The Washington Redskins are exploring several trade scenarios regarding their first-round pick in this weekend's NFL draft, and several league sources indicated that one involves obtaining cornerback Phillip Buchanon from Oakland.
Vinny Cerrato, Washington's vice president of football operations, denied any talks with Oakland late last week. While Coach Joe Gibbs has declined to comment on particular trade discussions, he said the team is speaking with other teams to gauge interest in pre-draft trades.
The Redskins feel an experienced cornerback like Phillip Buchanon, right, will be able to start immediately in Gregg Williams's complex defensive system.
(Paul Sakuma - AP)
League sources said trade talks between Washington and Oakland are ongoing, and the Redskins are considering a handful of other avenues as well, including trading down. No deals were imminent as of last night, according to a source with direct knowledge of the situation. The Redskins often dealt high draft picks during Gibbs's first stint as coach -- which included three Super Bowl titles -- and the team has made a practice of trading draft picks in recent years.
A move with the Raiders could include the Redskins swapping their first-round pick (ninth overall) to Oakland in exchange for Buchanon, 24, and Oakland's second-round selection (the Redskins lack a second-round pick). The Redskins spent the past month evaluating a trio of cornerbacks expected to go in the first round of the draft -- visiting with Adam "Pac-Man" Jones, Antrel Rolle and Carlos Rogers -- but the club's desire for an experienced cornerback able to start immediately in Gregg Williams's complex defensive system could result in a trade instead.
Buchanon expressed an interest in playing elsewhere during the season and league sources said the Raiders are trying to oblige; his name surfaced repeatedly during earlier trade talks when Oakland traded its first-round pick for Pro Bowl wide receiver Randy Moss. Buchanon, the 17th overall pick in 2002, has slipped in recent years, playing on a poor defensive team. The Redskins lost stalwart cornerback Fred Smoot in free agency last month, dealt perennial Pro Bowl corner Champ Bailey the year before and currently have only two veteran corners, one of whom, Walt Harris, is a year removed from recovering from a career-threatening knee injury.
While team sources have indicated the Redskins think highly of the young corners available, there are no guarantees the team would get one of them with the ninth pick, and team sources say Washington is not inclined to trade up and pay substantially more in salary and signing bonuses. Washington could address its need at wide receiver early in the second round -- the team also brought in a host of wide receivers for pre-draft visits -- with Oakland's pick at 38th overall.
The Redskins are about $1.5 million under the salary cap and are trying to continue the defensive dominance established under Williams last season, when the unit ranked third in the NFL.
Buchanon has two years left on his contract worth a total of $1.5 million but would likely want a new deal as a part of any trade, league sources said. Buchanon is a product of the University of Miami and like, former Hurricanes Sean Taylor and Santana Moss, is represented by agent Drew Rosenhaus. Taylor and Moss are not attending Washington's voluntary workouts as they attempt to land new contracts, and, while Gibbs has spoken repeatedly about his disappointment at their absences, he also made a point to speak highly of the club's relationship with Rosenhaus during a news conference last week.
Buchanon is not the only veteran cornerback currently available. The Miami Dolphins are trying to deal veteran Patrick Surtain for draft picks, but, after an initial phone call, league sources said the teams have not been in touch. Some in the league are also watching Buffalo star Nate Clements closely; Clements, drafted by Williams when he was the Bills' head coach, has one year left on his contract, but Buffalo might deem too expensive to re-sign.
Like Oakland, the Bills lack a first-round pick. Gibbs denied any trade discussions with Buffalo last week and Clements's agent, Neil Cornrich, declined to comment on any potential interest in Clements yesterday, but during a conversation last week spoke glowingly of the player's bond with Williams.
"Nate tremendously enjoyed playing for Coach Williams and he seemed to be a very good fit for Gregg's system," Cornrich said. "Nate led the Bills in interceptions every year he played for coach Williams and he's certainly one of the best defensive coaches in the NFL."
The Redskins and Bills have not discussed a Clements trade, sources said. If negotiations for Buchanon break down, the Redskins could still look to trade down and accrue more draft selections, although the prevailing opinion about the lack of star power available in this draft and number of teams looking to drop down could make finding a trade partner more difficult.