The Washington Redskins had to do something about the white elephant known as the Albert Haynesworth contract.
Shame on you if you thought I meant "white elephant" for Haynesworth, the man. (I understand why you would think that, but still....)
The Redskins incurred the wrath of NFL team owners when they used the no-cap clause of the 2006 Collective Bargaining Agreement Extension to restructure Vinny Cerrato's poorly constructed deals for Haynesworth and CB DeAngelo Hall.
The Redskins had to do something even if they knew that NFL sanctions were coming in 2012. Hog Heaven applauds them for doing so. HAIL to sound management practice.
Those contracts paid the players more than they were worth and the Redskins would have to account for their income after their useful service to the team. Worse, Washington would have been hit with immediate cap penalties upon their early release.
Hall is still on the roster, but Haynesworth's deal handcuffed him to the team when they were sick of him. Mike Shanahan and Bruce Allen were stuck when they got here. We were tortured by the Shanahan-Haynesworth conditioning drill conflict that did nothing to make the Redskins better.
No doubt about it. Those contracts were classic Snyderrato:
- Overpay big name stars from other teams who could never live up to their outsized contracts.
- Underpay contributing, homegrown role players.
- Watch as those players were squeezed from the roster for lack of cap space.
- Suffer from chronic dead cap money — accounting for salaries of departed players — that constricts ability to field a NFC East competitive roster.
Even Joe Gibbs could not break that vicious cycle. Signing Haynesworth at the stroke of midnight on the first day of 2009 free agency proved the Redskins did not want to break it. That, and the goat rodeo now known as the hiring of Jim Zorn as quarterback coach >> offensive coordinator >> head coach showed how small was Gibbs' lasting impact on the team.
It took Mr. Snyder far too long to grasp that the roster structure is just as important as the players on it. Owners must be more protective of the structure and more loyal to team strategy than to their stars. It's an ingredient to winning.
Mike Shanahan has yet to make his case as Redskins head coach, but front office decisions are immeasurably better now than before his arrival.
There is no better example than Washington's 2012 salary cap room, close to $50 million by some estimates, and their Draft management. The Redskins weeded out underperformers, had cap room to absorb the NFL's theft sanctions and had the draft picks to trade up for Robert Griffin III.
How would Washington have coped if Vinny Cerrato were still running the club? I don't want to think about it. Do You?
We've said this before. It bears repeating now. In spite of everything, there's a lot to like about the Washington Redskins.
The team needs to hear that today when the arbitrator dissed their appeal of the NFL's salary cap.