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Monday, April 12, 2010
Campbell's fate tied to Clausen

By John Clayton
ESPN.com

Jimmy Clausen's pro day last Friday might have settled questions about whether he's a top-10 prospect.

Clausen threw well enough to be a top-10 pick, but figuring out where he'll go means figuring out how much appeal Redskins QB Jason Campbell has on the trade market.

Campbell went from being the Redskins' starter to a draft-day trade candidate when the Redskins acquired Donovan McNabb. To help the trade process, Campbell signed his one-year restricted free-agent tender on Monday to help make a trade happen.

Campbell has two main hopes -- Oakland or Buffalo -- although he'd prefer if something could be done to get him to Carolina. Unfortunately for him, the Panthers don't appear to be interested. From the Redskins' standpoint, coach Mike Shanahan met with Campbell and was honest. Shanahan told Campbell he would try to accommodate him in a trade that benefits both parties. He gave Campbell the ability to shop around, too.

The timing of the McNabb deal held back any quick solution for Campbell. You can see how this is going to go. Campbell will watch the Clausen situation closely. If the Bills take Clausen at No. 9, Campbell will likely have to wait until Saturday, April 24, with hopes that the Redskins deal him to the Raiders as part of a draft-day trade.

The Bills, meanwhile, could factor Campbell's availability into what they do at quarterback. The cost of Campbell won't be more than a lower-round pick, a bargain for a starting quarterback. That could give the Bills the luxury of taking a Colt McCoy or a Tim Tebow and still getting Campbell as a starting quarterback to buy time for their future QB's development.

Still, odds favor Campbell ending up in Oakland, where he could work with new offensive coordinator Hue Jackson.

From the inbox

Q: This may be a long shot, but what are the chances of the Pittsburgh Steelers making a play to get Jason Campbell? I personally think that Campbell is much better than given credit for and if he found himself in a situation with stability, he'd be pretty good. With the Big Ben situation, I would think the Steelers could use a better option than Charlie Batch or Dennis Dixon, and Campbell could be that option.

Patrick in Larmore, Colo.

A:
The Steelers got a big break when criminal charges were not pressed against Roethlisberger for sexual assault. With Batch back in the mix and Dixon developing, the Steelers aren't in the market for a quarterback, but they must make sure Roethlisberger's head is right. They need to sit him down and discuss where he is going with his life. He's had a great career and that career should only get better, but he's going to blow it if he doesn't improve his life off the field. This should have been a scare for Roethlisberger and the Steelers, but now both sides can concentrate on football.

Q: If ownership in Carolina is already thinking to themselves that John Fox may not be back after this season, isn't there a risk to taking a QB in the second or third round? Even if there is a need, isn't there a risk that a new coach might not have the same feelings toward the drafted QB?

John in Spokane, Wash.

A:
John, I think you are on to something. The Panthers need players for now if this is going to be Fox's last year in Carolina, and I do believe Fox will leave after the season. What would make sense is acquiring Jason Campbell for a middle-round pick. Campbell would be there on a one-year contract to evaluate. He's young and he wants to be a member of the Panthers. If things don't work out for Matt Moore, Campbell would be experienced enough to step in and salvage this season. It wouldn't make sense to draft Tim Tebow, Tony Pike or Colt McCoy, knowing they might have to adjust to a new offensive system in another year. What would make more sense is to find a way to keep Fox, but ownership right now wants him to play this season out.

Q: There are a lot of teams not biting on the Brandon Marshall first-round tender. I know the Bucs took a gamble by acquiring Kellen Winslow and paying him a big contract before he even played a snap. Why won't they do that again? All reports say they are afraid of Marshall's baggage, but that doesn't make sense. They have 11 draft picks. I know there are a lot of other needs, but WR is one of them.

Ed in Cape Coral, Fla.

A:
The Bucs won't want to add a lot of payroll and it would cost $9 million to $10 million a year to get him. I think they will end up with Golden Tate with their second-round pick, although it's not out of the question that they will have to trade to the bottom of the first round just to make sure he is on the roster. As great as Marshall is, the Bucs need a speed receiver -- they have big receivers. Josh Freeman has a strong arm. What he wants is speed. They can get that with their second-round pick.

Q: After the disaster season the New York Giants had, do you really think Rolando McClain would be available in the draft for the Giants to get him? What about C.J. Spiller? Which is a better fit?

Kareen in Fort Worth, Texas

A:
McClain is the perfect fit for the Giants, but I think he's going to go at No. 11 to the Denver Broncos. To get him, the Giants might have to trade up a couple of spots. Obviously, the Giants need help on defense. If the Seahawks pass on Spiller, though, and if McClain is gone, I think the Giants will take Spiller. He would be an exciting addition to their offense. The Giants also have to look to get younger along the offensive line. They have a lot to do in this draft.

Q: Many analysts, including yourself, deem the Redskins an instant playoff contender because of the arrival of McNabb, often citing Mike Shanahan's reliance on the running game as a benefit to McNabb's game and the probability of McNabb bringing out the potential in his young pass-catchers. The current state of the offensive line indicates quite the opposite. If the line performs close to what it did last year, McNabb will get injured, the over-the-hill gang at running back will have nowhere to run, and the receivers won't have to time to get open. Do they really consider a rookie left tackle, Mike Williams at guard and Stephon Heyer at right tackle as legitimate starters?

