Owner Daniel Snyder permitted Shanahan to pay an even steeper price than expected — three first-round picks, plus a second-rounder — to position the Redskins to get Robert Griffin III, gambling that the spectacularly talented Heisman Trophy winner will finally fill his team’s longtime opening for a true franchise QB.
The decision means Shanahan finally has a chance to accomplish the ambitious agenda he brought to Washington.
Rebuilding the Redskins, strengthening his credentials for Hall of Fame consideration and setting his son, Kyle, Washington’s offensive coordinator, along a path to become a head coach — it’s all back on the table for Shanahan because of RGIII’s enormous potential.
From the moment he joined the Redskins, Shanahan was focused, in large part, on burnishing his legacy. If Shanahan could turn around the Redskins late in his career, after what he had already accomplished with the Denver Broncos, Hall of Fame voters would surely take notice.
But the Redskins went 6-10 and 5-11 in Shanahan’s first two seasons. Washington’s lack of progress, and Shanahan’s inability to get it right at quarterback, stirred doubt about the team’s direction. All of a sudden, the what-has-he-done-without-John-Elway talk started again.
Shanahan needed to shake up the program. Now was the time to take a shot.
In the NFL, nothing is considered more valuable than first-round draft picks. Shanahan — with Snyder’s strong endorsement, people tell us — gave up Washington’s next three as well as its second pick this season. That’s like taking out a first, second and third mortgage on your home while wondering how to pay the monthly note. Without a doubt, there’s major risk involved.
Some would argue the cost was way too high, but that argument misses the most important point: Assuming Shanahan’s right about Griffin, and I believe he is, then the Redskins finally have the single most important element to building a championship foundation. It’s something they’ve lacked since Sonny Jurgensen was throwing pinpoint behind-the-back passes for laughs in practice long ago.
Does that mean Snyder should order a bigger display case in anticipation of adding to Joe Gibbs’s Super Bowl trophy collection? No. The Redskins aren’t there yet — but they’re closer than they have been since Gibbs left the first time.
Within the next three seasons, Griffin should be rolling. That’s a fair timeframe for him to become adjusted to the bigger, faster, meaner world of the NFL, learn Shanahan’s offensive system and begin to justify all it took for the Redskins to get him.