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A deeper dive into Washington’s first round trade in the 2022 draft

NFL: APR 28 2022 Draft Photo by Jeff Speer/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

I made my feelings well known at the time. I loved Washington’s trade back from the number 11 pick in the 2022 draft with the Saints. It was exactly what I had been clamoring for. With the Carson Wentz trade, Washington was down a third round pick going into the draft, and there’s reason to believe that applied some additional pressure to the front office to parlay their high first rounder into additional draft capital early on, in order to take full advantage of the draft.

Of course, at the time, we knew the terms of the trade: Washington would give up #11 and, in turn, would receive #16, #98, and #120 from the New Orleans Saints. The Saints would go on to pick Ohio State WR Chris Olave at #11, and Washington would take Penn State WR Jahan Dotson at #16. Later, they would take Alabama RB Brian Robinson at #98, and would swap picks #120 and #189 for #144 and #149 with the Panthers. Those two Washington picks would be turned into QB Sam Howell and TE Cole Turner.

What we had heard rumors of, but didn’t firmly know at the time, was that there were other parties interested in trading back with Washington, including at #16, that the team turned down.

Yesterday, the team released the video below that actually gives us a pretty amazing glimpse into the war room at the time of the trade. I’ll explore some of the “alternate universe” options that it presents us below.

It appears that the first GM that Martin Mayhew actually spoke with about trading back was the Packers’ GM, Brian Gutekunst. Mayhew says, “they’ll do #53 and that’s it.” Green Bay’s first selection was #22. Assuming that pick was also on the table, the trade value exchange according to the broadly used Rich Hill Trade Chart would have been the following:

(Washington, Pick 11) = 358

(GB, Pick 22) = 253

(GB, Pick 53) = 106

358 - (253+106) = 1 pt to Washington

In terms of trade value, it would have been hard to get a “fairer” trade for both parties. Washington, of course, ultimately decided to pass, taking instead the trade with the Saints above, which works out as follows:

(Washington, Pick 11) = 358

(NO, Pick 16) = 305

(NO, Pick 98) = 38

(NO, Pick 120) = 26

358 - (305 + 38 + 26) = 11 pts to Washington (the equivalent of a high 5th round pick)

The New Orleans deal was clearly the better of the two, and Washington was wise to be patient.

From the video, it appears that Washington had the deal locked in the with Saints at least a few picks before their own. When Houston (at 15) picks Kenyon Green (G), Rivera says to Mayhew, “let’s do Dotson” almost instantaneously. Hurney agrees emphatically.

Then a curious thing happens, Mayhew picks up the phone and both Pittsburgh and the Jets are calling in, presumably to trade up to #16. Mayhew appears to basically disregard those calls, and the video pans to Rivera making a call to Jahan Dotson to break the news to him that he’ll be the Commanders first draft pick.

But what might have been? What might those trades with the Steelers or Jets have looked like. Let’s take a look at each. First, we’ll examine what a Pittsburgh trade might have involved:

(Washington, Pick 16) = 305

(Pittsburgh, Pick 20) = 269

(Pittsburgh, Pick 84) = 51

305 - (269 - 51) = 15 pts for Washington (the value of a high 5th round pick)

This probably would have been a best case scenario for Washington in terms of a trade with the Steelers. It’s entirely possible that the Steelers might have wanted something like that pick #189 as a way to take a bit of the edge off, but perhaps they would have taken the deal above if they were desperate enough to move up to #16. Were they looking to take Kenny Pickett there? Who knows?

How about the Jets? At this point in the draft, the Jets had already made two first round picks, and their best pick left was #35.

(Washington, Pick 16) = 305

(Jets, Pick 35) = 170

(Jets, 2023 first round pick) = 500 to 92 (avg 150)

This is highly speculative, as the Jets lacked sufficient 2022 draft ammunition to move up to #16 at this point, but a blend of a high 2022 pick and 2023 first rounder, may have been sufficient to garner interest.

It would be fascinating to know if they were moving up to grab the player they eventually selected at #26 - via a trade with the Titans - Jermaine Johnson (DE) who slipped considerably in the first round.

It’s incredibly cool to get these sorts of glimpses into draft war rooms, and I applaud the Commanders’ media team for putting this piece together, and giving us a look behind the curtains.

Poll

Which of these outcomes would you have preferred?

  • 4%
    No trade back.
    (45 votes)
  • 67%
    Taking Dotson at 16.
    (627 votes)
  • 19%
    Trading again with the Steelers
    (185 votes)
  • 6%
    Trading again with the Jets
    (63 votes)
  • 1%
    Something else (say in comments)
    (11 votes)
931 votes total Vote Now