Redskins got hit hard with salary cap penalties. Could it be a blessing in disguise for a team known for spending big money is free agency
As the NFL new league year begins today (March 12) and the Free Agency spending spree is set to begin, I got to thinking about my Washington Redskins and the current cap penalties they face. Hit with a $36million cap penalty, broken up into a 2 year penalty at $18mill per, the Redskins have basically been crippled these last two offseasons. Is it really a bad thing though? I know you're thinking "Of course it's a bad thing!" Just hear me out on this. If it was any franchise other than my beloved Skins I would agree with you. Look at the following list of names that the Skins have carelessly thrown big time money at.
Albert Haynesworth: 7yr $100mill
Deion Sanders: 7yr $56mill
Bruce Smith: 5yr $23.5mill
Adam Archuleta: 7yr $35mill
Jerimiah Trotter: 7yr $36mill
Jeff George: 4yr $18mill
Dana Stubblefield: 6yr $36mill
Brandon Lloyd: 6yr $31mill ($10mill guaranteed)
Antwaan Randle El: 7yr $31mill ($10mill signing bonus)
Andre Carter: 6yr $30mill
Those are just some of the names that the Redskins have WASTED big money on especially during the Dan Snyder era. While also throwing away money at over priced and aging veterans the Redskins treated the draft like it was just a giant waste of time. Continuously trading away draft picks for more aging vets and by doing so the Skins always had one of the oldest rosters in the NFL. Under Dan Snyder and his right hand yes man Vinnie Cerrato the Redskins were always the "Offseason Champs" but those moves never produced a winner. One division title, only three playoff appearances, a whole lotta wasted money and nothing to show for it during Snyders first decade. Enter Bruce Allen and Mike Shanahan. Bruce Allen was brought in to get the Skins out of control salary cap situation fixed. Mike Shanahan was brought in to fix the roster. Snyder has finally faded into the background and is letting "football" people make the football decisions.
Here is where I make my argument that maybe the cap penalties aren't a bad thing. Youth. You must have the core of your roster built around what I call "Home grown talent" i.e. players you draft. To have a sustained run in sports your roster, in my opinion, must be built with core players that you have drafted and developed. Free agents should only be signed to fill an immediate need or to add depth. A team in no way should build through free agency like Snyder had tried doing. There is no such thing as a quick fix. With the cap penalties that hit starting last season the Redskins made very smart and financially responsible signings. The Redskins also focused more detail on the draft in each of the last two seasons turning the oldest roster in the league to one of the youngest. Now the core of the Skins is made up of a bunch of players in their early to mid 20s instead of late 20s to early 30s. Players like Ryan Kerrigan, Leonard Hankerson, Trent Williams, Perry Riley, RGIII, Alfred Morris, and Kirk Cousins make up a bunch of home grown talent that help lead the Skins to their first division title in 13 years. A young and in his prime Pierre Garcon was brought in to fill an immediate need at the wide receiver position. Another point I would like to make is instead of big splashy signings the Redskins are taking care of their own unlike before. Champ Bailey, Ryan Clark, and LaVar Arrington were some of the home grown players that the Redskins, or Snyder, couldn't pay because of the money spent on veteran free agents.
So with the penalty the Skins are faced with again this season they are being forced to sign their own players. Players that played a HUGE role in winning a division title. Continuity people!! Washington still has seven draft picks in this years draft. Mike Shanahan is going to really have to buckle down and evaluate these college players because the Skins don't have free agency to fall back on. Honestly I am glad my Redskins have been hit with these penalties. I am so sick of "winning" the off season every year only to see us go 4-12. You can't buy chemistry just ask the Eagles. Building through free agency NEVER works. Draft smart, sign your own guys, sign a FA to fill immediate need, thats how you build a team that can win for many years. Maybe NY Giants owner John Mara may come to regret selling the Redskins out on the salary cap because now the Redskins are being forced to build their team the right way. With RGIII as our leader the Skins are going to be a force to be reckoned with for many years to come. Now it's up to Shanny to draft the right pieces.