The Top 10 Worst free agents signed by the Saints:
10. James “Tootie” Robbins
9. Grady Jackson
8. Eric Allen
7. Wally Williams
6. Dale Carter
5. Jason David
4. Andre Royal
#3. Albert Connell
In 2000, GM Randy Mueller was executive of the year for turning around the Saints from a 3-13 disaster under Mike Ditka, to a 10-6 division winner, and his shrewd eye for talent stocked the roster with players who stepped up when starters were injured, and won the first playoff game in club history.
But as good as Mueller was in his first season, was how bad he was the following one.
That 2000 draft gave the Saints three quality starters in Darren Howard, Terrelle “T-Rex” Smith at fullback, and Kevin Houser at long snapper. Chad Morton was a great 3rd down back, and return specialist. Even Marc Bulger, who was injured and could not play in training camp, later turned out to be a quality starter for the Rams.
But in 2001, except for Deuce McAllister, the Saints really bombed the draft with a couple of marginal players and three guys who never made the team.
In free agency, the 2000 class consisted of Joe Horn, Norman Hand, Jeff Blake, and a trade with Green Bay for Aaron Brooks.
But the following year, except for kicker John Carney, the Saints signed players who contributed nothing. One such player was Albert Connell, a wide receiver from the Redskins.
Connell was a 4th round draft pick out of Texas A&M from the 1997 draft. 1999 was his breakout season, as 62 receptions for 1,132 yards and 7 TDs in only 15 games.
In 2000, Connell had a down year, with only 39 receptions for 762 yards and 3 TDs, but with Jake Reed going to back to Minnesota, Connell was thought to be a great deep threat to go along with Horn and Willie Jackson.
Mueller signed Connell to a five year, $14 million contract and a $2.5 million signing bonus. Connell rewarded the Saints with a 12 reception, 191 yards and 2 TDs season. Connell was neither the speed threat nor the consistent pass receiver the Saints thought they were getting.
A blown free agent is not uncommon, and certainly not enough to make him the 3rd worst free agent ever, but what justified putting him on this list, was what he did in a locker room full of drama already (see: Roaf, Willie). Despite his signing bonus, Connell stole twice from teammate Deuce McAllister.
First, he took $863.00 from Deuce’s locker; then he broke into Deuce’s car and stole an additional $3500.00. Claiming it was a prank, Connell eventually returned the money in exchange for Deuce dropping the charges with the Jefferson Parish Police Department.
Connell was cut after the season ended, and never played professional football again.