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The Gridiron Grouse: The Trade That Nobody Won

In sports, when a trade is made you can usually determine a winner and a loser. Usually. Sometimes, instead, both teams come out better than they were before. In other cases, like the trade between the Washington Redskins and St. Louis Rams from 2012, neither team wins and it can even end up doing more harm than good.

This fact is ever so apparent for the Redskins. They gave up, amongst other things, three years worth of first round picks in order to draft Robert Griffin III from Baylor in 2012 with the second overall pick in that year’s draft. With Griffin at the helm, they did win the NFC East in his rookie year, but it has only spiraled downward since then. He was injured in his first playoff game (and thanks to Mike Shanahan, he kept playing on his injured leg much longer than he should have). He came back as fast as he could in order to play last season, and he, as well as the team, struggled mightily. They finished last in the division and could not even take advantage of a high draft pick this year since they traded it away to the Rams (more on that later). RG3 is now injured again, leading the team to be reliant on their backup, Kirk Cousins (who, by the way, was also drafted in 2012, in the fourth round). Speaking of Kirk Cousins, ever since RG3 got injured in 2012, Washington fans have seemingly been clamoring for him to get more playing time. Well, they got their wish, and if you watch the Redskins/Giants Thursday Night Football game, they should be reminded to be careful what you wish for. Everyone has a bad game though, and for a fourth-round pick that has not taken a ton of first-team snaps and hasn’t had his development focused on as much as his first-round pick counterpart, he has done a fine job.

So where is Washington now? A bad team with a lot of holes, a controversy at quarterback including one player who sometimes seems more focused on his brand than his quality of play, and not nearly as many young players as they would like to have. Should they have made the trade? It’s hard to say, honestly. Would they be better off with all of those high draft picks that they gave away to St. Louis? Frankly, they probably would not be any worse off than they are now. Of course it’s great to win a division title like they did in 2012, but they’ve been pretty awful since. Knowing the Redskins organization, they may have botched the picks anyway, but at least they’d have some youth. All they have now is a mess on their hands. How long is Griffin going to stick around? If the Redskins have a terrible season and end up with a high projected draft pick, do they take a stab at Jameis Winston/Marcus Mariota/Brett Hundley/(insert highly touted QB prospect here) in the draft? Maybe they get some youth back by trying to trade Griffin. It sounds ridiculous but the team is going nowhere fast with RG3 and that’s not likely to change with Kirk Cousins under center; this may be the year to take a look at a new QB, which would make this trade with the Rams not just a loss, but a complete and utter failure.

St. Louis isn’t off the hook here though. Thanks to the trade with Washington, in the last 3 drafts the Rams have had five first round picks and four in the second round. They have had a combined 15-19-1 record since the start of the 2012 season, and currently their quarterback is Austin Davis. Don’t worry, I had to look him up the first time too. While the young gunslinger has been fine so far, I’m skeptical of him being able to have long-term, sustained success. Originally Sam Bradford was supposed to be starting for the Rams, although along with his inconsistencies that we’ve seen throughout his career, he is also apparently made of glass and can’t stay on the field. Despite a bevy of high draft picks and one of the most fearsome defensive front-seven’s in the NFL, St. Louis has not made it to the playoffs and really hasn’t looked like anything special at all.

Would St. Louis be better off if they had not made the trade? Again, it’s hard to say, but considering the fact that they haven’t made the playoffs recently anyway, they couldn’t do a whole lot worse than they already have. Their quarterback situation is iffy at best, because again, I can’t really picture Austin Davis as the quarterback of the future in St. Louis. Do the Rams take a quarterback at number two? Robert Griffin III is right there for the taking. Or they could have traded with someone else and gotten Ryan Tannehill later, or Russell Wilson much later. Maybe they ignore quarterback completely and go a different direction. Again, whether they go quarterback with the second overall pick or not, they could not really be any worse off than they are right now, having traded back for what was seemingly a king’s ransom at the time and stocking up on young talent. At the time, it looked like this trade would be fantastic for the Rams, because even if Robert Griffin III panned out (and for the record, he still might, he’s still young) they would have come away with tons of young talent who could play together for a long time. In retrospect, it doesn’t seem like it has made a whole lot of difference at all.

It’s easy to play around with what-ifs. What if the trade never goes through? What if RGIII never gets hurt in the playoffs? What if the Rams had kicked Bradford out already and had Robert Griffin III right now? Hell, what if the Rams don’t make the trade, don’t take a quarterback at number two and Cleveland ends up with Griffin? It’s easy but a moot point all around; the trade was made and there is no going back now, as much as these two franchises may wish that they could. The fact of the matter today is that both of these teams are losers, both in terms of record and in terms of the blockbuster 2012 trade. The Redskins are a dumpster with and without RG3 on the field and the Rams are apparently incapable of not being mediocre. Who knows, maybe we’ll see Austin Davis become this generation’s gunslinging star quarterback and Robert Griffin III may end up living up to they hype and becoming a true star. Or, we’ll see a team with a ton of young talent continue to underwhelm us while they have yet another stop-gap quarterback starting and another team that ends up in further turmoil with their former first round pick diva of a quarterback. Anything can happen in the NFL, but I’ll play it safe and lean towards the latter option.

 

Written by Brendan Dzwierzynski. You can hear Brendan every Tuesday at 7 on The Pregame on KJHK.