After weeks of speculation as to whether the Cleveland Browns or Washington Redskins would outbid the other in the presumed arms race to trade up with the St. Louis Rams for the No. 2 overall pick in the 2012 NFL draft, and subsequently select Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin III, the Redskins reportedly struck a deal on Fri., Mar. 9.
The deal, reported by Jay Glazer of FOXSports.com, has the Redskins trading the No. 6 overall pick in this year’s draft, along with the No. 39 overall pick in the second round of this year’s draft and their first-round picks in 2013 and 2014, all to the Rams in exchange for the No. 2 overall draft selection.
This deal is truly a blockbuster for both sides.
The Washington Redskins, a team that has had more than two decades without a franchise quarterback, may finally be able to acquire a star signal-caller.
Meanwhile, the St. Louis Rams have received tremendous return value on their No. 2 overall pick, which leaves them in great position to continue building up their roster over the next three seasons.
While the Redskins gave up a hefty price to make this deal, this is a move that the Redskins almost had to make. With John Beck as their best quarterback under contract, there is no team in the National Football League that needs a franchise quarterback more than the Redskins do.
The Redskins now have the opportunity to draft a potential superstar quarterback, a Heisman Trophy winner with tremendous upside, in Griffin.
If the Redskins failed to make a deal to trade up for RG3, they may have found themselves in a struggle to find a starting quarterback yet again this season.
After Griffin, there are no quarterbacks worthy of being first-round selections in this year’s draft class. The Redskins would have made plays for Peyton Manning, Matt Flynn and Alex Smith, the top three quarterbacks in this year’s free-agent class, but they were underdogs to acquire any of them.
This likely would have forced the Redskins to settle on a less desirable free agent option in Jason Campbell or Kyle Orton, reach for Texas A&M’s Ryan Tannehill in the first round of the draft or wait until later in the draft and take a chance on Oklahoma State’s Brandon Weeden, Arizona State’s Brock Osweiler, Arizona’s Nick Foles or Michigan State’s Kirk Cousins.
The Redskins had to make an upgrade over John Beck at quarterback, and the best possible option was to get into position to draft Griffin. Assuming this trade becomes official, RG3 will be the next quarterback of the Washington Redskins.
If RG3 does not pan out to his potential, this trade could have serious backfiring ramifications on the Redskins, who will not hold another first-round pick until the 2015 NFL draft. However, if they get a star quarterback out of RG3, trading up to get him is worth the high price.
The Redskins have gone a long time without a star quarterback, and realizing how hard a franchise quarterback can be to find, they made the decision to put all of their eggs into the Griffin basket, hope that he is the player they need to take their franchise in the right direction and make them contenders once again in the NFC East.
While the main focus of this deal will fall upon the Redskins and the player they will be making their new quarterback when the draft commences on Apr. 26, the Rams may be the big winners of this entire process. The Rams now hold three picks among the first 39 selections in this year’s draft, and two first-round picks in each of the next two drafts—all for moving down four spots in this year’s first round.
While the Rams give up the opportunity to select star USC left tackle Matt Kalil by trading down, their targets at No. 6 overall are believed to be Oklahoma State wide receiver Justin Blackmon or LSU cornerback Morris Claiborne, and they have a strong likelihood of one of the two players still being available when they are on the clock.
Even if Blackmon and Claiborne both end up being top-five draft selections, the Rams should have no regrets about making this trade.
The Rams already have a talented young quarterback in Sam Bradford, but have many holes around him that need to be filled. With all of the extra picks that the Rams acquired in this deal, they certainly have the means of building a very impressive young roster over the next three seasons.
My current projection is that Justin Blackmon will be available for the Rams to select at No. 6 (more to come soon with my Mock Draft 4.0), but if both of their targeted players are off the board, the Rams could upgrade at left tackle by selecting Stanford’s Jonathan Martin or Iowa’s Riley Reiff, and then use their two early second-round picks to upgrade at wide receiver and cornerback.
Defensive tackle and linebacker are also areas that the Rams should address in this draft.
The other team largely impacted by this deal is the Cleveland Browns, the other team who was expected to be making a major effort at trading up to the No. 2 overall draft selection for RG3.
While missing out on Griffin may be a significant disappointment for the Browns, they did not need him as much as the Redskins did. The Browns have a quarterback who deserves another year to prove himself in Colt McCoy, and the Browns are better off continuing to build their roster as a whole than to invest three first-round draft picks in trading up for one franchise quarterback.
Granted, while McCoy deserves another chance, the Browns appear to be looking in another direction at quarterback. While RG3 would have been their best option, the Browns will now look at other options after being outbid by the Redskins.
The Browns are now expected to pursue Matt Flynn, the No. 2 free-agent quarterback in the class, although I still believe that he is a strong bet to sign with the Miami Dolphins to play for his former offensive coordinator Joe Philbin, the Dolphins’ new head coach.
If the Browns miss out on Flynn, Alex Smith could also be a possibility if he is not re-signed by the San Francisco 49ers, but it is most likely that the Browns will be looking to bring in a quarterback on the basis to challenge and compete with McCoy for the starting job.
Unrestricted free agent Jason Campbell could be a possibility, as could restricted free agent Brian Hoyer, although acquiring Hoyer would require compensation to be sent back to the New England Patriots.
Another likely possibility is for the Browns to use their second-round draft pick on a quarterback. Rumor has it that the Browns are interested in Oklahoma State quarterback Brandon Weeden, who could be a possibility at the Browns’ No. 37 overall selection.
The Browns could also take Weeden with their second first-round draft pick from the Atlanta Falcons at No. 22 if they like him enough, but the Browns’ best bet would be to use their first-round draft picks on the best playmakers they can find to continue their building their roster around whoever their quarterback will be.
Having missed out on trading up, my current projection is that the Browns will use the No. 4 overall selection to draft Alabama running back Trent Richardson, with Peyton Hills unlikely to be back with the team next season. The aforementioned Blackmon and Claiborne are also both strong possibilities with this pick as well.
If the Browns draft Richardson at No. 4 overall, options at the No. 22 selection could include Baylor wide receiver Kendall Wright, an upgrade at right tackle in Ohio State offensive tackle Mike Adams or an upgrade at cornerback in North Alabama’s Janoris Jenkins, who formerly teamed up with current Browns star cornerback Joe Haden in the secondary for the University of Florida.
If the Browns draft Blackmon or Claiborne, Miami running back Lamar Miller could also be in play at No. 22.
While the Browns missed out on the player they coveted most in the 2012 NFL draft, the price that the Redskins paid would not have been worth it for them, and they are still in a good position with three draft picks among the first 37 selections.
As for the two teams involved in the actual trade, both emerge as winners from the deal.
The Redskins now may finally find the franchise quarterback they have needed for so long in Robert Griffin III, while the Rams have assembled a stockpile of draft picks that will make Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots jealous.
This is a trade that makes sense, and has certainly changed the landscape of both the draft and the upcoming free-agency period.
Thanks for reading!
For more coverage of the 2012 NFL offseason, follow me on Twitter @Dan_Hope.