In December of 2009, The Washington Redskins finally parted ways with long time Vice President Of Football Operations/GM/Snyder Stooge Vinny Cerrato. Bruce Allen, son of the great Redskins coach George Allen, was brought in to take over as General Manager. The move was uncharacteristic of the Redskins since Allen had the prior experience one would look for in a new General Manager. He was a senior executive for the Oakland Raiders and the former general manager of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. A look at his resume showed that he didn’t even have any experience as a bingo caller. The firing of Jim Zorn and subsequent hiring of Super Bowl winning coach Mike Shanahan only further showed the Redskins commitment to a competent front office.
These moves threatened to bring stability to the Redskins front office and end the Offseason Champs dynasty that Owner Dan Snyder and Cerrato had worked so hard to establish starting with the Free Agent class of 2000. The days of big name acquisitions like Deion Sanders, Jeff George, and Adam Archuleta were going to become a thing of the past. The beginning of the offseason of 2010 was unlike others. Past their prime veterans like Ladell Betts and Fred Smoot were cut. The Skins made some low profile pickups, signing players like Ma’ake Kemoeatu and Artis Hicks. The Skins were holding on to most of their draft picks. They didn’t even make a move towards signing the flashy free agent defensive end Julius Peppers, despite Peppers playing a position of need for the Skins. Many were claiming the Bears big contract given to Peppers showed that they were ready to claim the title of offseason champs, thus ending a decade long era for the Redskins.
Ye of little faith. After a period of keeping low profile, the Redskins we all knew and loved were not going to take this lying down. I could only imagine the conversation went a little like this at Redskins Park.
Snyder: The Bears signed Peppers….that’s it?
Allen: They also signed Chester Taylor and ….
Snyder: That ain’t nothin…Fire Up Redskins One, I’ll show them how it’s done.
Just weeks before the draft, I got a call saying the Skins had just traded for Donovan McNabb. Trading within the division seemed unorthodox. McNabb, though past the prime of his career, certainly was still an effective NFL starting Quarterback. My first question, “What did we give up?” I was told that the Skins gave up a 2nd round pick in 2010 and a 3rd or 4th in 2011. The Skins trading multiple and valuable draft picks for a past his prime quarterback. And to a division rival? Order has been restored in Redskins land.
For good measure, Snyder signed former All-Pro running backs Willie Parker and Larry Johnson and traded another 3rd or 4th round pick in 2011 for offensive tackle Jammal Brown. A message was sent to the league: The offseason champs title was not going anywhere. Somewhere, Vinny Cerrato smiled with pride.
So this brings us to the offseason of 2011. What needs to be done to ensure that the Offseason Champs trophy stays in DC? For the sake of the article, I will assume that the labor negotiations between players and owners will be settled and there will be a normal cap. Any form of an uncapped year would just be unfair. There would be no need for this article. In that situation, there would be no way the trophy left DC.
So what are the keys to becoming the NFL Offseason Champs anyways? I’ve developed a couple of key categories which have been staples of all the great Offseason Championships of the past. To earn the title in 2011, it is in these areas that the Skins must prevail.
1. Number of Draft Picks.
In Redskins land, draft picks are a valuable commodity. Often times, the restricted and unrestricted free agents on the market are not simply enough for a team like the Skins. It’s important to be able to trade for even better players under contract. So, by using draft picks as trade bait, the Redskins are able to get teams’ high-profile players they don’t want in exchange for boring draft picks. Why would any football executive want to spend all those boring hours with scouting and that three-day draft?
At current time, the Redskins have already traded away their 3rd and 4th round picks for 2011. The offseason of 2010 did a good job of setting up the offseason of 2011. So that leaves at maximum five picks left. Everyone knows that 5th, 6th, and 7th rounders are not gonna land the Skins the flashy player they need, so the focus should be on the 1st and 2nd round picks that remain. How can we get rid of that 1st round pick?
Snyder: Is there any way we can sign Vincent Jackson?
Allen: I believe the Chargers just placed the franchise tag on him.
