Thursday, June 11, 2020

How a Slice of Bacon Became a Whole Hog

By John Turney
Coy Bacon
Pro Football Journal has posted about "trade strings" before and will again in the future. Before we posted about a free agent Bob Mann returned huge dividends for the Lions over many years. In the future, we will talk about a lowly 19th-rounder plus a bonus pick stocking a team with active players for forty years.

Today it's a 1969 fifth-round pick that grew into a lot of players and a lot of years by building his value and bringing greater returns and then the player they were traded for getting traded for more and more picks by wise moves by a general manager.

Coy Bacon wasn't in love with college. He was at Jackson State but left there to try out for the Houston Oilers but they wouldn't sign him because after a few phone calls they found out he had not graduated from school (signing players whose graduating class had not graduated was against AFL and NFL rules).

So, Bacon played minor league ball for a couple of years and was then signed by the Dallas Cowboys spending a year on their taxi squad. The Los Angeles Rams were familiar with him because they often scrimmaged with the Cowboys because both trained in Southern California at the time.

Bacon was an up-the-field type defensive lineman, not a fit for the Dallas disciplined flex defense, so in 1968 the Rams sent a 1969 fifth-round pick to the Cowboys for Bacon. Bacon was a backup in 1968, filled in for an injured Roger Brown part of the 1969 season, and from 1970-72 was a Pro Bowl quality defensive end for the Rams, though his run defense was not top quality, he was one of the best pass rushers in the NFL.
Bob Thomas
In 1971 the Rams picked up a running back the Bengals had drafted but cut named Bob Thomas, and he was a special teamer that year and filled in well in 1972 for an injured Willie Ellison. In two early-season starts, he ripped off 144 yards rushing in week one and 142 yards in week four. 

His stock was increasing. Ellison healed up and came back and though Thomas did start a few more games he didn't get more than 10 carries in any game the rest of that season. Still, he had value because he put out good numbers in a limited role.

In January 1973, Chuck Knox was hired by the Rams, and a day later, attempting to shore up the quarterback position (which suffered in 1972 with a sore-armed Roman Gabriel) and shipped Coy Bacon (who Knox didn't think played the run well enough for his tastes) and Thomas to San Diego for John Hadl who'd worn out his welcome in Chargerland. 

Hadl gave the Rams 10 great games, going 8-2 and completing 101 of 179  passes for 56.4% and 1,592 yards for 17 TDs and just 6 picks and a 103.9 passer rating which began being used as a passing statistic that very season.

Then, in the next 11 starts (including playoffs), he was 7-4 and his passing stats were 106/239 (44.4%) for 1,445 yards and 13 TDs and 12 picks and a 61.4 passer rating.

Hadl had an unannounced back injury late in 1973 and it affected his accuracy. And it was pretty clear it had to have happened around week 10 of that season. Hadl had clearly regressed.

Don Klosterman, the Rams GM, armed with that knowledge, and the Packers, likely not. And the Packers were desperate for a quarterback. After week five they beat Hadl and the Rams and were 3-2.  Apparently, the Packers brain trust didn't think Jerry Tagge and Jack Concannon could take them to the playoffs and they thought the 1974 team was capable of getting there if they could have something close the the "1973 Hadl" with them.
So, to remedy the situation the Packers sent the Rams a 1975 first-round pick, 1975 second-round pick, 1975 third-round pick, 1976 first-round pick, and a 1976 second-round pick (two #1s, two #2s and a #3) for Hadl.

With those picks the Rams chose:
• 1975 first-round pick (#9-Mike Fanning; 8 Rams years )
• 1975 second-round pick (#28-Monte Jackson, 3 Ram years)
• 1975 third-round pick (#61-Geoff Reece, 2 Ram years, one on IR)
• 1976 first-round pick   (Compensation for signing free agent Ron Jessie, 5 Rams years)
• 1976 second-round pick (#39-Pat Thomas, 7 Ram years)

That's a haul of 25 NFL seasons—"The Hadl Haul"

So, a quick tally, with the 1969 Rams fifth-round pick the Rams got
• Coy Bacon, 5 years
• Bob Thomas, 2 years (no initial investment but "sweetened" the Hadl deal)
• John Hadl, 1½ years
• "The Hadl Haul", 25 years
Total  = 33½ seasons of service

But, that's not all. Those players, after they had served the Rams were then traded and had "salvage value" or residual value. It's kind of like buying a car and trading it in a few years later for a partial down payment on a new one. If it's new enough and the car is really good (and All-Pro) you can get more than what you paid in the first place. 

