Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

21 Feb 2010

Rams Interested In Trading #1 Overall Pick?

You might want to take out the salt shaker before you ponder this one, but Scout.com is reporting that the Rams are considering a deal that would send the first overall pick to Tampa Bay for the third overall pick, a third-round pick, and quarterback Josh Johnson.

Considering the (perceived, at least) dropoff between picks 2 and 3 in this year's draft, that would be a huge coup for Tampa Bay.

Posted by: Bill Barnwell on 21 Feb 2010

49 comments, Last at 23 Feb 2010, 4:15pm by Dean

Comments

1
by BucNasty :: Sun, 02/21/2010 - 2:33pm

I read this on a local site. They said the Rams would really like to nab Vick, but failing that they're very interested in Josh Johnson.

2
by alexbond :: Sun, 02/21/2010 - 2:35pm

If this is legit, Bucs must have serious buyer's remorse on Josh Johnson

6
by Quality Control (not verified) :: Sun, 02/21/2010 - 3:19pm

The buyer's remorse on Josh Johnson was pretty apparent when they signed Leftwich and drafted Freeman last year. Considering it wasn't Dominik or Morris who drafted Johnson, though, "buyer's remorse" may be the wrong way to put it.

8
by Yaguar :: Sun, 02/21/2010 - 3:43pm

Also, Johnson was a 5th round pick. The median 5th round pick has approximately 0 value after two years.

20
by Lola was a dude (not verified) :: Sun, 02/21/2010 - 5:23pm

I was thinking the same thing. I don't know how it's possible to have buyer's remorse on a 5th round pick, with the possible exception of Cecil Collins. Getting any long-term value at all out of a 5th round pick is a better-than-average outcome.

36
by Thunderbolt of ... :: Mon, 02/22/2010 - 10:13am

Cecil Collins... now that's a name I hadn't thought about for 10 years. What a waste of talent.

9
by Nathan :: Sun, 02/21/2010 - 3:50pm

I think JJ has looked competent when he's played (although perhaps in the Dennis Dixon way), competent enough for the Rams to trade for him, and also perhaps grab Vick in the short term while he develops... Couldn't it be that the Buccs don't want two young QBs, are high on Freeman, and want to rejuvenate their D? Doesn't necessarily mean that they think JJ can't play at all.

12
by AFireSnake78 (not verified) :: Sun, 02/21/2010 - 4:26pm

The Bucs wanted Haynesworth last year, so they apparently are ready to spend their whole 2010 budget on one player who may not be the next Warren Sapp.

Maybe they'll sign some guys off the street and have them pay money to be on the roster ... (I know about the minimum salaries)

Makes no sense to me though. Why not move to position 2 and take the (Suh, McCoy) remaining guy?

16
by BucNasty :: Sun, 02/21/2010 - 4:53pm

Because the Lions want a DT. If they didn't we'd stand pat. The Rams are more interested in getting a quarterback, but if they can't trade for one they might go BPA. The Rams will probably want less to go from 1st to 3rd because they're secure in the knowledge that no matter what happens, neither Detroit nor Tampa Bay will be taking a QB. Detroit's asking price is probably much higher than St. Louis's because we're after the same players.

39
by zlionsfan :: Mon, 02/22/2010 - 2:55pm

Exactly. Originally it was nice to have the Rams be the team to pick ahead of the Lions because they were supposed to take a QB, but either way Detroit will likely take whichever DT the Rams do not ... thus the Bucs have two options: trade with Detroit or trade with St. Louis.

Even if we weren't looking for a DT, while there are several positions of need, I don't know that what Tampa Bay has to offer matches with what we need. Johnson, for example ... not interested. The Lions need a veteran backup, and dropping to the 3 spot doesn't help with that.

So Detroit would still end up with the "other" DT, the Bucs would have their first choice, and the Rams would have three players instead of one.

