I'm going to be physically ill. There's so much wrong here.
First, why the hell are you drafting a running back?
Second, why the hell are you trading up to draft a running back?
Third, have you ever considered that you were going to have to pay him?? Now the contract was horrible (Maybe one day we'll dive into that) but you still had to pay him legal tender to be a running back. Unthinkable.
Fourth, what a massive overpay! However you feel about Jimmy Johnson's trade value chart, it's consistent and even the chart said the Saints were making a mistake:
The noted draft-value trade chart, invented by the Cowboys a few years earlier, had the Saints trading away 4,441 points of draft value in exchange for 1,700 points—the value of the fifth overall pick.
The Saints paid $2.60 on the dollar for that pick! You'll notice that Washington did not get the Saints 1999 second-round pick. It's because they didn't have one. They had to settle for the Saints first and third-round picks the following year. What a swindle. I would have had Saints' decision-maker Mike Ditka arrested.
Williams lasted three seasons in New Orleans and wasn't terrible: Over 4k total yards, 18 touchdowns in 38 games. But the Saints went 20-28 in that stretch, fired Ditka and only made the postseason once before Williams was traded. To be fair, the Saints got two first-rounders in exchange for Williams but the damage was done.
And Washington's haul in all of this?
Lavar Arrington had a couple of good years. So there's that.