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NFL Draft 2012: After Bold Trade For Robert Griffin III, Washington Redskins Franchise Now At A Crossroads

Now that the Redskins have made the dramatic move to trade up to the No. 2 overall selection in the draft to select their franchise quarterback, the organization now faces two paths: The road back to relevance, or to continued mediocrity.

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - FEBRUARY 26: Quarterback Robert Griffin III of Baylor looks on during the 2012 NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium on February 26, 2012 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
INDIANAPOLIS, IN - FEBRUARY 26: Quarterback Robert Griffin III of Baylor looks on during the 2012 NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium on February 26, 2012 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
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When Washington Redskins general manager Bruce Allen introduced Mike Shanahan as head coach at a press conference on the morning of Jan. 5, 2010, he quoted an article from The New York Times that described Shanahan as someone who "dares to be great."

After a season in which he tried to get by with career journeymen quarterbacks John Beck and Rex Grossman, it was time to be daring.

It was time to take a chance. It was time to give this organization an opportunity to return to where they haven't been in decades.

Throughout their history under owner Daniel Snyder, the Washington Redskins have been no strangers to making headlines in March. The exhaustive list of high-profile free agent and trade acquisitions are as familiar as they are repulsive to the burgundy and gold faithful.

But now, the Redskins may have outdone themselves.

By trading two future first-round draft picks and a second-rounder this year to move up to the second pick in April's draft, Washington is betting the farm that their next big acquisition -- likely Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin III -- will be the one that finally leads them out of a 20-year-long rut.

And if this dramatic trade represents anything to this fanbase, it's just that: Finding a way out of this vicious cycle of mediocrity that's lasted nearly a generation.

The Redskins have seemingly tried everything to change this position since winning their last Super Bowl in January 1992. They've gone through any and everybody -- first-round draft choices, unheralded journeymen, and aging veterans -- to find the signal caller who could lead the team to the promised land.

Indeed, the search for the elusive "franchise" quarterback has been a frustrating exercise for a once proud franchise. But with this trade, Shanahan, Allen and Snyder believe they've found their man; a quarterback whose athletic prowess on the field may be matched only by his charisma and leadership abilities off it.

The move itself was as daring as it was desperate, and it goes without saying that it'll have long-lasting ramifications for this franchise, one way or another.

In a decade that's seen plenty of bold moves by this franchise, it's not hyperbole to say this could be the biggest and boldest of all, and that's saying something. The decision to part ways with multiple first-round draft picks is one that will be scrutinized for years to come, and will go down in the annals of infamous draft trades.

Without question, the price was steep. As a result, there will be pressure on Griffin to come in almost immediately and perform. If he develops into a franchise quarterback, the Redskins will return to relevance, Shanahan will cement a Hall of Fame career, and son Kyle will be a hot commodity among head coaching candidates.

If he fails, however, the Redskins will stay right where they've been in most years -- firmly entrenched in the proverbial NFC East cellar.

Is there a chance this will fail? Sure. But the Redskins have tried everything under the sun to try to return to glory in recent years, and they've come up short. They haven't had a bona fide star at the quarterback position since Joe Theismann, and Griffin has a chance to become the centerpiece on offense that Shanahan has so badly coveted since coming to Washington.

Now that the trade has been made, the franchise is at a crossroads. The fork in the road leads to one of two destinations: A return to prominence with Griffin as the face of the organization, or a continued residence in Mediocreville, where they've lived for quite some time.

The Redskins' first step in either direction will begin this fall. And if one thing is for certain, it's that the team will -- as usual -- have D.C.'s full and undivided attention as they move forward.