INDIANAPOLIS - As the whispers from dimly lit restaurants and crowded hotel lobbies turn into real conversations, one thing seems clear: The Redskins might be looking to make a big move this offseason.
With the entire NFL descended upon The Racing Capital of the World for the annual Scouting Combine, the offseason talk moves into overdrive. Teams bring their whole coaching and front office staffs to Indianapolis, player agents hold court at bars and nightclubs, and plans for the coming season start getting very real.
ESPN reported Friday night that Washington is one of three teams pursuing a possible trade with Pittsburgh to acquire star wide receiver Antonio Brown.
That move would require draft picks, which the Redskins seem reluctant to offer, particularly their first-round pick, according to league sources. There also would be numerous salary cap hurdles.
That doesn’t mean, however, that Bruce Allen and the Redskins brass couldn’t get a deal done if determined to do so.
Trading players could be on the table as an alternative to draft picks, and depending on the player, could also help move some salary. As of now, Washington has just $17 million in cap space for 2019.
And as far as trading players goes, that’s not a scenario reserved just for Brown.
It’s obvious the Redskins need a quarterback, and many with the team think very highly of Oklahoma QB Kyler Murray.
Jay Gruden said publicly he expects Murray to be an excellent NFL quarterback and that the size questions that lingered before the NFL Scouting Combine are not an issue. Murray measured at 5-foot-10 and more than 200 pounds, similar to Russell Wilson. In fact, Doug Williams dismissed the size issue for Murray by pointing out Wilson’s success.
If the ‘Skins brass speaks that highly of Murray publicly, imagine what the team is saying privately.
Still, Washington might not have the capital to move up in the draft and select Murray, even if they do want him. The chances of the 2018 Heisman winner as the potential No. 1 overall draft pick seem quite real.
That doesn’t definitively mean the ‘Skins won’t move up for another passer. While word is the team doesn’t want to give up a first-round pick for Brown, that could be different for a rookie quarterback. The organization might look differently at a swap of first-round picks to go get a QB, along with a player or later round pick. Allen seemed quite disinterested in trading up when he spoke in Indy, but almost every NFL executive says they won’t trade up. Then every year multiple NFL teams trade up for a quarterback.
There doesn’t seem to be clear consensus within the Redskins organization about other passers like Dwayne Haskins, Drew Lock or Daniel Jones like their is for Murray though.
There’s also what could happen if Murray does go No. 1.
The Cardinals hold that pick, but last year Arizona traded up in the first round to select QB Josh Rosen. He had a bad rookie year, but one NFC scout said he still has a ton of talent and that it would be unfair to place all the blame for the Cardinals' poor 2018 season on a rookie QB. The team has since fired its coach and seems intent on rebuilding the roster, led by Kliff Kingsbury, a young pass-first coach famous for the Air Raid offense.
If Arizona wants to draft Murray and move Rosen, plenty of talent evaluators say he would be worth the 15th pick that the Redskins hold. And while one year is already gone from his rookie deal, as a former first-rounder, there is the fifth-year team option available. That means four years of contractual control for an interested team on a QB some rated as the best in the 2018 class.
One popular conversation topic at the Combine was the importance of players on team-friendly rookie contracts. Ask anybody in Indianapolis, from an Uber Driver to a bartender, and they will tell you how valuable a rookie first-round deal is for a good quarterback.
For the Redskins, with $20 million due to Alex Smith this season and more than $20 million due in 2020, a rookie QB contract must look very appealing.
Trading back in the draft seems possible too, particularly if it becomes clear Jones or Lock could be available in the bottom 10 picks of the first round.
While Allen totally denied interest in Joe Flacco, it would not be a complete surprise if Washington adds a veteran QB to compete with Colt McCoy for the starting job either. What they can afford is a different matter.
The only thing that seems concrete from the Combine: this offseason could be aggressive in Washington.
After three straight years of missing the playoffs, and two straight 7-9 seasons, the pressure is high at Redskins Park.
While the team certainly made headlines last year when they traded for Smith, his leg injury leaves the Redskins in a very precarious spot.
Some folks around the NFL don’t expect Smith to ever play again, and despite the team publicly saying they won’t count out Smith’s possible recovery, it seems near impossible he plays in 2019.
And for a lot of the corner offices in Ashburn, 2019 needs to be a winning season.
The last time the Redskins missed the playoffs three straight seasons, the team made a drastic move to acquire Robert Griffin III in the 2012 NFL Draft.
If history repeats itself, be prepared for something major.
MORE REDSKINS NEWS:
- Pros and Cons: The case for and against trading for Brown
- Time to Talk: Redskins meeting with Kyler Murray, other top QBs at Combine
- Redskins Roadmap: NFL contract expert lays out roadmap to salary cap relief
- DK Metcalf: Top WR prospect really, really likes Jay Gruden