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'The search is over': Redskins poised to take RGIII after bold trade with Rams for No. 2 pick
WASHINGTON (AP) ' Washington Redskins receiver Anthony Armstrong, who hopes to be catching passes soon from Robert Griffin III, tweeted that "Stock in Superman socks just sky rocketed."
Especially if someone can make them in burgundy and gold.
More pertinent was the reaction from someone who figures to be blocking for the Heisman Trophy winner from Baylor.
"The search is over, I guess," guard Kory Lichtensteiger said.
If it is, it took long enough. And it certainly cost a lot. But if Griffin can solidify the Redskins quarterback position for the next decade and lift the franchise out of its long funk, it undoubtedly will have been worth the price.
The Redskins and St. Louis Rams have a deal in place for Washington to move into the No. 2 overall spot in next month's NFL draft. The Redskins will give up a breathtaking three first-round selections ' this year's No. 6 overall, plus first-rounders in 2013 and 2014 ' plus a second-round pick this year in the swap, which must be approved by the NFL and can't be completed under league rules until the free agency period begins Tuesday.
Details of the trade emerged Friday night, and Rams chief operating officer Kevin Demoff confirmed it Saturday.
It allows the Redskins to leapfrog all other teams that had an interest in Griffin, especially the quarterback-needy Cleveland Browns. The Indianapolis Colts are expected to take Andrew Luck with the No. 1 choice.
It's a bold ' some would say desperate ' move by a team that has been repeatedly frustrated in its search for a franchise quarterback. The Redskins have started 21 quarterbacks over the last 19 seasons, with only three playoff appearances to show for it.
They have finished in last place in the NFC East for four years running, leading to a slow erosion of a fan base long known as one of the most passionate in the NFL. Owner Dan Snyder downsized the stadium last year, removing some 10,000 seats, but Griffin has the personality and the talent to re-energize the faithful.
In case there was any doubt, just visit Waco, Texas, where Griffin revived a Baylor team that never had a winning season in the Big 12 before he arrived on campus four years ago. He led the Bears last year to their first bowl win since 1992 ' coincidentally, also the year that began with the Redskins winning their last Super Bowl ' and had a hard time saying goodbye when he left with one year of eligibility remaining and a master's degree nearly completed.
"He's just matchless in terms of the combination of goodness of character, greatness of skill and his commitment to his university and his teammates," Baylor President Ken Starr said at Griffin's farewell news conference in January. "The nation has found Robert to be this very endearing and, as someone said, he's the most interesting person in perhaps all of athletics, but interesting in a positive sense."
Interesting? Yep. Griffin wore purple Barney socks that day, a change of theme from the Superman socks he wore at the Heisman ceremony in December.
In Washington, he would work under Mike Shanahan, whose legacy is on the line. 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.
Shanahan has already misfired on three quarterbacks in his two seasons in Washington, with Donovan McNabb, Rex Grossman and John Beck producing an 11-21 record. Grossman and Beck combined to throw 24 interceptions last year, putting the Redskins just one behind league leaders Philadelphia and Buffalo. McNabb, acquired in a blockbuster trade from the Eagles, was the starter for the first 13 games in 2010, when Washington went 6-10.
"Everybody's looking for a franchise quarterback," offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan, the coach's son, said in December. "You want one of those guys that there's no question about. There's probably only about five or six of them in the league."
The Redskins were among the teams hoping to be in the running for Peyton Manning, but the odds were stacked from the start against the former Indianapolis Colts quarterback coming to Washington. The offense needs upgrades at receiver and along the offensive line ' too much rebuilding for someone about to turn 36 ' and Manning would have had to face brother Eli Manning of the New York Giants twice a year in the NFC East.
The Rams were eager sellers given they already have a franchise quarterback in Sam Bradford, the No. 1 overall pick in 2010, and are needy at most other positions after going 10-38 the last three seasons. Rather than drag out intrigue, they maximized their haul by capitalizing on competition and signed off on a deal more than six weeks ahead of the draft.
The player most often mentioned as the Rams' potential pick at No. 2 was Oklahoma State wide receiver Justin Blackmon, but he could also be available at No. 6.
The Redskins, meanwhile, had to make sure they outbid the Browns, who could have offered both the No. 4 and No. 22 selections in this year's draft. Cleveland general manager Tom Heckert acknowledged on Thursday he had talked to the Rams.
But the Browns have too many needs to give up as much as the Redskins did. Cleveland will now either stick with Colt McCoy, make a run at Matt Flynn or Kevin Kolb, or draft a quarterback such as Brandon Weeden or Ryan Tannehill.
"The question is whether we have enough to see what Colt can do, and I think we do," Heckert said. "If we catch more balls and protect him better, can Colt be a lot better? Yes. That's our goal. We still think Colt can play in this league, and it's our job to help him out."
The Rams haven't made the playoffs since 2004 and are rebuilding under new coach Jeff Fisher and general manager Les Snead. They were 2-14 last year, tied with Indianapolis for the NFL's worst record, and before the trade were set to pick either first or second for the fourth time in five years.
The Rams are committed to Bradford despite a drastic fall-off in production last season, one year after he was NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year in 2010. The offense was the league's puniest with or without Bradford, who threw just six touchdown passes and missed six games with a high left ankle sprain.
St. Louis has holes elsewhere at wide receiver and backup running back behind Steven Jackson, and there's uncertainty on the line with tackle Jason Smith's history of concussions. Special teams were awful, and the defense threatened the franchise record for yards allowed, with helped needed at tackle, cornerback and outside linebacker.
By giving the Rams four premium picks, Washington reverses the plan Shanahan set in motion last year to stockpile picks to rebuild a depleted roster. The Redskins, however, have plenty of space under the salary cap and can be aggressive in plugging holes when free agency begins.
The Redskins will find themselves with a gaping hole without first-round selections in the 2013 and 2014 drafts. They can only hope those picks will fall near the end of the first round after a successful playoff run.
AP Sports Writers R.B. Fallstrom in St. Louis and Tom Withers in Cleveland contributed to this report.