- When people ask me who I think the greatest player to ever suit up for the Redskins was/is, a few names jump immediately to mind. While “favorite” and “greatest” can sometimes be synonymous inside a fanbase, they don’t necessarily have to be. After all, how many Redskins fans would call Champ Bailey their all-time favorite Redskin after his departure from the team? In addition to Sean Taylor, a player whose career was tragically cut short but also passes the eye test in terms of greatest players, guys like John Riggins, Sammy Baugh and Darrell Green are all in the conversation. Hell, even though I am not old enough to have seen him play, Jake Scott will always be a player I hold in the highest regard. (If you are sitting at your desk and you want to take a google-ride for distraction purposes, read whatever you can find on Jake Scott—the dude was an original badass.) At the end of the day though, Champ Bailey might be the pound-for-pound greatest player to have come through. He is at or near the top for me.
- I have been dropping this idea that Kirk Cousins could be the second coming of Champ Bailey on The Audible and in comments sections over the last few weeks. To be clear, I am not suggesting that Kirk Cousins is in the “greatest of all time” conversation. Instead, what I mean is that Kirk Cousins’ potential departure from this team could mirror Champ Bailey’s departure from Washington over ten years ago. Let that sink in for a second.
- Ahead of the 2004 NFL Draft, word began to break that the Redskins and Broncos were on the cusp of a blockbuster deal. Champ Bailey to Denver. Clinton Portis to Washington. (The Redskins also included their customary “second-round sweetener” that seemed to get added to every deal they did. Rumors suggest Vinny Cerrato once tipped a valet with a second round draft pick.) The fight was called before it started: the Redskins had lost, and it wasn’t close. Giving up a premier, generational talent at the cornerback spot was going to be next to impossible to overcome. What went extremely under-reported at the time were the circumstances of the deal. They matter today.
- I am not here to circulate gossip about Champ Bailey, so you’ll have to trust me when I say that his desire to leave Washington was driven by extremely personal reasons. He went to Joe Gibbs and explained his situation. In my heart of hearts, I have to believe a good part of his thought process centered around a frustration with the way the franchise was being run under owner Dan Snyder...but that was not the only factor involved. Regardless (irregardless, even) of the details there, the point is that CHAMP BAILEY WAS GONE. He was leaving, and he gave the franchise a shot to get something for him (as opposed to holding a press conference and telling the world he no longer wanted to be a Redskin). Knowing that there existed a real possibility the team could have been left empty-handed, the fact that the team was able to net Clinton Portis in the deal was shockingly amazing. Of course it wasn’t enough (and of course we also threw in that damned second rounder). We were fortunate in that Portis turned into one of the all-time leading rushers in Redskins history. We were fortunate he single-handedly dominated games. Unfortunately for us, Champ Bailey dominated an era. The point here is that Champ was never playing for the Redskins again, and so the fact we were able to get an integral player to any success we were able to muster was pretty awesome...and sad.
- Once again, we face the prospect of potentially losing a player who is potentially expressing his desire to play somewhere—anywhere—else. I do not know that this is what Kirk is definitively saying, despite reports swirling that he is less than excited to play out his career in D.C., just the same as very few people knew at the time what was truly driving Champ Bailey’s efforts to get out of town. I would bet dollars to donuts that Champ and Kirk have different thought processes at this stage of things, but the fact that I am even able to draw a comparison is...well...depressing. The key parallel would be that Kirk, like Champ, expressed to the brass that he wants out. To date, there have been no press conferences from Kirk and/or his agent demanding a change of scenery, which is a terrible thing to call a plus, but here I am calling it a plus. At this point, it really is the only thing missing from a full-fledged disaster scenario for the Redskins from a P.R. standpoint.
- Until we know otherwise, I will continue to believe that Kirk Cousins will be secured via a long-term contract and will be the quarterback of the Redskins for the foreseeable future. Until it doesn’t happen, it remains as the most sane decision for the team and the player to make (I know...I know). Making Kirk Cousins the highest-paid player in the NFL is exactly the kind of splashy deal Dan Snyder traditionally loves to make. It would be SO much more rational than making Adam Archuleta the highest-paid safety ever, or making Albert Haynesworth the highest-paid bum ever. All I’m saying today is that we have been down this road before...where an elite talent basically forces the organization’s hand. The good news for the Redskins is that they will have the ability to net significant compensation for letting this talent go. The bad news is that once again, the Redskins will likely be on the losing end of the deal, as quarterbacks of Kirk’s caliber simply do not come around and develop that frequently. Even though I do know that the Redskins could survive the loss of Kirk Cousins, it would still represent a huge failure on the part of the franchise. It is fitting that this makes me think of Champ Bailey’s saga, because the Redskins would be looked at in the same light as they were during those turbulent 2000’s. The last word I thought I would be dusting off at this point of the rebuild is “rudderless.”
**Any positive thoughts/comments we can use for tonight’s podcast would be greatly appreciated. We will provide the Spirit of Sonny and some tunes...we’ll try to maintain the positivity that is so sorely lacking in this Offseason On the Brink.