So, here's the return on the original picks—

In 1984 Mike Fanning was traded for a fifth-round pick which the Rams used on Hal Stephens. They got one year of service from him but it amounts to nothing, really. He spent 1984 on injured reserve.
In 1979 the Rams traded Monte Jackson to the Raiders for the old Lawrence Welk deal, "ah one, ah two, a three" because the Rams got a first-rounder in 1979 a second-rounder in 1981 and a third-round pick in 1980.

With those picks, the Rams drafted 1979 #1 George Andrews and 1980 #3 Leroy Irvin. That is straight forward—that 15 more years to add in.

The 1981 second-rounder was packaged in a deal that gets complicated because it included sending Bob Brudzinski to the Dolphins. But the second-rounder from the Jackson deal did play a big part in the Rams getting Jim Collins.

 The picks were packaged in deals with Houston (for Mike Barber) and Washington (to move up in the 1982 draft). Using the draft value chart, we'd estimate it yielded the Rams perhaps five or six of the eight seasons the Rams got out of Collins (no, this is not an exact science, hence the guestimations) because you have to take out Brudzinski's value plus the draft capital that went to Washington.

Trust us, this is the simplified version because it gets entwined with the Roman Gabriel megadeal. We're calling it a net five years for that 1981 second-round pick.

Geoff Reece was sent to the Seahawks (after a year on injured reserve and one year as a backup and a special teamer) with a second-round pick for a higher second-round pick. Reece was the "value", (we'd estimate a third-round value) that the Seahawks accepted to sell their higher second-round pick to the Rams, which they used to take Kansas safety Nolan Cromwell

Because it was only a swap of picks, not a clean trade all of Cromwell's 11 years cannot be fairly counted. The Rams had their own second-round pick and could have simply used it. 
Ron Jessie was traded to the Bills for a 1983 seventh-round pick that was packaged with another pick that the Rams used to take Joe Shearin, who was on IR one year and was a backup one year. 

Finally, Pat Thomas' knee went wobbly so he was traded to the Raiders for Monte Jackson and a conditional seventh-round pick. And yes that's the same Monte Jackson that the Raiders traded for in 1979. The deal also reportedly involved swapping conditional picks based on the players' 1983 performances but details are vague.

However Thomas failed the Raiders' physical so the trade was changed to a seventh-round conditional pick, but the conditions were never met so the Rams never got the pick. The Rams refused to take Thomas and Jackson didn't want to go back to the Raiders. He just stayed with the Rams and even filled in for a few games and Thomas didn't play at all and began his coaching career with the USFL the following January. 

The net-net was a Thomas for Jackson deal and no draft picks went one way or the other. 

So, the salvage value of all these players, again, including injured reserve is quite a lot. In the final calculation, we'll call it a net five seasons of Jim Collins' career and let's call it about one-third of Cromwell's career—perhaps about four net seasons (Again, not an exact science). 

If you want to add in all the seasons, fine ... you can do it your way, but with the connections to the Gabriel deal we think this is a fair tally—

• Nolan Cromwell, 4 years of his 11 years
• George Andrews, 5 years
• LeRoy Irvin, 10 years
• Jim Collins, 5 of his 8 years)
• Joe Shearin 2 years, one on IR
• Monte Jackson, part two, 1 year
• Hal Stephens, 1 year on IR
Total = 28 seasons of service

So, the final tally for that 5th rounder? 

Add that 28 to the 33½ above and you get we'd say about 61½ years of NFL service—give or take.

 And that includes at least a dozen Pro Bowl-type seasons and All-Pro years from John Hadl, Monte Jackson, Cromwell, Irvin and Collins. 

Not bad.

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