This may sound like a crazy topic, because ALL fans over-value their player. Fan is simply short for fanatic. If you look up fanatic in the dictionary, you will find many different versions of this:
1) a person filled with excessive and single-minded zeal.
2) a person exhibiting excessive enthusiasm and intense uncritical devotion toward something.
Excessive, single-minded, intense, uncritical - these are some of the words used to describe “fan”.
Fans of our team in D.C., much like fans all over the NFL, tend to over-value our players. Many want to hold on to players well past their prime, or have no problem pouring out loads of money for production that may not come even remotely close to what that player gives the franchise. Fans will have unrealistic values of what their players are worth in trades, and their narrow-minded views often skew reality with blinders so dense and elongated, that they simply are unable to see the forest for the trees.
...and guess what; I am one of them!
The NFL is a business, and a multi-billion dollar one at that. Many businessman, much like the owners of NFL teams, don’t care who they hurt to get to the top. Some of the most successful businessman in american history are ruthless, callous tyrants who pray on the unsuspecting masses, and only look out for their own best interests. NFL owners may not quite be at this level, but let’s just say they are not taking our fandom into consideration when they make a “business decision”.
So back to the topic at hand - Do Redskins fans significantly over-value our players?
Let’s start out with the most recent example - Kirk Cousins.
Kirk Cousins was a very solid quarterback here in D.C. for the last three seasons. During those seasons he broke the franchise single season record for passing yards (4917), and is tied for second in touchdown passes (29). However, he also had a combined record of 26-30-1, threw 55 interceptions in his 57 career starts, and never won a playoff game. His prime-time game results have been horrible. Yet many Redskins fans were fine with the team making him the highest paid player in the NFL on a potential long-term deal this offseason at over 14% of the team’s salary cap. Well, that obviously will not happen, and fans now feel betrayed.
Pierre Garcon came to Washington as a free agent in 2012. A former sixth round pick of the Colts in 2008, Garcon had never topped 1000 receiving yards in Indianapolis, and had scored six touchdowns twice, with 70 receptions being his career best for a single season. During his five years in D.C., Garcon missed just eight total games, and was a tough, reliable receiver for both Robert Griffin III and Kirk Cousins. He had one outstanding season where he caught 113 passes (the first and only time in his career he would eclipse the 100 catch mark), for 1346 yards and five touchdowns. After that, he went through back-to-back seasons with 752 and 777 receiving yards respectively, before having a resurgence in 2016 where he went for 1041.
Entering the 2017 offseason, the Redskins had a major decision to make about the 30 (he’d turn 31 before the start of the season) year old receiver. Garcon was looking for one final large contract, and the Redskins were not going to make that commitment to a player who was on the wrong side of 30. No hard feelings. It’s just the business side of the NFL. They had drafted a promising rookie, Josh Doctson, in the first round of the 2016 NFL Draft, and they felt he would be ready to step in and produce in his second season. In my opinion, the decision to part ways with Garcon was an easy one, yet fans were very upset. How could the Redskins not re-sign one of the fans most beloved players who was soon-to-be 31, and had really one season where he preformed like a top receiver?
Alfred Morris was a sixth round pick in the 2012 draft out of Florida Atlantic by Mike Shanahan. Shanahan was know for finding later round running backs in the draft to fit his zone-style running game. Morris’ 4.67 speed and “sparkler-like” explosion fit perfectly with the deception that first round rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III provided with the read option rushing attack. With teams not knowing how to defend Griffin and the read option, Morris plodded his way to 1613 yards and 13 touchdowns as a rookie. He would never come near those numbers again.
After a serious knee injury limited Griffin to how much he would run the football, Morris became less and less effective as a pure runner. As Griffin’s rushing attempts dwindled, so did Morris’ yards. He saw decreases of at least 200 total rushing yards per season over his next three years, and never again came close to the 13 rushing touchdowns he put up as a rookie. He was clearly the product of a successful system, that used deception, and the incredible athleticism of a quarterback quite unlike any the NFL had previously seen before, to confuse defenses. Once defenses had figured out how to defend RG3, and once the injury took him out of the game, Morris became average at best.
Yet fans did not want to let the pedestrian running back go. Even after his final season in Washington saw him lose carries to fumbling rookie Matt Jones, and put up just 751 yards and one touchdown, fans were livid when the Redskins did not extend a contract offer to Morris that offseason. To this day, fans are still upset we let him walk, despite him not having many suitors on the open market, and having a total of 790 rushing yards and three touchdowns behind the best offensive line in football with the Cowboys.
Santana Moss was acquired in in a trade with the New York Jets in 2005. Known for his big play potential, Moss immediately became a fan favorite in D.C. He had signed a new 6-year contract with the Redskins that went through the 2010 season. During those six seasons, while still very much in his prime, Moss was extremely productive. He went over 1000 receiving yards three times, and had a career high in catches (93) during the last year of his original deal with the Redskins (2010). Many thought, despite the career year in 2010, that Moss’ best years were behind him, but fans of the team felt differently - and so did the Redskins front office. Moss was signed to a new 3-year deal going into his year 31 season. His numbers declined significantly the following three seasons, where he recorded just 14 total starts, and didn’t eclipse the 600 yard receiving mark. Many suggested it was time for the Redskins to move on after a disappointing 2011, and make room for a young up-and-comer, but there were many fans who didn’t want to let go. They felt Moss was a true Redskins, and should remain with the team despite his rapid drop in production.
How about some past and present trade talks?
Remember when fans thought we could actually receive something of value for tight end Chris Cooley? I heard a second round pick being floated out there by some. WOW! Jordan “China Doll” Reed? I heard his value has since dropped from a first round pick to a third. Awe shucks! But hey, maybe we can still fleece a team to give up a first if we tag-and-trade Kirk Cousins!
We are fans. It’s what we are and this is what we do - over-value our own players for MANY reasons. Some like a guy’s “heart”; other like his “toughness”. Some may value his “leadership”, while others like what he does in the community. What we as fans don’t often realize, is that this is a what-have-you-done-for-me-lately business run by billionaires. What have some of these players not done for them lately?... put wins on the boards, and money in their accounts. In the grand scheme of things, that’s really all that matters.