At first glance, no doubt. Running the numbers, yes. And looking at the bigger picture, it’s a trade that could work for both teams … or cripple the Rams for the future.
The Titans had the No. 1 overall pick and leveraged its value masterfully, eventually landing two first-round picks (2016 and 2017), two second-round picks (both in 2016) and two third-round picks (2016 and 2017) for their first overall pick in 2016 and fourth- and sixth-round selections this year.
In all, the Rams got three picks and the Titans got six, with all but one of them higher than any the Rams received. But that one, the first overall selection in this year’s draft, was obviously the key to the deal. The Rams want a quarterback and in order get their desired one – either Jared Goff or Carson Wentz – they had to move up to No. 1.
The trade also sets up the likely possibility that Goff and Wentz, or Wentz and Goff, depending on the scouting eye of the beholder, will go first and second overall. Despite signing Robert Griffin III, the Cleveland Browns, sitting with the second overall pick, could also select a quarterback, or use the additional leverage to increase the value of their second overall selection and trade that, too.
The Rams already paid the incredible ransom for a quarterback in 2010, when they used the top pick in the draft on Sam Bradford and signed him to a six-year, $78 million deal that had $50 million in guarantees and a maximum value of $86 million. It was the last of the oversized rookie contracts under the old Collective Bargaining Agreement and constituted the largest deal ever for a rookie.
So how did the Rams and Titans do in today’s trade? The old draft value chart that some NFL general managers claim isn’t the overriding guiding principle still often comes close when assessing trades. In this case, the Titans won when taking the overall trade into account, but considering that two of the picks they received come in 2017, it may be closer than many think.
There is some debate about how much a pick is devalued by having it come in future years rather than the current draft, but let’s assume that the Rams finish in the same draft slot as they did this year (15th), putting their 2017 first-round and third-round picks sent to the Titans in the middle of those rounds. That would give those picks values of 1050 points in the first round and 195 in the third round, according to the old draft value chart.
You can debate how much those should be devalued because they aren’t in this year’s draft, but here is how the trade works out according to the chart:
- 15th pick = 1050 points
- 43rd pick = 470 points
- 45th pick = 450 points
- 76th pick = 210 points
Total 2016 points = 2,180 points
- 1st round (assuming 15th overall) = 1050 in current-year points
- 3rd round (assuming 79th overall) = 195 in current-year points
Titans total = 3,425 points
- 1st pick = 3,000 points
- 113th pick = 68 points
- 177th pick = 21.8 points
Rams total = 3,089.8 points
Many people saw the haul that the Titans got in the trade and declared them the winner. That’s probably true, and it makes even more sense for them given that they weren’t going to select a quarterback at No. 1 anyway, having taken Marcus Mariota last year. They were likely going to take offensive tackle Laremy Tunsil or cornerback Jalen Ramsey, and now with the 15th pick in the first round they could still select the second- or third-best offensive tackle or cornerback and continue to add to their roster depth with three second-round picks as well. Or they could package their first-round picks in 2016 and 2017 acquired in today’s trade, try to move up to No. 3 and perhaps still have the top non-quarterback on their radar, along with all of their other picks acquired in the trade.
The draft value chart declares the Titans the winner, depending on how much value is lost by delaying two of their acquired picks into next year. Either way, the Titans won on their end and the Rams could still end up winning, too, if the quarterback they select turns out to be the franchise guy they envision. If not, the Rams mortgaged their future in their first year back in Los Angeles.