Henry in Largo, Md.

A:
The beauty of the McNabb trade is that it gives the Redskins the ability to draft Russell Okung to be their left tackle. Sure, there will an adjustment using a rookie left tackle, but there was an adjustment for McNabb last season when Jason Peters came over from Buffalo in a trade. McNabb is used to getting sacked 35 to 40 times a year. What makes life nice for McNabb in Washington is that Shanahan will try to use more running plays to take some pressure off of him. The Redskins aren't ready to go from 4-12 to a Super Bowl contender, but they have clearly moved into the playoff mix. McNabb should add five or six points a game to the offense. The Redskins will run the ball better. McNabb will help the offensive line if he gets rid of the ball quickly. I still can't believe the Eagles did this willingly, but they did.

Q: As a Dolphin fan, I was extremely excited when Bill Parcells and company took over the franchise. However, after the first few offseasons, I am becoming concerned. The stinking Jets have made better personnel moves over the last few seasons and that trend has continued this offseason. Other than Jake Long and Chad Henne, the Tuna and Co. have made some questionable picks (Pat White in the second round, Patrick Turner in the third, etc.) and missed on many of the free agents. Why aren't the Dolphins going after someone like Brandon Marshall, who is a 25-year-old game-breaking WR?

Al in Boca Raton, Fla.

A:
Most of your points are valid, but remember, Tuna took over a team that was 1-15. The first thing Parcells did was establish a toughness on the club by signing good players who were tough. But one of the problems with free agency is that things don't last. Nowadays, free agency is best used as a last resort for poor drafting. You patch holes in free agency; you build teams through the draft. As great as Long is as a tackle, I still contend the Dolphins would be further along had they gone with QB Matt Ryan. Skill-wise, Marshall would work well in the Dolphins' offense, but he's not the type of player Parcells wants because of the off-the-field questions. The key for Dolphins now is deciding whether Parcells was right on Henne.

Q: What do you think about Albert Haynesworth to Detroit? Reuniting with Jim Schwartz and Kyle Vanden Bosch wouldn't be such a bad thing for him, right? And it would get him out of playing at NT in a 3-4, which he desperately does not want. It would likely take a swap of first-round picks and the Lions' second-rounder, but if you're Detroit, do you do it?

Dave M in Rochester, N.Y.

A:
You're not crazy in the least. It does make sense. Schwartz wants to draft the next Haynesworth -- why not go for the original? The only problem is your proposed trade. It doesn't make much sense for the Redskins to swap No. 1 picks, not after the McNabb trade. The Redskins gain no benefit by drafting No. 2 overall. The top defensive tackles in this draft fit the 4-3 more than the 3-4, so why go through that exercise? What would make sense for the Lions is getting Haynesworth for some value and then having him for three years at $16.2 million. Then, the Lions could take Russell Okung at No. 2 and help the offensive line. Unfortunately, as good as the idea sounds, I don't like the odds of it happening.

Q: John, the Ravens' willingness to move Jared Gaither for a second-round pick was made known without much fanfare. Since that original announcement very little has been discussed about the impact of such a deal. As a 49ers fan, this seems like a no-brainer to me. A second-round pick is a small price to pay for an established left tackle (whom the 49ers may play on the right side anyway). This move could enable the 49ers to walk away from the first two rounds of the draft with C.J. Spiller, Joe Haden (if he drops this far) and Gaither. Is there any talk about the 49ers making this move for Gaither?

Steve in Los Angeles

A:
The thought isn't a bad one. The price could be bad, though. Gaither is going to be asking for big money and getting him for one year doesn't work. Left tackles get $8 million to $10 million, and as a right tackle, the price could be $6 million a year. The 49ers feel as though they have a good left tackle in Joe Staley. They would also like to get more athletic along the offensive line. I think Haden could be gone by pick No. 13, and I'm not sold the 49ers really need another running back. For talent, I think Gaither would help the 49ers as long as the financial costs weren't too steep. But I think the finances kill any thoughts of a deal.

Q: In Ted Thompson's first few years at the helm, he followed a strategy of quantity over quality in terms of draft position in order to build the core of the Packers. Last year was the opposite in that he added two impact players by trading up to get Clay Matthews. Is it safe to say he will follow the same blueprint this year? I personally think the best option would be to get an OLB to play opposite of Matthews.

Ben in Grafton, Wis.

A:
It's hard to predict Thompson's draft strategy, but I think you are on to something. He needs two good, young tackles and needs youth and quality at cornerback. He needs quality, not quantity. I think Jerry Hughes fits into the mix if the Packers can't trade up. They could use one more pass-rusher at outside linebacker. The advantage of taking so much quantity through the years is that there aren't as many job openings on the Packers' roster. Thompson now needs to concentrate on quality. He needs to trade up. The problem this year is that he would have to get into the top 10 to get one of the best tackles. I don't see that happening. But he could trade up to get a cornerback. I think the second and third cornerbacks will go around No. 20 in the first round.

John Clayton, a recipient of the Pro Football Hall of Fame's McCann Award for distinguished reporting, is a senior writer for ESPN.com.