Former Redskins general manager and long-time NFL executive Charley Casserly recently paid a visit to Redskins.com to discuss the upcoming draft with myself and Gary Fitzgerald. Casserly’s thought’s on balancing great expectations for draft picks can be found over on the main site, and illuminates a strategy for turning an amateur pro.
Casserly was also kind enough to assess the state of the franchise on the eve of the draft. The Redskins have the rare opportunity to pick a player that fits their No. 1 need at quarterback. But how the team arrived at this decision–and how they proceed from here–sounded very familiar to Casserly’s Redskins in 1999.
“Where is your football team?” he asked rhetorically. “Your football team is a good quarterback away from taking a jump. In ’99, we were 6-10, but we had the nucleus of a good team. We wanted to retain quarterback Trent Green, but we couldn’t because of the sale of the team.”
Green signed with the St. Louis Rams as a free agent, leaving the Redskins scrambling for their next signal caller. The Vikings made starting quarterback Brad Johnson available, but at a steep price: a first, future second, and third round pick.
For Casserly, the price was right.
“We felt that if we got a quarterback, we could make that jump. We went out and traded for Brad Johnson, got him, and the team won the division championship,” Casserly remembered. “I think that where this team is, and they needed to make a move, now.
“They did it, they paid a lot, but that was the price this year,” he continued. “Other years, the price may not have been there. But if [Robert] Griffin plays well, no one will remember the price.”
Obviously, nothing is set in stone until the Colts make their pick tonight, but Casserly spoke to us under the presumption that the Colts select Andrew Luck with their No. 1 overall pick. With Luck removed from the field, the decision to move up was actually pretty easy for the Redskins.
“Once Peyton Manning went to the AFC, the Redskins settled on a drafting and developing a rookie,” Casserly said. “Indy’s not gonna trade, so you can’t get Luck. You can’t get Griffin unless you trade up. Do you want to grab Tannehill or do you want to trade up for Griffin? Tannehill is more of a late one-two rounder, and Griffin is more of a franchise guy.”
While coaches and players may come and go, there’s always next year to address a given position. Was that a possibility for the Redskins in this situation?
“That’s not, probably, a smart thing to do,” Casserly said bluntly. “When you look at your football team, your defense is playoff-ready. At the end of the year last year, you got your running game going. In free agency, you improve your receiver position. So it comes back to that you gotta get a quarterback.”
And that’s exactly what the Redskins are able to do, in a little under four hours…