Thursday, February 23, 2012

Rapid Reaction: Rams Shopping #2 Pick in NFL Draft

Once again, ESPN's Adam Schefter was on the scoop, submitting a column to ESPN on Thursday evening regarding the Rams shopping the number two overall pick, with multiple suitors already involved.  This doesn't seem very news worthy, much less analysis worthy, but the fact that this news came out may be very relevant to the way the NFL draft shakes out...

It seems to the naked eye that Schefter didn't break anything here, as NFL writers across the internet have come to the same two common sense conclusions, Robert Griffin III is going to be the number two pick in the upcoming NFL draft and the St. Louis Rams won't be taking a Quarterback in the draft after selecting Sam Bradford first overall two years ago.  This means the Rams will be trading out of that pick one way or another.

The problem facing the Rams right now, is that everyone knows they want to trade out of that pick.  That means teams aren't going to want to pay a high price to trade up, because the Rams have to move out of the spot or simply pick someone else.

That's the weird thing about a top NFL draft pick, if a team has the pick to take the clear most valuable player (which RGIII will be after Andrew Luck is off the board), and the team already has a player or players at that position then it doesn't make sense strategically for that team to pick the most valuable guy on the board.  However, they still have to pick someone at that spot, and because of the way the salary cap works it's nearly impossible to take the best guy, even if you hope to trade him down the road.  In a roundabout way a team can be punished if they have the have a top pick in the wrong draft for them, especially the way this QB heavy draft is awful for the Rams.

So what did the Rams decide to do to get out of this?  Shop the other teams against one another.  Rather than sit back and wait, the Rams have decided to actively shop the pick.  Then, in an fairly obvious move, they let Adam Schefter know the moment they had more than one team in the hunt.

Clearly the 'sources' that let Schefter know about these trade negotiations were likely Rams' sources, as they are the only team that stands to gain anything by their shopping the pick becoming public knowledge.  The other teams surely don't even want it getting out that any one of them is involved, not wanting to let fan base pressure add to the Rams' leverage.  However, if the Rams let everyone know they have multiple teams on the hook, they added a great amount of leverage to their side.

I'm not particularly concerned with who the teams involved are just yet (I'll cover that as more news comes out), because the teams involved don't particularly matter for this discussion.  Now that it's public knowledge that it's a two-horse (at least) race, instead of playing chicken with the Rams, these teams are going to be playing chicken with each other.  No one is going to want to over-okay their offer, but everyone is also going to be afraid that the Rams might deal the pick to someone else at any time. It's a great move by the Rams to set up for the next two months of trade talks.  I'll bet as we move forward, we'll hear about teams offers as well, as any public knowledge just forces the other teams in the race to up their offers.

Overall, this is a smooth move by the Rams to take the aggressive side in the trade negotiations.  Teams are enamored with RGIII, so I'm expecting the Rams to bring in a serious haul for his services if they can keep this up.

-Fred "Big Derf" Tobin

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