David Elfin at the Washington Times reports in his newest piece The Worst Yet to Come? that the Washington Redskins are the oldest team in the league. I wish that meant the Redskins franchise was the oldest in the history, alas, it doesn't. It means quite literally that, at a 27.83 average per player, the Washington Redskins opened the season as the most aged team in the league.
That's the bad news. The good news is, despite the numbers, the Redskins have a core group of guys (at least offensively) who will be playing together for many years to come. Derrick Dockery, Clinton Portis, Ladell Betts (if we can re-sign him at the end of the year), Santana Moss, Brandon Lloyd, Antwaan Randle-El, Chris Cooley, and Jason Campbell are all under 27 years of age.
The offensive line (graded below) is oooold. Dockery is the only one who won't start next year in his 30s, while Jansen and Johnson are already there. Our defensive line isn't that much better, as the combined age of Cornelius Griffin, Phillip Daniels, and Joe Salave'a is 93 years old (94 when Griffin turns 30 in December). Andre Carter, who likely isn't as good as his backup Renaldo Wynn (32), is 26.
Lemar Marshall and Marcus Washington are both 29. Shawn Springs and recent pickup Troy Vincent are both north of 30, and Archuleta has been playing like he's 40. For the record, he turns 29 in exactly 1 month.
There is good news on defense, though. Sean Taylor is just 23 years old and Carlos Rogers is 25. Rookie Rocky McIntosh turns 24 this year. We have a pair of young, rookie defensive tackles in Anthony Montgomery and Kedric Golston who are both performing well, particularly Golston.
The main issue is our overall longterm player acquisition strategy which is utterly ridiculous. We locate semi-proven players who are just coming off free agency. The disadvantage there is that they've done just enough to justify a nice, fat paycheck but not enough to legitimize the inevitable ginormous paychecks we give them. So rather than developing cheap, young players we choose rather to suffer with aging, overpaid ones like Archuleta and, to a lesser degree, Carter.
Factor in that we acquire all these large contracts... er I mean players by often times giving up draft picks, and we are left with no real alternatives for combating an aging, underachieving team.
And then of course there's this:
So help isn't on the way to Redskin Park anytime soon.
Somehow, every year, the Redskins are always in cap trouble and inevitably claw their way out of it. I'm still skeptical. Even if it pending caproom disaster isn't staring us down, at the very least it is a caproom mini-disaster the likes of which inexplicably allowed us to watch Antonio Pierce walk while we simultaneously paid Archuleta over 22 million. He gets a big pay raise in 2009 when his salary jumps from 1 mil to 4 that we're going to have to deal with eventually.
It is time for a change of philosophy in Washington. We need to focus our efforts on draft picks and divorce ourselves from the 1970s George Allen draft strategy of consistnetly trading them away for "proven talent". It just doesn't work in the salary cap era and we need to learn that sooner rather then later. To remain competetive, as all the persistently good teams have, we need to mold younger, cheaper talent so that we can spend the big bucks on the guys we develop and know fit into our system. There's no point spending tens of millions to get a (probably) talented Archuleta only to find out that we need a cover guy more than a run stopper who chases well. </rant>
I just hope David Elfin is wrong. Because frankly, at 2-5 I don't think the Redskins can afford for things to get any worse.