By Rick Maese
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, June 20, 2010; D01
As the Washington Redskins concluded their offseason workouts last week, offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan said his offensive line was "as good as any O-line that I've ever had." But there was still room for improvement, and the Redskins made a big step in that direction by acquiring New Orleans Saints tackle Jammal Brown, a two-time Pro Bowler, in a trade Saturday.
Neither the Redskins nor Saints disclosed terms of the deal, but according to an ESPN report, Washington gave up a conditional 2011 pick to acquire Brown, who immediately provides much-needed depth on the line and gives coaches some flexibility with their rotation.
"We are pleased to add another proven NFL competitor to our team," Redskins General Manager Bruce Allen said in a news release.
Brown, 29, who was a restricted free agent and had skipped the Saints' offseason workouts, signed his $3.619 million tender offer for next season on Friday, according to an announcement on the Saints' Web site, formally clearing the way for a trade. The deal also hinged on Brown passing a physical, which was administered Saturday, shortly after he arrived in the Washington area.
Brown, a first-round draft pick in 2005 who appeared in the 2006 and 2008 Pro Bowls, had been on the Redskins' radar for much of the spring. The 6-foot-6, 313-pounder became expendable for New Orleans after missing all of last season with a sports hernia and hip injury that required surgery. In his absence, the Saints didn't miss a step, starting Jermon Bushrod at left tackle on a unit that allowed only 20 sacks and led the Saints' pass-heavy attack to the Super Bowl title.
It was not immediately clear how the addition of Brown might change the Redskins' plans on offense. Trent Williams, the team's first-round draft pick in April, has practiced at left tackle with the Redskins starters throughout the offseason workouts and has received favorable reviews from teammates and coaches. But he played only his senior season at Oklahoma on the left side and coaches could opt to start him at right tackle to ease him into his professional career.
Perhaps the more likely scenario is to keep Williams at left tackle, protecting Donovan McNabb's blind side, and start Brown at right tackle, a position he played his rookie season in New Orleans. In offseason workouts, Artis Hicks has been lining up at right tackle with the starters. Hicks is a versatile lineman, though, and could find himself moving to right guard, a spot occupied by Mike Williams in offseason workouts.
"It's always a great thing when you can get one of the best left tackles in the game over the last few years on your roster," Hicks said in a phone interview. "The bottom line is it's all about getting the best 53 guys. It's not about one guy. So when you've been in the league as long as I have, and something like this transpires, you can see the positives as well as the negatives. Overall, this is very positive for the Redskins, so I think it's a great move for us."
A season ago, the Redskins allowed more sacks than all but two NFL teams and adding new bodies to the offensive line was an offseason priority for the team. Before Saturday's acquisition of Brown, Williams was brought in during the draft, and Hicks was added via free agency. Three of the five starters look to be different than last season's ever-changing cast of linemen.
Though his health might be a concern, Brown will be the most proven of the additions. In 2005, he was selected 13th overall out of Oklahoma. The Saints were coached at the time by Jim Haslett, the Redskins' defensive coordinator. After being named to the NFL all-rookie team at right tackle, Brown moved to left tackle in his second season.
To acquire Brown, the Redskins essentially swapped picks in the 2011 draft, though the details are a bit complex. The Redskins already owed Philadelphia a pick as part of the McNabb trade. According to the ESPN report, the Eagles will receive Washington's third-round pick and New Orleans the fourth if the Redskins win nine games, make the playoffs or McNabb is selected to the Pro Bowl. If none of those things happen, the Saints will receive the third-round pick and the Eagles will get the fourth.
If the Saints end up with the Redskins' fourth-rounder, they'll send Washington a sixth- or seventh-round pick. And if New Orleans gets the Redskins' fourth-round pick, the Redskins will receive the Saints' fifth-round selection.
A conditional 2012 pick is also involved in the Brown deal, according to ESPN. If the tackle plays 90 percent of the plays this season or is selected to the Pro Bowl, the Redskins must also send their sixth-round pick in 2012 to New Orleans.
Staff writer Jason Reid contributed to this report.