Redskins eye Griffin, send Rams draft picks
Saturday, March 10, 2012
ST. LOUIS (AP) — Desperate for a franchise quarterback, the Washington Redskins are paying big-time for a shot at Robert Griffin III. Suddenly rich in premium draft picks, the St. Louis Rams are putting their rebuilding efforts on the fast track.
Rams chief operating officer Kevin Demoff on Saturday confirmed to The Associated Press an agreement in principle to trade the No. 2 pick to Washington for three first-round selections. The teams issued a joint one-sentence statement without providing details of a deal that likely will be completed Tuesday when the new league year begins.
FOXsports.com and ESPN.com first reported the agreement Friday night. To move up four spots from sixth in the April draft and leapfrog any teams interested in taking Griffin, the Redskins surrendered their first- and second-round selections this year, plus first-round picks in 2013 and 2014.
The Indianapolis Colts are expected to take Andrew Luck with the No. 1 pick. Most mock drafts have Griffin, the Heisman Trophy winner last year, going with the second pick.
Mike Shanahan has already whiffed on three quarterbacks in his two seasons with the Redskins, going 11-21 under Donovan McNabb, Rex Grossman and John Beck. He'll try to revive his reputation as a developer of quarterbacks with the electrifying Griffin.
The Redskins were among the teams hoping to be in the running for Peyton Manning, but the odds are stacked against the former Indianapolis Colts superstar coming to Washington. The offense needs upgrades at wide receiver and on the offensive line, and Manning would have had to face brother Eli Manning of the New York Giants twice a year in the NFC East.
The Rams were eager sellers given they already have a franchise quarterback in Sam Bradford, the No. 1 overall pick in 2010, and are needy at most other positions after going 10-38 the last three seasons. Rather than drag out intrigue, they maximized their haul by capitalizing on competition, and signed off on a deal more than six weeks ahead of the draft.
The Cleveland Browns also are quarterback-needy and could have offered the No. 4 and No. 22 selections in this year's draft. Cleveland general manager Tom Heckert acknowledged Thursday he had talked to the Rams.
"We feel very comfortable staying at four and getting a good player there, and that could happen," he said. "And we feel comfortable in moving down and getting more picks, we really do. It's way early to start talking about this stuff."
In 1997, St. Louis traded up five spots to get the Jets' No. 1 pick and the rights to select future seven-time Pro Bowl offensive tackle Orlando Pace just three days ahead of the draft. That deal pulled off by Dick Vermeil wasn't nearly as costly, with the Jets' Bill Parcells getting the sixth choice plus the Rams' choices in the third, fourth and seventh rounds.
Sacrificing the picks reverses the plan Shanahan set in motion last year to stockpile young talent and rebuild a depleted roster. The Redskins, however, have plenty of space under the salary cap and can be aggressive in plugging holes when free agency begins Tuesday.
Grossman and Beck combined to throw 24 interceptions last year, putting the Redskins just one behind league leaders Philadelphia and Buffalo on the way to a fourth consecutive last-place finish in the division. McNabb, acquired in a trade from the Eagles, was the starter for the first 13 games in 2010, when Washington went 6-10.
Shanahan has won only one playoff game since John Elway retired after capturing the second of back-to-back Super Bowls with the Denver Broncos in 1998, and he hasn't been to the playoffs in his last five seasons as a coach.
The Rams haven't made the playoffs since 2004 and are rebuilding under new coach Jeff Fisher and general manager Les Snead. They were 2-14 last year, tied with Indianapolis for the NFLs' worst record, and before the trade were set to pick either first or second for the fourth time in five years.
The Rams are committed to Bradford despite a drastic fall-off in production last season, one year after Bradford was NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year in 2010. The offense was the league's puniest with or without Bradford, who threw just six touchdown passes and missed six games with a high left ankle sprain.
St. Louis has holes elsewhere at wide receiver and backup running back behind Steven Jackson, and there's uncertainty on the line with tackle Jason Smith's history of concussions. The defense threatened the franchise record for yards allowed and special teams were awful, and needs help at tackle, cornerback and outside linebacker.
The player most often mentioned as the team's pick if it stayed at No. 2, Oklahoma State wide receiver Justin Blackmon, would fill one of the greatest needs. Most mock drafts project that Blackmon will be gone by the sixth pick, but the Rams could leverage their newfound wealth of picks to get him.
AP Sports Writers Joseph White in Washington and Tom Withers in Cleveland contributed to this report.
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