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State of the Redskins: Insider Style

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Jason La Canfora has an epic rant on the Adam Archuleta trade expressing his frustration with a candor that I find refreshing. I don't necessarily agree with everything Jason says, but I suspect the post will generate enormous discussion in the Blogsophere and Message Board communities. Some of the things mentioned demand attention and I agree with the overall point of it: Redskins fans desparately need to start accounting for how we are evaluating the decisions of this franchise holistically. I pined guardedly about the trade and its impact earlier today -- mostly because I'm ready to put the fiasco behind us. Anyways, onward to Redskins Insider, much of it a needed recent history lesson in pecuniary mismanagement:

Ryan Clark wants an average of $1.5 million a season to re-sign here and Danny tells his agent he'll never get that kind of money.
Snyder was right, he wouldn't get that kind of money. He got more.
He then procedures to pay Arch Deluxe double what anyone else in the league would have.
The other argument in the blog comments that seemed to crop up, was, "Well, the Skins couldn't whack AD and Lloyd in the same season and take the cap hits, so they had to do something?" And to that I ask you yet again, what the hell does that have to do with football? That's just more bad contracts and more salary cap BS...

They make mistakes then try to buy their way back out of them with the same old stuff. Sorry, I'm not tipping my cap - excuse the pun - to them for that. It's closer to insane than astute.

There is a philosophical disagreement between two groups of fans that pops up repeatedly in discussion. On one hand we have Redskins cap cynics, and I consider myself among that group. I view signings based on costs and although I'm not as cynical as many, my opinion generally is that less is more (when it comes to spending). I would qualify as one of the people who says the Redskins are perennially headed for "cap disaster".

The alternative philosophy is that the Redskins have been in "cap disaster" for years and that those of us worried about the financial future of this team are merely chicken-littles bemoaning a fallen sky. Afterall, the Redskins always find their way out of cap trouble each year they loom near disaster, right?

The problem is that the Redskins aren't doing anything unique to liberate themselves from fiscal ruin. All 32 teams can cut players or restructure contracts. The Redskins are operating in the same salary cap as everyone else, they just do so in a manner that produces fewer wins than the majority of other franchises. We can be thrilled about that or flustered. I choose the latter, as I don't want to enable losing.

And that's why I find Canfora's rant so refreshing. What are we celebrating when we say -- as I did in the comments section earlier -- that the Redskins freed themselves of 5M of Archuleta's contract? That's still just damage control which, as Jason points out, is the result of damage control from earlier damage control from earlier damage control... If I start a fire in my kitchen there isn't anything to celebrate when I put it out, right?

Had your owner, who is so willing to outspend anyone else to field a winner, as I always hear, simply matched Antonio Pierce's deal back in 2004, and just matched Ryan Clark's deal in 2005, just think, your front office would have had plenty of cap space and actually been positioned to address other real needs the past few years, most notably an aging and unproductive defensive line.
A familiar argument to Redskins fans. I'm not nearly as hostile on the Clark/Pierce point as Jason is, as hindsight is 20/20 and I think the Redskins had good reasons to let Pierce walk. But those good reasons were contingent on their inability to recognize him as a Pro Bowl talent. That's an indictment of them as personnel scouts. But why couldn't we afford Pierce in the first place?
But wait a minute, why couldn't they just keep AP in the first place? Hmm, that $9 million cap hit in the Coles trade surely had nothing to do with it, right?
And we are reminded that Coles was forced out of town for airing our dirty laundry. That's familiar.

Another, considering we just brought Smoot back:

Keep Fred Smoot the first time, and all of a sudden you don't need to draft a corner 9th overall in 2005, when this Merriman kid from Maryland was on the board (I heard he actually gets to the quarterback sometimes).
The point of all this is to say that decisions should be viewed holistically and you cannot honestly evaluate contractual moves unless you acknowledge the proximate causes of them. Signing Archuleta had something to do with not signing Ryan Clark. Signing Fletcher had something to do with not signing Pierce (who is a Pro Bowler). Signing Smoot had something to do with cutting Kenny Wright and Mike Rumph -- neither of whom should have been on the field in the first place. And they were brought in to bolster an injured secondary that put a 2nd year CB in a position he wasn't ready for. And that 2nd year CB (Carlos Rogers) was drafted because we let Smoot walk the first time.

I don't agree with Jason about everything in his post, but the sentiment I find important. Are Redskins fans holding their team to productive standards? Am I? I love the team virtually unconditionally and will try to positively spin no matter what they do if only as a form of self-deception. But at the end of the day I want what we all want; for Your Washington Redskins to win some damn football games. Cheerleading damage control won't produce that (or hasn't).

I definitely don't think I am in a position to demand anything of a franchise that has given to me more than I could possibly give back. But as a fan of the team I can't help but feel the slightest sense of entitlement -- at a minimum we should question the direction of a team that has not proven capable of stringing together two winning seasons in ten years. Is that so much to ask?


Puuh-leeeeeeez, Washington?