Jason Campbell: As Good As Gone from the Washington Redskins

Gerald BallCorrespondent IApril 4, 2009

SAN FRANCISCO - DECEMBER 28:  Quarterback  Jason Campbell #17 of the Washington Redskins passes the ball during the game against of the San Fransisco 49ers at Candlestick Park on December 28, 2008 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by: Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)

According to media reports, Jason Campbell is mighty confident.

He is working hard, going into his second year in Jim Zorn's system (the first time in his NFL career and only the second time since leaving high school that he will have had the same coordinator and system for two years in a row, as the Redskins have gone through as many coordinators and offenses while Campbell has been there as did Campbell's college program Auburn), and will almost certainly get more out of second-year targets Devin Thomas, Malcolm Kelly, and Fred Davis than last year..

Also, the addition of Albert Haynesworth will get Campbell's offense better field position and more opportunities, and the thin mediocre offensive line has already been addressed in free agency and will be again in the draft.

Add that to a settled secondary situation due to the departure of Shawn Springs and the certainty that the Redskins will also draft a DE high in the draft, and Campbell has every reason to believe that he will not only improve on his 2008 season (3200 yards, 62 percent completions, 13 TDs, 84 rating) but that said improvement will lead to a playoff berth and a new contract.

But there is one slight problem with that: Campbell is almost certainly not going to get the chance. The issue is not that the Redskins tried to trade Jason Campbell for Jay Cutler.

Not even Campbell can blame the Redskins for trying to exchange him for a younger, better player.

The issue is not that Denver chose Kyle Orton over Jason Campbell, because Orton, a spread—horizontal game QB going back to his days as a spread QB at Purdue, is much more similar to Tom Brady and Matt Cassel than is Campbell, who is much more of a traditional play action—vertical game QB.

It is not even that the Redskins were unable to get a second round pick for Campbell, although that is a real cause for concern. 

It is that Daniel Snyder and Vinny Cerrato obviously could care less about what effect their attempt to trade Campbell had on him. Snyder and Cerrato didn't even contact Campbell.

They simply spent an undetermined amount of time trying to trade Campbell to an unknown number of teams, and upon failing simply went home. Campbell was never notified before, during or after the process. Instead, everything that Campbell learned came through the media.

There is more context still here. 1) The Redskins have spent months refusing to give Campbell the contract extension that he badly wants.

Now I admit that Snyder's view that Campbell does not merit a contract extension based on what he shown so far is correct, but Campbell's counterpoint is a good one: Had the Redskins made the playoffs he most certainly would have gotten one, and that Campbell played well enough to win in four of the Redskins' eight losses. 

Also, by changing coaches and coordinators practically every season and fielding a team with a bad offensive line and only one good WR, Snyder has not given Campbell what he needs to succeed.

So while not giving Campbell a new contract is proper and justified based on Campbell's pedestrian performance, Snyder should be sensitive to Campbell's thinking that he is getting a bad deal; that his lack of a new contract is as much Snyder's fault (for putting together a bad team) as it is Campbell's inability to overcome it.

Instead, Snyder is conspicuously and transparently disinterested in Campbell's perspective.

2) If the entire mess with Jay Cutler was—allegedly—started by the Broncos' attempt to trade Cutler, what of the fact that the Redskins did the same to Campbell?

Snyder and the Redskins would have apparently had an interest in showing deference to the precedents that Cutler appeared to set and the media generally seemed to respect in blaming Josh McDaniels and Pat Bowlen rather than Cutler. 

Instead, Snyder and the Redskins had no problem with making it known to Campbell, the media, the fans etc. that they have little regard or respect for Campbell, and that they don't care who knows about this lack of regard or what effect it might have on Campbell's performance or on how the rest of the organization (e.g. the coaches and teammates) will respond to their lack of regard for Campbell. 

For example, much has been made of Campbell's inability or unwillingness to assert himself as a leader, well now Snyder has so undermined Campbell that it is now impossible for Campbell do do so even were Campbell now so inclined to try to act as a leader.

Bottom line: It is not so much that Snyder has little regard for Jason Campbell as a player as it is that Snyder is not even trying to hide this lack of regard from anyone and everyone. So, Snyder has already moved on. Campbell is only the Redskins' starting QB until Snyder can replace him.

Snyder already tried to replace Campbell with Jay Cutler and failed, but he will certainly try again at the next opportunity. The only question is when this opportunity will be and if Snyder will have better luck next time.

Barring unforeseen developments, the next opportunity that Snyder will have to replace Campbell is the NFL draft, and it is almost certain that Snyder will do so at that time.

