2011 NFL Lockout: Forcing The Washington Redskins in The Right Direction

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2011 NFL Lockout: Forcing The Washington Redskins in The Right Direction
Doug Pensinger/Getty Images
Sorry, Dan. Put that checkbook away.

Now that the Super Bowl is over, nothing is more clear to NFL fans than the possibility of a lockout.  Without games or playoff predictions to report, most sports outlets are now focusing on draft predictions and the ongoing labor negotiations.

The deadline for a new Collective Bargaining Agreement is set for March 4th, and the 2011 NFL Draft is set to go on April 28th.

The NFL has made it clear that even if a new CBA has not been reached, the draft will go on.

Free agency signings, trades and such moves cannot take place, however, until a new CBA is in place.  In other words, the only certainty going forward is the draft.

This is amazing news for fans of the Washington Redskins.

Let's take a stroll down memory lane, shall we?  It's no secret that Dan Snyder has a penchant for signing big name free agents in an attempt to fix the Washington roster.

Albert Haynesworth, Donovan McNabb, Deion Sanders, Jason Taylor, Jeremiah Trotter, and the list goes on.

For as long as Redskins fans can remember, this has been a franchise that goes after the huge free agents, doles out multi-million dollar contracts like candy, and mortgages future draft picks in favor of a win-now mentality.

Daniel Snyder has defied logic again and again, when the clear answer for winning has always been right in front of the Redskins front office, exhibited in teams like the New England Patriots and now the Green Bay Packers:  If you want to win, build through the draft.

And this year, the Redskins might do exactly that.

Why?  Because they have to.

With all of the drama surrounding the CBA negotiations, free agency is no longer a guarantee.  While dozens of big names will be unrestricted free agents this season, there is no clear sign as to when that will happen.

Unlike past years, the Washington Redskins are unable to make huge acquisitions or pick-dispensing trades before the draft even occurs.  That means no Haynesworth-esque signings, no Easter Sunday surprises, nothing.

Until a new CBA is reached, the Redskins only option is the draft.

Without the ability to sign big-name talent before the draft, Washington must make good use of every single pick, and should only take limited risks when it comes to its choices. 

After all, as these are the only guaranteed roster additions available for the moment, they each need to count.  Unlike the past, the Redskins are forced to build through the draft, and focus their attention on incoming rookies.

I don't know about the rest of you, but this gives me some optimism for the 2011 season.  Force their hand, and maybe they'll learn a lesson this time.

Final side note:  The possibility exists that regular-season games could be missed this year due to the labor negotiations. 

Fun Fact:  Two of the Redskins' three Super Bowl wins came during shortened seasons.  Hmm...

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