Jason Campbell stuck to his offseason routine on Thursday, going to Redskin Park to work out. While he worked up a sweat in the downstairs gym, the Washington Redskins front office was working the phones, trying to find a way to trade for his replacement.
Their best efforts fell through, as the Chicago Bears surprised everyone by swinging a blockbuster deal for disgruntled Denver Broncos quarterback Jay Cutler.
Now, instead of calling a press conference and rolling out the three Super Bowl trophies to introduce Cutler to the fanbase, the Redskins instead must focus on repairing relations with Campbell, their starter for the last three seasons.
“Truth be told, through the whole process, I was prepared for whatever decision they made,” Campbell said. “I always kept thinking myself today, ‘I’m still the Washington Redskins quarterback.’ I talked to my coaches, my teammates and they told me they believed in me so that was always my mindset.”
Indeed, Campbell talked to teammates and to coach Jim Zorn during his visit to the team’s headquarters in Ashburn, even before the Broncos’ deal with the Bears came across the airwaves around 5:30 p.m.
“I pretty much talked to all of them and I got their support,” Campbell said. “That definitely meant a lot to me that they think of me as a player and a person in that way — that they want to reach out to me.”
Cutler’s unhappiness in Denver stemmed from Mike Shanahan’s ouster in January and the subsequent departure of quarterbacks coach and play caller Jeremy Bates to Southern California. It was exacerbated when McDaniels, who as New England’s offensive coordinator oversaw the development of quarterback Matt Cassel last season, tried to acquire him and trade Cutler on the eve of free agency. Cassel was traded to the Kansas City Chiefs instead. Cutler also claimed Bowlen promised him Bates would be retained following Shanahan’s dismissal.
After word of the move for Cassel got out, Cutler requested a trade after a meeting with McDaniels and Bowlen.
Speculation centered immediately on Washington because of owner Dan Snyder’s reputation for making big offseason moves and management’s unwillingness to extend Campbell’s contract past this year.
Instead it was the Bears who gave up a bounty for the 25-year-old quarterback, including their own passer, Kyle Orton. More importantly, the Bears surrendered their first round pick in this year’s draft and in 2010, as well as a third-rounder next month. The Broncos shipped a fifth-rounder back to the Bears along with Cutler.
And Washington is left all of its remaining draft picks — including the 13th overall selection later this month — and a former first-round pick at quarterback it attempted to jettison. And Campbell should be taking the field at the team’s first minicamp in May with a bit more motivation.
“You’re going to play with a little more of a chip on your shoulder,” Campbell said. “Franchise quarterbacks are allowed develop and it doesn’t happen overnight. My mindset will be to play extremely hard and I would have done that regardless. I want to do everything I can to help us win. That will be my motivation even though I know that I was shopped around a little bit.”
His teammates would expect nothing less from their professional quarterback, who has taken the high road throughout this process.
“It’s a tough deal, bottom-line,” Redskins receiver Antwaan Randle El said. “You wonder how it will affect Jason. But he’s so even-keeled, so I think he’ll handle it as well as anyone could.”
“I don’t think it will affect Jason at all,” Redskins defensive end Phillip Daniels said. “It’s good to have him back. I’m sure he’s pretty happy that he’s staying with the Redskins. He’s got a lot to prove.”
“Nobody wanted this trade to happen,” center Casey Rabach said. “Jason’s a good football player and a really good guy. He fits well with this team.”
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