LA Rams' first big trade might be first big mistake

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Hoping to make a splash and quickly move into playoff contention in their new city, the Los Angeles Rams acquired the first pick in the 2016 NFL Draft from the Tennessee Titans last Thursday. While the Rams hope their gamble will result in the selection of a successful franchise quarterback (either Cal’s Jared Goff or North Dakota State’s Carson Wentz), the trade came at a high cost.

Los Angeles traded away their original first round pick (15th overall), two second round picks, a third round pick and next year’s first and third round picks in exchange for Tennessee’s first round pick (first overall in the draft), and their fourth and sixth round picks.

Instead of mortgaging their future, the Rams should have continued to bolster their entire roster through the draft and take a quarterback — such as Memphis’s Paxton Lynch — in a later round. Moreover, neither Goff nor Wentz have proven enough in their collegiate careers to warrant such a risk.

“History is on the side of the team that stockpiles draft picks, or at least against the team that gives them away,” Jason Keidel wrote for CBS Los Angeles.

The Rams seemingly forgot about the trade they made with the Washington Redskins in 2012 that was essentially the same deal in reverse. They traded away the second pick in the draft to the Redskins in exchange for Washington’s first and second round picks that year, as well as two future first round picks.

The trade resulted in disaster for the Redskins when Baylor’s Robert Griffin III did not develop into the franchise quarterback they expected. Meanwhile, the Rams acquired starters on both sides of the ball from all the picks they received from Washington.

But perhaps the 2012 trade has put the Rams in a position to be able to afford to overpay for a quarterback this year. In any case, the Rams believe they made the right move.

“We’re done being close [to contention],” head coach Jeff Fisher said. “We want to get over the top and be significant.”

The Rams, needing to move ahead of the Cleveland Browns at No. 2 to ensure they could select the quarterback of their choice, knew the Titans would be open to dealing the first overall pick because they do not need a quarterback, having drafted Marcus Mariota second overall last year.

The long relationship between Rams General Manager Les Snead and new Titans General Manager Jon Robinson also helped the deal, which was largely secured at this year’s NFL Scouting Combine.

“It was easy for Jon and I to sneak out the back of the suite [at the combine], and act like we were going to the restroom, and then chat about the pick,” Snead said.

While the two teams officially sealed the deal on Wednesday, the Rams waited to announce the trade until after Los Angeles Lakers’ Kobe Bryant’s final appearance.

“Let’s honor Kobe, and the Lakers and the L.A. fans tonight,” Fisher said. “And we’ll do something in the morning. That’s how it went down.”

But trying to quickly establish success in Los Angeles, the Rams are gambling that a quarterback in this year’s draft will lead their offense for years to come. Unfortunately, much like Washington, they will probably learn that the price to acquire either Goff or Wentz was too high.