REDSKINS FREE AGENT SIGNINGS LEAVE FANS WANTING
Redskins fans are a fickle bunch.
One year: “We overpaid for Redskins free agent signings! That never works! Those idiots never learn!”
Next year: “Why haven’t we signed any really big names yet, WTH?!?!? I’ve never even heard of half these guys.”
Most fans have understandably been guilty of these conflicting sentiments at least once. Maybe even today. But honestly, the mainstream media can ride this breeze even more shamelessly.
One year: “Dysfunctional Redskins front office throws cash around like Monopoly money,”
Next year: “Bruce Allen lets top-tier secondary free agents sign elsewhere, fails to address glaring needs.”
Now maybe you’re thinking some version of the follow sentiment:
All jokes aside, the Redskins really do have a pretty big hole in their secondary that they are not addressing, or only addressing with band aids that are barely upgrades over what is already there. I mean, did you SEE how poorly the secondary played last year? How can you–in good faith to your football team and the fans–not pick up at least one of the top guys on the market?
There are three reasons.
CHANGE, CASH AND COHESION
1) There has been a cultural shift in the Redskins front office, one that we have all been wanting for a long time. Just because Peyton Manning has worked out pretty well for the Broncos doesn’t mean that signing big name players is all of a sudden the way to go. For every Manning and Pierre Garcon, there’s a graveyard full of Albert Haynesworths and Nnamdi Asomughas that have failed to provide returns on the sizable investments from their new teams. The Bucs, the Eagles and the Dolphins have all made a boatload of splashy moves lately without anything to show for it.
Seriously, folks: The Redskins could literally make zero free agent signings for a decade and still be the first team everyone thinks of when they hear the phrase ‘free agent bust’. Go ahead – search for any of the bust lists out there in Googleland; this is the only place the Redskins have been dominating over the past 20 years. On NFL Films’ “Top Ten Free Agent Busts of All Time” show, numbers ten through two were all individual players. Number one was just “The Washington Redskins”. It’s been a frickin’ embarrassment, and more importantly it hasn’t worked. This is refreshing for a change.
[youtube id="w1k2wsgoIIc" width="100%" height="350"]
2) The salary cap is smaller than it seems, and the Redskins have some very important contracts coming up. You could argue that tying up $11.5 million of the salary cap by franchising Brian Orakpo was a bad idea; we addressed that topic here. Nonetheless, that was roughly a third of the Redskins 2014 salary cap. Does it make much sense to allocate another third to one or two Redskins free agent signings? Not when there are as many holes as the Skins have. Sure, we all wanted Jairus Byrd. We had hopes of Aqib Talib. We dreamed of Darelle Revis. But if the pass rush is even moderately better as a result of bringing Jason Hatcher in, it won’t be as much of an issue.
Also: Trent Williams, Robert Griffin III, and Alfred Morris will be in line for new contracts within the next 2-3 years. That’s potentially $30 million a year for three players, depending on how things work out. If the Redskins throw a ton of cash in desperation to improve their pass defense on the back end right now (while ignoring the defensive line), that has an equal and opposite negative reaction down the road. The Skins will have to release good players they would like to keep; they will carry an unwieldy amount of dead cap space; and, they will have to scrape the bottom of the barrel for depth at various positions. We’ve seen that movie before, from the front row. It’s losing a formula.
3) The Redskins are not close to winning the Super Bowl. Sorry sports fans, but it’s true. “But…but…but…teams can turn things around quickly in a year – look at the Chiefs! And any given Sunday, anyone can win! And we won the division a season ago – we just need a good cornerback and a good safety and we’re a lock for the playoffs!” No no no no no no no! That playoff run was a bit of a fluke, and last year proved it. This Redskins team is a solid two years away from earning the title “playoff contender”, assuming they have the right coaching staff in place.
Therefore, it makes sense to take a patient approach right now. I realize in our ADD-internet-quick-fix culture, no one has any patience anymore. There’s a generation of young adults alive today who don’t even understand the concept of patience and think the whole idea is stupid. But if you want a blueprint for how to do it, the reigning Super Bowl champs are a good place to look. They drafted well, signed a few young free agents, and relentlessly coached them into their system. It took four years for them to get a ring using that formula, which seems about right in this era, and they are now built to contend for the next 4-5 years at least.
THE FUTURE IS NOT NOW
For those of you who absolutely hate the sentiment of this article–and judging by the activity on our Twitter account, it’s more than a few people–fear not. There will be flashy Redskins free agent signings that Bruce Allen will one day make. That day is just not today.
Does it really make sense to mortgage the future just to get to mediocrity?
The Redskins have a trajectory in mind, and it goes something like this:
- Hire the right coach (fingers crossed)
- Get him (mostly) young players to groom in his system
- Draft well, and pepper in free agents conservatively
- Wait until you look like a multi-year playoff contender before spending the big bucks
What’s the rush do to it any differently, when rushing has never worked?