Washington Redskins Free Agency Speculation: Predicting the 2011 Big Disaster
With a new coach and a revamped front office, Redskins fans should be comfortable with a quiet offseason in Washington.
Although we may not be used to it, I think Redskins fans could get used to a summer without unnecessary free agent signings, huge risks and wild front-office moves.
If Vinny Cerrato were still with the team and running the show, this Redskins summer would be just like the others in recent history. Let all Redskins fans consider themselves lucky.
The current free agent pool is reportedly one of the deepest classes in recent years and it wouldn't take much for Mike Shanahan to return the Redskins back to disaster mode.
Better yet, it may not take much for Shanahan and the Redskins to turn things around with a couple key free agent signings...or non-signings.
Here's hoping that the Redskins avoid disaster and take the more prosperous route.
The Team's Next Signal-Caller
Remember when the Redskins gave Jeff George a contract? It doesn't matter how much it was for (just shy of $15 million), it's only important and embarrassing to know that the team paid him anything more than a sack of marbles. Isn't it comforting knowing that this kind of thing won't happen under Shanahan's watch?
Currently, Shanahan and the Redskins seem to be ready to take on the 2011 season with John Beck as their starter. Some have speculated that Vince Young could be on his way to DC, as he fits Shanny's scheme and style, but nothing is concrete.
With Beck having not taken an NFL regular season snap since 2007, could the Redskins seek a free agent this summer?
While Vince Young is a serious option that can be perceived as a low-risk player with high-reward potential, the Skins could also look at aging veterans like Matt Hasselbeck and Carson Palmer.
Personally, I'd take the 27-year-old Young over the 35-year-old Hasselbeck with spine problems or the 31-year-old Palmer who hasn't been the same since blowing his knee to oblivion six years ago.
Although some may label Young as 'disaster,' I don't see the harm. Young is a proven winner in the NFL, he has the mobility and arm strength that Shanahan desires, he has indirect ties to the head coach and direct ties to the offensive coordinator, and he's in desperate need of a fresh start with fair competition in camp.
At the same time, I don't want to doubt Shanahan's belief in John Beck. After ranking him as his top-quarterback prospect in the 2007 NFL Draft, Shanahan took advantage of the opportunity to trade for the 29-year-old BYU alum last season when he was a backup for the crosstown Baltimore Ravens.
If Shanahan likes him (Shanny would have drafted a passer if he liked any of the prospects more than Beck), Redskins Nation has no reason to doubt it.
Shanahan's Running Back Game
As we all know about Mike Shanahan, he works wonders with running backs, regardless of whether they're a household name. And no one should expect anything less from Shanny here in Washington.
NFL scout Jayson Braddock wrote last week about Shanahan's master plan of grooming running backs, generating a name and market for the player and then trading them off in order to gain a greater need. While the strategy may seem juvenile at first, the bottom line is that it works.
In past seasons, big time free agent names like DeAngelo Williams, Ahmad Bradshaw and Ronnie Brown may all be linked to the Redskins. Hell, Cerrato and Snyder would have had a deal on the table for Williams by midnight (barring the lockout). This is something we never have to worry about with Shanahan in town.
Shanahan understands the importance of the running back position, but more importantly, he understands the value as well. Shanahan's one-cut system is better than half of the running backs that he has coached throughout his career and he knows what he can get out of certain players.
Thanks to this, Redskins fans can sleep well at night without having to worry about a "Cedric Benson-to-Washington" headline scrolling across the bottom of their television screen.
It's not that someone like Holmes or Jackson wouldn't possibly help the team, it's the fact that past front offices would simply chase the name rather than make a wise move.
With Shanahan and Allen, suddenly we're looking forward to our three drafted rookies rather than anticipating what ridiculous receiver is visiting Redskins Park.
Signing a guy like Moss or Owens would give the rebuilding Redskins nothing more than a headache and present them with a setback.
Like his running backs, Shanahan has experienced success with late-round receivers and I don't think he expects anything different with the recently drafted Leonard Hankerson, Niles Paul or Aldrick Robinson.
With Santana Moss possibly on his way out of DC as a 32-year-old free agent, I wouldn't be surprised to see Shanahan target receivers such as Sidney Rice (a large target with upside) and/or Mike Sims-Walker (a solid No. 2 when healthy).
That being said, I have already placed a lot of confidence in the team's rookie receivers, and I can't wait to see what they bring to the table. In my forecast, they have the ability to become a very productive class.
Addressing the Thin Offensive Line
The current Redskins offensive line is thin, to say the least. Even the presumed opening day starters aren't anything to write home about, and the team is in obvious need of some help. The tough question, of course, is which route Shanahan will take.
Center Casey Rabach is no longer a starter in the NFL, the right guard position seems like a platoon position at this point and the depth behind the starters is shy of ankle-high.
Probably so, but fans can rest assure that the team won't overpay for a guy who isn't a clear fit in Shanahan's zone-blocking scheme.
The trenches play a vital role to Shanahan's master plan, and he won't let the offensive front go unattended.
He likes his lineman to be athletic and have the ability to get to the next level, which doesn't always make for an easy find. This is a delicate position that will need to be addressed with patience.
Overspending on Defense
Spending money on Deion Sanders, after he had clearly taken the leap from 'Primetime' to 'PastTime', remains to be one of the worst NFL free agent signings in history.
What's even more baffling is the fact that Dan Snyder and Cerrato traded the league's best rising corner (Champ Bailey) just three years after the Primetime signing for a buzzing running back. What happened to the value for a cover corner?
And how could we forget the classic Albert Haynesworth signing? Remember all those memorable signings like Jeremiah Trotter, Michael Barrow, Jessie Armstead, Mark Carrier, etc.? None of that really worked out.
Shanahan will go after defensive help this offseason, but I don't think it's panic mode just yet. The team made it quick to sign safety OJ Atogwe and I don't think the team pursues pass-rushers after drafting Ryan Kerrigan with the team's first pick.
Nothing wrong with this. If Shanahan does go after defense, I believes he goes with a safe route and upgrades the team's defensive backs.
Carlos Rogers is a free agent, DeAngelo Hall isn't a sure cover corner and Kevin Barnes isn't a legitimate No. 2 right now...leading me to look at free agent names like Ike Taylor, Josh Wilson and, of course, Nnamdi Asomugha.
Redskins Heading in the Right Direction
At this point, Redskins fans have no reason to doubt Mike Shanahan, Bruce Allen or anyone else in the Washington front office. As fans, we've literally gone from no football knowledge to vast football knowledge in a matter of a year.
It used to be that the summer was the most exciting time to be a Redskins fan, and that was both fun and sad. Fun, because it was neat to see your team in all the big headlines. Sad, because your team's name was always in the headlines thanks to ridiculous free agent signings.
The truth of the matter is, the Redskins don't need to spend money every summer in order to increase productivity...which is easily seen by looking at the team's record over the past 10+ seasons. For the first time in a long time, the Redskins are actually admitting "rebuild" and going through with the plan.
For a summer that isn't going to be nearly as exciting as past Redskins' offseasons in terms of names, headlines and money, it's actually the time when Redskins fans should be most excited.