You may have noticed that Brandon Lloyd, the erstwhile Redskin (2006-07), was traded in Week 6 from the Broncos to the Rams. Lloyd went on to have a nice year, too, catching 70 passes for 966 yards and five touchdowns. It’s unusual enough that a player changes teams during the season, but it’s even more unusual that he’s able to put up those kinds of numbers.
According to my research, no NFL wideout has ever had that many receptions in a split season (that is, a season in which he played for more than one club). Only two wideouts, for that matter, have had more than 966 receiving yards in a split season. The breakdowns for Lloyd and his fellow travelers:
● Brandon Lloyd, 2011 – Broncos (4 games): 19 receptions, 283 yards, 0 touchdowns. Rams (11): 51-683-5. Totals: 70-966-5.
What he was traded for: a 2012 fifth-round draft pick.
● Chris Chambers, 2007 – Dolphins (6): 31-415-0. Chargers (10): 35-555-4. Totals: 66-970-4.
San Diego might not have reached the AFC title game without Chambers’ contributions. What he was traded for: a 2008 No. 2 (QB Chad Henne).
● Wes Chandler, 1981 – Saints (4): 17-285-1. Chargers (12): 52-857-5. Totals: 69-1,142-6.
Chandler finished eighth in the league in receiving yards and helped San Diego get to the conference championship game. What he was traded for: WR Aundra Thompson, a 1982 No. 1 (WR Lindsay Scott) and an ‘82 No. 3 (DB John Krimm).
Some other notable split seasons in NFL history:
● RB Eric Dickerson, 1987 – Rams (3): 60 carries, 277 yards, 1 TD. Colts (9): 223-1,011-5. Totals: 283-1,288-6.
Dickerson was second in the league in rushing and led the Colts to their first playoff berth since moving to Indianapolis in ‘84. What he was traded for (in a blockbuster deal involving three teams): RBs Greg Bell and Owen Gill, three No. 1s (RB Gaston Green, WR Aaron Cox, RB Cleveland Gary) and three No. 2s (LB Fred Strickland, LB Frank Stams, CB Darryl Henley). Of course, it’s not every day a Canton-bound back is put up for bids while still in his prime.
● QB Bobby Layne, 1958 – Lions (2): 0-1 record as a starter, 46.2 percent completions, 171 yards, 1 TD, 2 INTs, 48.7 rating. Steelers (10): 7-2-1 as a starter, 49.6-2,339-13-10-80.4. Totals: 7-3-1, 49.3-2,510-14-12-77.6.
The 77.6 rating was a career high for Layne, a Hall of Famer who had won two titles in Detroit before losing his job to Tobin Rote. What he was traded for: QB Earl Morrall, a 1959 No. 2 (19th overall) and a ‘59 No. 4 (42nd, which turned out to be six-time Pro Bowl DT Roger Brown).
● WR Bo Roberson, 1965 – Raiders (6): 15 catches, 220 yards, 0 TD. Bills (8): 31-483-3. Totals: 46-703-3.
Even though he spent barely half the season in Buffalo, Roberson led Bills receivers in receptions, yards and TDs as the club won its second straight AFL championship. What he was traded for: DT Tom Keating, OG George Flint. Obscure fact: Roberson won the silver medal in the long jump at the 1960 Olympics, finishing a fraction of an inch behind U.S. teammate Ralph Boston.
● S Beasley Reece, 1983 – Giants (7): 2 interceptions for 33 yards. Bucs (9): 6 for 70. Totals: 8 for 103.
Reece asked the Giants to waive him after he lost his starting job to Terry Kinard and, amazingly, they complied. Tampa Bay claimed him, and he wound up tying for second in the league in interceptions.
● K Mike Mercer, 1966 – Raiders (2): 1 of 4 field goals, 2 of 3 extra points, 5 points. Chiefs (10): 20 of 26 FGs, 33 of 35 PATs, 93 points. Totals: 21/30 FGs, 35/38 PATs, 98 points.
Other kickers have had fine seasons when they’ve bounced from one team to another (e.g. Joe Nedney with the Broncos and Panthers in 2000). What makes Mercer’s year so memorable is that he ended it by playing in the first Super Bowl – and even booted a 31-yard field goal in Kansas City’s 35-10 loss to Green Bay. The Chiefs were actually his third team that season. He was cut by Oakland after a slow start, signed by Buffalo (for whom he never played), then traded (for a 1967 fifth-rounder) to Kansas City, where he got hot and went on to finish first in the AFL in field goals and second in scoring. Quite a ride for a kicker who, at one point that year, was unemployed.
● KR Eddie Payton, 1977 – Browns (2): 3 punt returns, 5.7-yard average; 4 kickoff returns, 22.8-yard average. Lions (8): 27/10.3 punt returns; 18/25.4 kickoff returns. Totals: 30/9.7 punt returns; 22/24.9 kickoff returns.
Released early in the season by Cleveland, Eddie – Walter Payton’s older brother – caught on with the Lions at the end of October. In the finale against the division champion Vikings, he had two returns for touchdowns – a 98-yard kickoff return and an 87-yard punt return. (Alas, Detroit still lost, 30-21.) Only 10 players since 1960 have run back a punt and kickoff for scores in the same game. The 49ers’ Ted Ginn was the last to do it – in the opener this season against the Seahawks.
Part 3 of the Season in Review to follow.