- Soooooo...a Monday-themed post on a Tuesday. I get it. Bring it on, but let’s not forget how the Sixpack started. On tonight’s podcast, “Thank God It’s Tuesday” airing here at 9 PM this evening, I will hand out a vintage Scot “McLovin” McCloughan t-shirt to the first person who can remind us where the title of this post comes from. We are ten years in on this column, and there was a time in the beginning where I worried about whether I would be able to keep it going year-round. That was a useless worry, because the community at Hogs Haven has graciously welcomed this and all other Redskins discussions from myself and the amazing writers here over the last decade. If it wasn’t for running this column on the occasional Tuesday, we would never have even thought to run a podcast called “Thank God It’s Tuesday” on a Monday or Wednesday. Anyway, I can never use enough of these points to say thank you to so many people for making the act of loving a football team so much fun, and really never seem like work. (Special out-of-nowhere shout-out to Matt Terl, the ol’ Redskins blogger himself, who came up at the same time I was coming up, who I ran into on the streets of Silver Spring this week. Maybe he’s the reason I get started today with some nostalgia and emotion.)
- Despite my slow start today, this is not a dead-space time of year for Redskins fans. Far from it. In fact, we are about to hit the absolute crescendo of the Redskins calendar, with free agency and the draft set to hit imminently. In trying to prioritize topics leading up to that, I can’t get over one fact: the Trent Williams Era is over. Nothing colors the path forward more than losing the pound-for-pound best player on your roster—especially when that player is an in-his-prime left tackle. I assume some may disagree with that characterization of Trent, but don’t get wrapped up in contractual demands and recent injury history. A 31-year old gargantuan beast of an athlete who just had a full year off after SEVEN Pro Bowl seasons is going to be one of your best players. Add to that he just capped his Redskins career by single-handedly chasing Bruce Allen from the premises. Ring. Of. Honor. Every discussion of where he ends up begins and ends for me (and the basement) with a reverent tip of the cap. That said, his departure changes EVERYTHING for me. Here’s what I mean:
- Step One: Franchise tag the hell out of Brandon Scherff. As I said before, I am not overly consumed with inking a long-term deal for the stellar guard, because I think a player of his caliber is going to demand—and receive—top dollar. I would do it though...I would pay him market value for guards because it is money well-spent, and we need quality offensive linemen. He is going to get $14-$15 million a year no matter what, which is about what the tag is, so salary cap savings is not going to be achieved with this move regardless of how we handle it (irregardless, even). The CBA talks and all that goes into it is dictating how some of this gets handled—a guard hasn’t been tagged since 2011 (Logan Mankins with the Patriots). The Redskins have money, and salary cap dollars are seldom spent better than in the trenches on guys that everyone can agree are top players. Losing Trent Williams is bad enough...Scherff stops the bleeding and shores up an offensive line that will be trying to protect a second-year quarterback who needs all the help he can get.
- Step Two: Trade Down from #2 overall draft spot. Let me soft-pedal this by reminding you that this isn’t a case where the Redskins “MUST trade down”, nor is it a case where the Redskins “CAN’T AFFORD to miss out on Chase Young.” There are both positive and negative consequences to both of these decisions, and I can wake up on the Friday after the first round of the draft feeling good about either outcome...and you can too. Losing Trent Williams changes the calculus for me because I would be willing to be the guy who said that Trent was worth a couple wins next season. His presence on the field and in the locker room would have made the Redskins a lot better. I believe that. Losing him removes that, mostly because if he isn’t on our team, he probably won’t be on the field or in the locker room for us (unless the new CBA addresses this somehow). I digress. The Redskins, sans TW, are much farther away from contention. It might be only losing one player, but the kind of talent deficit the Redskins face because of his loss is equal to more than one player—I don’t think one guy makes up for it. So the prospect of trading down from #2 overall interests me because I think there is enough talent in the two or three players we could add—on rookie contracts, mind you—that would make the Redskins competitive in the short term in a way that adding just one player would not...even if that one player is Chase Young. (Please know that if and when we draft Chase Young, you won’t hear one syllable of complaining about it from me. This is strictly a before-the-draft philosophical discussion.)
- Aside from the things happening inside Redskins Park that are driving these decisions, the NFL quarterback carousel is about to be in spin in a major way. I am not here to advocate for moving Dwayne Haskins. Instead, I want to be the team that is prepared to allow teams around us to act in irrational ways. Once the dominoes start falling, some front offices may very well look to get creative, and the Redskins could position themselves to take advantage. With our available salary cap space, we could be the recipient of a veteran quarterback on a short contract that a team might have to pay us to take (draft picks, maybe a young position player). There are worse ways to use short-term cap space. The Redskins could write a book detailing those ways. Perhaps a team finds itself on the losing end of a bidding war to land one of the top free agent quarterbacks and decides that they can’t afford to lose out on Tua Tagovailoa. When it comes to general managers getting the quarterback they think they are in love with, logic flies out the door. We know this. I’m just not married to much at this point of the offseason, and losing Trent Williams has got me thinking like a swinging bachelor (the NFL-franchise equivalent of course). Any way we can add young talent to a core group of young and talented players generates momentum towards being competitive in the short term. Ron Rivera is a leader. If you give him talent, he will get the most out of that talent.
- Again, sticking with the theme of losing a cornerstone player like Trent Williams, I am looking at the Redskins 2020 offseason in a different light. The amount of salary cap space this team has is growing by the second. The guaranteed portion of Alex Smith’s contract rolls off after this year. Ryan Kerrigan’s high-dollar days are coming to an end. Over $10 million of dead cap rolls off from guys like Paul Richardson, Josh Norman and Jordan Reed. In a probably-too-far-out-to-really-know snapshot, the Redskins are already shaping up to be in the top five or six teams in terms of salary cap space in 2021 (lots of things can change of course). Add the freedom from Bruce Allen and the refreshing nature of the new coach-centric regime and it isn’t hard to look at the Washington Redskins in a whole new light. We have options. We have solid paths forward that aren’t wrapped up in a single decision that MUST be made one way or we bust. We will argue about these in the coming weeks and months, but I hope we can agree that our discourse this time around will be so much more fun and so much less bitter. See what happens when I write this on a Tuesday?
It was a long weekend for this Redskins fan...this has turned into a full fledged 30-pack of the Mondays...