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Duckett Redux

Aug 26, 2006, 9:28 AM EST

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A couple of my favorite commentators, Joe and Michael, took exception to some of my points in my recent blog about the Duckett trade. Their points were excellent and many have echoed their concerns. They are worthy of further examination.

You can reach Rich Tandler by email at WarpathInsiders@comcast.net

See the original blog here.

Joe: The move smacks of desperation. I think to the “smart set” (your words) you only make a move like this if you’re looking at about 8 games without your starter.

I used the term “aggressive” to describe the move. Aggression and desperation aren’t quite the same thing, but they hang out in the same neighborhood. A dog who has been backed into a corner becomes aggressive in trying to get out of there. We’ll just have to wait and see if the Skins feel that they have been backed into the corner. To me, the move makes sense and is fitting with the way that the organization does business even if Portis will be 100% for the Vikings game. It’s not like the Redskins are strangers do making moves like this absent a compelling reason for desperation such as a major injury. If Clinton Portis isn’t ready by Week 2 in Dallas then we will know the answer.

Michael: I do think the move makes the ‘Skins better this year, but I also think we did overpay for Duckett’s services, mainly because Duckett’s on a 1-year deal. You have to ask yourself whether a high third-round pick equivalent is worth more than a situational RB for 1 year. I think the high third-round pick is worth more.

Ultimately, it depends on who the third-round pick is. If it’s Derrick Dockery, certainly it is. If that pick turns out to be Rashad Bauman, the one-year rental of Duckett has the potential to much move valuable. The third the Redskins gave up to get Mark Brunell in 2004 wound up belonging to the Packers and they used it to take Clemson DT Donnell Washington. He has yet to appear in an NFL game and he’s now the property of the Raiders. Then again, later in that round the Redskins traded their ’05 second-rounder and took Chris Cooley. Thirds are gambles; you might not even get one solid year out of them. There isn’t much of a chance that the Redskins won’t get one solid year out of Duckett. But if the pick gets used for another Cooley, the Redskins clearly will have lost the gamble.

Joe: As far as overpaying, yes, some people prefer minivans, some prefer Porches. Some people like homes next to a school, some like mansions in Malibu. Buy you don’t pay Porsche money for a minivan. You don’t pay Malibu money to live next to a school in Richmond. Regardless of utility, a 1st day pick is too much to spend on a short yardage back. Especially when you have a few guys on the roster that can handle it already.

Good points, but I think that they fall apart with the last sentence there. Who on the roster is a proven short-yardage back? Sellers had exactly one carry last year, for one yard and a touchdown. That was against the Eagles and, if you recall, Sellers coughed the ball up when it was just a hair over the goal line (or a hair short of it, depending on who you talk to). I pointed out Betts short-yardage numbers—two carries in third and two or less to go situations for minus two yards—in the first blog. Rock did it some in his rookie year but he doesn’t have the size to push the pile and he does have a tendency to put the ball on the ground. Am I missing some proven commodity here? If you don’t have that short-yardage guy and you believe that such a deficiency could cost you the Super Bowl then you pay what it takes to

Michael: What about team unity? Obviously, winning helps unite a team, but bringing Duckett in clearly has made waves at least among the RB corps.

Joe: They have a right to be upset if the coaches were blowing sunshine up their tailpipes while they spent all spring and summer working out in Ashburn, just to have the rug pulled out from under them on the eve of the season. You’d be mad, too.

This argument against the deal holds the least amount of water in my view. You don’t decide against making a move that you believe will improve your team because it might bruise the feelings of some of the players. These players are realistic enough to know that any sunshine blown their way is just temporary and that clouds could be cast in front of it at any second. We heard the initial gut reactions of Cartwright and Betts. Cartwright has apologized for what he said and Betts seems to be OK with it, too. They are professionals and they will go about their business and try to earn—that’s the key word, emphasized like in the old Smith Barney commercials—their roles and their playing time.

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