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Will Redskins Vets Just Say No?

Dec 29, 2006, 2:19 AM EDT

Comments Off on Will Redskins Vets Just Say No?

The group that decides personnel matters for the Washington Redskins may get a whole lot bigger this coming offseason.

The team may add a general manager to the mix, but that’s not what I’m talking about. What I’m referring to is a group of about a dozen veterans, players who carry 2007 salary cap numbers of about $3.5 million and over. Some of the members of this group are Shawn Springs, Marcus Washington, Jon Jansen, and Chris Samuels. Many of them will be asked to restructure their contracts to create more 2007 cap room. Unlike in the past when many veterans were willing to redo their deals “for the good of the team”, there is a growing feeling around Redskins Park that many of them may balk at restructuring for what they perceive is also the good of the team.

As of right now, according to both our capologist Robert Large and David Elfin of the Washington Times, the Redskins are within $1 million of the 2007 cap of $109 million or perhaps slightly over. That’s uncomfortably close at best and it’s worse because that number is comprised of the cap numbers of just the 41 players who currently are under contract for 2007. Because the salaries of the top 51 players count towards the cap the Redskins will have 10 more salaries count against that number meaning that they will have to find $3 to $4 million just to be able to fill out a roster with minimum salary bodies.

The good news is that most of the team’s starters are among those who are under contract. (Or, given that the team will finish with a double-digit loss total, that may be the bad news). But the team desperately wants to retain guard Derrick Dockery, who will be an unrestricted free agent and that move will cost considerably more than the minimum salary. Even if a cap-friendly deal can be worked out another million or two of cap room will need to be cleared. On top of that the team has a draft pick that is likely to be in the top ten and, unless they trade down, that will eat up some cap space as well.

Still, $5 or $7 million over hardly is cap hell. That could be cleared out by releasing such players as John Hall, Christian Fauria and David Patten and a few minor renegotiations. Few will refuse to restructure under such circumstances because the job they save may be their own.

It will get sticky, however, if the team asks for players to redo their deals in order to go on a free agency spending spree. What happened last year may make some players hesitant to do so. They agreed to the restructures and looked on as the team used the savings to make Adam Archuleta the highest paid safety in the history of mankind and to bring in an unproductive Brandon Lloyd and pay Antwaan Randle El good #2 receiver money to be a #3 receiver and punt returner.

Around Redskins Park, there are grumblings from some players that they wished that they hadn’t acted as enablers in the team’s drunken sailor spending spree. Some are wishing that they had just said no to the team’s request. Perhaps if enough of them had refused to restructure then the team would have retained the popular Ryan Clark for a reasonable price instead of having to figure out how to spread out the approximately $8 million in dead cap money that will have to be written off when Archuleta gets cut in a few months.

These players who feel that they were burned last year could be very reluctant to make the same mistake again. While there is a high degree of respect for Gibbs the coach and Gibbs the man among team members, like any thinking people the players have to be skeptical of the abilities and effectiveness of Gibbs the personnel director. In essence, players like Springs and Washington control the purse strings. If they don’t trust Gibbs to spend the money wisely, if they see another Archuleta disaster or Lloyd misstep coming, they may well not provide him with the money to spend.

So, the current starting cornerback may well have a hand in deciding whether or not the team can go out and hire his replacement. Do the members of the offensive line want to see the defense overhauled or do they think that things just need a few tweaks? Are veterans going to be concerned that dead cap money in the next few years will cost them their jobs?

Offseasons are always interesting times in Ashburn. This year promises more intrigue than usual with the players having so much say in what the team can and can’t do.

  1. Anonymous - Jan 1, 2007 at 5:03 PM

    Gibbs record as a coach, when the Redskins are successful at running the ball, is extremely good. This year, the Redskins were ranked 4th in the entire league in yards rushing per game. So why were they so bad this year? Their defense is ranked 31st in the league. Successfully running the ball usually correlates with a good winning percentage, but not when your defense is terrible. Why is our defense so bad? It has to do whith the arrogance of Gregg Williams. He has said that the second “g” stands for “genius” but there was no evidence of that this year. His defense was very good his first year here, which lead him to say that it was his system, not the players, that made his defenses so great. His system is why players like Antonio Pierce excelled. We now know that is not the case. Williams just plain embarrassed himself this year and if not for our terrible defense, we’d be in the playoffs this year. Williams has learned the hard way that he can’t just plug any player (see Archuletta) into his system, a system which went from “amazingly innovative” to “the scrap heap” in an amazingly short amount of time. Williams was quoted last week as saying the reason his defense has been suffering is because offenses have finally figured out the Cover 2 defense. Sounds like an amazingly weak explanation for such a spectacular failure. There is serious doubt that this problem with the defense can be fixed in one year. Add the personnel issues from Rich’s post, and we have some serious problems.

  2. Rich Tandler - Jan 1, 2007 at 6:19 PM

    I’ll be going into this in more depth starting tomorrow, but I don’t think that it will be necessary to completely rebuild the defense. If they can just get up to the level of a competent, even a mediocre, defense the Redskins can be a legit playoff contender.

  3. Anonymous - Jan 1, 2007 at 11:40 PM

    When I look at the defense, I see weakness at all levels. The d-line can’t stop the run and can’t put pressure on the QB. The linebackers are weak (except for Washington) and the secondary is in tatters. To be sure, there are some good players (C.Griffin, Washington), but most are average or less than average. We’ve discovered the same thing about Springs that his prior team knew – he can’t stay healthy and really shouldn’t be considered when assessing how the defense will do next year. Carlos Rogers did not look like a high first round pick this year – Rogers, Archuletta, and A. Carter make you wonder about Gregg Williams’ personnel skill (or lack of). When you consider the personnel needs plus the need to re-tool Gregg Williams’ scheme, you have to be very concerned about next year. An average defense would probably get us into the playoffs, but that really isn’t the goal – a championship is the goal, and it would be a shocking reversal for this defense to go from doormats to champions in a year or even two.

  4. Anonymous - Jan 2, 2007 at 9:58 PM

    I happen to agree it is the defense that got is nowhere this season. Note how even when the offense is not running on all cylinders (the NO game), the Skins could still win because the D was playing above usual level of (in)competence.

    Is there good news? Well, maybe this. If the D is at the cellar right now, there is nowhere to go but up. Maybe even a few changes will be enough to elevate the level of play and give the Skins enough to make a more serious run at the playoffs.

    One of the Redskin fan sites (Hog Heaven?) is running a nice series of articles right now evaluating each player and making armchair recommendations on whether the Redskins should buy/hold/sell the player. The latest article rated all rookies and newcomers.

    IMO, the Skins need another impact player on the D line, at least 1 impact player to replace Holdman in the LB corp, and 2 or 3 players to replace Springs, Vincent, Fox, Arch, Wright, Rumph, and Jimoh as starters. I am hoping that Prioleau will come back next year and be a potential starter. Some of the secondary players are good special teams players (e.g. Jimoh) and may also develop into starters given enough time in the system. The other players must be brought in from somewhere (draft, trade, free agency). I hope that Skins can pull that off with the limited cap space they have and without creating another offseason of upheaval that seems to be a focal point of the complaints I have been reading about on many news sites and blogs.

  5. Anonymous - Jan 3, 2007 at 1:36 AM

    I was wrong in my guess about which site had the player reports. It was not Hog Heaven. Archives

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