By Jason Reid and Jason La Canfora
Washington Post Staff Writers
Friday, April 24, 2009
If the Washington Redskins select Southern California quarterback Mark Sanchez in tomorrow's NFL draft, starting quarterback Jason Campbell will request to be traded, NFL sources said last night.
Campbell, whom the team has tried to replace this offseason, has publicly taken the high road throughout Washington's pursuit of other players to potentially take his job, saying he is focused on leading the Redskins in the upcoming season. The presence of another young, starting-caliber quarterback such as Sanchez on Washington's roster, however, would spur Campbell's representative, Joel Segal, to contact the team in an effort to find a better situation for the four-year veteran, league sources said.
The Redskins were unaware of Campbell's potential trade demand, said Vinny Cerrato, Washington's executive vice president of football operations. "We've heard nothing," Cerrato said. "Zero."
The Redskins, despite appearing to have more pressing concerns along the offensive and defensive lines and at linebacker, are among many teams interested in acquiring Sanchez with their top pick in the two-day draft, league sources said. Earlier this month, Washington failed in its pursuit of Denver Broncos quarterback Jay Cutler, who was traded to the Chicago Bears.
In addition to Washington's trade talks with Denver, a high-ranking Redskins official contacted another NFL team about the possibility of trading Campbell, who has been the starter the past 2 1/2 seasons, for a second-round pick in the upcoming draft, a league source said. The Redskins deny they inquired about trading Campbell.
The Redskins hold the 13th overall selection in the draft. They have only five picks, none in the second or fourth rounds.
Sanchez -- in part because of his charisma and commanding presence -- made a favorable impression on owner Daniel Snyder, NFL sources said, during his visit with the team last week, and other teams also have Sanchez listed high on their draft boards, so the Redskins might have to trade into the top three to pick him.
In an interview Tuesday night, Campbell addressed his standing on the team, Washington's interest in other quarterbacks and the most difficult offseason of his career.
"Out of 32 teams in the league, it seems like he's going to 28 of 'em," Campbell said of Sanchez. "If that's what they [the Redskins] want to do, if they want to draft him and bring him in here, then that's what they're going to do. But that's not going to scare me one way or another. I'm not going to let that stop me from putting in the work I need to so I can be ready for the guys that depend on me.
"I know in my heart I'm a good quarterback, and I'm trying my best every day to become a great quarterback for my coaches and my teammates. I'm trying to do everything I need to do to lead my team week in and week out, to just help us win, and that's really my focus. But, yeah, you know what's out there."
Snyder pushed to complete a trade for Cutler in an attempt to finally solve the team's decades-long pursuit of a franchise quarterback, league sources said, believing poor quarterback play was among the main reasons for Washington's 2-6 second-half collapse after a 6-2 start last season. The Broncos instead accepted the Bears' offer.
The day after the Redskins lost Cutler to Chicago, Snyder, Cerrato, Coach Jim Zorn and Campbell participated in a closed-door meeting at Redskins Park. The Redskins released a statement of support for Campbell, indicating the team was moving forward with him, and Zorn reiterated on Wednesday that Campbell's status had not changed while addressing reporters during the team's pre-draft news conference.
Campbell trusts Zorn and believes he will be the starter "until I'm shown otherwise," he said Tuesday. "We all met and had that conversation after the Cutler thing, and truth be told, this has been the biggest whirlwind offseason that I've ever been in. The only thing that makes you a little [upset] through all of it is that it makes you look like you're not a good quarterback and you're not wanted. To any competitor that's hard. When your team tries to trade for another quarterback, and now all this stuff about Sanchez, it's a tough league and a tough business.
"You know, that's just the way it is. At the same time, I just don't like it when you see so much about [the Redskins] trying to get a quarterback. I don't think anybody would like to see that about your job. It just makes you feel like people have thrown you out there like you're just a bad quarterback. You just have to remember that it's all part of the process sometimes. I don't get my head down and I don't get discouraged, even though some people want you to get discouraged."
Even if the Redskins determine a change at quarterback after the draft would give them the best chance to improve, Campbell would continue to push himself to reach the highest level he could, he said. "You've got to stay positive in everything you do no matter the situation. The way you carry yourself has to be positive no matter what.
"And when the tables turn, when you do have that big season, and when you do have those great playoff games, you can look back on it and appreciate how it all helped you get to that point. It could all be part of helping you become that type of player you want to be. And maybe you can help another young guy one day when he's going through the same thing."
Redskins Note: Punter Hunter Smith has agreed to terms to join the Redskins, a league source said last night.
The Redskins hope that Smith, a 10-year veteran of the Indianapolis Colts, will help them address their poor performance on special teams last season. Smith, who has never missed a game in his career, had a net average of 38.8 yards per punt last season.