The Washington Redskins have agreed to a trade with the St. Louis Rams in which Washington will receive the No. 2 pick in the NFL Draft — and plan to use it to select Heisman Trophy-winning Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin III, FOXSports.com has learned.
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Washington is trading up from the No. 6 pick in the April 26 draft.
The trade cannot become official until the start of the new league year, which begins next week (4 p.m. ET on Tuesday, the first official day of free agency).
Under the deal, the Redskins and Rams will swap first-rounders this year, sources said. The Rams also will receive two future first-round picks and a second-round pick, Rams vice president and chief operating officer Kevin Demoff confirmed to The Sports Xchange after the story first broke.
Redskins owner Dan Snyder had targeted Peyton Manning in free agency, but Manning did not reciprocate interest in playing in Washington. With Andrew Luck all but a foregone conclusion to go to the Colts at No. 1 overall, the Redskins then moved quickly to make sure they could acquire the other most coveted quarterback of the draft.
Assuming the Redskins take RG3, the Minnesota Vikings would then be on the clock with the No. 3 pick. Their short list likely includes offensive tackle Matt Kalil of USC, wide receiver Justin Blackmon of Oklahoma State, and cornerback Morris Claiborne of LSU.
The bold move demonstrates how badly the Redskins are in need of a franchise quarterback after two decades of struggles. Coach Mike Shanahan has already whiffed on three in his two seasons in Washington, with Donovan McNabb, Rex Grossman and John Beck combining to produce an 11-21 record.
The Rams were in the market to trade because they already have their franchise quarterback, 2010 No. 1 overall pick Sam Bradford. The Redskins had to make an offer they felt would outbid the quarterback-needy Cleveland Browns, who could have offered both the No. 4 and No. 22 selections in this year’s draft.
Cleveland general manager Tom Heckert acknowledged Thursday he had talked to the Rams.
”We feel very comfortable staying at four and getting a good player there, and that could happen,” he said. ”And we feel comfortable in moving down and getting more picks, we really do. It’s way early to start talking about this stuff.”
By sacrificing four premium draft picks, Shanahan is reversing the plan he set in motion last year to stockpile picks to rebuild Washington’s depleted roster. The Redskins, however, have plenty of space under the salary cap and can be aggressive in plugging their holes when free agency begins Tuesday.
Grossman and Beck combined to throw 24 interceptions last year, putting the Redskins just one behind league leaders Philadelphia and Buffalo on the way to a fourth consecutive last-place finish in the division. McNabb, acquired in a trade from the Eagles, was the starter for the first 13 games in 2010, when Washington went 6-10.
Griffin, therefore, will get to work with a coach who has a reputation for working well with quarterbacks and designing effective offensive schemes, but Shanahan will likewise rely on Griffin to help make the coach a winner again. Shanahan has won only one playoff game since John Elway retired after capturing the second of back-to-back Super Bowls with the Denver Broncos in 1998, and he hasn’t been to the playoffs in his last five seasons as a coach.