I have the sleeping pattern of an 85 year old man. There are times when I’ll go to bed at 8pm (or earlier), and I’ll wake up at 5am (or earlier). Even on weekends… I’m as lame a human as you’ll find on the planet. When I woke up this morning and checked my news feed, there was a curious spike in the number of Redskins stories. I figured that maybe Peyton Manning scheduled a visit to DC? Nope. Three 1’s and a 2 for RG3? Wow. That would require some immediate coffee. We all know about this deal by now (for which I’m late to the party), so I figured I’d just jump right into a stream of my initial random thoughts on the deal.
1) Troy Aikman, Troy Aikman, Steve Young, Troy Aikman, Brett Favre, John Elway, John Elway, Kurt Warner, Trent Dilfer, Tom Brady, Brad Johnson, Tom Brady, Tom Brady, Ben Roethlisberger, Peyton Manning, Eli Manning, Ben Roethlisberger, Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers, Eli Manning. Those are your last 20 Super Bowl winning QB’s. In today’s NFL, in your opinion, who are the 5 best teams in the league? Now… think of your top 5 QB’s in the NFL. Some overlap there, no? In the NFL, if you don’t have a good QB, you have no chance. None. Sure, you can always point to a few outlier marginal QB’s that won because their teams had historic defenses, like the terrible Trent Dilfer back in 2000 or the very meh Brad Johnson in 2003, when, even just 10 or so years ago, it was a different game.
Brad Johnson, Jeff George, Tony Banks, Shane Matthews, Danny Wuerffel, Patrick Ramsey, Tim Hasselbeck, Mark Brunell, Jason Campbell, Donovan McNabb, Rex Grossman, and John Beck. Those are the guys the Redskins have gone to battle with at QB in the Dan Snyder era. They had no chance. They do now, if Robert Griffin III turns out to be what I think he can be.
2) Draft picks are overrated. (GASP!) Wait… what did he just say?!?!?!? I know, I know, draft picks are the cornerstone and lifeblood of every NFL franchise. But 20 years ago, draft picks were underrated. Before the internet was around, in the days before mock drafts and wall-to-wall draft coverage existed, when your team traded away picks for a good veteran player, you were downright giddy. The draft was a day that would kind of sneak up on you. You’d see a commercial for it a week in advance and it would be like, “Oh, I’ll try to watch that.” The perception among fans only started to change around the time the Cowboys were winning Super Bowls with all the players they acquired through the draft via the Herschel Walker trade. The smart teams knew that draft picks were indeed extremely important. The dumb ones pissed them away.
Over time though, fans’ fascination with the draft itself has gotten beyond ridiculous. Hardcore football fans will get into heated debates over whether or not their team is likely to be rewarded a 7th round compensatory pick for losing a backup safety the previous year. And then that heated debate will turn into a heated debate on what sleeper their team can find with that pick. People refer to players picked in the 6th round as “busts.” Everyone with a laptop and even a passing interest in the sport types up a mock drafts. I mean… just google “NFL mock draft.” Here’s what you’ll find:
That’s why it came as no surprise to me that 78% of ESPN’s readers thought the Skins gave up too much:
The Redskins paid a steep price to get Robert Griffin III. Extremely steep. But you can have all the draft picks in the world – If you don’t have a QB, again, as I already mentioned, you don’t have a chance.
3) I hate looking at trades in terms of “winners and losers,” as in, who got the better end if the deal? All Redskins fans should be concerned about is “Did we make a deal that makes us a better football team, both right away, and down the line?” At the same time, Rams fans should be asking the same thing. I think the Redskins did well to get their guy. But the Rams… Holy crap! They didn’t give up anything to get that bounty. They moved back 4 spots. Whoopdy do. Kudos to that front office for maximizing the value of being a terrible football team holding the 2nd overall pick. Sometimes when you’re building a franchise, you need to be more lucky than good. If the Rams don’t completely botch their drafts over the next 3 years, they could be a powerhouse sometime around 2016.
4) The Redskins now have a selling point in free agency. Ever since the Super Bowl ended and the football community turned its attention to the offseason, I’ve seen a cavalcade of current NFL players throw in their two cents on Robert Griffin III. I’ve yet to see a single one that hasn’t absolutely raved about his game. Just this morning, both Stevie Johnson and Roddy White were on NFLN saying they’d take RG3 over Andrew Luck. Johnson was gushing over RG3’s ability to turn a busted play into a 60 yard gain. White chose instead to gush over RG3 having the “beautifulest deep balls.” And yes, he said “beautifulest.” With a big ??? at QB, the Redskins would have likely had to severely overpay to get players in free agency. Now… at the very least, they have the young buck that current vets already respect.
5) Despite what you’ll read from people that don’t like this trade, the Redskins did not “mortgage the future.” I’m reminded of this comedy bit from David Cross about the misuse of the word “literally.” The move to trade for Robert Griffin III has the future in mind. This isn’t the same as signing restricted free agent Laveranues Coles away from the Jets for bigtime money while also surrendering your 13th overall pick. It’s not the same as trading a high 2 and a 4 for an aging, declining Donovan McNabb. It’s not the same as trading the best CB in the game (at the time) in Champ Bailey AND a 2 for Clinton Portis, then overpaying him. It’s not the same as trading a 3 for, again, an aging and declining Mark Brunell, then severely overpaying him. It’s not the same as trading a 3 for TJ Duckett. It’s not the same as trading a 3 and a 4 for Brandon Lloyd and then overpaying him. It’s not the same as trading a 2 and a 6 for a (yep there’s a theme here) an aging and declining Jason Taylor. This is not a “Same ol’ Redskins” move.
6) Unlike the days of the old CBA, you won’t have to pay RG3 absurd amounts of money. In 2010, when Sam Bradford was the #1 overall pick, the Rams handed him a 6 year, $78 million contract with a whopping $50 million guaranteed. With the new CBA in place, in 2011, Cam Newton went 1st overall, and the Panthers were able to sign him for 4 years, $22 million. Enormous difference. In previous years, if you drafted a QB #1 or #2 and he didn’t pan out, that contract destroyed your cap for years. In this case, if RG3 doesn’t pan out, it’s not a big deal financially. Obviously, the big killer here would be that you gave up (3) 1’s and a 2 for a guy that rival fans will derisively refer to as “RG3 1’s and a 2.” (H/t to Jason Brewer of BGN for that one).
Anyway, congrats, Skins fans. There’s legitimate hope, and not the kind that you’ve been forced to talk yourself into for the last decade.