Diary of a Trade: Reporter's Perspective

When the Redskins rallied to beat Dallas in the famed Monday night game, it was one of the most exciting finishes many had ever seen. But it was also, for a reporter, one of the toughest. I had to re-write my story several times in a half hour, changing it to reflect that the Redskins had lost ... then come close ... then won... and then nearly lost again.

The business gets crazy like that. Things change on a whim.

Which brings me to the Jay Cutler trade. One minute it was done and a couple hours later it wasn't.

From my perspective, here's what it was like:

March 16: Talk to a source about the Redskins and he starts talking about their desire to trade Jason Campbell and acquire Jay Cutler. Got a second source on it, who echoed the interest. Put out the story. Skins deny it – loudly. But trust the source, knowing his spot in the trade discussions.

March 20: After the Redskins had denied the story more, the source remains adamant: The Skins want Cutler. But the source also says Denver wants to repair the relationship.

March 31: Early in the morning, the source, heavily involved in the discussions, says it appears Denver might keep Cutler. He says Denver had been texting with Cutler.

March 31: Later in the day, Denver owner Pat Bowlen issues the trade desire.

April 1: Son's birthday. Talked to the source, an d another, about Cutler. The primary source says he'd be shocked if the Redskins had dropped their interest. Another source called it a classic Dan Snyder move. Story goes out: Skins still interested. Noticed others still not hearing stuff.

April 1: After deadline, more is learned so sent an updated version to the web stressing the Redskins' interest even more and giving them a real shot to land Cutler.

April 1: Around 11:30 p.m., hear from a third-hand source – who has been right on other stuff – that a deal is all but completed with the Redskins and Denver. But they were still trying to land Jason Campbell somewhere else. Talk to Campbell's agent, who had heard nothing. But he'd been out of the loop on the whole situation. All he knew is that Snyder was at the facility all day. That meant one thing: activity. Talk to primary source who had not yet heard this. So no story ... yet. Third-hand source might know something more after midnight. Call editor to tell him – stay up late.

April 2: Around 1:30 a.m., it's clear nothing is going to happen. Time for bed.

April 2: By 8:30 a.m., had talked to the primary source who felt something would get done within 24 hours. Talked to another team involved who was not ready to assume the Redskins would land him. Primary source says the Redskins would only get a fifth-rounder for Campbell, at best. Other team says Tampa, Detroit, the Jets and Washington are in it. And, he says, donE2t count out Chicago.

April 2: Radio shows start calling, wanting to know the latest. Friends call wanting to know the latest. Others email wanting to ... well, you got the picture.

...By 9:30, it's clear that something likely will happen by Friday. But for a few hours there's not much to report. The Redskins aren't talking. Editors start preparing special pages in case Cutler is traded to Washington.

...Around 2 p.m., talk to Phillip Daniels about returning to Washington. Trade talk does not come up because we only have a few minutes.

...Around 2:15 p.m., hear back from primary source about the latest. His verdict: Washington is out. The Redskins just didn't have enough to pull it off. He wants it between ‘'you and me.'' I ask: Can I print this? He says: ‘'You have to tone it down; things can still change.'' He's been in the NFL for a while so he understands the game. I hang up, tell my wife the latest (working from home; she has to get some perks) and figure I can't run a story on that yet. Talk to another league source to see what he knew. Within five minutes, get a call from the primary source with big news: The Skins are close to a deal. ‘'Going down as we speak,'' he said. He didn't know all the details, but knew it was real close. Actually, he said it was all but done. I ask: Am I safe running this story. His r eply in a very firm voice, ‘'Yes.''

...Call the office to alert them of the latest. Get it on the web about 20 minutes later and a firestorm erupts. Phone has never buzzed so much. Start to prepare stories for the Cutler page (hoping to get out in time to take kids to the Wiz-Cavs game as part of son's birthday present). Game is in jeopardy. ESPN says the Redskins are close and that something could happen within 20 minutes. CBS in Denver says Cutler is telling people he's going to Washington. Later hear he told teammates as well.

...Talk to Campbell around 2:40 to see what he's heard and to see about his thoughts if he were to be traded. Also, just in case, ask about if he could return knowing he'd been shopped – after being told he was the guy.

...Around 5 p.m., the bomb drops: Going to the Bears. After picking jaw off the ground, call primary source who explains what happened: Skins could not meet the Broncos' demands; Browns got cold feet in the three-way deal. Says Denver wanted Brady Quinn or Kyle Orton. Not Campbell. And the Bears convinced Denver at the last minute to return to them.

...More phone calls coming in, wanting to know what happened and what was next. Ditch the big Cutler pieces for a story about what happened. Write a story on Campbell's thoughts on returning. Around 6:40, finally done writing. Sort of.

... Take kids to Wiz-Cavs game; hear from another reporter20with questions while at the game. Hear from another league source with the latest he had heard, some of which may be shared later (after seeing how legit it is).

... Exchange more emails with third-hand source until 1 a.m. Can't believe what happened; had talked to people in Denver and Washington who said the deal was done. Says Redskins were shocked at the outcome.

...Go to bed. It's finally over.

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