It's been long enough for me to doubt even well documented suggestions that the Redskins will take it easy this offseason. Surely they have reason to do so, as the team is now only 3.8M over the cap per PC, though I think he's counting 11M of Chris Cooley's salary as guaranteed which, as far as I can tell, has yet to happen (but we all know it will). Steve Czaban has an unusually coherent rant here where he discusses a number of topics, our proclivity for offseason wheeling and dealing to marginal success among them. First, though:
I'm not saying that dead cap money is fatal. A recent article pointed out that the Giants actually led the league last year in that stat -- $18 million -- and it worked out pretty well for them, didn't it?
So obviously we're going to win the Super Bowl. To clarify what Steve is saying, dead cap space doesn't necessitate failure, but it can't (doesn't, shouldn't, wouldn't) correlate with winning. All things equal teams want less dead cap space as it restricts what they can do on any given year without otherwise aiding them. Dead cap money is cost without getting spent on anything substantively useful for the team. While teams some amount below the cap inevitably defeat other teams some lesser amount below the cap, all things equal mo' money is mo' better. Dead cap space functions similarly, just in the opposite direction.
Here is the thrust of Steve's frustration with this team's ownership:
This year, I fully expect the 'Skins and their team of green eyeshades to find a way to get under their NFL credit card spending limit, make the minimum payment on the balance and go out shopping again.
But, I think we now know the upper end result of this approach. It rhymes with 10 and 6.
Let me part ways with Czaban briefly because I am never comfortable siding too strongly with him. If free agency wheeling and dealing merely resulted in 10 and 6 win seasons I'd be thrilled with said strategy. Consistently winning 10 games a year will almost always put you in the playoffs and increasing those opportunities is what Super Bowl winning teams do. The real problem ain't the 10-6 years, it's the 5-11 or 6-10 or 7-9 years. However, though I don't agree with Steve that 10 wins is anything to scoff at, I think the two of us would agree that it's about time the Redskins just settled down in the offseason and accumulated players the cheaper way; through the draft.
And that might be precisely what we do this offseason (hat tip: Extreme Skins) per John Kleim at the Washington Examiner:
"I don't see us being real active," Redskins executive vice president of football operations Vinny Cerrato said. "We have a lot of guys under contract and people are signing their own free agents quite a bit. You have to overpay for anyone out there and there aren't a lot of guys out there."
Washington is approximately $7 million over the projected salary cap of $116 million and will continue to restructure deals. The Redskins will still struggle to match what other teams can pay, at least for high-end free agents.
Vinny Cerrato makes the point that I'd make over and over again and that has been made elsewhere much more forcefully and intelligently than I'm capable. Since salaries from drafted players aren't necessarily decided by a market (rather you just increase the year prior slightly and adjust based on where the pick was taken) and free agent players are always decided by a market, the latter will cost more relative to their production than the former. And while it is an undeniable true of the NFL that sometimes highly paid draft picks don't pan out and sometimes low paid free agents do, for overall value a draft pick is better than a free agent generally. I don't interpret Vinny to be saying that they have overpaid for all their free agents (for many they have) but rather him just recognizing that free agency has costs that the draft doesn't. The fact that he's willing to recognize as much is actually quite encouraging, because I wasn't at all sure he knew that.
I, for one, would welcome a quiet offseason. Question to reader(s): would anyone else?