Congratulations Redskins fans, your team now has a chance: 6 thoughts on the RG3 trade

No pressure, RG.

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.

There's a big difference between this and what the Redskins did last night.

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.


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  6. […] RG3, he would have signed in San Diego.  Shortly after the Skins made that deal, I wrote that the Skins now having a selling point to free agents: The Redskins now have a selling point in free agency.  Ever since the Super Bowl ended and the […]

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  10. AustonianAggie says:

    I agree — and the Redskins have a history of fielding solid teams made through paths other than the draft. Acquiring a legit QB is a great move for them, and Snyder hates drafting anyway.

  11. Urass says:

    A size able gamble for sure. Only problem is putting so much into a single move for someone that is not even the best qb prospect in the draft. If Barkley declared, he wouldn’t have even been second best. David, you must be crazy to already be comparing to Cunningham. Kid has potential for sure but that made me giggle.

    1. WeNeedLinemen says:

      I’m a ‘Skins fan, even though the Eagles had a truly great defense in that era, Cunningham was the player I feared. He was Vick before Vick. Vick with prototype size. Cunningham was better passer than Vick has ever been, almost as good as a runner and just didn’t take hits in the same way Vick does. If Cunningham had ever had any supporting pieces on the offense and a coach who didn’t treat it as an after thought I am pretty sure the Eagles would have won a championship.

      RGIII looks talented, I certainly hope he proves himself a better player than Cunningham, but it’s pretty high bar to set.

      1. Anders says:

        Had he not gotten injured in 1991, the Eagles would have had a championship now and that defense would get alot more respect.

  12. David Paul Planchard says:

    Wow this blog was so awesome. Your a phenomenal writer Jimmy and you make so many insightful points. Im a 31 year old life long Redskin fan and this has got to be our turn right? I couldn’t endure another scrub at QB? If RG3 turns out to be terrible, maybe God hates us fans. Lol Kidding aside im so juiced about this kid, could he be even more athletic ability than Vick or Cunningham? I know he’s faster!… Its a huge gamble but im already getting jersey sized.

    1. David Paul Planchard says:

      And one last thing what receiver (that’s available) do you guys think would be the best compliment to Robert? Would it be VJax or maybe we could sign Meachum, I’ve always liked him better than Colston.

  13. NYC Skin says:

    Good points Jimmy. The trade makes sense for the Redskins on many levels. As steep as the price was, RG3 immediately becomes the face of the franchise. Snyder starts getting those ticket and jersey sales he’s been desperate for the last couple of years. Shanahan probably feels like his job is on the line and now he gets much more talented QB to build around…future picks be damned! I agree free agents can at least justify a desire to play in DC. And now Snyder/Allen are in a great position 36.5 million under the cap to spend on some free agents (and key returning players as well).

    All in all, it seems like a perfect storm to put all their chips in. I like the trade for the Skins, and injury aside it will probably pay dividends whether they go deep into the playoffs or not over the next couple of years.

    Obviously, there is nothing not to like about the Rams side of the trade. However, people like to comment about what happens if RG3 gets hurt, but Bradford is the 78 million dollar man with an injury risk. Just saying…

  14. ICDogg says:

    I don’t expect RGIII to be a top 5 QB in the NFL. Certainly, if he does, he will have been well worth the investment.

  15. Keith Petres says:

    The thing is the Redskins don’t need the second overall pick to get a good QB. It’s not like #1 and #2 QB picks have the monopoly on panning out.

    Almost every 1st round pick should be a starter (especially for an awful team like the Redskins with high picks every year), and most 2nd round picks. So, the Redskins effectively traded 3 starters, and possibly 1 Pro-Bowler within that group, for a QB out of college.

    Yeah, they overpaid a lot.

    And if you’re still not convinced, think about this as a tiebreaker on the analysis: When was the last time Dan Snyder’s Redskins made a huge off-season move that was anything other than a huge bust?

