Champ Bailey and Clinton Portis recently sparred over who got the best of the 2004 trade that sent Bailey to Denver for the latter. Each claimed victory. Neither was wrong.
The trade was a win-win for both sides. A tie of sorts.
It was probably the biggest Redskins trade since sending quarterback Jay Schroeder to Los Angeles Raiders for left tackle Jim Lachey in 1988. The Redskins won that trade with six good seasons, plus three games in 1995, before Lachey retired, while Schroeder played five decent seasons that never matched his 1986 play in Washington.
Bailey spent 10 years in Denver and is surely a member of the 2019 Pro Football Hall of Fame. Portis lasted seven years in Washington and finished second to John Riggins in career rushing with 6,824 yards, while scoring 46 touchdowns.
Each was the franchise cornerstone. Bailey was Darrell Green’s successor and just one of the coolest people you’ll ever meet. Portis created memorable weekday characters to entertain the media and fans while leading the offense.
It might be easy to say Bailey and Denver were the winners since he lasted longer and headed to Canton, but it’s really a draw. Both were huge factors in their team’s fate.
Bailey wanted out of Washington in 2004 after rejecting an extension the previous year. He was unhappy with ownership’s low offer and just wanted to become a free agent. It’s a little like the Kirk Cousins story.
The Redskins didn’t want to see perhaps the best corner in the game just leave, so they swapped him for Portis while adding a second-rounder that later became Tatum Bell. That draft pick was seen as overpayment, but the Redskins added it to avoid Portis being traded to the Dallas Cowboys. Tatum managed a 1,000-yard season in 2006, but mostly was a reserve and doesn’t tip the scales to Denver.
Portis and Bailey can bicker all they want over who won. It makes for good memories. But in the end, there was not one winner, but two.
Rick Snider has covered Washington sports since 1978. Follow him on Twitter @Snide_Remarks.