Rams, Redskins finalize blockbuster deal
Thursday, March 15, 2012
ST. LOUIS -- New St. Louis Rams general manager Les Snead called it a nice coincidence that the team dealt the second pick of the draft before the beginning of free agency.
On Wednesday, the Rams and Redskins finalized the trade that showed the level of Washington's desperation to make sure it can take quarterback Robert Griffin III, expected to go with the second pick. The Redskins moved up four spots and sent their sixth overall pick and second-rounder this year, the 39th overall, plus first-round picks in 2013 and 2014 to the Rams.
"It evolved, I think, because of the circumstances of the position and what people wanted that made the pick valuable," Snead said. "I think a lot of the teams, including us, wanted to get it done sooner rather than later.
"It happened to be before free agency, so we could all start making plans."
St. Louis put the pick on the market because it didn't need a quarterback and had been expected to take Oklahoma State wide receiver Justin Blackmon if it had stayed at No. 2. The Redskins 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.
"With the interest other teams had in our first-round pick, we found ourselves in a unique situation," Rams coach Jeff Fisher said. "This trade gives us a great opportunity to immediately upgrade our team through the draft and then sustain our team's improvement with valuable picks in future drafts."
Wide receiver perhaps is the Rams' greatest need. The franchise, just 10-38 over the last three seasons, also has holes at defensive tackle, offensive line and outside linebacker.
Snead was confident the Rams would get value for the pick if they stay at No. 6. St. Louis had the sixth pick in 1998 and 1999 and took defensive end Grant Wistrom and Torry Holt, players who were instrumental in the franchise's Super Bowl title in 2000. Holt was a seven-time Pro Bowler in St. Louis.
The Rams cleared the way for some of those draft picks by releasing five veterans over the last two days.
"This trade gives us flexibility and options that are unprecedented in Rams history," Snead said. "Just like No. 2, we have options with that pick depending on the circumstances. We'll definitely look at all options."
The new league year began at 3 p.m. Tuesday, but the deal was not finalized until it got league approval Wednesday morning.
Fisher has absolutely no problem with Cortland Finnegan's occasional over-the-top behavior.
The Rams' first move in free agency was reuniting Fisher, who coached Finnegan for five seasons in Tennessee, with the feisty, productive cornerback. Finnegan agreed to terms Wednesday on a five-year, $50 million contract with $27 million guaranteed and $33 million coming in the first three seasons.
Finnegan could make another $1 million in incentives over the life of the contract.
"His reputation is widely misunderstood out there from the standpoint of, you know, the dirty player type thing and all that," Fisher said at a news conference Wednesday. "He's just a very productive player."