Awwwwww Cliffy...you still inspire us all.
Yesterday, I suggested that the Redskins would succeed in bringing in the kind of veteran free agent that would cause league experts and insiders genuine shock. This signing would be of the head-scratching variety, as the player involved would certainly have other options that would at least seem to make a lot of sense.
The Redskins might not be ready today to beat the Broncos or Patriots in the Super Bowl, but they could very well be ready to compete with teams like that for the kind of invaluable veteran player that typically considers his surroundings to be as important or more important than the paycheck. Our sideline has been relatively stable, our front office has developed a respectable consistency in its approach to building the roster and the presence of #10 is an undeniable draw. Nobody is going to pass up millions to play with Robert Griffin III, but I would feel safe betting that there is a player that would forfeit thousands to do it.
This all leads me to grossly speculate on what player would be a great candidate to single-handedly usher in a new way of looking at the Redskins leading up to the 2013 campaign. He has to have a big name with some gas left in the tank. He has to be a guy that is coveted and sought after by perennial contenders like New England, Pittsburgh and Denver.
Ed Reed was the first name that came to my mind. Even though he would be exactly the kind of veteran that would add instant credibility to our defense, something about it does not add up. I favor developing young safeties behind Brandon Meriweather and Tanard Jackson (if Jackson ever plays again). Reed would be a classy upgrade to our secondary, but there is a name out there that strikes me as way more of a "Redskins" move.
Now, the Chicago Bears and Brian Urlacher appear to still be trying to get their relationship worked out. Both have indicated a willingness to try and pave the way for the likely Hall of Famer to return to Chicago for a 14th season. If he were to hit the streets as a free agent, there would be plenty of teams interested in acquiring his services. I would argue that signing Brian Urlacher would be exactly the kind of shocking free agent pickup that would force some serious reflection on what kind of organization veterans view the Redskins to be. After all, a player of Urlacher's status in the league is almost certainly going to factor in a team's chances to contend when he makes a decision.
But who cares about a player's opinion of us, right? I mean, he is still looking for respect in the form of a paycheck, Flacco-style. There are other reasons why this move would fit in Washington, I think.
First of all, we have had great success bringing in veteran linebackers over the years. Wilber Marshall, Ken Harvey and London Fletcher are all examples of players that excelled elsewhere before coming to Washington. Of course, none of them came to D.C. in their 14th season. Only Fletcher arrived here in his tenth season or later. That is a big deal, I grant you. Still, each one of those guys played at least five seasons for the Redskins at a pretty high level. It is not too shabby to have a stint with your second team that lasts longer than the average career length of players in the league.
The last thing I want is to hinder the growth of a player like Keenan Robinson, or Perry Riley for that matter, but I would be hard-pressed to theorize that playing with a Hall of Fame-quality talent like Urlacher would do more harm than good.
What about the salary cap, you ask? Well, there is no skirting the obvious fact that this move would eat up some badly needed space that could be used to sign one or even two other quality depth players. That would be the trade-off. Urlacher is old and beat up, but history tells us that you can eek out two or three solid seasons from this kind of player, which is exactly the kind of time we need to dedicate some resources to other positions.
Runner-up: Jake Long. Clearly Long would have to get comfortable playing right tackle--and making right tackle money--before he would sign with the Redskins, but his addition to our offensive line would be a monumental upgrade and would increase our chances of contending in a way that few other additions could. He has a name, he has a reason to play well and prove people wrong and he has gas in the tank. If I was choosing between Long and Urlacher, I would take Long, but our history with free agent veteran linebackers and the fact that I am not sure Long sees himself on the right side yet convinces me that--of the two--Urlacher would be the more likely addition.
P.S. Posts like this usually get me creamed in the comments section, but wild speculation is a dish best served with lots and lots of cream.