Presaging a Rams-Bucs Deal?

Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images Josh Johnson… a dealbreaker?

All the chatter between RamsHerd and What the Bucs about a possible deal between the Bucs and Rams has, from our perspective, centered on one critical question — does the deal make sense? Judging from the results from our Facebook poll, at least five Rams fans think so. Now, though, there’s real fat in the fire.

ChrisSteuber
Is a Rams, Bucs blockbuster trade possible? Find out: http://profootball.scout.com/2/947712.html

Steuber, a long-time NFL draftnik and one of the primary NFL writers on Scout.com, essentially proposes the same type of exchange that we’ve been discussing all week: an exchange of the Rams’ #1 and Bucs #3, plus one of the Bucs’ second- or third-round choices to seal the deal.

However, Steuber throws a monkeywrench into the works by jumping deep into the Rams’ well-known search for a “quarterback of the future,” and finding an as-yet undiscussed solution:

A source close to the situation in St. Louis told me that if a deal with the Eagles (for Michael Vick) can’t be consummated prior to the draft, they may take the Bucs third round pick over one of their second round picks, because they’re “very high” on third-year quarterback Josh Johnson, who they would insist being in a potential trade with Tampa Bay. Rams officials compare Johnson favorably to Vick athletically, but they feel that he has a greater upside as a passer.

Now, this is all still pure speculation, but the involvement of a high-upside player like Johnson that fills an obvious void for the Rams gives this a whiff of possibility. (Then again, as Dan from Mocking the Draft puts it, this just makes Steuber’s article a better-written piece of pre-draft BS than my own ;)

Should the Rams be interested?

Bucco40 from What The Bucs offers us a pretty alluring preseason scouting report on Johnson:

“Josh Johnson brings a new dynamic to the Bucs which has sadly been lacking. Johnson, (6′3″ 215) is a product of the University of San Diego. During his senior year, Johnson passed for 2988 yards, rushed for 726 yards and produced 46 passing touchdowns and 1, yes 1, interception. That interception was a result of a ball which bounced off of his tight end’s shoulder pads.

Johnson was pretty impressive in the preseason games which he appeared this year. He’s a very accurate passer, with a quick delivery and very mobile. I believe this decision gives the Bucs the best chance to finally crack the win column this season.”

His regular season numbers weren’t so hot, producing 8 INTs versus 4 TDs in six games of work, essentially Boller-esque numbers before being replaced by the Bucs’ true QB of the future, Josh Freeman. Johnson conceivably offers more playmaking ability and upside than a guy like Keith Null, but as this wire report puts it: “While Johnson is an intriguing developmental QB, he’s not close to being ready to start at the NFL level. The proposed deal makes sense for the Bucs, but it wouldn’t solve the Rams’ quarterback dilemma for 2010.”

I keep coming back to Steuber’s line (supposedly quoting a source within the Rams’ org) that the Rams “would insist” that Johnson be a part of the deal. Presumably, this is because someone in the Rams’ player personnel department has Mike Vick on the brain, and sees Johnson as a poor man’s replacement. But here’s the thing, if you trade down from #1 to #3, essentially giving up on both Suh and Gerald McCoy, who do you draft at #3 if not your choice of Bradford or Clausen as the foundation player? Eric Berry (and trade away Oshimogho Atogwe)? Russell Okung (and let Alex Barron walk)?

Neither of these scenarios quite hits home for me. I might “insist” on that second round pick instead.

There’s also the question of whether the Bucs would seriously entertain such an offer. And again, Bucco40 offers us a cold slap of reality. If anything, he sees the Bucs trying to trade down, not up, for financial reasons as much as any other:

The overall money seems to be an issue with the Bucs, not just drafting a QB or a positional player overall. The Glazers are reported to be 1 billion in debt on their venture into Manchester United and 2 months ago sold a Glazer home in Palm Beach for 26 million dollars. When the Glazers aquired this team, money was no object, now it’s seemily all about the money. Several games in Tampa this year would have been blacked out if it hadn’t been for the Glazers buying up the remaining tickets. So I really, really don’t expect the Bucs moving up to snag the #1 overall pick.

He gives us a full analysis on his site, which I recommend checking out. Bottom line, even though there’s a lot of smoke, I’m not too optimistic of seeing a fire. But it’s still more fun to entertain than Atogwe-for-Vick trade rumors.

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