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Holmgren gripes about Griffin trade


Last week at this time, the Rams were working out a deal to send the second overall pick in the 2012 draft to the Redskins for the sixth overall selection plus two other first-round picks and a second-round pick. The Browns were in the running for the pick that most likely will become the rights to Robert Griffin III, but in the end the Rams decided not to do business with the Browns.

Browns president Mike Holmgren isn’t happy that a franchise that was once headquartered in Cleveland dissed the team that currently plays there. He seems to think it was an inside job by the Rams to steer the pick to the Redskins.

“Honestly, when it didn’t happen I think there are reasons that I can’t go into right now, but there is a very close relationship between the people getting the deal done and the people who offered. And I’m not sure anything we offered would have been good enough. We were very, very aggressive and it didn’t work,” Holmgren said during a Thursday conference call for season-ticket holders, via Tony Grossi of ESPN Cleveland. (With all the football players getting new jobs lately, I forgot to point out that Grossi has a new job, too -- he’s back on the Browns beat with ESPN Cleveland, which to its tremendous credit wasn’t troubled by Grossi’s Twitter malfunction from late January.)

As Grossi explains it, Rams coach Jeff Fisher and Redskins coach Mike Shanahan have a friendship. That friendship, in Holmgren’s view, ensured that the Redskins would get the pick. (As a league source explains it, Holmgren may have been referring to Redskins G.M. Bruce Allen and Rams COO Kevin Demoff, who were colleagues and close friends with the Buccaneers.)

But while Holmgren claimed that the Browns made “every bit the offer” that the Rams accepted from the Redskins, Holmgren didn’t disclose the terms. Was it three first-round picks and a second-round pick? Or was it some other package that Holmgren believes the Rams should have regarded as equivalent?

Peter King of reports via Twitter that Rams G.M. Les Snead instructed teams to make their best offer. The Redskins did and the Browns did. Then, the Browns wanted to make another offer, but the Rams had already decided to accept what the Redskins had offered.

Holmgren’s comments seem misguided, for several reasons.

First, the Rams had the right to trade the pick to anyone to whom they wanted to trade the pick. There are no rules in this regard apart from the two interested teams coming to a mutual agreement and the league providing its approval.

Second, absent specific disclosure by Holmgren of the offer that was made in response to the Rams’ request for the “best offer,” there’s simply no way to assess the validity of Holmgren’s complaint.

Third, if Holmgren knew the Redskins were at the table and knew that the relationships involved pointed to St. Louis doing the deal with D.C., why bother to even try? Or, even better, why not offer more than what the Redskins were expected to put on the table?

Fourth, it wasn’t in the Rams’ interests to keep Griffin in the conference. All things being equal, it made more sense to ship the pick to the AFC, since the Rams will now face Griffin at least once every three years, and possibly any year in the six-team NFC playoff field. Thus, if it truly was a tie (and since Holmgren didn’t disclose the offer we don’t know that), the Rams would have been more inclined to trade Griffin to the Browns.

Fifth, the comments will do little to shore up the confidence of Colt McCoy, or to allow the team to sell whoever the starter may be in 2012 as the first choice. The first choice was Griffin, and now everyone knows it.

Sixth, whining about the situation serves no purpose. Browns fans won’t get mad at the Rams or the Redskins; they’ll assume that the failure to land Griffin is the latest new product rolling off the assembly line at the “factory of sadness.”

Seventh, Holmgren has surely benefited from his own friendships and relationships many more times than he has been burned by those maintained by others. The Godfather of what once was known loosely as the Green Bay Mafia (Jon Gruden perhaps was Luca Brasi), Holmgren knows how to call in favors and/or throw his weight around when he needs to.

He’s frustrated primarily because he wasn’t able to do it this time. He would have wise, in our view, to keep those frustrations to himself.

And with that I’ll officially withdraw my application for employment with the Cleveland Plain Dealer.