By Rich Tandler
There are some rumblings out there that the Redskins and Rams could complete a deal for St. Louis’ first draft pick, the second overall, prior to the start of free agency. That would allow the Redskins to draft quarterback Robert Griffin III. Any deal could not be formally done until the start of the league year on March 13 but there is nothing prevents the two teams from negotiating a deal and then filing the handshake arrangement with the league as soon as they can.
There are advantages to both sides to getting a deal done sooner rather than later, presuming that the Redskins have decided that RG3 is their guy before his pro day, before working him out, and before having him into Redskins Park for a formal interview. It is possible that that is the case as in 2006, Mike Shanahan moved up in the draft to take quarterback Jay Cutler without having met with him or having seen him throw in person.
The big advantage to the Redskins would be certainty. They will have filled their biggest need prior to the start of free agency. They will know what kind of contract Griffin will get so they can adjust their available salary cap money accordingly. They can skip getting in on the Peyton Manning bidding and not overpay Kyle Orton. The talent evaluators will be able to stop watching film of Ryan Tannehill and Brandon Weeden and start focusing on players the Redskins actually will draft. And any potential free agent receivers the Redskins might try to attract will know they will be catching passes from the dynamic Griffin and not the tag team of Grossman and Beck.
The advantage to the Rams could be that the rights to RG3 might not ever get higher than they are right now. The number of suitors could decline when quarterbacks such as Peyton Manning (assuming the Colts release him) and Matt Flynn land. Generally speaking, a lowered demand for the pick could lead to a lower price. It could be advantageous to them to take the proverbial bird in the hand instead of chasing after more that might not be there down the road.
There also are advantages to both sides letting the process play out. The Redskins can give RG3 a more in-depth look and also talk to other prospects. If the value of the rights to Griffin is at its highest point now, the Redskins could end up overpaying in exchange for certainty. The Rams could see if the value goes up further after Griffin throws on his pro day later in March.
Under most circumstances trades involving draft picks take place closer to draft day than to the start of the league year. We will see if this situation is extraordinary enough to push the deal to be completed and formalized sooner rather than later.