Friday, February 27, 2009

The Old Redskins Are Back

Well, after a year-long hiatus, the old Redskins have returned. Last offseason, Washington made very few waves in the free agent market, instead focusing on the draft and holding onto their own players. Early this morning, the Redskins re-signed DeAngelo Hall for $54 million over six years, then just hours later completed a deal to bring Albert Haynesworth, the jewel of this year's free agent class, to town. The price? A cool $100 million over seven years.

I'm not sure how I feel about the policy as a whole, but I do like both of the players. Whether they'll be worth their price, that's something we'll find out over the next two, three, four years. The local sports talk radio station had a free agency special this morning, where I heard a couple of interesting things.
  1. One of the Redskins top two corners from the beginning of 2008 will most likely not be back. The initial word is that Carlos Rogers is being shopped around; trading him would save a few million dollars towards the cap, though there would be a cap penalty that would mitigate the savings. The other option is to cut Shawn Springs, which is something we've heard about since late in the season as being at least a possibility. Springs ended up playing both corner and safety last season, safety more so after the 'Skins acquired Hall. Cutting springs would free up $6 million in cap room. With Hall obviously locking down one of the starting spots, it's unlikely that Washington will spend big money on a nickel corner, so unless Springs moves to safety full time (where he'd be far more expensive than current safety Chris Horton), one of these guys is gone.
  2. Local radio host Andy Pollin still believes (and I'm starting to see it more) that Jason Taylor will be cut by the Redskins this offseason. Taylor will count as $8 million against the cap this year, and because he was acquired via trade, there is no cap penalty for releasing him. That means $8 million in savings by cutting a guy who had 29 tackles and 3.5 sacks in 13 games for the 'Skins, and will be turning 35 around opening day. I'd still be surprised if they cut him, but that's a lot of money to be putting into a guy who could certainly be unimpressive this season.
  3. Vinny Cerrato, Executive Vice President of Football Operations, came on the show briefly and said that the Redskins were actually slightly outbid on both players, but were still able to sign them. Apparently, the Haynesworth deal has about $15 million in incentives, so maybe he was referring to the base salaries. Still, I like performance incentives; they're a good way to hedge your investment while still giving the player an opportunity to make a lot of money.
I can't say for sure that these were the moves that needed to be made, but they differ a little bit from some of the more famous Redskins deals in the past. First, they're two young players. This isn't Bruce Smith and Deion Sanders, these are youngsters who should still have plenty of mileage left in them. Second, they weren't brought in to band-aid the problem. Six- and seven-year contracts are long-term investments (though Derrick Dockery would disagree), so Hall and Haynesworth should be staples of the defense for years to come.

Do I wish we could be more like the Steelers and Giants, drafting smart and only going into free agency to grab role players? Of course. Every team would like their draft picks to all work out. But it's become clear that the Redskins are pretty bad at drafting, so why not spend your money on free agents? I've never doubted that everyone in the franchise, from ownership on down, has wanted to win, and that's really all I can ask.

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