Who Says Goodbye to Make Space for Fletcher?
- Updated: April 16, 2012
A collective sigh and much rejoicing could be heard from Redskins Nation this week with the announcement that London Fletcher will be returning in 2012 to lead the defense. And I love it, believe me. Despite what I said a few weeks back about Fletcher’s contract situation, no one is more excited about having the heart and soul of this team returning for another run with the Burgundy and Gold.
But now it’s time to face facts. The reality is, bringing London back may spell the end of at least one other fan favorite in DC.
Here’s what we know: Fletcher is rumored to have signed a five-year deal worth about $10 million, of which around $5 million is guaranteed. In practical terms, however, it’s essentially a two-year with the final three years voided. More importantly, Fletcher’s contract will count for just over $3 million against this year’s salary cap.
Normally, that number wouldn’t cause anyone to even blink an eye. But this year, the Redskins have that pesky little $36 million cap penalty to worry about.
Translation: every penny counts for this year’s cap, and that means it might be time for some cuts. Further translation: these cuts may come in the form of a player whose Jersey can be seen in the thousands on Sundays at FedEx Field.
The Redskins would probably like to get as much of that $3 million eaten in a roster move to leave some wiggle room for a future addition to the team. So let’s look at a few guys who have attention-getting cap numbers this season.
(Please note that I am not in any way shape or form saying I hope these moves takes place. I am just saying, based purely on the numbers, these would make sense).
DeAngelo Hall: 2012 cap hit – $6.5 Million.
It is no secret that the Redskins’ coaching staff wants to improve the secondary personnel. The success of the 3-4 defense is predicated on an ability to create turnovers, and the 2011 Redskins could definitely have used more of them.
Hall has been known throughout his career as someone who has undeniable ball-hawk capabilities, but who will also bite on fakes just a little too easily. One game, he makes a game-changing turnover; the next, he gets toasted for six points late in the 4th quarter. With a 2012 cap hit more than double that of Fletcher’s, don’t be surprised to see Hall on his way out.
Hall’s worry level – Medium
Chris Cooley: 2012 cap hit – $6.2 Million
This is the hardest one for me to list here; it actually pains me to include Cooley in this discussion. But let’s all be honest with ourselves; the writing with Cooley is on the wall. When Mike Shanahan took over in DC, the very first thing I wondered was how Cooley would fit into the overall picture. An honest appraisal of the Redskins’ current TE situation leaves no doubt that Fred Davis is a much better fit for Shanahan’s offense. Davis fits that athletic pass catching role which makes him the type of weapon that has to be essentially accounted for as a WR by opposing defensives.
Throughout his career, Chris Cooley has been an over-achiever. He plays hard and gives it his all, and that’s what fans and coaches want in every Redskin. The big concern with Cooley is that, after playing in every single game during his first five seasons, he seems to have been bitten by the injury bug as of late. He’s missed 20 games over the past three seasons, including pretty much all of last year due to a knee issue that put him on the IR.
The problem here is Cooley is the people’s champion of DC. The fans absolutely love him, and the coaching staff seems to as well.
At the very least, I would expect the front office to approach Cooley about restructuring his contract, and if he wants to be here as badly as he says he does, something will get worked out. Otherwise, a sad day could be on the horizon for the legions of Captain Chaos’ fans.
Cooley’s worry level – Low
Santana Moss:_2012 cap hit – $6.2 Million
When I was a kid and Santana was still at Miami, I used to make him up on NFL Gameday as a Redskin (true story). When the Redskins traded for Moss, I was absolutely thrilled, even if he didn’t seem to make much sense at the time as a “number one” type of receiver. The 2005 season was a magic one for Moss–absolute magic. He will always be fondly remembered in Redskins history for scoring two last minute TDs in Dallas on Monday Night Football.
Seven years later, it is clear Moss is not the threat that he once was. Much of the burst that made him so dangerous has faded with age, and missing seven games in 2011with a broken hand doesn’t help his case. Then there are the whispers that he has fallen out of favor with the Shanahans for things like ripping his helmet off against the Patriots last season.
Out of the three players mentioned here, Santana Moss is the one who has the highest probability of being waived. With the additions of Garcon and Morgan–not to mention the fact that Leonard Hankerson should get every chance to be a starter–Moss has become expendable.
Moss’ worry level – High
In the cutthroat business of the NFL, look at this as losing Moss for the ability to keep Fletcher. It may be a harsh reality, but it’s the reality that this and many other NFL teams are faced with.
At this stage in the rebuilding process, losing London Fletcher–the Captain and heart and soul of the team–would be catastrophic. Even though it means cutting ties with many Redskin fan favorites of the past decade, any of these maneuvers would make sense, and at least one will almost certainly take place.