So much for putting those rumors to bed. Remember when Vinny Cerrato...:
That raises questions about the Washington brass' motive in arranging a visit with Russell.
First, it could be a ruse meant to stir the pot. This is the "smokescreen" defense of the Redskins inexplicable behavior of late, frequently issuing interest in mutually exclusive options, like trading down and trading up from #6. I don't have a huge problem with this explanation if it means we get the upper hand in negotiations, but I do take issue with it for what it implies regarding Joe Gibbs and public relations. If we want to accept that the Redskins are engaging in perplexing behavior with the intent to confuse opposing franchises about our intentions than we should recognize that Fans are also going to be confused parties as a matter of necessity. If you accept the "smokescreen" argument, than you also accept that Joe Gibbs isn't someone worth taking seriously in his public statements. As a fan, and as someone who writes about the Redskins, I find that unfortunate. Also, I'm not sold yet on "smokescreen" as an effective strategy for maneuvering; the substantive gains are so vague (in my opinion) that it's just as likely that subterfuge leads to negative consequences as positive. What if we generate artificial interest in Calvin Johnson that ultimately convinces a potential Trade-Down partner to move in front of us to get him (thus robbing us of a possible deal with them)? Just an example...
Second is that the Redskins might honestly be interested in Russell. If that's the case than I cry for Jason Campbell, as the team apparently is going all Patrick Ramsey on him. This would be tacit acknowledgement that the Redskins aren't wise enough to scout QBs in the first round of the draft, having failed two consecutive times at that experiment on Ramsey and later Campbell. If that's the case, the maneuver is slightly self defeating. Granting that the Redskins suck at scouting QBs (if we really are done with Campbell) than what makes us so egotistical to think Russell will be a different story? The premise of the move is that the Redskins failed to scout Campbell as a good Quarterback. And it is our scouting of Russell which would ultimately justify moving up to pick him? Er...
Finally, "due diligence" is barely distinct from the genuine interest argument, except it presumes the Redskins are merely covering bases in the event Russell fell. But how is this different to Jason Campbell? I'd hate for the Redskins to pass on Joe Montana in the draft, but "due diligence" on Russell means the Redskins think it's possible a QB who has never played an NFL down and lacks any knowledge of our offense could do a better job replacing a guy who semi-proved himself last year. Does that imply confidence in Jason Campbell? There are teams in the NFL who will not even take a look at Russell given absolute confidence in their QB and a commitment to that player as the future.
I don't mind covering all bases, I just hope the team does so for the right reasons. Checking on Russell to make sure he isn't the next Peyton Manning is fine. Checking on him because you want to move on to the newest shiny toy because Jason Campbell is clearly broken (after half a season?) is not encouraging news. Visiting with Russell just to trick the rest of the league might be an intriguing strategy for NFL conspiracy theorists, but it comes with an accompanying acceptance that the Redskins are lying liars that lie (a fact perhaps already born out by Vinny Cerrato who denies reports that the 'Skins are interested in Russell while we schedule a visit with him shortly afterwards?).
Check the guy out, recognize that he isn't the next Super-God-Awesome-Quarterback and that you're better off with the quality QB you've expended draft picks and two years developing. Cover your bases and then move on. JeMarcus Russell is worth more to the Redskins at #6 as trade bait than he is as the starting QB of this team.