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Ten Yard Fight: Is Washington the Egg McMuffin of Free Agency Destinations?

1. You have to hand it to Mike Shanahan and his staff. Not only did the Redskins coaches work closely with many of the top players coming into the draft down in Mobile, gathering precious intel about potential first and second round prospects, they also managed to squeeze in a loss! I understand that winning and losing means nothing in that game (the Senior Bowl), but I would have actually very much appreciated a win for the sideline featuring the Redskins logos. I have found a few more opportunities for our coaches to continue their current run--here are some other games the Redskins staff has put themselves in position to coach:

  • They'll be coaching the Washington Generals against the Harlem Globetrotters this spring.
  • They'll be coaching the Canadian Men's Soccer team in the upcoming Olympics.
  • They've been asked to "coach up" the Honduras national hockey team for its Olympic qualifier against Norway.
  • Their names were mentioned as the top candidates to take over the Wizards coaching duties, but Ted Leonsis was afraid that the NBA would think they were tanking.

2. All kidding aside...we lose a lot. was funnier when the kidding was not cast aside.

3. Overheard on the sidelines after Brandon Weeden threw his second interception: "Oh yeah...he could play for us. Kyle...are we teaching quarterbacks how to throw interceptions? Let's make that an action item when we get home."

4. I am really not in a negative mood...those were just kind of easy pickings. I couldn't be more upbeat about how our offseason is progressing. At the bare minimum, this spring is going to be very exciting. Contrary to my smartass ramblings above, I feel pretty confident that Bruce Allen and Mike Shanahan are going to pick up players who will be able to step in right away and contribute. We have a huge "Help Wanted" sign in the window and we will be in a good spot to pick up guys who can fill the openings that currently exist on our roster.

5. The more I think about it--and I have made two round-trip cross-country flights in the last week and a half so I have thought about it a lot--the more I would just be giddy if we were able to get two starting offensive linemen in the first three rounds. The one part that is hard to foresee is how free agency will used to bolster the offensive line. Last year I lobbied hard to make a run at Marshal Yanda, but the Ravens smartly kept him in the fold there. Chris Chester was a nice consolation, and a similar signing this offseason would provide much-needed depth. Is there any way that any of you can imagine a world where Allen and Shanahan tab both a tackle and a guard/center in the first three rounds of this draft?

6. That brings me to my main question--Do you think top free agents are giving Washington a serious look? I understand that money is always a main factor. We have it and players want it. Traditionally, that has been enough to attract...a certain kind of player. Bruce Allen and Mike Shanahan have done a much better job of not letting their dollars do their talking. In fact, you could argue that the players we have attracted under this regime have been guys primarily focused on finding opportunities to play. I know, nuts, right?

7. We are close--not there yet, but close--to being a few key players away from making a lot of noise in this league. I would like to think that after this draft and a full season of experience for all the first and second year players, the scene prospective free agents will be seeing will be one they will desperately want to join. How much faith are we expecting free agents this year to have in the Shanaplan? How badly do you think guys who are at the top of our target list will feel about inking deals here?

8. Which player (or players) do you think potential free agents are most excited about playing with in Washington? I am reasonably certain that Rex Grossman is no draw. I think guys could genuinely want to play with London Fletcher. I think players could genuinely want to join a defensive front that features Brian Orakpo and Ryan Kerrigan. Who is the offensive player that helps to bring in a key offensive free agent? Does it even matter?

9. I always love hearing that a player's first priority in free agency is to find a place where they have a chance to win. If that were true, there would be 53 players playing for the league minimum in places like New England, Pittsburgh and Green Bay. Of course money plays a huge role in the decisions made by free agents. It seemed that for a while there, money was the only reason we were able to sign anyone. I think it is very fair to suggest that has changed, but let's not gloss over an owner's willingness to shell out whatever it takes to land a coveted player. Thankfully, Dan Snyder has stopped rolling trucks full of money up to players' doors. We do seem to be relying more on a player's interest in playing here and not so much on their interest in getting insanely wealthy overnight.

10. What has changed is our ability to engage in and win a bidding war for a player. Given the new CBA and the amount of money that every team spends on payroll now, as well as the Redskins newfound reluctance to throw tens of millions into guaranteed portions of frontloaded contracts, it is no longer a matter of "Nobody is going to outbid the Redskins." Look at players like Barry Cofield and Stephen Bowen. Even Jabar Gaffney and Chris Chester are examples of guys who came here because they knew they could get on the field and contribute, as opposed to past free agents who saw the day they signed their contract as their last day of real work. Though we still have holes that can be filled by eager free agents looking to make a name for themselves on the field, even starting jobs won't be enough to attract the kinds of players that we need to become true contenders. At that point, we better hope we are a lot closer to winning than we are now (regardless of how close you think we are now). If we aren't, Dan Snyder's money won't be enough to push this roster to the next level, because the only kind of player we'll be able to attract is the same kind of player that got us here in the first place.