Earlier this offseason, there was a great thread on Reddit asking fans what piece of advice they'd give their favorite team's front office five years ago.
On Monday, we expanded on that with the Dallas Cowboys; on Tuesday we hit the New York Giants; and on Thursday we covered the Philadelphia Eagles. We finish our alphabetical march through the NFC East with the Washington Redskins, but we have to change things up a bit here.
We're only going to go back three years with the 'Skins, because advice for Vinny Cerrato and Jim Zorn would seem silly and because we all know exactly what we'd tell Daniel Snyder anyway: Stay away from Albert Haynesworth.
Since we're already cheating in that respect, we'll double down and throw another wrench in by including not one, but two pieces of advice. Why? Mainly because the first piece is still quite obvious and, frankly, a little boring.
So if we could go back only three years to the 2010 NFL offseason and give only two lines of futuristic wisdom to the Redskins, here's what we'd tell the current regime of Snyder, Mike Shanahan and Bruce Allen.
Don't screw with Albert Haynesworth's or DeAngelo Hall's contract
In the 2010 offseason, the Redskins reportedly disobeyed half a dozen warnings from the league and decided to get creative by restructuring deals belonging to Haynesworth and Hall so that they could pay them massive bonuses during the uncapped 2010 season.
That, of course, freed up a ton of cash for future years, which the league claims was unfair. Essentially, they refused to collude with everyone else, circumventing the salary cap in seasons to come by taking advantage of a year with no such cap.
Then, the punishments were handed down. The Cowboys also did some circumventing, for which they were forced to forfeit $5 million in 2012 cap space and $5 million in 2013 space. But the 'Skins were hit much harder, giving up $36 million in total over those two seasons.
Essentially, they were forced to give up pretty much the exact total that they swept under the 2010 rug. And it's amazing that, despite those sanctions, this team is looking to defend a division title in 2013.
But could you imagine how much better they might be right now had they been able to sign some top-flight defensive backs to help that mediocre secondary the last couple years? Or what if they were able to invest in an actual upgrade at right tackle? The 'Skins had no cap wiggle room these past two years, and it prevented them from being the best they could be.
The penalty will be lifted before the next free-agency period launches next March, but damage has already been done. Washington would have been much better off simply paying Haynesworth and Hall the way they were originally supposed to.
Don't trade for Donovan McNabb
Obviously, the McNabb era didn't start or end well in Washington. So when you consider that the 'Skins gave up a 2010 second-round pick and a 2011 fourth-round pick in exchange for McNabb, that's something else the organization would probably like to take back.
The Redskins lost their No. 37 overall pick in the deal and had already forfeited their third-round selection in order to take Kentucky defensive end Jeremy Jarmon in the 2009 supplementary draft. When they finally did make their second pick (they had taken offensive tackle Trent Williams fourth overall), they selected inside linebacker Perry Riley.
Riley's career has panned out pretty well thus far, but had they gone with a linebacker in that No. 37 spot, they likely would have ended up with Daryl Washington, who was the next linebacker to go off the board (47th) and has become a Pro Bowler in Arizona. Sean Lee, who has become a stud in Dallas, was also on the board there before being picked later in Round 2.
If not for the McNabb trade, the 'Skins might have had Washington or Lee instead of Riley, and they still would have had that fourth-rounder to use on somebody (Aaron Hernandez? Geno Atkins? Kam Chancellor?) if not Riley.
Technically, you could make the argument that the Redskins might not have ended up with young offensive superstars Robert Griffin III and Alfred Morris if not for the McNabb deal, but I still think they end up with both players regardless.
No, they wouldn't have traded Jason Campbell to Oakland later that offseason, but they probably would have been just as unsuccessful with Campbell at the helm in 2010.
What hurt the Redskins more?
In the real world, that lack of success wasn't enough to get them to draft a quarterback in the 2011 offseason, with Rex Grossman taking over full time for McNabb after he was dealt to the Vikings, so I don't see that playing out any differently in this hypothetical world.
Sure, without McNabb they might have reached for Jimmy Clausen or Colt McCoy in the 2010 draft, but I don't believe two bad years with either of those guys would have stopped them from taking RG3 in 2012.
They did draft Morris with the sixth-round pick they received from the Vikings in exchange for McNabb the following offseason. And obviously that pick wouldn't have been theirs without the original trade for McNabb, but when we're talking about sixth-rounders, you either like them or you don't. If Shanahan really felt strongly about Morris, he was going to grab him in that 2012 draft, possibly with his own fifth- or sixth-rounder.
The McNabb trade didn't hurt this franchise a whole lot, but it did more harm than good.