It has been pretty obvious to all who have watched the Washington Redskins this year that Jon Jansen has been struggling. It has been widely assumed, however, that Jansen would get some time in the regular season to work through his issues.
Maybe, maybe not, according to Jim Zorn.
The Redskins' head coach said today in his post-game presser that there is a "battle, a very close battle" between Jansen (who was known as "The Rock" before injuries put him out for 2004 and almost all of 2007) and second-year player Stephon Heyer for the starting right tackle job.
Zorn did, however, throw Jansen a bone saying that, in contrast to the aforementioned observations, Jansen has been "solid this preseason."
Heyer was praised as well, with Zorn saying that he "helped himself last night. He shored things up for us," allowing him to "compete for a position."
Should Heyer earn the starting job, one would have to wonder if Jansen would even make the team. If you're going for youth, why not go all the way?
Jansen signed a five-year, $23 million contract extension before the '07 season. Why keep an expensive 32-year-old veteran around when you could use his roster spot for a less costly youngster?
The cost of cutting him would be high, but not prohibitively so. He has about $6 million in unallocated bonus money from 2009-2011. Subtract his scheduled '09 salary of about $1.3 million and you'd have a $4.7 million dead cap hit for 2009. Against a cap of about $120 million, that's certainly doable.
While it's possible, releasing Jansen may not be such a good idea. His 2008 salary is just $730,000 and considering that his potential replacement would also cost at least $300,000, the resulting savings would be just over $400K.
That's not pocket change but it doesn't seem to be enough of a difference to justify whacking a guy who knows the system and would be invaluable as a reserve. Who knows, maybe if he rides the pine for the first time in his life he'll come back with a fire lit under him?
Then again, it's possible that he's just lost it. That wouldn't be the first time that happened to a 32-year-old. The entire line has to be replaced over the next few years, why not start now?
Certainly such a move would represent Jim Zorn sending a message that there are no sacred cows—or rocks.