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Saturday, March 10, 2012
Redskins pay high price to get their QB

By Dan Graziano

Robert Griffin III
The Washington Redskins gave up a lot for the opportunity to draft Robert Griffin III.

Well, that settles that, then. Count the Washington Redskins out on Peyton Manning and count them in big on Robert Griffin III. Adam Schefter reports that Washington has agreed to trade its next three first-round picks, plus this year's second-round pick, to the St. Louis Rams for the No. 2 overall pick in this year's draft. With Indianapolis expected to take Andrew Luck No. 1 overall and the Redskins desperate for a quarterback, we are left to presume they will use that pick to draft Griffin, the Heisman Trophy winner out of Baylor, to be their quarterback of the future.

It isn't surprising that the Redskins are trading up for Griffin. They wanted him badly, and there are few if any teams in the league that need help at quarterback more than they do. What's shocking is the price. To move up four spots in this year's draft, they are trading away first-rounders in 2012, 2013 and 2014, as well as a second-rounder in 2012. It feels like too much, and it puts a heck of a lot of pressure on Griffin. They're basically going to draft him and tell him, "All right. It's all yours. But we don't have a first-round pick in either of the next two years with which to help you out."

This tells me a number of things:

It tells me the Redskins are 100 percent sold on Griffin. That they believe he can step right in and start next year and be the answer over the long haul. That they are convinced he can handle the kind of pressure I just talked about. That he fits what they want to do on offense and that he can pick it up quickly. There's no reason to doubt any of this. Based on everything we've seen and heard from Griffin, he fits these descriptions well, and Mike Shanahan and his coaching staff have surely researched it more deeply and directly than any of us have.

It tells me they plan to be big players in free agency. With a projected $40 million or so in cap room, they can afford to throw money at a stud wide receiver like Vincent Jackson, add depth to their offensive line, re-sign running back Tim Hightower if he's healthy, give London Fletcher the contract he wants to remain the captain of their defense and upgrade where they need to upgrade in the secondary. They will need to do the bulk of this stuff in free agency, because they're not going to have a pick after Griffin until the third round, and they must feel confident that they can get the players they plan to target and put the right pieces around Griffin right away.

It tells me they got a big, fat "no" from Manning, which is basically what Chris Russell of ESPN 980 in Washington reported Thursday, and wanted to act swiftly to make sure they weren't forced to go to Plan C. If they didn't get Manning or Griffin, they were going to have to sign someone like Kyle Orton and/or draft Ryan Tannehill higher than his value indicates he should be drafted. And they would have had a hard time selling that to their fans.

The price is toe-curlingly high, and a month or so ago I thought three first-rounders would have been too much. But I think the Redskins had to do it. Look around the league. Teams that get quarterback right are set for a decade. They are playoff teams, almost guaranteed, every single year. They have far fewer worries at draft time, and their offseasons are far less stressful and scrutinized. Teams that miss on quarterback are miserable, lost and confused, perpetually reaching for ill-fitting solutions and facing the same insurmountable problems year in and year out.

If the Redskins really think Griffin is the guy to fix all of that for them, they were right to do whatever it took to get him. Now, it's on him to justify that price and on them to build the team around him that puts him in position to make this deal look good.