Recent success stories like the New York Giants, Green Bay Packers, Pittsburgh Steelers and New England Patriots will tell you that Super Bowls aren't won in March. Technically, they're all won in February, but if we're sticking to proverbs, you'd be much better off arguing that championships are won in April (or in this year's case, May).
Early this century, they were one of those big spenders who wasted cash on the Adam Archuletas and Albert Haynesworths of the football world. But one year after the NFL slapped the organization with a two-year, $36 million cap penalty, they were division champs for the first time since 1999 thanks mainly to exceptional homegrown players like Robert Griffin III, Alfred Morris, Trent Williams and Ryan Kerrigan.
The 'Skins have hopefully learned their lesson regarding perceived gold on the open market, but that doesn't mean they can't make sound investments in order to complement the core that has been built primarily in recent drafts.
After all, those sanctions have finally been lifted and the team is finally free to move about free agency.
Don't expect general manager Bruce Allen to be shy.
"We’re gonna have some room to do some things," Allen said on Sirius XM NFL Radio this week, per The Washington Post. "But we have some players who are free agents, and we’re going to talk to them first, to try to retain them. But we have the ability to maneuver around, and we’ll be active in free agency."
How much room can they expect to have? ESPN's John Keim elaborates:
They'll have approximately $30 million in salary-cap space; of course, they'll need to spend a decent amount to fill out their defense since six players who started at least seven games are free agents. But the Redskins can be active. Considering they have no first-round pick, that's important. They need to fix their secondary, even if they re-sign Hall. They need to replace retired linebacker London Fletcher and re-sign [Brian] Orakpo and [Perry] Riley. They also could use another receiver, especially if Leonard Hankerson's recovery from ACL surgery takes a long time.
Sure, they'll have to spend some money if they plan on bringing Orakpo, Riley and DeAngelo Hall back on defense (and we think they should), but they'd also be smart to remake the offensive line.
They can save over $2 million by cutting guard Chris Chester, according to OvertheCap.com, which would be prudent considering how much Chester struggled to protect Robert Griffin III in 2013. And according to the same source, they can save a couple million more bucks by cutting ties with center Will Montgomery and right tackle Tyler Polumbus.
So assuming they make a few cuts and re-sign Hall, Orakpo, Riley and maybe Rob Jackson, they should have enough money to sign a handful of high-caliber players, assuming of course that they stay away from the overpriced blue-chippers.
Mike McGlynn and Charlie Johnson are bigger guards who should be affordable on the open market and would add size to a small offensive line. Brandon Spikes could be available as a potential replacement for London Fletcher. Alterraun Verner, Aqib Talib, Brent Grimes, Sam Shields, Brandon Browner and Corey Graham are all slated to hit free agency at the cornerback position. Jairus Byrd, T.J. Ward, Donte Whitner, Chris Clemons, James Ihedigbo, Antoine Bethea and Bernard Pollard are impending free agents at safety.
|Key defensive backs scheduled to hit free agency|
|Player||Position||Age||2013 PFF grade|
|Pro Football Focus|
Imagine how much better this team could be immediately if it signed, say, Johnson, Spikes, Talib and Clemons. The trickle-down effect would presumably help the special teams, and the defense would finally have some depth.
This team could be good without spending that cash, but finally returning to the batter's box in free agency could make it a Super Bowl contender a little more quickly than most expect.
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