3
by sam_acw (not verified) :: Sun, 02/21/2010 - 2:47pm

Every year there are storylines about trading out of first pick, it very rarely happens and I must admit, I think 1st pick is a double edged sword.
You end with a very large proportion of your salary budget stuck in with one player and, in many ways, you are limited to a few positions because of "value" concerns. Despite need, it would be unusual to see an LB, interior lineman, DT or safety go at this spot.
Part of the problem is that the trade value chart doesn't take into account these negatives and, as such, overvalues the pick making it harder to reach an agreement.

4
by Theo :: Sun, 02/21/2010 - 2:53pm

The Hunt for Suh has started.
The Rams want a QB and can get it at number 3. The Lions will try to get Suh too; they don't need a QB.

5
by Sean McCormick :: Sun, 02/21/2010 - 2:55pm

If the Rams have any sense, they're planning on taking Jimmy Clausen or Sam Bradford, and in either case, there's no reason for them to do so at 1 when they can slide down to 3. Neither Tampa nor Detroit are in the market for a QB, so making even a below-market trade down makes a lot of sense.

7
by Quality Control (not verified) :: Sun, 02/21/2010 - 3:29pm

I expect the Rams to make a lot of noise about how great Suh and McCoy looked at the Combine, at least until the trade happens. Bucs clearly would rather have the next Warren Sapp at 3-tech than an all-world safety, and the Rams have stacked the defensive line with first-round talent in recent years, so Eric Berry or Jimmy Clausen/Sam Bradford and some extra picks to add depth in talent to the roster makes a lot of sense. A quarterback to take the heat from a mediocre offensive line for a year also makes a lot of sense. Of course, Keith Null takes sacks as well as anyone in the league, in my book.

If Clausen or Bradford is the goal, it would allow the Rams to pay a little less than Detroit had to pay a #1 pick QB last year.

10
by IlluminatusUIUC (not verified) :: Sun, 02/21/2010 - 4:04pm

It makes sense to you, because you're one of the converted. For whatever reason, a lot of sports yaks treat the draft value chart like gospel and the Rams would get killed for not getting "value" for the #1. Otherwise trading down for the QB makes perfect sense.

13
by AFireSnake78 (not verified) :: Sun, 02/21/2010 - 4:31pm

Isn't one of the rare benefits of the No 1 pick that you can start negotiating with these guys before the draft and then pick (and sign) the guy with the best ratio of contract-to-best match for my football team (and I know my team does not have any quality anywhere)?

For me this strategic advantage would would outweigh trading the pick.

Though it would not surprise me if a team like the Rams could not take advantage of this ...

17
by BucNasty :: Sun, 02/21/2010 - 5:00pm

No way, this is as safe of a trade as you can make. You have the option to secure another player and a relatively high draft pick and still be 100% certain that the guy you want will still be on the board, but you're gonna turn it down so that you can haggle over a contract?

23
by Sander :: Sun, 02/21/2010 - 6:11pm

Sure. There's also another thing to consider: the fact that the Rams want to move down means they don't want to pick Suh at #1, but want a QB. And from the Bucs' perspective, this means there's less value in trading up: It's unlikely the Rams can trade out of the #1 spot to anyone but Tampa, so if the Bucs turn the Rams down there's little risk someone else takes this opportunity. And if they do turn the Rams down, there's a good chance the Rams take a QB anyway, in which case McCoy falls into their lap at #3. And if the Bucs are back to Tampa 2 as a baseline, McCoy may even be a better fit than Suh (who is more of a run-stopper and 2-gap guy, while McCoy is more of a 1-gap pass-rusher).

Overall, there isn't much upside to this trade for the Bucs and unless the Rams manage to convince them that if they can't trade out of #1 then Suh will be their pick, there's probably not going to be a trade either. The Bucs are sure to use this as leverage to get a lower asking price if they do do a deal - like a 3rd round pick and a 5th-round QB who is probably never going to be a starter.

