We all knew the offensive line was a major area of concern heading into the 2014 season. How we would address this mess was a hot topic all winter and spring.
Enter the 2014 season.....
It feels like Groundhog Day. Basically the same pieces up front, and not surprisingly, the same results on the field. A 1-3 start, two embarrassing losses, one victory against an over-matched team that gave us just enough hope to think we may actually be good, and once again, more injuries.
I have to question the off-season strategy employed by Bruce Allen and Co., and wonder how neglecting to significantly upgrade the offensive line came to be decided on.
Before you go saying we addressed it adequately by selecting Moses and Long in the draft, and signing Lauvao, let me point out that later round offensive linemen usually take some time to adapt to the NFL game; especially offensive tackles taken outside the top 30. Guards are a little bit easier to plug-and-play, but it all depends on the athlete. Signing Lauvao was viewed by many as an underwhelming and over-paid move. Most people who follow college football and the NFL draft knew Moses was a big-time project at offensive tackle, and was someone who may work his way into the spot in year two or three. Long was just a question mark, as we had more guards currently on the roster than any other position on the team.
It was a very solid free agent class on the offensive line, and without a first round draft pick, the front office should have realized this was the route that needed to be taken. Jared Veldheer(7 million/year), Rodger Saffold(6.2 million/year), Anthony Collins(6 million/year) and Michael Oher(5 million/year) were all available. At guard, Geoff Schwartz(4.2 million/year), Jon Asamoah(4.5 million/year), and Zane Beadles(6 million/year) were all players that could have helped the Redskins offense. The Skins chose not to re-sign center J.D. Walton, who we claimed late in 2013, when Denver released the talented young center because of injury concerns. Walton signed with the New York Giants for a modest 2.5 million/year. Instead of going after any of these players, we chose to sign Shawn Lauvao and DeSean Jackson. Combined these two are costing the Redskins 12 million per year on average.
So, what could 12 million have gotten us in the 2014 free agent market? How about adding in the money saved by cutting the horrible contracts of Chris Chester and Kory Lichtensteiger?
Imagine an offensive line that looked something like this:
LT - Trent Williams
LG - Josh LeRibeus
C - J.D. Walton
RG - John Asamoah/Jeff Schwartz
RT - Rodger Saffold/Anthony Collins
These additions would have cost the Redskins on average 13 million year. We would have saved a bit against the cap this season by cutting Chester and Lichtensteiger, but the bigger savings could have come next season. Point is, for the money we invested in DeSean Jackson and Shawn Lauvao, we could have signed three quality linemen, all well under the age of 30! We could have even kept Polumbus as a backup.
I was very vocal against the signing of DeSean Jackson. I never denied his talent. For me, it was more about the money we had invested in our wide receiving corps. I felt the 8 million/year could be better spent elsewhere. I wanted to sign some quality young linemen, and draft a big receiver like Jordan Matthews with our second round pick. Just for comparison sake, Jordan Matthews is costing 1/10 of what DeSean Jackson costs. On the season, Matthews has caught 15 passes for 141 yards and two touchdowns. Jackson has caught 15 passes for 207 yards and one touchdown.
Guess what, we could have vastly improved our offensive line, while at the same time getting younger, added size and youth to our receiving corps, and even had some money left over to upgrade the defensive line if we'd played it smart in free agency and the draft. Instead, we have practice dummies posing as offensive linemen up front, some who are over 30, two draft picks that are riding the pines, and one draft pick that is playing behind two Pro Bowlers.
One more quick thought before I leave you to discuss the mess we find ourselves in yet again. 24 year old offensive tackle Jonathan Martin was traded to the 49ers for a conditional 7th round draft pick.....
Is this the way good teams are run?