By Budd Bailey, Buffalo Sports Page

No. 30: April 21, 2002 The Bills trade a first-round draft choice in 2003 to New England for Drew Bledsoe.

In the spring of 2002, the New England Patriots had two proven starting quarterbacks on the roster. Tom Brady had taken over for an injured Drew Bledsoe and led the Pats to a Super Bowl championship. Bledsoe didn’t figure to get his starting job back any time soon.

Meanwhile in Buffalo, the Bills had no proven starting quarterbacks on the roster. Rob Johnson and Alex Van Pelt combined on a 3-13 season, and they clearly were not the answer. Therefore, the Bills and Patriots had an obvious starting point for trade talks, and they completed the deal of Bledsoe for a first-round pick before the draft. Trades between divisional rivals can be difficult to complete, but this was made too much sense for both sides not to explore. The deal created a ton of excitement, as the Bills thought Bledsoe could be that missing piece of the puzzle.

Bledsoe got off to a great start in Buffalo, completing a career-high 61.5 percent of his passes and throwing for 4,359 yards. That put him in the Pro Bowl. But Bledsoe’s play faded a bit from that high standard and he departed Buffalo after the 2004 season. He hadn’t been the long-awaited successor for Jim Kelly after all, and that wait would continue for many more years to come.

(Follow Budd on Twitter @WDX2BB)

Budd Bailey

Budd Bailey has been involved in almost every aspect of the local sports scene for the last 40 years. He worked for WEBR Radio, the Buffalo Sabres' public relations department and The Buffalo News during that time. In that time he covered virtually every aspect of the area's sports world, from high schools to the Bills and Sabres and everything in between. Along the way, Budd served as a play-by-play announcer for the Bisons, an analyst for the Stallions, and a talk-show host. He won the National Lacrosse League's Tom Borrelli Award as the media personality of the year in 2011, and was a finalist for that same award in 2017. Budd's seventh and eighth books, one on the Transcontinental Railroad and the other about Ichiro Suzuki, are scheduled to be released in the fall.

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