30
by .woobly doobly (not verified) :: Mon, 02/22/2010 - 12:25am

I think the Bucs do want Suh and the had a platoon of decent but not spectacular quarterbacks. Josh Johnson looked pretty good for a young guy playing in a terrible environment but Freeman was better. So if their not going for another quarterback, they have one to give away and when in comes to drafting defensive tackles, why eat chicken when you could eat steak?
...that last part sounded less creepy in my head. Suh would be excellent as a 3 technique tackle and there's no guarantee their going back to Tampa 2.

41
by ChicagoRaider :: Mon, 02/22/2010 - 6:43pm

I do not think it is possible to make a "below market" trade for the first overall pick. The fact is that you have to pay that pick like a franchise tagged player at his position.

I am not sure where the value maximizes in the first round, but it cannot be 1,2 or 3. Not unless #1 is ungodly at a position with high certainty. If Suh was a DE of equal caliber to his quality at DT, then maybe.

The #3 plus a third rounder has to be a win for someone holding the first pick. Unless the finances of signing rookies changes.

11
by Drunkmonkey :: Sun, 02/21/2010 - 4:05pm

I don't think a DT would be a reach at this spot, even before you consider the talent of Suh, and, to a very slightly lesser extent, Gerald McCoy. However, I don't think that DT is their biggest need, and trading down and taking JJ wouldn't be a bad idea. I've read in a couple places online where the Rams consider Johnson to have the same athletic ability as Vick, and a higher potential as a passer. I don't know how legit the rumors are, or the rumors that the Rams are very serious about trading for Vick, but if they are, and they truly believe that Johnson can potentially be a quarterback, then I think this makes some sense in the long run. Trading down will allow them to go after a different position that normally wouldn't be considered for the number one pick.

14
by Treima (not verified) :: Sun, 02/21/2010 - 4:35pm

I understand that Bulger's a walking encyclopedia of injuries and Boller's not getting any better, but Josh Johnson, the guy that lost his job to the other Josh on the Bucs roster? I hope the third overall pick is for Clausen or Bradford, if that's the case.

15
by Anonymous2 (not verified) :: Sun, 02/21/2010 - 4:47pm

I actually don't understand this trade from the Bucs perspective. They were 3-13 with numerous deficiencies along both lines, as well as their secondary. Do they really think they are one DT away from making a playoff run? Wouldn't they be better off drafting 3rd overall and keeping the 3rd round pick on the next Brent Celek, LeRon McClain, etc.

18
by BucNasty :: Sun, 02/21/2010 - 5:09pm

Do they really think they are one DT away from making a playoff run?

Maybe, but more to the point is that this isn't like signing a 28 year old free agent. This is a guy who would become part of the foundation for years, in exchange for a backup QB and a 3rd round pick while we already have two pretty high second rounders. It would be nice if they can pump up Johnson and talk them down to him and a fourth, but I can live with a third.

21
by Danish Denver-Fan :: Sun, 02/21/2010 - 5:48pm

No they dont.

But they aren't a QB away either. Or whatever they can get in the 3rd round. And if they, like some scouts, are sure that Suh (or McCoy for that matter) is a HoF DT, he's worth a 1st rounder a 3rd rounder and a QB they don't want.

24
by Sander :: Sun, 02/21/2010 - 6:12pm

It's only a 3rd round pick, and while this draft is pretty deep, giving up a 3rd round pick for Suh is fine. Especially because the Bucs also have 2 early 2nd round picks, and have 10 picks overall in this draft.

19
by Guido Albert Merkens (not verified) :: Sun, 02/21/2010 - 5:11pm

a team that needs as much help as the Rams would do well to trade the 1 for a few lower.

