Robert Griffin III
This modern era of the NFL is about far more than putting people in the seats and points on the board.
Numbers do play an integral role, though, especially with regard to negotiating long term contracts. For the Washington Redskins, 2012 will be vital in signing and securing the services of not only the newer faces on the roster, but some of the older, more seasoned ones as well.
Gone are the days when players would sign and stay with a team for the duration of their careers. Free agency, in all of its muddled glory, has effectively erased that type of longevity from the NFL landscape.
The Redskins, however, are laboring diligently to establish some type of continuity moving forward. It's zero hour in Ashburn and with the arrival of Robert Griffin III, it's more important now than ever to make sure a few key pieces are retained over the long haul.
With that in mind, here are four Redskins that are in immediate need of long term deals.
Robert Griffin III
This one may be painfully obvious but being that he is the Redskins' ultimate lifeline and the future of the franchise, it's imperative that RG3 gets a deal done and the sooner the better.
I mean, Kirk Cousins, the Redskins' fourth-rounder out of Michigan State, was able to ink his rookie deal just over a week ago.
Now, I'll cut the Redskins a little bit of slack with regard to the particulars of RG3's deal. There will be a lot of fine lines drawn as to how much money he will be guaranteed and what type of bonuses he can expect.
That and with the reduced salary cap thanks in part to the penalties that the NFL handed down to both Washington and Dallas, it's necessary for the Redskins to perform detective-level accounting to make sure that every dollar they have is spent wisely.
At the end of the day, though, it's about getting Griffin III's deal signed and finalized. After all, we want him on the field and after everything the Redskins gave up in order to draft him, the last thing any of us want to see is a holdout in his rookie season.
Get him signed, Dan.
This one is tricky, as I'm sure you'll agree.
Davis was one of the Redskins' lone bright spots on an otherwise fallow offensive unit in 2011 as he racked up 796 yards on 59 receptions.
Of course, his violation of the league's illegal substance policy didn't do anything for him in the PR sense and this, as they say, is where the plot thickens.
RG3 will need every possible weapon available to him in year one as he attempts to lift the Redskins out of the NFC East cellar.
With Niles Paul just making the move from receiver and Chris Cooley attempting a renaissance year while turning 30, Davis will very likely play an integral part in the Redskins' success on offense in 2012.
His one year, $5.4 million deal is set to expire at the end of the 2012 season, rendering him a free agent approaching the 2013 season.
Assuming Davis can keep his nose clean in 2012 and provided he improves upon his impressive 2011 stat line, the Redskins front office would be hard pressed not to offer him a long-term deal and big-time dollars.
That the 'Skins elected to place their franchise tag on Davis says a great deal about how valuable he is to this franchise.
If he can stay out of trouble and in the end zone in 2012, Davis should have no trouble landing an elite deal.
If you want to trace back to the origin of the Redskins' current youth movement, it'd be hard to argue against the drafting of Brian Orakpo.
Since arriving in DC by way of Austin, Texas, the former Longhorn has been a force on defense, even if many believed that 2011 was a year of regression (despite the fact that he recorded more tackles and sacks).
He's a freak of an athlete at 6'4", 260 pounds and is able to explode off the line and, in the event his speed fails him, he always has his prodigious strength to bully opposing linemen.
He's simply too valuable not to have on the field and, with partner in crime Ryan Kerrigan now flanking him at the opposite linebacker position, the Redskins are primed to have a monstrous year on defense.
This is also precisely the reason that the Redskins need to do everything in their power to keep 'Rak Daddy' around once his contract expires in 2013.
His five year, $15.4 million deal has certainly been worth the investment nearly four years in but, should Orakpo improve in 2012, how much more money do the 'Skins put on the table?
Find a number and make it work. That may be trite advice, but it's a statement of fact.
Orakpo is only 25 and has a good number of years left ahead of him to wreak havoc on opposing offenses. The Redskins need to get a jump start on due diligence now and make sure a revamped deal is on the starting blocks as Orakpo's contract nears its expiration date.
I for one, do not want Orakpo lining up at linebacker for any other team. I don't think RG3 does either, for that matter.
The Redskins, if they've added depth to any portion of their roster this off-season (besides receiver), it is in the defensive secondary.
Cedric Griffin, Madieu Williams and Brandon Meriweather are just a few of the new names you'll be seeing in the program this fall. Yet cornerback remains an area of slight concern going into the 2012 season.
Apart from DeAngelo Hall and his struggle to remain consistent and live up to his huge contract, there is Kevin Barnes who, if not altogether spectacular, has steadily improved since coming out of Maryland four years ago.
Barnes is set to make $565,000 this year before becoming an unrestricted free agent at the conclusion of the 2012 season.
With cap space limited as it is and the need for the Redskins to establish some continuity, it would be wise to keep Barnes around for a few more years.
Now, I'm not talking about offering him a re-envisioned deal worth triple his current four year, $2.5 million deal. It should, however, be commensurate with the numbers he puts up throughout 2012 and, if his stat lines from the previous three years indicate anything, it's that he will only continue to get better and play with increased confidence.
With that in mind, the Redskins should start thinking about packaging a new contract for Barnes in the neighborhood of two to three years that increases his salary without a lot of emphasis on guaranteed money.
We're looking for solidarity in the secondary and so far, Barnes has only taken strides forward. I'm if the Redskins brass, I'm willing to give him more opportunities to improve.
I kid, I kid.
Thanks for reading and feel free to follow me on Twitter: @newvalleyblues