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All’s quiet in Ashburn

Feb 29, 2008, 11:50 PM EST

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We’re about 18 hours into the NFL free agent signing period and the sounds of silence are emanating from Redskins Park.

Well, near silence anyway. The Redskins did ink quarterback Todd Collins to a three year deal that will be worth at least $9 million ($3 million guaranteed), perhaps more with incentives. He signed the contract knowing that he would be the backup to Jason Campbell. Collins provided a feel-good story last year, coming in for an injured Campbell and leading the Redskins to four straight wins and a playoff spot. The uplifting, underdog tale—Collins hadn’t see any extended playing time in a decade—provided us with something to smile about in the wake of the murder of Sean Taylor.

Not to minimize the retention of a backup QB who has proven he can win, but that hardly qualifies as the big splash to which we have become accustomed around this time of year.

Unlike in past years when the start of free agency meant that the fax machines were cranking all night long as the number crunchers worked various “what if” cap scenarios into and through the wee hours of the morning, all reports are that there is little activity in Ashburn. Redskins One is in the hangar, getting a much-needed extended rest after logging many hours in the air during the coaching search. No free agent visits are scheduled.

That bears repeating. No free agent visits are scheduled. It used to be tough to get a room at a hotel near Ashburn this time of year as they were all booked with free agents and their entourages waiting to take their shots at getting a fat paycheck signed by one Daniel Snyder.

All across Redskins Nation there are definite signs of withdrawal. After years of being accustomed to the thrill of being in the mix for the biggest names in the free agency pool, there is the hollow feeling of, well, hollowness. Nothing.

Many aren’t handling this well. They are sitting at the keyboard, banging out messages about every released player and every pending free agent wondering how he might look in burgundy and gold. Others are staring at their phones, local sports talker number on the speed dial, waiting to call in and rip Snyder for overpaying yet another bum.

But the activity all is elsewhere. The Eagles inked Assante Samuel for five years and $47 million. In Miami the Tuna is reeling in players left and right. Tens of millions of dollars are being guaranteed almost every hour.

Sure, it’s just like Vinny Cerrato said it would be a week or so ago. The Redskins are following the market instead of setting it. They’ll let everyone else pick up the big tabs and settle for some leftovers in a week or so.

But, of course, that’s no fun. Acting responsibly usually isn’t. It’s like sitting at home doing your homework on a Thursday while all your friends are at a party. In the long run, it’s what you need to do. But at the moment it sure is boring.

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