- Because we now have a “legal tampering period,” there are those out there who might think that there was a time when NFL teams refrained from illegal tampering. These people might actually believe that Albert Haynesworth and the Redskins worked out a $100 million deal in the two minutes between when free agency opened and when the deal was announced. (To be fair...that is probably giving Dan Snyder too much credit in terms of deliberation.) No, NFL teams have perfected the art of tampering over the years, leading the league to throw up its hands and legalize it. Just so everyone is on the same page, legal tempering begins today, which opens up a two-day negotiating period for players hitting unrestricted free agency and prospective teams. While no deals can technically be agreed to during the next two days, the frameworks for deals can be hammered out which will lead to a huge news dump at 4 PM when a litany of contracts will be announced. It also provides for an E! Entertainment type of window when rumors fly and agents work overtime to try and make it seem like their clients are getting multiple offers from teams. The Washington Redskins aren’t flush with salary cap space, so the juice might not be especially juicy for us, but the team will make some room and get involved in the fun, because...well, because it’s Dan and Bruce.
- We did rumors here last week, so I’m not going to do another rumor post. We had an actual deal done since the last Sixpack, so let’s talk about the addition of Case Keenum. First and foremost on this trade...slow down and take a deep breath. The main thing I have been stressing ever since Alex Smith broke his leg is that the Redskins need cheap labor at the quarterback spot. This is because we still owe the one-legged man $51 million, and we still have plenty of needs elsewhere before we dedicate an additional $15-$20 million on another signal caller. My main goal is to somehow bridge the gap between now and when Alex Smith comes off the books, which is likely to be after NEXT season (2020, not this upcoming 2019 season). To restate my Alex Smith opinion—he ain’t EVER playing again, nor should he. Even after the 2020 season, he will count as $10 million in dead cap, but by then I hope the team will have determined a path forward at the position that is looking out more than one or two seasons. Today, we need cheap and available, as Steve Spurrier would say. (Has Spurrier been convicted yet of the crimes he committed against Patrick Ramsey? His stubborn refusal to employ ANY pass protection was at best gross negligence and at worst it was straight-up criminal misconduct.) If the Redskins were simply a quarterback away from being a contender, I could get behind trying to bring in a guy that would cost significantly more than Keenum. That is not where we are, so to me, Keenum makes a ton of sense. Stay with me...(but obviously feel free to disagree below).
- The best way to get cheap labor at the quarterback position is to draft a guy, and when you hit on the right guy playing on a rookie deal, your team has a decided advantage. The Redskins were cruising toward that eventuality prior to picking up Case Keenum, but now the team can be a bit more selective about which player it drafts in the first (or second) round. Of course, you need to be able to pick a guy you love, and at #15, the Redskins were more likely to be in the “love the one you’re with” boat. Drafting the wrong guy simply because he was the only available player when it was our turn to select would only compound our problem. Similarly, paying market rate for a free agent veteran could also hamper the Redskins ability to bring in the talent needed at other spots. A one-year deal for a veteran quarterback that has playoff experience and a $3.5 million price tag is kind of a dream come true. I am NOT saying Case Keenum is a dream come true—I am saying his contract is, and that is a huge distinction. I think Keenum is a major step up from Mark Sanchez and Josh Johnson. As for Colt McCoy, I also love him for his contract, which has him at a $3.375 cap hit next season. Neither Colt nor Case are signed after next season, so the team is not tied to any future money for these journeyman vets, instead only owing money to a guy who is probably never going to suit up again...ever. It says here that the Redskins can be efficient at the quarterback position in 2019 with Colt and Case manning the spot. Nobody expects fireworks or All-Pro performances, but these guys are capable trigger men if, for example, our offensive line stays healthy for once and/or if Derrius Guice is the player we think he is.
- No, I am not here selling you on the notion that the Redskins are all of a sudden top contenders with Case Keenum under center. Instead, I am trying to sell you on the notion that the Redskins are paying next to nothing for a veteran that should stabilize the quarterback position for one season. The team could still decide to draft a guy somewhere in the middle rounds in the hopes they get someone they like and can develop. The team could still decide to add ANOTHER quarterback at roughly the same price or better to add more depth to avoid getting to a point where Mark Sanchez is the best option and our only chance. The Alex Smith injury was catastrophic on multiple levels. For the man, it was and continues to be a life-changing event. He has lost a ton of body mass and fought off the kind of surgery-related infection that has claimed lives. It would be miraculous if he was able to get back into the kind of shape that allowed for his athletic style of play, but I think it would be foolish for him to ever step on the field again. It seems I am not even close to being alone in this thinking, but the pride and determination that go with being the kind of guy Alex Smith is will make this story drag out well into next year. Case Keenum doesn’t arrive as a savior for Washington, but he does plug a one-year hole at an insanely reasonable rate, giving the team flexibility in both free agency and the draft. I am not sure why people are failing to see this as a win for the team.
- Moving onto free agency and tampering, I am watching closely to see who the Redskins might be linked to or at least discussing contract terms with over the next couple days. I’ll give you two guys I want to see us connected to, starting with an offensive lineman. As some of you know, I pulled hard for the Skins to take A.J. Cann in the 2015 draft. The South Carolina product was drafted by the Jacksonville Jaguars in the third round and has spent the majority of his career starting at right guard. I’ll be honest—he hasn’t set the world on fire, earning average grades from outlets like PFF, but the hope is that this means he could be affordable. The 27-year old would be an upgrade for the Redskins at guard with Shawn Lauvao not likely to return, and he could provide some room for the team to draft and develop a young player. Given we have gone through about 329 different offensive linemen (give or take) over the past few seasons, it strikes me that we should be looking to both sign and draft players who can play in the interior of the o-line. Again, not calling Cann a savior here at all, but he could look good next to Trent Williams on a potentially reasonable contract. I say “potentially” because free agent offensive linemen have been breaking the bank as of late.
- Let’s just get the Landon Collins point in here. Yes, I want him on our team. I have no idea if the Redskins can actually land him, even despite him saying he would love to play where Sean Taylor played. Multiple teams with plenty of money are going to make a run at him, but I am hard-pressed to find any other teams with as many former Alabama players on it...who knows if that helps get the deal done? We should have the money to land a player like Landon, so we shall see. His signing would also dictate, in part, how the early goings of the draft would go for the Skins. At the very least, I want to see some high-level tampering going on between Washington and Landon’s agent! (I would also like to see the Redskins linked to wide receivers Devin Funchess and Tyrell Williams, but neither would be a higher priority for me than Landon Collins.)
It’s legal tampering season! Let’s tamper!