Washington • The St. Louis Rams agreed in principle Saturday to trading the No. 2 pick of the draft to the Washington Redskins for three first-round selections.
The Redskins are paying a hefty price to move into position to take Heisman Trophy winner Robert Griffin III. They’re giving the Rams their first- and second-round selections this year, plus first-round picks in 2013 and 2014.
Chief operating officer Kevin Demoff confirmed to The Associated Press details of the trade, which cannot be completed until Tuesday. FOXsports.com and ESPN.com first reported details of the agreement Friday night.
The Redskins are advancing four places from sixth in the April draft, leapfrogging any other team that would have an interest in Griffin, the Baylor quarterback. The Indianapolis Colts are expected to take Andrew Luck with the No. 1 choice.
The bold move demonstrates the Redskins’ desperation for a franchise quarterback after two decades of struggles. Coach Mike Shanahan has already whiffed on three in his two seasons in Washington, with Donovan McNabb, Rex Grossman and John Beck combining to produce an 11-21 record.
The Redskins were among the teams hoping to be in the running for Peyton Manning, but the odds are stacked against the former Indianapolis Colts quarterback coming to Washington. The offense needs upgrades at receiver and along the offensive line, and Manning would have had to face his brother Eli Manning of the New York Giants twice a year in the NFC East.
The Rams were in the market to trade because they already have their franchise quarterback, 2010 No. 1 overall pick Sam Bradford. The Redskins had to make an offer they felt would outbid the quarterback-needy Cleveland Browns, who could have offered both the No. 4 and No. 22 selections in this year’s draft.
Cleveland general manager Tom Heckert acknowledged Thursday he had talked to the Rams.
“We feel very comfortable staying at four and getting a good player there, and that could happen,” he said. “And we feel comfortable in moving down and getting more picks, we really do. It’s way early to start talking about this stuff.”
By sacrificing four premium draft picks, Shanahan is reversing the plan he set in motion last year to stockpile picks to rebuild Washington’s depleted roster. The Redskins, however, have plenty of space under the salary cap and can be aggressive in plugging their holes when free agency begins Tuesday.
Grossman and Beck combined to throw 24 interceptions last year, putting the Redskins just one behind league leaders Philadelphia and Buffalo on the way to a fourth consecutive last-place finish in the division. McNabb, acquired in a trade from the Eagles, was the starter for the first 13 games in 2010, when Washington went 6-10.
Griffin, therefore, would get to work with a coach who has a reputation for working well with quarterbacks and designing effective offensive schemes. But Shanahan would likewise rely on Griffin to help retain the coach’s legacy. Shanahan has won only one playoff game since John Elway retired after capturing the second of back-to-back Super Bowls with the Denver Broncos in 1998, and he hasn’t been to the playoffs in his last five seasons as a coach.
The Rams have won 10 games the last three seasons, so they need help across the board and the extra draft picks can plug several holes.
The player most often mentioned as the team’s pick if it stayed at No. 2, Oklahoma State wide receiver Justin Blackmon, would fill one of the greatest needs. But the Rams might feel they have a shot at getting him with the sixth pick.