    1. D3Keith says:

      “Almost every 1st round pick should be a starter”

      Should be / turn out to be = not same

      1. Keith Petres says:

        True, but I’m only projecting 3 starters out of 4 picks: A 6th, a 38th, and 2 more first round picks. Plus, that 6th that the Redskins pissed away can always be traded for a late first and a 2nd, minimum (see, the Falcons trading for the 2011 6th by giving up the 27th overall pick, 2nd round, 4th round, 1st and 2nd round 2012).

        For fun, let’s put those trades together to see what the Redskins gave up to get RGIII:
        22nd overall (2012) + 27th overall (2011) + 1st round 2013 + 1st round 2014 + 2nd round + 2nd round + 4th round

        4 1st (two late, two probably early), 2 2nds, and a 4th.

        Despite the fact that many draft picks don’t pan out, the picks remain extremely valuable because that’s the best, and almost the only, way to get players signed for less than they’re worth. Signing free agents is a wash because you’re paying the guy an amount exactly equal to the value he gives you.

    2. Roy says:

      “When was the last time Dan Snyder’s Redskins made a huge off-season move that was anything other than a huge bust?”

      Yes, but this is a Shanahan move, not a Snyder move. The coach wanted a dynamic QB, not a project who might be good down the line, and he’s going to get his man. It’s a gamble of sorts, but well worth it in my opinion. To compare this with the previous regime’s foolish signing/overpaying of free agent vets like Haynesworth isn’t at all a fair analysis.

  16. Roy says:

    Actually, you said “dumb”, not stupid. My bad.

  17. deg0ey says:

    Tomorrow’s headline: “Redskins shock the world, trade up to #1 overall”

    Accompanying story:”The Washington Redskins have done the unthinkable and given up the second overall pick in the draft, acquired only yesterday in a trade with the Rams, along with their second round pick in 2013 and their first round pick in 2015, to the Colts, for the #1 overall selection in the 2012 draft”

    Granted, it’s unlikely, but this whole trade doesn’t seem quite dumb enough for the Redskins yet. Shanahan deciding he’d rather have Luck than Griffin and giving up another sizeable bounty to get him would be the icing on the cake :p

    1. Roy says:

      Relax. Calmase. In the first place it’s not 3 1st round picks as many in the media are lazily reporting. It’s a swap of this year’s 1sts, a 2nd, and the next 2 1sts. That’s a high price, no doubt, but “stupid” is a harsh assessment. The only thing that really would have been stupid is going into next year without a legit QB (again) and seeing your fan base erode further. If Griffin’s tearing it up a few seasons from now, nobody’s gonna care. And didn’t some cat named Eli Manning cost a couple of high picks, too?

      1. deg0ey says:

        That’s almost exactly my point. This trade seems altogether too sensible to be something the Redskins would do. There has to be some way they manage to make it go wrong. Maybe they use their #2 on Blackmon or something.

      2. D3Keith says:

        It is three first-round picks and a two for the right to move up four spots.

        Yes they get a first round pick in return so the net is two ones and a two, but the fact that people keep taking issue with the proper way to write that sentence — three 1sts and a two for a better first — is weird.

  18. DerfDiggy says:

    As a cowboys fan….I’d give that up any day. When you don’t have a qb…you have nothing.

  19. retired jim says:

    Just take a look at the last three #1 picks for the Eagles, Giants, Cowboys and Redskins….There are a few excellent picks but none are franchise changers and only a few are true game changers. #1’s are overrated.
    RG3 can be a real franchise changer. However, on the other hand, there were other QB’s that were supposed to be locks to change a franchise and they did, negatively, for quite a number of years waiting for them to develop. QB busts such as Tim Couch and Jamarcus Russel (Both #1 overall), or Ryan Leaf (#2 overall) or Heath Shuler and Akili Smith (#3 overall).
    It’s a gamble but a good one for the Skins.

