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Redskins' epic swap with Rams not without precedent

  • By Marc Sessler NFL.com
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Washington's epic trade with St. Louis, which will lead to the drafting of Robert Griffin III barring alien intervention, came at a steep price. Three first-round picks (in 2012, 2013 and 2014) and this year's second-rounder.

Taking into account that one of those first-round picks was, in actuality, a position switch with the Rams, it's still a deal that will be judged for years to come.

You can't help but recall Mike Ditka and the Saints sending their entire draft in 1999, along with a first and third the next year, for enigmatic running back Ricky Williams. Those of you who go back a ways might remember when Patriots quarterback Jim Plunkett was moved to the Niners for two firsts in 1976 and another in 1977.

As ProFootballTalk.com points out, the 'Skins-Rams trade is the richest of its kind since Dallas coach Jimmy Johnson shipped star running back Herschel Walker from the Cowboys to the Vikings in the middle of the 1989 season. In return, Minnesota parted with three firsts (in 1990, 1991 and 1993), second- and sixth-round picks in 1990, a 1991 second-rounder, and a third-round pick in 1992.

All of this for a 27-year-old back who never ran for more than 850 yards in a season with the Vikings and was gone by 1992. Walker was a class act (if a tad unusual), but forced to play under a cloud of savior-level hype that he never lived up to in Minnesota.

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In his first game with the Vikings, under the hot lights of the national media, he rushed 18 times for 148 yards in a 26-14 win over the Packers (weird sidenote: He faced Green Bay one week earlier in his final stint with the 'Boys, squeezing out 44 yards).

Nice start, but it was the last 100-yard effort on the ground by Walker until 28 games later, when he totaled 125 yards against the Falcons in Week 2 of the 1991 season. By this time, Minnesota was on its way to an 8-8 campaign. Miles away from what was imagined by Vikings' brass when they made the deal for Walker.

Meanwhile, we all know what the trade did for the Cowboys, helping transform them into a 1990s dynasty, still discussed in Texas taverns and backyards, a shadow of past glory the current team can't seem to escape.

The Redskins pulled a heavy trigger to get their man. If fans in Cleveland watched in frustration as Daniel Snyder and the boys rolled the dice with authority, it's yet to be determined if the Browns lost out. If we see bronzed statues of RG3 going up in the public squares of D.C. a decade from now, the draft picks are an afterthought. If the narrative is less enticing, many men in Redskins Park will be job-hunting, and this trade will live as a cautionary tale for years to come.

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