The general perception is that the Cleveland Browns failed to move up in the draft to get quarterback Robert Griffin III because they didn't offer enough to the St. Louis Rams for the second overall pick.
Browns general manager Mike Holmgren believes Cleveland had no shot at making the trade.
In a conference call with Browns season-ticket holders today, Holmgren said "a very close relationship" between the Rams and Redskins prevented Cleveland from moving two spots up in the draft. Holmgren didn't go into specifics about the relationship, but it's well-known that Rams coach Jeff Fisher and Redskins coach Mike Shanahan are close friends.
This is a very serious accusation from Holmgren, and he wouldn't speak publicly about this if he didn't feel strongly about its validity. If you doubt the closeness of Shanahan and Fisher, there's an article in USA Today from five years ago about the NFL's version of bosom buddies. Fisher and Shanahan bonded in the 1990s in San Francisco, where Fisher was the 49ers' defensive backs coach for two years (1992-93) while Shanahan served as the offensive coordinator for three (1992-94).
Let's be clear about this: If this is true, Shanahan and Fisher didn't violate any NFL rule that I know about. But they are guilty of poor sportsmanship. I could understand a team trying to avoid helping out a division rival. But if the Browns gave the best offer, they deserved the pick.
The Redskins moved into the No. 2 spot by sending the Rams this year's picks in the first round (sixth overall) and second round as well as first-rounders in 2013 and 2014. There were reports that the Browns offered three first-round picks but not this year's second-round one. Holmgren said the reports about the Browns' offer were incorrect, saying Cleveland made "every bit the offer" as the Redskins.
While no one knows whether those future first-round picks would be better from the Redskins or Browns, a similar offer would favor the Browns because they were offering the fourth overall pick while the Redskins could only give the No. 6 pick.
“Honestly, when it didn’t happen -- I think there are reasons that I can’t go into right now -- but there is a very close relationship between the people getting the deal done and the people who offered," Holmgren said in the conference call. "And I’m not sure anything we offered would have been good enough. We were very, very aggressive and it didn’t work."
In other words, Holmgren says don't blame the Browns for failing to get RG3. You can point the finger -- or Dawg bone, if you prefer -- squarely at Shanahan and Fisher.