In one of the NFL's worst-kept secrets, Washington Redskins coach Joe Gibbs has acknowledged that the team is trying to trade former first-round quarterback Patrick Ramsey, and has granted permission to the one-time starter and his agent to seek potential trade suitors as well.
"We're moving ahead, trying to see what opportunities are out there for him and also evaluating what is best for us," Gibbs allowed. "I'm not sure if anything will get done, but we're looking, and we're letting [agent] Jimmy Sexton look around and talk [to other teams]."
There are, however, at least two potential impediments to trading Ramsey, the Redskins' first choice in the 2002 draft, who is still regarded as a quarterback with solid potential.
The first is the anticipated glut in the quarterback market, with the possibility that high-profile veterans such as Chad Pennington (New York Jets), Drew Brees (San Diego), Daunte Culpepper (Minnesota) and Brian Griese (Tampa Bay) will be thrust into the free-agent market. A few months ago, none of those players was projected as a free agent but a number of factors, from injuries to salary cap implications, have impacted their respective circumstances.
Second, until the last few days, the Redskins were still seeking a second- or third-round pick in return for Ramsey, league sources said. And while that may have been a viable price tag three months ago, a buyer's market and Washington's ham-handed handling of Ramsey have probably reduced his value in the eyes of some teams interested in acquiring the four-year veteran.
Indications over the weekend were that the Redskins, who have targeted the New York Jets as a possible trade partner, have dropped the price. But the Jets, who have some interest in a deal, won't move ahead until they resolve the Pennington situation, and determine whether he will accept a proposed salary cut for 2006, or if they will be forced to release him.
For now, there is no deal imminent for Ramsey, demonstrating once again that timing is key.
A year or two ago, when it became obvious that Gibbs' staff wasn't enamored of Ramsey, the Redskins would almost certainly have commanded a higher price for the former Tulane star. But Washington failed to pull the trigger on a deal when Sexton could have brought them several suitors. Gibbs sold Ramsey on the notion that he would compete for the starting job, then went out and invested a 2005 first-round pick on Auburn quarterback Jason Campbell.
Ramsey started the '05 season opener, was pulled in favor of Mark Brunell at halftime, and didn't log another start the rest of the season. The poor handling of the situation probably means that Washington will have to settle for far less now in any Ramsey trade. Even at a reduced rate the Redskins likely have to deal Ramsey or release him, since he has finally become alarmed by his status.
"He's frustrated with the situation over the last couple years," Gibbs said.
Ramsey, 27, has a 10-14 record as a starter. He has completed 480 of 861 passes for 5,649 yards with 34 touchdown passes, 29 interceptions and a 75.0 quarterback rating. His base salary for 2006 is $1.688 million, not unreasonable for a team that views him as a starter, but he is entering the final season of his original contract. Any team interested in acquiring Ramsey would probably want him to sign an extension before completing a trade.
Len Pasquarelli is a senior NFL writer for ESPN.com.