If Snyder was willing to give up two No. 1 picks to get Jay Cutler, he will certainly give up far less—say a first and second-round pick—to move up to get Mark Sanchez or Matt Stafford. 

And that is assuming that Snyder would have to do so in the first place. Despite all the mock drafts that you have read, there is little to indicate that two QBs will be taken in the first 12 picks.

Kansas City, Cleveland, Cincinnati, Oakland, Jacksonville, Green Bay, San Francisco and Buffalo all have relatively young passers that they are committed to—or at least far more committed to than Washington is Campbell.

Saint Louis and Seattle are also not regarded as not wanting a QB, also neither franchise has a history of using first round draft picks to acquire QBs anyway. And if Denver wanted to take a QB at No. 12, why insist on getting a starting QB back in a trade as opposed to another pick or a defensive player? 

So if Detroit passes on Matt Stafford at No. 1, then it virtually guarantees at least one of the top two QB being available for the Redskins at No. 13, and moreover both of them may well be. Again, even that is assuming that the Redskins don't try to trade up to make sure of it. 

So, Apr. 25 will be Jason Campbell's last day as a Washington Redskin. Why, when the Redskins could simply allow Campbell to play out the last year of his contract while the rookie sits and learns? Simple: Campbell may well have a big year next season: 3600 yards, 20 TDs, and a playoff berth.

If that happens only to have Campbell walk and the Redskins have to start over with a new QB, it would be a fiasco. So, far better to dump Campbell for whatever they can get for him and play the rookie next season. 

So in addition to saying and doing the right things—which can only help his reputation as a player, which quite frankly isn't that good around the NFL—Campbell really needs to have his agent start looking around for places for him to land.

Looking for teams that are willing to give him a shot to start in 2009 in case they don't get one of the three QBs that people actually want: Stafford, Sanchez, and Josh Freeman. Campbell does have a case: 27 years old, big arm, good mobility, and decent performance despite the less than ideal circumstances mentioned earlier. 

A franchise guy that can carry a team and make the players around him better? No. A guy that gives you a better chance to win than what you have now, has a real chance to improve, and is low risk (only one year left on his deal and can be had for a middle round draft pick)?

Detroit (assuming they don't draft Stafford), Saint Louis, Seattle, the Jets (assuming they don't get Freeman), and Tampa Bay (ditto) really can't claim to have better things to do in 2009 than that.

But that is a case that Campbell has to make to those teams himself. He can't convince himself that he is Washington's starter this season based on his communications with Jim Zorn, who A) is not the guy making the decisions and B) is only capable of moving forward based on the players that he has now.

If Snyder hasn't told Zorn that Campbell isn't going to be back next season, then what else is Zorn supposed to do but support the guy that he things will be playing for him?

Campbell also can't rely on the reassuring stance that the media has taken towards his situation. That is because the D.C. and national sportswriters know that Campbell has had a tough situation, like Campbell personally, and really want him to succeed.

However, unfortunately for Campbell, the sportswriters don't run the Redskins. Snyder does. 

How would Snyder respond to Campbell's trying to land another job? It doesn't really matter. Like there is anything that could happen that would make Snyder want another QB any more than he does already? 

Also, at what point has Snyder, Cerrato, or anyone else from the Redskins come out and said that Jason Campbell will be their QB in 2009? You won't find it, because they haven't said it.

The public relations missives sent out by the Redskins on Friday simply acknowledged trying to acquire Cutler and having a productive meeting with Campbell and "moving forward."

No public statements indicating or implying any support for or commitment to Campbell were made; quite the contrary they were conspicuous by their absence. Campbell claims that in the face to face meeting with Snyder, Snyder told him that he was not a franchise QB, and that he wants Campbell to become one.

1) The main thing is that Snyder and Cerrato refuse to publicly address their level of support for their starting QB that is still under contract to them even after failing to trade him.

2) Just because Snyder wants Campbell to become a franchise QB—and who doesn't want Campbell to be a franchise QB?—means that he wants to wait any longer for Campbell to become WASHINGTON'S franchise QB, and he proved that by being willing to use the picks that could have been used to build a better team around Campbell and give them up for Cutler.  

Now of course, Snyder is certainly willing to allow Campbell to play out his last season, and if he plays well, give him a contract extension. But that will only happen if the Redskins fail to land Stafford or Sanchez in the draft.

If Campbell doesn't realize this, someone had better tell him, starting with his agent. Not that Campbell should try to force a trade, but rather he had better do his best to make sure that there is a place for him to go start when the Redskins draft Mark Sanchez.

And as for the Redskins fans, especially the Campbell bashers—who are not 100 percent without justification—get ready for Mark Sanchez to be your new QB. 


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