Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Washington Redskins: This offseason's Cincinnati Bengals

It's the middle of March. In the District, that could only mean one thing: the NFL free agency period is more than a couple of days old and the Redskins are well on their way to winning the Super Bowl... that is, until late December comes and the team has finished 8-8.  It's a scenario we've seen so many times that we're all used to it by now.  Dana Stubblefield. Dan Wilkinson. Mark Carrier.  Deion Sanders. Bruce Smith. Trung Canidate. Adam Archuleta. Brandon Lloyd.  Each offseason, each of these names brought lofty hopes and pushed Washington into plenty of analysts' pre-season picks for Super Bowl contenders.  Instead, these names are reeled off as a laundry list of failures.

Every year, it seemed as though the Skins were destined to mortgage their future once again, defiantly refusing to learn from its past mistakes.  But this year has been different.  
  • There have been no major "splash" signings-- Usually by now, Dan Snyder's private jet would have criss-crossed the nation, bringing three or four big names (likely all from the New York Jets) on board and throwing more cash at them than Pac Man Jones.  This time around, only one mid-level free agent has scheduled a visit, and that's still two days from now!  
  • The team has re-signed its own key players-- Two players I really thought were going to walk were back-up QB Todd Collins and RB/Return Specialist Rock Cartwright.  It warmed my heart to see the team keep both of them.  In past years, letting Antonio Pierce leave for division rivals and recent Super Bowl champs the New York Giants and seeing Ryan Clark go to the Pittsburgh Steelers set us back a ton.  I guess Cerrato & co. actually ARE committed to continuity.
  • Lo-and-behold, we have draft picks-- When we weren't signing free agents, we were consistently throwing away draft picks in return for players who weren't free agents.  Somehow, we actually have a decent amount of picks in 2008 (I couldn't find our exact total or breakdown-by-round, I'll post it in the comments when I do find it).  According to ESPN, draft guru Mel Kiper, Jr. has Washington taking Kansas CB Aqib Talib with the 21st pick overall.  Aside from his awesome name, I saw this man dominate Virginia Tech in the Orange Bowl and earn himself MVP honors on the night.  Good use of draft picks? What is this?
I have to say it's refreshing.  Two items of note before I sign off... this has been a decidedly weak free agent period, aside from Randy Moss and Asante Samuel.  Without numerous "gems" out there for the signing, perhaps the Redskins newfound conservatism is out of pure necessity and not self-restraint. Lastly, we have to see how all of these decisions play out before it can be assessed properly.  But for now, I like the way this offseason is going.  

UPDATE: As promised... to follow-up, the Skins have at least one pick in each round except the 4th, which was given up in the T.J. Duckett trade. Let's see if that holds up.

1 comment:

  1. It's encouraging no doubt. Based on our past moves I figured we'd try to one up the Raiders in the Javon Walker sweepstakes. I'm sure he'll do fine with that 55 million contract, being overrated an overpaid(or at least being paid when you shouldn't be) is nothing new for an FSU grad.

    Our sane free agency spending doesn't really make up for how the off season started in my mind, but who knows? Maybe I'll be Zorn will become the next great NFL coach head coach. He'll he must have done something right to have Cerrato quietly chanting his name.

    Zorn. Zorn! ZORN!