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Why The 2012 Robert Griffin III Trade That Rocked The NFL Has Been Bad For Everyone

robert griffin iii washington redskins
robert griffin iii washington redskins

Patrick Smith/Getty Images

There are lopsided trades, win-win trades, and trades that take years to reveal their true consequences.

And then there are those rare and terrible trades where no one wins.

That's what appears to be happening with the blockbuster Rams-Redskins deal that sent Robert Griffin III to Washington in exchange for a pile of high draft picks before the 2012 draft.

The two teams are a combined 18-21-1 since the trade. They're 1-6 this year.

You can draw a straight line from what's wrong with these teams now to what they sacrificed to make that trade happen.

The Rams need a quarterback.

Yeah, Sam Bradford doesn't have the best skill-position players in the league, but plenty of quarterbacks (Andrew Luck, Tom Brady) succeed despite sub-standard receiving corps.

He's just a deeply mediocre quarterback — a guy who doesn't have the arm to stretch the field or the accuracy to carve up a defense on short passes. Most alarmingly, his completion percentage, interception rate, and yards per attempt haven't improved at all since his rookie season in 2010.

St. Louis thought Bradford was a franchise quarterback. That assumption was the entire basis for trading away the right to pick RGIII in 2012. They were wrong, and now they're stuck.

The Redskins need help everywhere.

Despite making the playoffs last year (more on that in a second), Washington also has problems that can be traced back to that trade.

Washington gave up the following to get RGIII:

  • 2012 first-round pick: Michael Brockers, DE

  • 2013 second-round pick: Janoris Jenkins, CB

  • 2013 first-round pick: Alec Ogletree, LB (via another trade)

  • 2014 first-round pick: ???

All those guys have shown some degree of promise, and all would start for Washington.

The Redskins have the 32nd-ranked defense in the league. They have problems everywhere. They can't rush the passer, stop the run, tackle, or cover anyone.

When a team is bad at so many different things at once, that's an overall depth problem, which is a direct result of losing so many picks.

When the trade went down, Kevin Meers of the Harvard Sports Analysis Collective wrote a post about how much Washington gave up in this deal. He concluded that RGIII would have to be statistically as good as Tom Brady for them to get equal value for all the picks they gave up.

While RGIII was good last year, he hasn't been Tom Brady good. It's a misconception that he came in and instantly turned the franchise around last year. They made the playoffs, but they started 3-6 and only beat two playoff teams all year.

There's at least an argument that Washington would have been better off using its draft picks to fill all its roster holes and starting Kirk Cousins.

It's too early to tell if the Redskins will be able to rebuild what they tore down to acquire RGIII, or if the Rams will somehow find their quarterback of the future. But there are no winners in this trade right now.

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