Distant replay: RG3 trade lessons learned?

Easy to say the Redskins lost the RG3 deal, but did they ever have a chance to win it and will they potentially make same mistake in 2016?

The Rams are in town this Sunday and it is another reminder of the Robert Griffin III trade prior to the 2012 draft that would help dictate the future of these two franchises. Early on it looked like the Redskins were the winners of this deal as Griffin won the Rookie of the Year award on his way to helping the Redskins secure the NFC East and make the playoffs. Now just over two years later the script has flipped and the Redskins are the clear losers in this deal.

Though the Redskins have one Division Title since this deal and the Rams have zero, the Redskins have been so poor since that run in 2012, that the Rams actually have a better winning percentage following the trade. The Redskins (counting Week 1 this year) have gone 17-32 for a pathetic .346 winning percentage. The Rams are 21-27-1 since 2012 for a .438 winning percentage, which is still clearly below average. The fact that the Rams have played below .500 every year since this trade and still have a better winning percentage than the Redskins who won the division title in 2012 speaks volumes in just how far Washington has fallen.

The Rams won this trade not because of a slightly higher winning percentage, but rather do too the assets acquired in this deal and that potential impact going forward. To recap this trade:

* The Rams traded the rights to the No. 2 overall pick in 2012 for the 6th and 39th (Redskins 2nd rounder) selections, plus the Redskins 2013 and 2014 1st round picks.

* St. Louis then did additional wheeling and dealing, turning those picks into even more players. The Rams added a 2013 6th and 7th round pick of their own to complete some of these deals. Here is the final haul for St. Louis after all of these trades:

2012: DT Michael Brockers (1st), CB Janoris Jenkins (2nd), RB Isaiah Pead (2nd), G Rokevius Watkins (5th)

2013: LB Alec Ogletree (1st), WR Stedman Bailey (3rd), RB Zac Stacy (5th)

2014: T Greg Robinson (1st)

St. Louis has done well with these picks, but they do have some misses, as well.

Overall the Rams have gotten four starters (Brockers, Jenkins, Ogletree, Robinson) out of the four premium picks the Redskins gave up, and really fell short with the additional picks they acquired from moving back multiple times. The one guy beyond the four main guys who has shown some promise is Bailey, but he’s more of a 3rd receiver than anything special. Though questions remain on some of the Rams starters, all four have clearly contributed to this team and look to be at least solid starters going forward.

Brockers has had the most impact on the Rams, and though his contributions get overshadowed by his talented defensive linemates, he’s developed into a very good defensive tackle. Ogletree has probably performed the next best. The athletic linebacker has been a good starter for two years. He’s yet to take his game to the next level, but the Rams appear happy with his progress. Last year’s 2nd overall pick LT Greg Robinson was a raw player when he was drafted and he had a very mixed rookie year, and is more potential than substance at this point. If Robinson comes close to reaching his potential though he will be a great asset to the Rams going forward.

Finally, Jenkins has been a Rams starting corner since he was drafted. Though he’s not been a “shutdown” corner or anything close to that, he has been a nice playmaker for the Rams. He has 7 career interceptions and has somehow returned 5 of them for touchdowns.

Watkins has since been cut and Stacy was traded this past NFL draft for 7th ILB Bryce Hager. No team hits on every selection, especially fifth round and beyond. Regardless, soing forward the Rams are set up nicely from this haul to contend in the future for the NFC West.

The issue for the Redskins isn’t just that Robert Griffin III has struggled and lost his starting role, making this an easy “loss” in the trade department, but rather that this deal had almost no chance of success from the get go.

Now some might consider that crazy given Griffin and the team’s success in 2012, but as we’ve come to find out that success was manufactured and not easily replicable. The Redskins recognized that Griffin would struggle with many pro concepts and so they attempted to get as much value as they could from him with the pistol offense. It worked initially, and led to success as defenses weren’t ready for it.

Griffin hasn’t developed since. What worked in 2012 didn't in the subsequent seasons. The deficiencies both in Griffin’s development and the Redskins roster are no longer easy to cover up and opposing teams take advantage.

By paying such a high price for Griffin, the Redskins needed him to play at an elite level over an extended period of time. The problem with that is few quarterbacks ever reach that level, and it’s extremely rare that they play that way early in their career. Obviously Griffin’s level of production has come up so short that it’s easy to say that he wasn’t worth it, but the bar was set so high that Griffin basically would have to mirror Andrew Luck’s success to make him worth while. Even if Griffin was playing at a level similar to another 2012 1st round QB, Ryan Tannehill, there would be questions if the trade was a smart move. Maybe in the long term a Tannehill level quarterback (who has improved and developed every single year), will prove more worthwhile, but trading away four premium picks is really tough to match in terms of value.

This is something to keep in mind for the Redskins as they look to start a new chapter post-Griffin, and look at the possibility of getting into the quarterback market once again. If Kirk Cousins doesn’t prove himself to be the answer at quarterback this year the Redskins will definitely look towards the draft for finding a possible answer, but if they don’t have a top pick or two, they may need to weigh whether or not it’s worth trading up.

Each year the price to move up will vary based on supply and demand, but the market is always the highest when top signal callers are at the top of the draft. Given the Redskins lack of young players and depth it probably is going to be pretty prohibitive to move up even a couple of spots, so if they look to enter this market again they have to be 100% sure. Not only do they need to be sure that the player they move up for is the answer, but that he can play at high level and make up for the loss of any other impact picks.

Steve is the founder of Fanspeak.com. Click here for the Fanspeak power rankings.


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