Before being swapped in a superstar for superstar trade that is so rare in the NFL, both Clinton Portis and Champ Bailey had their career arcs pointing up.
Champ was a 5-year vet coming off four-straight pro bowl appearances. He already had 18 interceptions to that point and had already carved out his reputation as being the best shutdown corner in the game.
Portis had two absolutely ridiculous seasons as a rusher back to back in his rookie and sophomore seasons. In 2002, he finished with 1508 yards, 15 TD's to go along with 33 receptions and 364 yards. In 2003, in only 13 games, he rushed for 1591 yards and 14 TD's with 38 receptions and 314 receiving yards. He averaged 5.5 yards per carry over the course of 563 yards.
Then it happened, after making the playoffs as a wild card team....Peyton Manning. Colts 41-10. Manning to Stokley, 31 yd TD pass, Manning to Harrison 46 yard TD pass, Manning to Harrison 23 yard TD pass, Manning to Stokley, 87 yd TD pass. When it was all said and done, Manning went 22/26 for 377 yards, 5 TD's and a perfect QBR. He absolutely carved us up.
While having a 1500 yard rusher isn't something to scoff at, the Broncos needed serious help in the secondary and were confident in their set up in the running game to reproduce success, so they went out and got help.
In 2004, the Broncos and Redskins swapped players and the Redskins also sent the Broncos a 2nd round pick. That pick turned into another eventual 1000-yard Tatum Bell. Tatum Bell was a homerun hit that split time in a committee approach with the likes of Rueben Droughns, Quentin Griffin, Mike Anderson, and Mike Bell. In limited carries the next couple of years, Bell would approach Portis' yards per carry average with a stellar 5.3 mark of his own. He still wasn't the talent that Portis was, and his career peaked in 1996 when he recorded his one and only 1000-yard rushing season.
Clinton Portis on the other hand went to Washington and continued his success despite being cast into a power blocking scheme that reduced his overall effectiveness. Despite the change of schemes, Portis still put up 4 1200+ yard rushing seasons in the next 7 years as a Redskin. He notched his 3rd 1500 yard season in 2005 and made the pro bowl on the strengths of a 1487 yard campaign in 2008. In 7 years as a Redskin, Portis had 1667 rushing attempts, 6,824 yards 49 total TD's, 176 receptions and 1340 receiving yards.
Champ Bailey? All-pro to all world to sure fire HOF. As a Bronco he's played in 129 games over the course of 9 seasons. He's made 8 pro bowls and been named all-pro three straight years from 2004-2006. He's had 34 interceptions as a Bronco and had a career high 10 in 2006.
He's entering his 15th year as a pro and shows little signs of slowing down. He will enter Canton as a Bronco.
Who won the trade?
Clinton Portis was a hell of a talent that produced regardless of scheme. Broncos fans should look back at his two years with pride and revere him for his exceptional play. He wasn't a disappointment and didn't bust in Washington and had a very good career overall.
Still, he's no Champ Bailey. The Broncos continued to churn out 1000 yard rushers and Champ proved year in and year out he was the class in the NFL at CB. The length of his career far exceeds Portis, and so has his impact. The Broncos won this trade easily, but both teams got a good deal.
Clinton Portis Highlights (warning strong language)
Champ Bailey Highlights
Cool 26 Factoid:
Champ Bailey has played in 8 career playoff games and has 2 INT's in the postseason. Clinton Portis played in 4 career playoff games never once putting up a hundred yard game.
Notable Broncos to wear #26:
Bobby Humphrey 1989-1991
Eric Brown 1998-2001
Clinton Portis 2002-2003
Tatum Bell 2004-2006
Current Bronco wearing #26: