Change was coming to the Washington Redskins. Early on in the 2009 season, it was considered a foregone conclusion that the team would be turned upside down.
It began with the Bruce Allen and Mike Shanahan stepping into the general manager and head coaching positions respectively. It was a promising sign that owner Daniel Snyder was willing to relinquish some of his power in order to put the team in the hands of genuine football minds.
Those football minds initially stated that the team wanted focus on improvement “from within." Now it appears the team is going to have to search externally in order to overhaul the team as 10 players were released in anticipation of the upcoming free agent period.
Among those released were such notable players as wide receiver Antwaan Randle El and guard Randy Thomas. Starting cornerback Fred Smoot and backup running backs Ladell Betts and Rock Cartwright were also let go.
The only running back remaining on the team’s roster is Clinton Portis, whose injury concerns (especially regarding a season-ending concussion) necessitate a solid option behind him on the depth chart.
“Obviously it’s a day of change for the Redskins,” general manager Bruce Allen stated when addressing the volume of players cut.
After years of high-profile free agent pursuit, the team’s new front office tandem appears dedicated to cleaning house and resetting the team via Allen and Shanahan’s own concepts.
That likely means the days of big ticket signings such as Albert Haynesworth are gone, eschewed in favor of a reasonable formula designed to build a balanced team instead of an aging group with great resumes and poor results.
The only concern now is where the team will look to fill holes. Even if the team lands 4-5 starters from the draft, it still has just as many left vacant by those released.
One Redskins name did escape the free agent pool. Center Casey Rabach elected to forgo open waters in favor of the security a three-year $12.3 million contract affords.
More changes could be on the way. Giving Jason Campbell a first round (as opposed to first and third) saves a few dollars, but also sends a signal that his position behind center is still not completely locked.