In 1977, Seattle decided to give up its No. 1 draft choice (second player in that draft) for four Dallas Cowboy picks. In 1978, Tampa Bay made a similar move, sending its No. 1 (first in the draft) to Dallas for tight end Jimmie Giles and four selections.

Both Seattle and Tampa Bay gave up opportunities to land quality players in exchange for quantity. Dallas selected Tony Dorsett; Houston, Earl Campbell. The Bucs used one draft pick for quarterback Doug Williams and Seattle wound up with three decent starters with its selections.

Give the nod to Dallas and Houston for coming out ahead on the transactions.

The Redskins' decision last April to trade their 1982 No. 1 draft choice was based on management's belief that the team would finish with as good a record, if not better, than last year's 6-10. If that proved true, then the Redskins didn't think they would be able to draft a high-caliber defensive lineman in the first round, so General Manager Bobby Beathard chose instead to get as much out of the 1981 draft as he could.

Even though Beathard received four choices in 1981 and a 1983 No. 2 from Los Angeles in return for his No. 1, the experiences of Seattle and Tampa Bay indicate he should have kept his first pick, even if the Redskins don't finish with the league's worst record.

"If you have a chance to land a truly superior player, you have to take it," said one league general manager last week. "And you have to hold on to your No. 1 to do that. You have to resist the temptation to trade it off."

Beathard used the Ram trade to select Russ Grimm, Dexter Manley and Gary Sayre, who walked out of training camp this summer. Beathard still has the 1983 No. 2.