The Miami Dolphins made two significant trades with the Saints. Both were controversial.
When the Miami Dolphins traded with the Saints for Ricky Williams and Kenny Stills, hindsight makes you question whether either was worth it but at the same time knowing it could have been better.
We begin with the trade for Ricky Williams. A player who easily could have been a Hall of Fame running back but Miami traded for his inner demons as well as his talent and the latter couldn’t make up for the former.
The Dolphins paid a price for Williams. They sent two first-round draft picks, one in 2002 and one in 2003 and a 4th round pick in 2002 to the Saints for Williams and a 4th. That fourth worked out well for Miami as the Dolphins drafted TE Randy McMichael who had a good career with the Dolphins and someone who many believe to be one of the best TEs in team history.
As for Williams, the compensation was a lot and there is no denying the fact that Miami got their money’s worth. The problem is that while Williams became one of the best RBs in Dolphins’ history, his off-field issues with marijuana kept him off the field.
Williams would retire after two seasons in Miami and then spend four games suspended when he came back a year later. A year after that, Williams was once again suspended for a failed drug test. He would return in 2007 and spend four seasons with Miami before joining the Ravens for a final NFL season.
To this day, there is a debate among Dolphins fans about whether or not Williams deserves to be in the team’s Ring of Honor or on the team’s Walk of Fame. It is not a debate that will end any time soon and Miami doesn’t seem in a hurry to make a decision on his case. For an entire generation of fans, however, Williams was the best running back those fans had ever seen and that makes it far easier to see past his off-field problems.
If Ricky Williams was controversial due to his use of marijuana, Kenny Stills joining Miami came with its own share of controversy.
Stills was part of a deal in 2015 that saw Miami trade a 3rd round pick and linebacker Dannell Ellerbe to the Saints. Ellerbe was one of Jeff Ireland’s top free agents only two years before but he wasn’t a fit for Joe Philbin. Ireland seeing a need for WR, made the move to obtain Stills.
Stills was still on his rookie contract and all the tools of a speedy receiver who had yet to reach his potential. In Miami, Stills was supposed to give Miami the deep threat they lacked but Stills never reached that level of expectations.
Kenny Stills did more for the Miami community than he did for the Miami Dolphins.
Off the field, Stills was a big part of the community working to bridge a gap in police relations. He brought his off-field efforts to the field as well with kneeling protests during the National Anthem. Whether you supported his beliefs or not, Stills became a topic of controversy. On the field, his play wasn’t matching what his off-field efforts were achieving. The truth is he did more for the community of Miami, which is good, than he did as a Dolphins receiver.
His numbers were modest but that also was a result of poor quarterback play and worse play calling. Between Mike Sherman, the Joe Philbin rotating OC office, and Adam Gase, Stills wasn’t in a position to get better. In 2019, new HC Brian Flores and Stills had some minor issues with off-field comments Stills made about Dolphins owner Stephen Ross. Stills would be traded to the Texans as part of the Laremy Tunsil deal.
No matter what side of the fence you stand on either trade, both were good trades for incredible talent but both could have been a lot better and a lot less controversial.