Denver Broncos: Why They Got the Better End of the Clinton Portis Trade
On Tuesday, it was announced that Clinton Portis would officially retire. For those of us that have been following the NFL in recent years, it's not that big of a shock. Portis hadn't played since the 2010 NFL season, when he suffered yet another season-ending injury for the second straight year.
He was released by the Redskins following the 2010 season. Portis played seven years in D.C. and had a pretty productive career with Washington following the trade from Denver that allowed Champ Bailey and a second-round draft pick to come over to the Broncos.
After departing from Denver, Portis would go on to the Pro Bowl and become an All-Pro in 2008, where he was an MVP candidate for most of the season before nagging injuries slowed him down yet again in late November.
In four of his seven seasons with Washington, Portis gained over 1,250 yards, the other three being seasons in which he missed large portions.
Having said that, the headline already reveals my exact opinion of the question "Who got the better end of the Clinton Portis-Champ Bailey trade?"
The Broncos. And it's not even close.
First of all, Champ Bailey is still with the Broncos. And he's still playing at an elite level. He was just elected to his eleventh Pro Bowl in 2011. For those that aren't aware, that is an all-time record for cornerbacks.
Secondly, the Broncos advanced further and have had more success with Bailey than the Redskins did with Portis. The Broncos have advanced to the AFC Championship game with Bailey as a focal point, and in the immediate aftermath of the trade, they made it to the playoffs the first two years Bailey was in the orange and blue.
Portis did make it to the postseason a couple of times with Washington in 2005 and 2007. The Redskins advanced to the Divisional Playoffs with Portis in 2005.
Another argument for Bailey is simply durability. In Bailey's eight seasons in Denver, he has played less than 13 games in a single season just once. Portis played less than nine games in three out of his seven seasons in Washington.
Thirdly, the Broncos got a second-round draft pick out of that deal. That was none other than Tatum Bell. Although Bell was never a star, he did play for the Broncos in four different seasons. He helped carry the torch after Portis left, rushing for nearly 1,000 yards in 2005 with eight touchdowns, while rushing for over 1,000 in 2006.
So why even bother bringing this topic up, considering it's such a one-sided argument?
The reason being is this was a historical trade when it happened, and it still is to this day, although neither team to this day has gotten a Super Bowl out of the trade. The trade seemingly came out of nowhere in March of 2004. Bailey had established himself as perhaps the best cornerback in the game while playing for a mediocre Redskins team. Portis had established himself as perhaps the best young running back in the game, and arguments could be had that he was the best RB in the game at the time alongside LaDainian Tomlinson.
While you see superstar trades in the NBA all of the time, in the NFL, this never occurs. This was the one exception.
When it happened, there were debates raging as to who got the better end of the deal. The majority at the time sided with the Broncos. Denver had gotten the only shutdown cornerback in the game at the time, while Portis was supposedly just another "product of the system."
Portis proved that he wasn't a product of the system. He had great individual success with Washington. Bailey continued to be a shutdown cornerback for the Broncos for many years.
Although it's eight years after the trade initially occurred, it should never be forgotten.
A superstar running back at just 22 years of age entering the prime of his career for the best cornerback in the league who was just 25 years of age likewise entering the prime of his career?
Who knows how long it'll be before we see another trade of that magnitude.
It may not have resulted in a Championship for either franchise, but it certainly changed the landscape for both teams.
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