Posted February 29, 2012

Who might be ‘mystery’ team in Robert Griffin III sweepstakes?

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Robert Griffin III was so impressive at the combine, it even prompted a surprise team to reportedly express interest in trading up for him. (Getty Images)

Peter King wrote this week that the Rams are “open for business” regarding the No. 2 pick in April’s draft, and he mentioned Cleveland, Washington and Miami as teams likely interested in trading up for a shot at Baylor QB Robert Griffin III.

But King also reported that one NFL source told him a “team you would never expect” had at least inquired about St. Louis’ coveted spot. It’s important to remember that just because a franchise tests the trade waters doesn’t necessarily mean it has or will make an offer. Still, the notion of a mystery team entering the RGIII sweepstakes has created a buzz.

So, which team is it? Well, without being privy to the aforementioned source’s information, here are a few intriguing possibilities:

Baltimore Ravens: This would be totally out of the blue … and that’s the idea. Joe Flacco has started every game for Baltimore over the past four seasons and has twice, including in 2011, helped the Ravens within one win of the Super Bowl. So starting over with Griffin might seem foolish, but what if Baltimore’s convinced that it has hit its ceiling with Flacco, especially after a season in which the QB took a step back and endured criticism?

• Buffalo Bills: The Bills’ 10th pick comes after Cleveland (No. 4), Washington (No. 6) and Miami (No. 8). Buffalo also just handed current QB Ryan Fitzpatrick a six-year, $59 million extension in October. That extension, though, could be smoke and mirrors — if Buffalo cuts or trades Fitzpatrick before March 19, it reportedly would save about $49 million off that deal.

Few teams could use a major shot in the arm like Buffalo, so if the opportunity is there to dump an overpaid Fitzpatrick and reignite the franchise with Griffin, would Buffalo take it? The Bills’ decision to interview Griffin at the combine hints that they would.

• Dallas Cowboys: As long as we’re throwing darts, we may as well include Dallas, even though Jerry Jones’ son said that his dad is confident in Tony Romo and prefers him over Griffin or Andrew Luck. Dallas has the 15th pick and, in a hypothetical scenario, might be able to swing Romo to a QB-needy team for another first-rounder.

Kansas City Chiefs: Another team that met with Griffin at the combine, thereby at least kicking the tires on this possibility. Kansas City picks 11th, so the Chiefs would have to offer up a trade package even more lucrative than what Cleveland, Washington, Miami or possibly Buffalo could. Maybe they’d have to toss in a worthwhile player too — and since I’m wildly spitballing scenarios, I’ll toss out Jonathan Baldwin as a fit for the receiver-needy Rams if the Chiefs keep Dwayne Bowe in the fold.

The hurdles would be numerous for Kansas City to weave its way to the top of the draft, but remember that this is a team far from satisfied with its quarterback situation.

• Minnesota Vikings: The Vikings have repeatedly expressed their faith in Christian Ponder, who struggled in his rookie season at QB. It certainly would qualify as a rash decision to give up on Ponder 10 starts into his NFL career in order to move up one spot and draft Griffin.

If there’s any doubt in Minnesota about Ponder, though, this might be the time to strike. The No. 3 pick is the highest spot any team could offer the Rams as part of compensation to move up for RGIII.

• New York Jets: Do the Jets qualify as a surprise team? Only if you consider Mark Sanchez firmly entrenched as the starter there. The more likely scenario may actually be that New York takes a run at Peyton Manning — this franchise believes that it is close to Super Bowl contention, and a healthy Manning might put it over the top. Could the Jets say the same about Griffin? It may all come down to how much faith they have in Sanchez.

• Philadelphia Eagles: Of all the teams mentioned in this connect-the-dots RGIII puzzle, there are many ways in which the Eagles make the most sense. First and foremost on that list is the fact that Griffin’s athleticism often gets compared to Michael Vick’s, while Griffin wowed people at the combine with his maturity and understanding of the game — areas Vick struggles.

Philadelphia has pressing needs at several other spots, and it would be difficult to trade Vick and his $100 million contract. On the other hand, the Eagles have the No. 15 pick plus two second-rounders, so there might be enough ammunition to entice the Rams.

• Seattle Seahawks: Plain and simple, the Seahawks need to get better at the quarterback position. They’re slotted in at No. 12 in the first round, one spot lower than the Chiefs and, of course, behind several other teams desperate for a game-changer at quarterback. Unlike the Cowboys, Jets, Vikings and others, though, Seattle does not have a road block in place at QB should it find itself the winners in the Griffin derby.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Josh Freeman, for all his turnovers last year, looks to have a promising NFL future. A new coach in Tampa Bay plus a stagnant fan base, however, could mean the Bucs are searching for ways to open some eyes. Jumping up from No. 5 to No. 2 in the draft to nab Griffin would qualify.

As with the other teams on this list, there are a million reasons why a potential trade for Griffin would be a colossal stretch. But just as in those other scenarios, the wow factor of such a move could outweigh everything.

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