22
by justanothersteve :: Sun, 02/21/2010 - 6:09pm

Even before the end of the season, the talk in STL was the Rams needing a QB. (Well, more talk was about the Blues and Cardinals by that point.) DL is one of the few positions they arguably have talent with former #1 picks Chris Long and Adam Carriker. If the Rams brain trust (possibly an oxymoron) has decided they want Bradford or Clausen, trading down to #3 makes sense as they'll still get their guy, an extra pick, a servicble backup QB, plus pay the draft pick less.

25
by Dean :: Sun, 02/21/2010 - 6:13pm

The Rams are in a situation where they have 3 critical needs (and a ton of lesser needs), and only 2 assets to obtain them. They desperately need a #1 WR, a long-term solution at QB, and a stud DT.

I don't see where any of those needs can be solved through free agency. That leaves the draft, and a need to turn those 2 high picks into 3 high picks (and still further an need to hit on all 3 picks).

The WR spot is easy, relatively speaking. There should be good value with the 33 pick.

If they move down to #3, they risk losing their DT. But with the extra pick, and the extra freedom, they could conceivably move down a second time, to, say, 10 or so, pick up a QB, and use the extra picks to trade back up and get a DT.

At QB, Vick sucks. I would think that the fact that Devaney knew Vick from his Atlanta days would mean he'd know enough to stay away. If he installs Vick as his starting QB, both Devaney and Spagnulo will be looking for work in 2 years. Problem is, that leaves Clausen and Bradford as your options. Regardless of whether you draft them at pick 1 or at pick 10, I really am not big on either of them. This year is shaping up to be Carr/Harrington redux. So I think the Rams are screwed regardless.

On the other hand, if they don't get a QB, the fan base is ready to revolt. They need to say they're doing SOMETHING or the dome is going to start looking like Jacksonville.

34
by KyleW :: Mon, 02/22/2010 - 8:25am

I think you have nailed the whole trade down plan here.

The consensus right now is that there are 2 DTs who are way ahead of everybody else in the draft class. By moving down to the 3rd pick the Rams can then look to trade down again with whatever team decides they really want either Clausen or Bradford.

The Rams have too many needs to fill in one draft and need as many picks as they can possibly get their hands on.

37
by Phil Osopher :: Mon, 02/22/2010 - 11:28am

2002 was a horrid year for QB's in the draft.

David Garrad was the only one competent drafted and he was a 4th round pick.

I think Clausen will be a decent pro. He ran a pro-style offense. He has the size and arm strength and played at a school with all games on national TV. I have no idea if he will be great, but I do see Jason Campbell level at least.

As far as the Rams, they should make this trade ina hearbeat if they want Clausen or Bradford.

40
by Dean :: Mon, 02/22/2010 - 4:00pm

Time will tell.

He has all the measurables you'd want in a QB. Of course, so did Kyle Boller.

My big concern is his ability to read a defense. I didn't really see it. And I saw some alarmingly bad decisions. In today's NFL, my concern is that he'll throw enough INTs to get his coach fired.

He's got the size, and he's got the arm, and he seems to be able to command a huddle, in a Phillip Rivers sort of way. So it's not like he's without positives. But I'm just not sold on the guy. Not that I'm sold on Bradford, either.

If the Rams fanbase wouldn't mutiny, I'd suggest they get Suh and a WR, and worry about getting a QB next year when you'll have (presumably) better choices then Clausen and Bradford. Even with a year to go, I would have to think that Pat Devlin, Ryan Malette, Jake Locker, Andrew Luck, and whoever else emerges will prove to be a better crop of QBs then what we have this year. Problem is, if they do that, will Devaney and Clyde still be around when that QB is ready to play?

26
by Dan :: Sun, 02/21/2010 - 6:27pm

This is one of the few trade rumors for the #1 that actually makes sense. The Rams desperately need a QB and are in pretty good shape on the DL, and if they have a QB who they like they can trade down and take him. A lot of mock drafts have the Bucs taking Berry at #3, and Suh would be much better than a safety for them, worth a third rounder, a backup QB, and some extra cash.

