I would hat tip this morning's Post article on Shawn Springs and Sean Taylor's absence, but everyone is on it but me. Check my Blogroll for proof.
I supress my tendency to have kittens anytime something of slight interest happens in Redskins' nation that might be detrimental towards the team. In this case I'm going to fight the urge to go all histrionic over those absences and will present what documented from Coach Gibbs who is, unsurprisingly, upset. Per Howard Bryant:
"With Sean Taylor, I've had no contact whatsoever," Gibbs said. "I'm not aware of anything there. That's about all I can say about it. I've had no contact."
"With Shawn Springs, I've had a lot of talks this offseason," Gibbs said. "We kind of made up our decision how we were going to proceed this year and that we were going to go ahead with our normal situation with him contractually and every other way. I had a sit-down with him in Phoenix. Up to two weeks ago we thought we were in real good shape with him.
"Then all of a sudden we lost contact. I think that's something up here that can happen. It's one of the things you have to work your way through."
From that alone, would you wager that Coach Gibbs is mildly upset, indiffernet, or homicidal over these absences? I'm leaning towards mildly upset. Howard Bryant knows something I don't (a lot, actually) and he spoke with Coach Gibbs so his assessment is more prescient than mine. He felt that Gibbs "seemed more upset by the absence of Springs". I don't get that from the quotes alone. Read between the lines I guess.
Personally, I'm more concerned with Taylor's absence. Although Shawn Springs was clearly indispensable in last year's defense given the sharp decline when he was unavailable, he doesn't exactly fit into the Redskins long-term plans. Even if he plays a full and healthy season in 2007 (no given...), he just turned 32. And with a career of injuries dating to 1997, even a full season won't dispel concerns over his fragility. Also, he costs a fortune which is why we were discussing a paycut with him in the first place. Per the Post:
Springs, whose salary counts $7.35 million against the salary cap, has been uneasy about his position with the Redskins for the entire offseason, which began with Washington asking him to take a $2 million pay cut and culminated in a face-to-face meeting between Gibbs and the cornerback in March during the NFL owners' meetings in Arizona.
We eventually took the paycut off the table. Springs assures us that is not
why he's AWOL for the OTAs, but who really knows?
I haven't seen word from Taylor specifically on his absence, though two sources now cite "teammates" as confirming he's pissed about contracts:
Taylor's discomfort, teammates said, was exacerbated last season when the Redskins refused a $1.5 million raise to safety Ryan Clark -- Taylor's best friend on the team, who signed with Pittsburgh as a free agent in March 2006 -- but instead signed free agent safety Adam Archuleta to a six-year, $30 million deal with $10 million guaranteed, a record contract for a safety. The Redskins traded Archuleta to Chicago in March for a sixth-round draft pick. In addition, the Redskins drafted Louisiana State safety LaRon Landry with the sixth overall pick in the draft on April 28. Being a top 10 pick, Landry could command as much as $15 million in guaranteed money.
For the record, Archuleta only saw 5.5 of that 10 million in guaranteed from us, as Chicago picked up the remainder. But fair point nonetheless, Sean. We've thrown a lot of money at something that was never a problem on the field
per the results. The coaching staff knew something about Clark that we didn't, apparently. But it is troubling that both the defense holistically and Sean Taylor specifically regressed in 2006 concurrantly with Clark's departure. Correlation is not causation, but it's hard to deny any
conclusion. And regardless of my feelings on Clark's vacancy, Sean Taylor was his friend and is bound to have his own. The wild card is Drew Rosenhaus -- who knows how much he will demand for Taylor, who is now a Pro Bowler in virtue of another's injury.
But you know what? It's two players missing OTA, one of whom has done this twice prior and played like a stud regardless. Shawn Springs assures us he'll be there in a few weeks, and I'll take his word for it. This isn't a non-story but I also believe it won't be nearly as big an issue a few weeks or months down the road as one might suspect. Neither player will sit out the season because of this. Coach Gibbs might be perturbed that the leaders in his secondary could give a shit about OTAs, but at the end of the day those are the two best players at their position on the team and they will see field regardless. I would love to have both guys practicing with the team right now. But they aren't, and that's really not the end of the world, or our season.