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Springs' youth not eternal

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Like all human beings, even Shawn Springs isn't good enough to avoid the cliche even if it is meant more to describe the eternal feeling of youth rather than the actual physical aspect of it, but whatev. Hate to be a debbie downer but the bad news that isn't getting a ton of attention on the blogosphere and elsewhere is just how close Shawn Springs could be to playing his last game as a Washington Redskin. Per the Times (hat tip: Extreme Skins):

Springs turns 33 in March -- senior citizen status at his position -- and counts $7.5 million against the club's salary cap for next season.

And Springs still has bruised feelings from contract squabbles with the team this past offseason, when he declined to rework his contract and stayed away from Redskin Park and the club considered trading him.

"I'm not really thinking about it [so much that] it weighs down on me," Springs said. "If they change my contract, then I'll be happy to be here. But if they don't, I don't think I'll be here. When I left Seattle, I could have stayed but it was time for a change."

Asked if it was time for another change, Springs smiled and said, "I really can't tell you yet."

I thought it was the fact that we wanted to change his contract (asked him to take a paycut) that made negotiations so difficult? Yuck yuck yuck. He also said:
"Maybe it's my last home game. If it's my last game in Washington, then I would understand. I know I'll be playing somewhere next year. There are a lot of places where I know people and could be happy. I'm not sad about it. It's been a great four years."
Wow. It's also enormously unfortunate, since Shawn Springs has been an outstanding player the past four years and has proven how much we need him even when he isn't on the field; last year's defensive meltdown was accentuated whenever he was absent from the game, which was often. With Carlos Rogers an injury concern heading into 2008 (still recovering and could be for much of next year -- I'm not saying he's suddenly a persistent career injury concern) we need Springs more but I wonder where the money to pay him as he feels he deserves will come from, or even if it should. He is getting long in tooth.

What I don't understand is why players should feel entitled to contracts that modify ones they've signed? From what I can tell, Shawn Springs signed a 6 year deal that runs through 2010 and stands to make plenty of money given his age and position. If that deal was good enough to sign in 2004, it should be good enough to play through in 2009 and 2010. If it wasn't, you shouldn't have penned your name on it, correct? I understand where Springs is coming from if he's merely saying that the team won't be able to pay him less (they should honor their end of the bargain as well, afterall) but why is he entitled to higher pay? What is he signaling when he says "If they change my contract, then I'll be happy to be here. But if they don't, I don't think I'll be here"? A holdout? Is he just predicting what he thinks the team will do, cut him if he refuses to take a paycut?

I see a slight increase to 5M in base salary next year and a substantial increase to 6M the following year. That's a hefty price to pay for a very talented player. It was also a price negotiated by both parties and then signed, and also marks an amount of money that I could suffer as a fan. We need Springs. I think he should be willing to play with us even if it means collecting merely on the contract money he agreed to in the first.

But don't let me monopolize the conversation. Reader(s), what is Springs owed next season? More than his contract? Less? Do you want him in Washington at all?