St. Louis Rams Griffin Heist

The Washington Redskins traded away their R1 pick this year, the #6 overall pick, for the St. Louis Rams’ #2 overall pick.  Ostensibly the Skins will be taking Robert Griffin III after the the Colts take Andrew Luck with the #1 overall pick.

The story here is the Rams executed a Brinks heist in broad daylight.  Make no mistake, this was a stickup.  For the ability to “choose” ahead of their peers, the Redskins had to also give the Rams the #39 pick overall this year, which is a very high R2 pick bordering on R1.  They also had to give away their R1 pick in 2013.  They also had to give away their R1 pick in 2014.

This trade is in clear violation of The Rules for Winning in the NFL.  To move up 4 slots in the draft, you give up two first round picks and a high second rounder?  Why can’t every other team get that kind of booty?!!!  If the NFL had any sense, they would block the trade for being a violation of the 8th Amendment on a “desperate” franchise.

RGIII can be the next best thing since sliced bread.  He can be a savior to the franchise.  He can be a Hall of Famer.  We get that.  We know what the upside is in a Quarterback-driven league.  But here is what we also “get:”

1) RGIII can also be Ryan Leaf, Tim Couch, Akili Smith or an Alex Smith that takes 6 years to see only two WR routes.

2) RGIII can be injured.  All of your eggs are in one basket.

3) What about the other 4 picks you WOULD HAVE HAD?  A R1 6th overall, a R2 39th overall, another R1, another R1?  That isn’t just another player, that is practically an entire TEAM.

4) Freakonomics Football.  We spent a great deal of time analyzing TEN YEARS of Round 1 draft picks from 2000-2009, and the conclusion we were able to OBJECTIVELY draw was that General Managers overpay for the right to pick ahead of their peers.  They get much less in return than they think they are getting.  And this conclusion was even more rigorously defended in a 2005 University of Chicago/Duke University study.

What the Redskins needed and still need is patience.  You miss the carousel on Griffin because he goes in front of you, so you wait and the carousel comes around again.  It always does.  In general the Redskins are busy impatiently trading up, when they should be confidently letting things come to them.  Griffin may be a tremendous QB, but how are you going to surround him with the quality players that collectively build a franchise?  3 other cornerstones to your team are a 100% complete miss because you have given them to the Rams. 

The Rams.  Now there is a team that has a future.  They will be able to build something there.  The Jimmy Johnson/Jerry Jones 1990′s were built on the Herschel Walker trade’s draft picks.  If the Rams select reasonably well, they will be a force to be reckoned with.

Let’s look at some other QB deals.  We are still on record as not liking the Eli deal to move 3 spots and paying a 1, 3 and 5.  The deal has worked because Ernie Accorsi was correct about his assessment, and because he was lucky about Eli being a healthy QB, something no one could forecast.  Compared to the Redskins gifts send to St. Louis, the Giants got off cheap!  We panned the Carson Palmer deal last season, but at least Palmer was a known variable in the NFL.  Even less is known about Griffin by the nature of him being a draft pick and not an NFL player.  The Bears gave up a ton for Jay Cutler, but at least what Cutler could do in the NFL was KNOWN.  As we commented 3 years ago, at least you knew you were getting a Pro Bowl QB who was 25 years old.  And considering what Cutler has done for the Bears, you could see that the reward was a tremendous amount of competitiveness, his health notwithstanding.

This trade for the Redskins does not have to be a death sentence.  Griffin can deliver, and that will make them reasonably competitive.  But IF, big IF.. if Griffin does NOT deliver, the trade will certainly set back the franchise the better part of a decade.  This is a very high stakes gamble which illustrates just how much value that the Redskins franchise has given away to get a QB.