Snyder: What does that mean?
Allen: We’d have to pay him top dollar and give up two first round picks.
Snyder: Well we still have a first round pick this year. Do we have any others we can give away?
Allen: It appears we still have a first rounder in 2019.
Snyder: I don’t know, is Jackson Redskins material?
Allen: Well he was suspended three games last year for violating the league’s substance abuse policy.
Snyder: Let’s do it!!
That would just leave a 2nd rounder to get rid of. Piece of cake. Next.
2. High profile players to sell jerseys
Albert Haynesworth, Deion, Bruce Smith, McNabb…..These guys could sell some jerseys. To ensure future offseason champs trophies, it is important that there is enough cash for the future. The Snyder regime can see the big picture. It is important to think about the long-term. A Vincent Jackson signing could sell a decent number of jerseys. But is that enough? Not in Redskins land. So who is a really high-profile free agent preferably over the age of thirty?
Nnamdi Asomugha. All-Pro Cornerback. Turns 30 in July.
Allen: “But sir we could re-sign Carlos Rogers for a lot less and we already have another pro bowl corner.
Snyder: Dammit Bruce. I wish Vinny were here and not filming the Kindergarten Ninja Sequel. ( http://voices.washingtonpost.com/dcsportsbog/2009/02/morning_look_cerratos_hollywoo.html?wprss=dcsportsbog)
With one offseason champs title under his belt, Allen has shown potential. Still, he has a long way to go before he surpasses Cerrato’s Costanza-like front office skill.
“Sir I just found a way we can trade for Manning and Peterson”
In the end though, combine Jackson and Asomugha and it equals $$$$$$$
3. Creative Profit making schemes and keeping the Skins in the news.
Past examples include: Raising parking prices, suing fans, charging fans to watch training camp. This year it seems the Redskins are well on their way with the suit filed against the local newspaper reporter Dave McKenna. Why should McKenna get away with talking negatively about the decade long dynasty that “Mr.” Snyder worked so hard for? All the trophies he gave to this city and McKenna has the nerve to write that rubbish? Think of all the money that could be earned by suing him and any other bloggers who dare speak ill of the Redskins offseason domination.
Another part of being the offseason champs is constantly staying in the news. To do this, the Skins have developed a strategy of signing players who have plenty of personality. These “personalities” keep the Redskins in the news, and thus remaining relevant. In this regard, the Offseason of 2011 is well ahead of schedule with Albert Haynesworth being charged with road rage and sexual assault in the same week. Isn’t Plaxico Burress getting out of jail soon?
4. Past their Prime Players and Positions of need.
Too many teams give up on aging veterans after they’ve proven to have nothing left in the tank. Not the Redskins. The Skins don’t give up on players like other franchises. Take last offseason. Already with former All-Pro RB Clinton Portis slotted in as Running Back, the Skins could’ve gotten complacent and settled for that. Instead, like the Offseason Champs that they are, they signed Willie Parker and Larry Johnson. Three former All-Pro running backs. The law of averages would surely lead to at least two of them regaining All-Pro status What could go wrong?
I would imagine the first offseason planning meeting would be similar to the conversation Mr. Burns and Smithers had in the episode “Homer At Bat”
Allen: (looking at Snyder’s wish list) Dick Butkus? Dan Marino? These players have been long retired. In fact, your running back Jim Thorpe has been dead for 57 years
Snyder: Then cross him off the list.
The following players are free agents the Skins should sign that other teams gave up on: Randy Moss, Terrell Owens, Cedric Benson, DeAngelo Williams….
Looking at positions of need, the first thing that sticks out for the Redskins is tight end. There was once a day when the Skins had only one capable pro-bowl tight end. With the drafting of Fred Davis a few years back, the Skins finally had two capable tight ends. But is that enough in this modern NFL? It seemed that the two tight end sets just weren’t working last year. A certain amount of money MUST be set aside to sign Owen Daniels…..
So there it is. A template of what is needed to keep the Offseason Champs right where it belongs. In the nation’s capital… Landover, MD.