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The 5 O’Clock Club: Pollyanna or Cassandra?

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It’s 5 o’clock somewhere…

NFL: NOV 19 Redskins at Saints Photo by Stephen Lew/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The 5 o’clock club aims to provide a forum for reader-driven discussion at a time of day when there isn’t much NFL news being published. Feel free to introduce topics that interest you in the comments below.

Reader participation day

In perhaps the ultimate reader participation, in the wake of my recent invitation to readers to submit free agent profiles for publication in the 5 o’clock club, one reader has submitted a full-length editorial/article.

I’m pretty impressed with the effort, and it saves me from having to come up with an idea today, so I’m going to offer it to y’all in full.

The reader asked me not to use his name, so it’ll be offered anonymously, but I hope you’ll appreciate the effort put forward to give us all something to discuss this morning.

Pollyanna versus Cassandra

Over the past couple of months fans have proposed myriad strategies regarding the path forward for the Redskins franchise. Most of these strategies can be broken into two camps:

The optimists (let’s call them Pollyanna) think the team is close to winning it all. They believe all the team needed was to resolve the quarterback issue, experience a relatively injury free 2018, score a solid draft and add a couple of key FAs, and suddenly in 2018 or 2019 the Skins will make a deep playoff run.

The pessimists (let’s call them Cassandra) feel neither Cousins nor Smith is good enough to win it all, the RBs stink, Doctson is a stiff, and that the team won’t compete for a championship for a minimum of 3 years.

Depending on which camp you reside in, the offseason decisions diverge greatly.

Both sides agree on a few points.

  • Gruden and most of the current staff will be coaching the team in 2018.
  • The team will have $55M to $60M in cap money before signing a quarterback or any returning free agents (2 signed already).
  • The FO has mismanaged the Cousins contract forcing the team into a questionable trade to acquire Alex Smith.
  • Now that the QB issue is resolved, it is possible to identify what priority to place on which FA, and a draft board can be prioritized, but we now have one less starting cornerback and one less draft pick.

I want to give both sides the opportunity to state their cases.

Polly the floor is yours:

Look, the Eagles turned around a bankrupt team in two quick years. We have a far stronger foundation than they had, so I’m confident we can make the same type of leap. Heck, the Eagles scored 38 points last game against the Vikings, and every point scored was by a new player who was not on last year’s squad.

Additionally, time is growing short for us. Three of our key contributors — Norman, Kerrigan and Williams — are getting long in the tooth. We must act now before their performance drops dramatically. We will need to make some tough choices and we will need to take some chances.

Now I know that Alex Smith doesn’t have a great playoff record, but he’s a quality quarterback who is likely to thrive under Jay Gruden. Nick Foles wasn’t a playoff winning quarterback either, until this year when he suddenly started winning.

Anyone who says that the Chiefs had a better team in 2017 than the Redskins did, simply wasn’t watching. The ‘Skins have just as much talent as Kansas City, and Smith fits Gruden’s offense to a “t”.

Okay, I got it. Things will be okay with Alex Smith on the team.

So that’s the quarterback position... what about the rest of the roster?

We’ll have $30M or so in available cap space after Smith signs his extension. This number needs to be reduced by rookie contracts and the ability to sign players once the 2018 season starts. I’ll assume we’ve got $22M to spend.

I will devote $10M to resigning current players with a priority placed on signing Brown and Murphy before FA starts. Hopefully $8 to 10M brings both into the fold, even if Murphy is on a one-year deal.

Foster is resigned, and ILBs can often be had on reasonable contracts in free agency, and Nigel Bradham and Avery Williamson are intriguing possibilities if we can’t get Zach Brown to return.

I’m riding with Nicholson and Swearinger, and Norman, and I’m crossing my fingers that Dunbar can step it up.

Defensive linemen are often overpriced so I’m not spending any of my limited dollars there. My number 1 draft target is either Payne or Vea. We need to be able to stop the run, and a line of Allen, Ioan Man, one of the draft picks, Lanier and McGee will be stout and have some depth.

The remaining cap dollars will be spent on finding a WR and a LG. We can’t afford Norwell, but there are plenty of available options, and we should be able to find someone who upgrades the position.

At wide receiver, I plan to go hard after Watkins, but if he is not available I’d target Robinson or Moncrieff.

I’m going to avoid free agent running backs, as there should be a couple of good choices available in round 2.

After that I look for BPA from the rest of the draft, with an emphasis on linemen, ILBs, and secondary.

