With the league forcing the Redskins to cut spending by $36 million over the last two years, the team has pursued a refreshing strategy that flies in the face of previous strategies employed by the team's front office.
I still remember getting home from work, parking my car and remaining in the driver's seat as the radio interview continued. It was June in the year 2000 (cue the Conan skit). Dan Snyder was touting his all-in approach to signing big name free agents on the local sports show. The idea of having a Redskins fan with deep pockets pulling the trigger on high-priced talent was intoxicating. Deion Sanders, Bruce Smith, Mark Carrier, Adrian Murrell and Jeff George constituted the first of many huge hauls...of names.
As poorly as this free agent class worked out for the team, it did not prevent the Redskins from paying up for this group in 2006: Adam Archuleta, Brandon Lloyd, Christian Fauria, Antwaan Randle-El and Andre Carter. Making Archuleta the highest paid safety EVER erodes most or all of the good that we got out of Andre and Antwaan in terms of judging this group as a whole.
Mike Barrow. Jeremiah Trotter. Albert Haynesworth. You get the picture. We have made...errors in judgement. And they were EXPENSIVE errors.
At some point during Snyder's first decade of ownership, most of us wondered if there was any way to prevent Dan from overspending on players and adopt a more conservative approach to team-building. Enter the Skinquester!
Now, don't get me wrong. The NFL is acting like a huge dick here. This penalty stinks worse than a dumpster behind a sushi restaurant on a 100+ degree day, but there have been some interesting results from this disaster of a penalty.
Here is a new list of names to consider: Adam Carriker, Stephen Bowen, Barry Cofield, Josh Wilson, Chris Chester, Sav Rocca, Pierre Garcon, Josh Morgan. Sure, some of these guys came before the salary cap penalty was imposed, but there was still the Haynesworth contract causing headaches. The Washington Redskins have done a much better job of allocating resources in the past few years. A lot of credit has to go to Bruce Allen and Mike Shanahan for implementing a strategy and sticking to it. They focused on lunch pail-toting, hardhat-wearing players in free agency and the draft. They brought in guys that have largely proven to be consummate professionals. Even better, they drafted young players that have actually--wait for it--developed into contributing members of the team, preventing the need to constantly be adding high-priced players to be able to compete.
As Shanahan said yesterday in his press conference, "We've got some excellent free agents, some excellent draft choices over the last few years. Thank God our draft choices have worked out because we've got some character. We've got some players."
While the front office deserves kudos, let's not gloss over the fact that their strategy was all but the only one available to them. The Skinquester was forced upon them by the league and took away $36 million in potential spending.
"Any time you take $36 million away from a football team, you're dealing with maybe anywhere from five to eight of the best football players on the team, especially when you take a look at the structure of a contract," Shanahan said, commenting on how different plans could have been with the full salary cap figure.
In years past, the Redskins were capable of spending that much on the WORST five to eight players on the football team.
Until the deadline approaches, I remain hopeful for a miracle that results in additional cap room for my favorite team. When the deadline passes, I will have to find solace in the fact that, while this penalty stinks worse than a busted sewage main after "Meatloaf Night" at the local diner, it could be directly responsible for a potential Super Bowl contender getting built in one of the smartest ways possible.
A year from now, we may be able to legitimately accomplish what previous regimes here thought they were doing--adding a an expensive, quality veteran to complement the youth and talent we have been forced to put in place.