With most NFL analysts believing this weekend's draft is one of the weakest in memory, the Washington Redskins yesterday surprisingly traded their No. 1 pick next season and two other picks to the Denver Broncos for the 25th overall selection Saturday.
The Broncos will also get Washington's third-round pick this season and its fourth-round pick in 2006. The deal leaves the Redskins with only two picks on Saturday: the ninth and 25th.
Coach and team president Joe Gibbs was not at Redskins Park yesterday and was unavailable to comment.
"That's a pretty steep price to pay for [pick] number 25," one NFL executive said. "They must be up to something else."
The days approaching the draft are filled with speculation about what teams will do. That has been especially true this year because this draft has no clear No. 1 pick and is considered to lack the star power of recent years. Many teams in the top five are reportedly willing to trade down to get more picks and avoid paying the high signing bonus and salary required of a high selection.
Vinny Cerrato, the Redskins' vice president of football operations, said after the trade was announced that the Redskins have informed all 31 other NFL teams of their willingness to trade down. "We're looking to acquire picks rather than give them up," he said. "We're looking at adding a number of players and not just one guy."
But others around the league believed Cerrato could be bluffing and chatter about the Redskins' intentions began immediately after the trade was announced.
One NFL source who has spoken to officials from many clubs said he expected the Redskins to trade the first-round picks for a better selection that would allow them to draft Michigan wide receiver Braylon Edwards, considered by many to be the best player available in the draft. Another source was certain the Redskins would use the picks on two Auburn players: cornerback Carlos Rogers and quarterback Jason Campbell. ESPN reported Campbell is the Redskins' target.
The Redskins have the oldest coaching staff in the league and, coming off a 6-10 season and without a playoff berth since 1999, are looking for an immediate turnaround. But they have holes to fill in the secondary and at No. 1 wide receiver. They lost out on acquiring Oakland Raiders cornerback Philip Buchanon last night when the Houston Texans acquired the disgruntled starter in a trade for two early round draft picks.
Redskins officials, who are scheduled to hold a news conference today to discuss the draft, brought in most of the top cornerback and receiver prospects for individual visits leading up to the draft.
The day began in bizarre fashion at Redskins Park. Team officials issued a series of seemingly contradictory statements about what they were planning to do with their first-round pick. First, the team's Web site and a news release said the Redskins would not trade their No. 1 pick. The site said the Redskins "will use their first-round pick to select a player in this weekend's upcoming draft" and Cerrato was quoted in a statement as saying, "We are not trading that pick."
But Gibbs issued a statement contradicting both, saying the team will "consider anything."
"Are we considering any options we are presented with? Yes, we'll consider anything," Gibbs said in the statement.
As team president, Gibbs, not Cerrato, has final say on all personnel decisions. Gibbs had said on Friday that the Redskins were discussing trade scenarios with "four or five teams" and that trading down was possible. He reiterated that Monday as well.