2012 NFL Draft: Washington Redskins Trade for Rights to QB Robert Griffin III

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2012 NFL Draft: Washington Redskins Trade for Rights to QB Robert Griffin III
Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images
Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin III

The Washington Redskins and St. Louis Rams agreed on a trade Friday that will enable the Redskins to move up to use the Rams' second pick in the NFL draft to select Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin III, according to FOXSports.com.

The Redskins’ bold move signals the start of a new era for Washington. The Redskins may just be back to their winning ways after a drought of nearly two decades.

Exchanging first-round picks in 2012 and giving up first-round picks in 2013 and 2014, along with a second-round pick this year to get the Rams’ second pick in this spring’s draft, is a steep price. But it appears Cleveland was ready to pull the trigger on a deal for RG3. The trade will be made official Tuesday. 

With Peyton Manning reportedly not interested in Washington, Redskins owner Dan Snyder and coach Mike Shanahan would have been faced with selecting a quarterback later in the draft who would have had a questionable chance of making a major impact soon, if ever.

Remember, Washington selected Patrick Ramsey and Jason Campbell as late first rounders in 2002 and 2005. Ramsey played for nine NFL teams, while Campbell’s future as a starter is unclear going into his eighth year. It’s not certain that a quarterback picked high in the first round of the draft will succeed, but it’s worth the gamble.

All the talk about the Redskins’ lack of talent has been somewhat exaggerated. The Redskins are like a cheap stock that is about to go up. Half of the offense got injured last season and the Redskins were still in most of their games. It’s fashionable to say the Redskins aren’t ready to compete. That’s ridiculous. In the NFL, teams can and do turn it around overnight. If a mediocre team like the New York Giants can win it all, nothing is out of the question. And, of course, Washington beat New York twice last season.

Losing first-round picks for the next two seasons isn’t ideal, but the picks will likely be in the latter half of the draft. The Redskins have succeeded before without first-round selections. George Allen and Bobby Beathard traded most of them away in the 1970s and ‘80s. In fact, the Redskins didn’t have any first-round picks in the ‘70s. It didn’t stop them from making the playoffs five times that decade and going to a Super Bowl.

In the '80s, the Redskins held onto their first-round selections only three times, but they went to three Super Bowls, winning two, and achieved a third Super Bowl victory after the 1991 season. Of course, two of those first-rounders became Hall of Famers Art Monk and Darrell Green, and the other was Mark May, one of the original Hogs. But the Redskins did pretty well while having only three first-round picks between 1969 and 1990. They made up for it by using the later rounds of the draft and free agency effectively.

The Redskins have traded first-round picks away in the past for players who helped them win Super Bowls, including Joe Theismann, Dave Butz, George Rogers, Wilber Marshall and Gerald Riggs. All of them were Pro Bowlers, and Theismann won the NFL MVP award in 1983 over Joe Montana. 

(In fact, with the Redskins’ history, can you blame Snyder for making moves to try to win? Most of them didn’t work out, but it’s better than losing on purpose to get a high draft pick, which one of the other owners in town does, and he's lauded as a hero for it.)

The Redskins will need to continue to build the offensive line through the draft and free agency, but Washington has two good young running backs in Roy Helu and Evan Royster, not to mention Tim Hightower, who may be re-signed.

The Redskins are also strong at left tackle with Trent Williams and tight end with Fred Davis and Chris Cooley. And once the Redskins add a No. 1 receiver through free agency, Santana Moss, Jabar Gaffney and Leonard Hankerson all of a sudden become better-than-average second, third and fourth receivers. Who knows, maybe even Anthony Armstrong will return to form.

Washington has a solid defensive line, two young, talented pass-rushing linebackers in Brian Orakpo and Ryan Kerrigan, and a defense that will be in its third year of the 3-4. London Fletcher is still a tackling machine, though the secondary is a question mark.  

If the Redskins stop getting their field-goal attempts blocked, they could have an extra win or two right there.

Griffin possesses the accuracy, poise and athleticism to succeed on the next level. Tim Tebow can’t hit the broad side of a barn with a pass, yet still led Denver to the playoffs. That’s how much a quarterback who is a threat to run can open things up. Griffin is a phenomenal passer and may be the fastest quarterback ever, other than Michael Vick.

Long suffering Redskins fans will embrace RG3. While Manning may succeed in his next destination, if he had gotten injured or been ineffective in D.C., after other failed moves over the past decade, the negativity would have been overwhelming.

The pessimistic attitude of the D.C. sports media and fans, justified for many years but now overdone, has reached a boiling point. A writer who spent nearly 30 years covering the Redskins has defected to Chicago and openly admits he hates the team. Members of the sports media regularly mock the team and its fans.

Many of the area’s writers, talk show hosts and reporters haven’t been here long enough to remember the glory days of the 1980s and early ‘90s. They have to search the archives to find out what it was like 25 years ago. They think "Redskins" means "losers." The toxic cesspool that is sports radio runs on haters, whiners and complainers. 

Snyder and Shanahan have changed the culture of the team the last two seasons despite a couple of high-profile mistakes. The 24-hour sports news cycle of this electronic, instant era makes the Redskins’ downfall seem worse than it is. Mistakes are overblown and not soon forgotten. In fact, the Redskins’ 19-year malaise of just three playoff appearances, believe it or not, is not as bad as Green Bay’s 25-year drought of just two playoff appearances between 1968 and 1992.

Nobody remembers the Packers' down times, though. They just see Green Bay as a great franchise with a winning tradition of Super Bowls—people don’t harp on the lack of success sandwiched between the winning eras.

Now it’s time for the Redskins to turn it around. If Griffin is as advertised and the Redskins keep building through the draft and use free agency judiciously, the last two decades will be seen as a blip on the radar screen, and the Redskins will once again be synonymous with tradition, respect and winning. 

Sorry, haters, whiners and complainers. It’s a new era in D.C. Time to go back to the future and win.

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