If we can accomplish this, we will be a force to be reckoned with in 2018.

Okay, so we’ve got the burgundy colored glasses view from Pollyanna.

Cassandra you’re up:

Look, this team is headed south... 9, 8 and 7 wins over the past three years demonstrates the team is toast for the short term. The rats sense this and are about to flee the ship.

Cousins is gone and we’ve just given up our best young defensive player to sign a 33 year old quarterback!

Brown and Breeland are headed for the free agent market; heck, Brown will want $8M - 10M, and that’s too much for his future services.

The Redskins have $40M (~22%) tied up in 4 players (Norman, Williams, Reed and Kerrigan) and now another $20m will go to Alex Smith. While all are excellent players, 2 are nearing the end of their prime years, one is always hurt, and what can I say about trading with Andy Ried for a veteran quarterback except... Donavan McNabb.

The only potential future stars aged 25 or younger were Fuller and Allen, and now Fuller’s gone.

We have an average and aging QB, one of the worst WR corps in the league, no running game, a porous run defense, we’re bereft of linebackers and a coaching staff that won’t be here after next season.

There is a greater chance that the Kardashians will disappear in 2018 than that the Skins will make the playoffs in 2018.

Wow, that sounds pretty bleak. Do you have any blue sky for us, or is it all dark clouds on the horizon?

The team does have a group of excellent players in the 24 to 27 year old age bracket: Crowder, Scherff, Moses, Ioannidis and Smith are all solid.

We need to add as much young talent as quickly as possible who can contribute while the current younger players are still productive. And we need to admit to ourselves that Kerrigan, Norman and Reed will never play on a Redskin Super Bowl team... it just ain’t gonna happen.

So I want to add young free agents and accumulate more draft choices.

I don’t plan to draft a QB in 2018. Picking the 4th or 5th most available QB make no sense when we have so many needs. I’m content with McCoy as the backup. I’m focused on adding young talent.

We just don’t have enough salary cap room to improve the team via free agency now that we’ve added Smith at QB. If we’d signed a cheaper guy or gone into the season with McCoy under center I’d have used the salary cash remaining to attract FA players 27 and under. With $50M I would have targeted Norwell (LG), Burton (TE), and some combination of WRs (Landry, Watkins, Robinson or Moncrief), Reid (S), Joyner (S) and Colvin (CB). I know not every free agent will work out, so I’d try to front load many of the contracts so I can jettison any misses 2 years from now without any serious dead money hits.

Now, with Alex Smith and his $20m cap hit, Fuller gone and one less draft pick, I just don’t think there’s any way to re-load the roster.

I know Norman’s contract and the loss of Fuller prevents us from trading him; however, I would trade Reed and Kerrigan for the best draft picks possible. The team needs to get younger and more talented.

Sorry... what?? Did you just say that you want to trade away Ryan Kerrigan??!!

I hear you. Kerrigan is our best defensive player. Yes, but everyday his value decreases, and we are not going to the Super Bowl while he is still productive. We need to capture some value for him while we can.

If we had gotten Cousins under contract two years ago and decided to trade him for a 1 and a 4 to, say, the Vikings, there would have been a hue and cry so loud that the people down in Richmond would have heard it. Today we’d kill to have gotten a 1 and 4 for Cousins. We’ll get nothing.

Today Kerrigan has value. Two years from now, after we’ve failed to make the playoffs in either year, he will have no trade value left at all, so now is the time to make a deal.

Alright, I think I see where your head is at. Do you have a draft plan for our unfortunate franchise?

My 2018 draft strategy is to simply draft the BPA available with every pick.

Usually I adhere to a combination of BPA, need and positional value, but we have so many holes we need to add the best young talent we can. I’d also judiciously trade back for additional picks.

My 2019 draft strategy is to find a QB, and let him learn for a year behind Smith — much like Mahomes did in KC, and if the 2018 roster additions have shown real progress in improving the team I would not be afraid to trade up to get my guy. We will have a new coaching staff in 2019 and they’ll need to have a major voice in picking the new QB. If the team finds the right guy, we should be playoff competitive in 2020 and making a deep playoff runs beginning in 2021. If not, well, then it won’t be any different from the last 20 years or so. Thanks for that, Dan!

So there you have it -- two different visions of the team we are all rooting for.

Poll

Which vision is the most valid?

This poll is closed

  • 62%
    Pollyanna’s sunny view
    (200 votes)
  • 37%
    Cassandra’s gloomy view
    (120 votes)
320 votes total Vote Now