Redskins' Flirtations May Cost Them

By Jason Reid and Jason La Canfora
Washington Post Staff Writers
Saturday, April 25, 2009

Having alienated starter Jason Campbell with their ongoing efforts to replace him this offseason, the Washington Redskins could pay an even steeper price for the chance to select Southern California quarterback Mark Sanchez in today's NFL draft, league sources said yesterday.

Campbell's agent, Joel Segal, will request a trade if the Redskins pick Sanchez, NFL sources said, destabilizing the team's quarterback situation on the eve of the draft. Teams in the top five positions on the board -- the slots the Redskins might have to trade into for a shot at Sanchez -- could take advantage of the uncertainty by requesting even more in exchange, sources said. As far as Campbell's trade value, teams often receive less in exchange for players who publicly have expressed a desire to play elsewhere.

Sanchez is not expected to be available when the Redskins pick 13th overall, so it appears trading up, possibly into the No. 4 position occupied by the Seattle Seahawks, would provide their most viable opportunity to select him. There are mixed views among league executives about whether Seattle would select Sanchez.

The Redskins have only one pick in the first 79 selections of the two-day draft and five total in the seven rounds, having traded their second-round pick (No. 44 overall) to the Miami Dolphins last year for defensive end Jason Taylor and their fourth-round pick (No. 115) to the New York Jets in 2007 for guard Pete Kendall. Taylor was released in March, and Kendall became a free agent after the season and has not re-signed.

With only one early selection, the Redskins might not have as much trade bait in this draft as other teams to move up. That might require them to offer multiple picks in a future draft if they are determined to bring in Sanchez, though Redskins owner Daniel M. Snyder said yesterday in an interview with ESPN 980 radio that his team will not trade its first-round pick in next year's draft.

The Redskins' interest in Sanchez comes on the heels of their pursuit of former Denver Broncos quarterback Jay Cutler, who was traded to the Chicago Bears early this month, and has damaged their relationship with Campbell. Washington said it was unaware of Campbell's potential trade request.

Further complicating the situation for the Redskins is other teams' apparent interest in Sanchez. The Broncos have the 12th and 18th picks and are reportedly considering making a move for another potential franchise quarterback after trading the disgruntled Cutler. The New York Jets, who hold the 17th pick, also are believed to be interested in moving up much higher for a chance at Sanchez.

Some league observers consider Sanchez to be more NFL-ready than Georgia's Matthew Stafford, who agreed last night to a six-year contract with the Detroit Lions to become the No. 1 overall pick. Sanchez played four years in USC's pro-style system and has impressed teams with his grasp of how NFL offenses operate.

Sanchez, who entered the draft after his redshirt junior season, started only 16 games for the Trojans, and despite his grasp of the intricacies of NFL offenses and his understanding of the nuances of the position, the Redskins and other teams do not believe he would be ready immediately to perform at a high level as a starter next season, sources said. If Campbell were traded to select Sanchez, the Redskins could turn to veteran backup quarterback Todd Collins to open training camp as the starter.

If the Redskins, who appear to have major concerns along the offensive and defensive lines and at linebacker, do not get Sanchez, Texas defensive end Brian Orakpo is another player listed high on their draft board, sources said. But Orakpo also could be gone prior to Washington's first pick. He is someone whom the Redskins value greatly and would pick if he slipped.

The Redskins believe Orakpo could fill a hybrid role -- playing strong-side linebacker on running downs and becoming a rushing defensive end in passing situations -- and Orakpo recently said he has no preference between playing in a 4-3 defense, such as the scheme Washington runs, or the 3-4 alignment of the Green Bay Packers and some other clubs interested in him.

If the Redskins stay put at No. 13 and Sanchez and Orakpo are off the board, then Trojans middle linebacker Rey Maualuga could move to the top of their list. The all-American could play the strong-side position while learning from veteran middle linebacker London Fletcher. Cerrato has said he has a good relationship with USC Coach Pete Carroll and often seeks his counsel on players, and Carroll gave Cerrato a favorable report about Maualuga, sources said.

In the days leading up to the draft, the Redskins also have expressed interest in Everette Brown, a defensive end from Florida State who possesses similar attributes to Orakpo.

Meanwhile, Coach Jim Zorn, as he as done throughout Washington's offseason quest to replace Campbell, again reached out to the four-year veteran, assuring Campbell that he wants him to lead the offense next season, sources said. Washington's pursuit of other quarterbacks has put Zorn, who continues to say publicly that Campbell is his top quarterback, in a difficult position of appearing to be less than truthful.

"I know that Coach Zorn believes in me and the type of quarterback I can be in this league," Campbell said in an interview Tuesday night. "I trust Coach Zorn, but I guess we just have to see what happens."

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