INDIANAPOLISAs we reported here yesterday, Jeff Fisher said at the NFL Combine thatthe St. Louis Rams would be willing to cut a deal for the second overall pick in the draft prior to the April 26 start of the draft. And although such a trade could occur anytime after the new league year begins on March 13 at 4 p.m., dont look for it to happen nearly that soon.
It seems certain that any team trading up for the Rams pick will select Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin III. That means that no deal will be made at all until the major players in the free-agent quarterback market land somewhere. The big names there are Matt Flynn and Peyton Manning. Flynn should be signed fairly quickly and that will remove one quarterback-needy team from the bidding for the pick. Assuming Manning is released by the Colts, his search for a new team could take a lot longer depending on the condition of his neck and throwing arm. The Manning situation could well go into April and it might not be settled before the draft. It would be hard for either the Rams or any interested teams to value the second pick before either seeing where Manning lands or knowing that the decision wont be made until later.
Even if Flynn and Manning get situated with new teams by the end of March, it still is unlikely that we will see a deal for the second pick finalized much before the start of the draft. For one thing, any teams interested in Griffin would want to take as much time as possible to scrutinize him in every way possible before pulling off a trade that will involve multiple high draft picks.
There also is a factor that nobody really likes to think about but that teams must keep in mind nevertheless. Suppose a team finalized a deal with the Rams in the first week of April for the purpose of drafting RG3 and then Griffin gets injured in a car accident. Or decides to play some hoops and tears up his knee. A hundred other different things could happen to make RG3 less valuable as the second overall pick.
Again, its not something that you want to think about and the chances of something bad happening are remote. But theyre not remote enough to make most NFL teams throw caution to the wind in the timing of such a decision. The prudent thing to do is to wait until closer to the draft and that is what is likely to happen.
Rich Tandler will be covering the NFL Combine from Indianapolis all week. Any questions? Hit him up on Twitter @Rich_Tandler.