As we move quickly towards the official end of the season, the part of the year where the Redskins excel the most (or fail dramatically, depends how you look at it) approaches; Free Agency!
Our secondary is perhaps our biggest need, second only to our pass rush if anything. And cornerback happens to be a position that is rich this free agency, with stars such as Asante Samuels and Nate Clements finding themselves available. Both players likely expect big pay days.
How big? Well, Rotoworld thinks Clements will demand a 20 million dollar signing bonus and the official Nate Clements website cryptically suggests as much as well:
If he has a good season, he could attract a $20 million bonus with a massive contract under a salary cap that's $109 million and growing.
I hope not. However, given the Redskins' proclivity (or should I say, addiction) for overpaying players and making big moves in the offseason, I cannot honestly say the deal won't go down. But let's take a moment to reflect on what a 20 million dollar signing bonus will do for a team.
20 million guaranteed dollars would make a player virtually uncuttable for the forseeable future. Let's say he signs a 7 year contract (and that's the only way I could justify a 20 million signing bonus). That's 2.8M and change a year in prorated bonuses. That means in year four, when Nate Clements is 32 years old, we'll still owe him upwards of 8M+ in signing bonuses alone. And while I acknowledge that in 4 years the cap will be (ostensibly) many millions higher than it is now, that's still a ton of money to be paying an ageing cornerback, even if he is still playing at a high level.
But it won't matter how high a level he is playing since he'll be virtually uncuttable for at least 4 years and possibly longer.
Let's put this in perspective. Champ Bailey signed with Denver a 63 million deal with 18 million in signing bonuses. At the time it was (and remains, as far as I can tell) the highest contract for a cornerback in history.
I do not think Nate Clements is 1$ better than Champ Bailey, let alone 2 million in signing bonuses better. If he's asking for 20 million in guaranteed money alone he's asking to get overpaid, in my opinion. It's not the end of the world to overpay a player a little bit, but can the Washington Redskins afford to do so in 2007?
The Redskins are now nearly 3M over the 2007 salary cap and we haven't even signed draft picks. Obviously some cuts will follow and should free up some space, but I don't know how they'll free up enough space to sign draft picks and shore up depth and starting holes in free agency if we sign Nate Clements to that exhorbinant deal. It is simply too much money to be shelled out by a team that is already in salary cap trouble and has done everything possible to mortgage its future for immediate success (in this case, success is defined as failure).
If we can get Asante Samuels for less I say we go for him; at least he's younger. But in either case if those players ask more than they are worth, I emphatically believe we should not overpay players anymore. It is time to get this franchise's books in order and start building a prolonged winning future one year at a time. Simply picking up the hottest FA talent on any given year and paying out the nose for them has not worked and will never work as a viable long term strategy for success. We need a quality cornerback to shore up our questionable secondary, but not at the cost of future success and financial ruin.