27
by BigDerf :: Sun, 02/21/2010 - 9:02pm

If you are the Rams that makes perfect sense. Top two guys in the draft are D-Lineman where they have spent muliple first round picks in the last few years. Trade away down to pick 3.... pick up the extra very high third rounder and a decent backup quarterback to go with.

I love the boy named Suh as much as the next guy.... but the Rams just have so many holes that if they can trade one potentially great player for another potentially slightly less great player and 2 other guys they should do it

28
by SoulardX (not verified) :: Sun, 02/21/2010 - 9:05pm

As a Rams fan, I'd prefer TB's 1, 2 (they have 2) and 3. No Josh. Then trade down in the first again. This team needs help in so many areas and needs players. any players.

29
by MilkmanDanimal :: Sun, 02/21/2010 - 9:11pm

I'd love to have Suh, and this trade . . . really? This can't be accurate. I mean, they actually watched Josh Johnson play, right? The guy is now what he was coming out of college, a raw talent who isn't ready to lead an offense. Last year it was clear he isn't ready to be a starting QB, and it's not like the Rams are exactly destination central for developing young QBs.

I hate trading up as a rule, and do think that the Bucs could conceivably still land McCoy if the Rams are serious about this. It screams "WE WANT A QB!" as loudy as possible. That being said, dumping a QB who hasn't really shown much plus a third to get a guy like Suh . . . yeah, I'm actually OK with that. No way in hell they should part with either second, but a third? Sure.

Still, it just doesn't make sense.

31
by Pete (not verified) :: Mon, 02/22/2010 - 12:38am

Perhaps the Rams have access to the 2008 PFP Draft Value Chart. As such, if the Bucs have an early 3d rd pick this is an excellent trade for the Rams without Josh Johnson. Who else needs to win out in a trade more than the Rams in the NFL?

32
by Pete (not verified) :: Mon, 02/22/2010 - 12:44am

If this is just leaked false trade rumor info on purpose, maybe it is just a tell on the Rams side as to what it would take to get the #1 overall, namely, any team's #1, #3, and that team's QB.

33
by Craig (N.S.) (not verified) :: Mon, 02/22/2010 - 7:54am

If so, Oakland should take that deal in a heartbeat....

35
by Podge (not verified) :: Mon, 02/22/2010 - 8:41am

I don't really get the point in Johnson in this trade. It works out that he's essentially worth a second round pick in the trade. So you're spending a 2nd round pick on a QB, will you then use your first round pick on a QB, or do you want Johnson as the starter? And then if you do want Johnson as the starter, who do you pick at #3? Okung? We spent a #1 on an OT last year. Berry? We've got Atogwe and Butler, safety is arguably our strongest position. Then you're down to the likes of Dez Bryant and Joe Haden, who both hit positions of need but would be reaches at #3 (as things stand).

Unless we were then looking to trade down again with a team who wanted to get ahead of the Skins to draft Bradford/Clausen and basically going "full Cleveland" it doesn't really make much sense.

But then again, I wouldn't necessarily be unhappy if we did manage to trade down, get Johnson (as a possible decentish starter), trade down again and get a player like Haden or Bryant who fills a need at decent value and get some extra picks for it. But I don't see the point in trading for Johnson and then picking up a QB at #3. I'd go back to the Bucs and ask for Earnest Graham instead (or Cadillac or Ward, whoever they want to give up out of those 3). Fills a need, keeps us in position to draft a QB and gets and extra draft pick.

As long as Suh doesn't have his stock fall massively (or blow out a knee at the combine) I think a trade is probably 50/50, not necessarily with the Bucs though.

38
by Phil Osopher :: Mon, 02/22/2010 - 11:32am

It was mentioned earlier but the draft value chart doesn't factor in the giant bust factor (JaMarcus comes to mid) of the #1 overall pick and the finances it sucks away from the franchise.

