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The Redskins understood the market. The rest of you didn't.

Dan Snyder and company received heaps of (much legitimate) criticism last year for jumping into the market with a splash, testing the waters for the rest of the League. But what was so unusual? Well, we signed 120+M dollars in contracts to Andre Carter, Adam Archuleta, Brandon Lloyd, and Antwaan Randle-El. The familiar attack was that we overpaid overpaid overpaid. And we did, given the results.

But hindsight is 20/20 and I think the Redskins spending spree of 2006 will historically be recognized as an inevitable and predictable first step that followed necessarily from the gross inflation of the Salary Cap.

Between 2005 and 2006 the Salary Cap jumped from 85M to 102M, a 20 percent increase. Player salaries and contracts were destined to balloon similarly as teams realized they had way more money available than they had ever had before. Given their failure to spend that in 2006, many teams entered 2007 with tens of thousands of dollars in Cap Space, more money than they possibly knew how to spend. The results were completely calculable: Players got paaaaaaaaaaaid.

Derrick Dockery's 49M dollar deal matched Steve Hutchison's monstrous contract of last year... which was broken by Eric Steinbach's 49.5M deal.

And now Nate Clements appears to have signed an 80M dollar deal with 22M guaranteed, exploding past conservative predictions of 15-20M. (For the record, I said that his signing bonus would be "over 22M". I eat my crow...)

2007 changes the paradigm. No longer should we suffer the endless Redskins bashing; while we made decisions that didn't pan out, our contracts seem a whole lot less crazy given what's happening right now in this seller's market. The Redskins entered 2006 knowing full well that they had 17M more dollars to spend than they had the previous year; no one else got the memo. Now that other teams are apparently on board, I think it's about time we challenged the conventional wisdom that the Redskins and spending were in a league of their own.

Still more to come.

Regarding Clements, keep a close eye on Niners Nation who will have the scoop. Apparently the 49ers had 37-42M in cap space available -- what the deuce????

And of course check out Dawgs By Nature for the word on the Steinbach deal.