    1. giants fan says:

      Except for JPP, who could actually be a franchise changer but I take your point.

      1. D3Keith says:

        Giants are also the exception to the rule, as they’ve drafted useful players every season in Round 1 and beyond. Most teams have more of a crapshoot going on.

  20. Roy says:

    Jimmy, I agree. Wholeheartedly. I went into last season as a Skins fan thinking defense and a running game would give us a chance. And it did, for 4 games. We need a legitimate QB. Not a 3rd round project, not another aging and injured vet. And a good part of this is business sense. If you’ve been to FedEx over the last several years you know what I mean. The energy is dead. Seats are vanishing. We needed this move badly, and in my view the Skins didn’t overpay–they just paid what it was going to take to get the deal done. Look out, NFC East.

    1. D3Keith says:

      Yeah the Redskins have taken some serious PR hits since bringing McNabb to town two Easters ago: Suing the fans, Snyder vs. city paper, Haynesworth’s athletic testing and subsequent flameout, the first two years of Shanahan netting 11 wins … they’ve really murdalized the energy. From a business sense this gets that all back, and from a football standpoint, it makes sense too.

      Wise move.

  21. WeNeedLinemen says:

    Its is a bit like waking up in the morning after a drunken night out and finding yourself in bed next to a really beautiful woman. Then noticing that you are handcuffed to the bed and have a “loose” feeling that doesn’t bode well.

    It’s not a move of Cerratoesque dumbness but, wow, it is a huge gamble. I was worried that watching Peyton Manning in a ‘Skins uniform would reduce games to three hours of praying that you don’t see him get hurt.

    This deal may have just the same thing. It’s going to be hard to watch Griffin (or Luck) take off from the pocket. I suspect Eagles fans will have some sympathy. When Vick is healthy you look formidable, when he is banged up, which is a lot of the time, you dno’t look quite so threatening.

    Still, on the bright side. The Skins have a history of screwing up second round picks. Even when we get a good player like Jenkins we spent the entire year without him because of injury.

    Also, whilst in Orakpo, Williams and Kerrigan we picked up 3-solid players with potential for more, they didn’t transform the team. None of them are currently the best at their position in the league. They were all good picks. Would I trade them for RGIII? No, probably not because I am not a gambler. Someone at Redskins Park is and they’ve just gone all in.

    1. Well put, and I think that’s why I like it… I AM a gambler.

      1. D3Keith says:

        And a damn fogie.

        I admit I did the usual rounds around 3-4 a.m. (BGN, Tommy, then here) and was slightly aghast to see a Dallas Clark post up top. My real thought: “Guess Jimmy had date night or something.”

        It was a Friday night after all.

        You and I see about eye to eye on this deal, and on the value of the picks traded, although I’ve never seen it phrased as “draft picks used to be underrated, now they’re overrated.”

        Here’s how I saw it: Nobody nails three consecutive first round picks. Some teams that have come close (Giants, Packers, Lions, Patriots) are among the league’s best, so there’s value if you can do it. But most teams miss on at least one of those guys, or get a slow developer. It’s awful tough to assume those three picks would all have the impact for Washington that RGIII will have if he’s 2/3 as good as he’s projected to be.

        (Here’s a way to research recent first-round pick history quickly:

        Not to mention The Danny gets to sell out his stadium again.

  22. nicolajNN says:

    But if draft picks are overrated wouldn’t that mean that the one they traded for is overrated as well?

    The Rams have their quarterback how well have they done since they got him? You could sorta point to the Lions as well, injuries to Stafford have slowed them down, but that could happen to RG3. The OB position is important, but football is still a team sport.

    1. The point was that a bona fide QB you can build around is far more important than draft picks. And yes, the irony that Griffin himself would be a draft pick was not lost on me.

      Stafford is a great example of the points I was trying to make, by the way. He threw for over 5000 yards and 40 TD’s this season.