I think almost any team in most years would be better off not having to pick first overall until the NFL gets the rookie salaries slotted. You have to pay the #1 overall pick HOF level money. If I was a GM, I would trade that pick every year and amass a bunch of second round picks and third rounders. Better value for the money

47
by Mr Shush :: Tue, 02/23/2010 - 12:51pm

Value for money isn't everything. #1 overall is the most likely spot in the draft to find a great player who will be a franchise cornerstone for years. If it goes wrong, it goes badly wrong, but the #1 pick is still the best pick in the draft to have, and only a fool (or the owner of a very cheap team in a year with no salary floor) would trade it straight up for a lower pick. It's worth remembering that teams that hold the first overall pick usually have incompetent front offices - that's why they're drafting so high. When a team with a competent personnel department drafts first overall, the result is far more likely to be Mario Williams or Peyton Manning than David Carr or Jamarcus Russell.

42
by Michael Schuttke (not verified) :: Mon, 02/22/2010 - 10:34pm

What I have often wondered, due to the sheer enormity of the cost of signing the first overall pick, is whether or not a team, assuming they are not able to find a trade partner, can simply let the clock expire on their pick, artificially slide down in the draft, then select a player that some other team covets, THEN trade that selection.

Does anyone know the answer to this?

43
by Michael Schuttke (not verified) :: Mon, 02/22/2010 - 10:37pm

For instance, I heard that last year, there was very little interest in the number one pick. However, it was well known Washington coveted Mark Sanchez. I wondered if the Lions could have dropped down to where Sanchez was selected eventually (at number five with the Jets having swapped with Cleveland) and made a trade after coming back on the board.

Personally, if I were a team that could not find a suitable trade offer for the number one pick, I would use this strategy constantly.

45
by Jerry :: Tue, 02/23/2010 - 3:52am

I would imagine that a team might be able to pass once, but the second time they tried, the Commissioner's Office would tell them to use it or lose it. I doubt that anybody in the league wants to see the draft drag on longer because teams are screwing around like this. If you want to draft lower, win more games.

44
by BucNasty :: Mon, 02/22/2010 - 10:49pm

I think the real problem is that teams ask too much. I guarantee you can find a trade partner within the top 5 if all you ask for is like a 6th round pick.

46
by Michael Schuttke (not verified) :: Tue, 02/23/2010 - 11:46am

True. I do think that teams hold to the dated trade value chart that was originally created by Jimmy Johnson in the early 1990's. That chart heavily over-valued higher picks and grossly undervalued lower-round picks.

48
by dryheat :: Tue, 02/23/2010 - 12:52pm

This trade only makes sense if the Rams think Bradsen is as good a QB as SuCoy is a DT. If not, draft the DT. Having drafted Carriker is no reason not to draft SuCoy. There will be plenty of Chad Pennington-type quarterbacks available to run the shop for a year. Draft Suh, trade Carriker to a 3-4 team where he would fit as a DE, draft a QB like McCoy or Crompton later in the draft, and if neither looks like a player, wait until next year.

If the Rams want to be a good team, passing up a guy who might be an all-pro his rookie year in order to draft the best of a bad quarterback class and give him a Top-3 salary shouldn't even cross their mind.

If they really like Clausen or Bradford, and think that they'll be elite QBs, then good trade...although I still don't see the point of Johnson being included. If they want a body to keep the QB seat warm for a year, there are better options.

49
by Dean :: Tue, 02/23/2010 - 4:15pm

ESPN Radio in St. Louis is speculating that the reason Josh Johnson's name is being thrown around is because he has a similar skillset to Vick, and the Rams want the dog-killer.

Two problems with this theory.

First - St. Louis MEDIA wants the dog killer (especially Bernie Miclasz). Devaney and Clyde have not said anything one way or another on the topic.

Second - Billy Devaney worked with Vick in Atlanta. As I mentioned above, you would think that would mean that he knows Vick sucks, and wouldn't want any part of him.