      1. nicolajNN says:

        But as a team they were never really dangerous, and if I recall correctly you said they were overrated last season. Stafford also had Megatron, the same can’t be said about the Skins receiving corp so far. My point is that you need more than just a QB to win and without draft picks (overrated or not) it’s harder to get the other pieces, after all free agents are no sure thing either

        1. Yup, said the Lions were overrated (and that Suh was absurdly overrated), but you won’t find a bad word from me on this blog about Stafford.

          As for Calvin Johnson, Stafford threw 421 completions in 2011. Johnson had 96 of those. That’s 22.8%. It’s not like Stafford made a season of just lobbing balls up to Johnson on every throw. Why minimize what Stafford did? He had a phenomenal season.

          And I agree that the lack of picks makes it more difficult to build around RG3. To be clear, by the way, I don’t want to sound like I’m saying draft picks aren’t extremely important – they are. I just think people have gotten carried away with them. But considering the alternative (continuing to lose year after year with junk at QB), I respect the Skins for being aggressive and fixing by far the most important position in sports.

          1. D3Keith says:

            That’s the bigger point.

            The Redskins’ alternatives weren’t as good. I would have been on board with Flynn + No. 6 pick playmaker, but RGIII is nothing but upside. Assets are to be spent, the question do they get enough in return?

            I’m with the adage ‘if you don’t have a QB, you got nothing.’ Pay big for a guy there, especially if it’s been 20+ years since you had a reliable one (see Bears, Cutler).

        2. DCeaglesfan says:

          Also, they were definitely overrated, but still became a playoff team and a threat with Stafford and C. J. So that’s a pretty significant change in the status quo that should not be overlooked.

  23. Mark Sitko says:

    All this is fine and good – and then Babin and Cole meet at RG3’s knee (no bounty needed) in his first start against the birds – tears an ACL and never recovers. You are ignoring the biggest issue with this deal – no player is worth that many draft picks due to injury. If he goes down, sure his salary isn’t guaranteed, but you ain’t getting any of those picks back – so you are back to square one as the laughing stock of the NFC East, and you have no first round picks for several years trying to recover.

    I think the Falcons horrible deal last year makes this look reasonable…yes, a QB is important (far more than a WR) – but any draft pick is a lottery ticket – and even the people dumb enough to play the lottery would not be dumb enough to pay half the jackpot value (or more) for a ticket.

    That’s my two cents…this has a chance of being a good deal, but it has a lot more chance to be a really bad decision by the Skins. And if I go off Shannahan and Snyder’s current decision making track record and all I know about the draft I think this is a bad pick.


    PS – Deep balls and college scrambles are one thing and I am not a pro scout – but I do not see enough 3, 5 and 7 step drops in RG3’s highlights to give me faith he could handle Andy’s offense, I can’t speak for the Skins offense because no one has seen it in several years…

    1. AustonianAggie says:

      RG3 is more of a passer than a runner. His 40 time is something sports fan won’t see much of on Sunday. Kid is a gifted pocket passer

  24. Josh says:

    Schefter says that they still want to sign Manning. I’m not sure what their plan would be in that case (still draft RG3?). Probably doesn’t matter since Manning didn’t want to sign with the Skins before, and if they are slated to draft RG3, he reallllllly won’t want to sign there.

  25. Tracer Bullet says:

    I kind of hope they shock us all and send that pick to Pittsburgh for Wallace.

    I don’t think it’s a terrible move but in order for this two work out, Snyder will have to show a trait he’s never evidenced in the past: patience. They need to be frugal in free agency and shrewd in the draft, and his teams have never really done either. Maybe Danny Boy has finally learned his lessons, but I’m guessing that if RGIII is less than Cam Newton as a rookie or the rebuild takes longer than expected, he’s going to get frustrated and go back to his bad habits.

    1. “I kind of hope they shock us all and send that pick to Pittsburgh for Wallace.”

      Lol, that’s awesome.

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