The Washington Redskins bolstered its defensive secondary by signing free agent free safety Oshiomogho (O.J.) Atogwe Thursday evening. The signing comes just as the window to sign players is about to close with the demise of the collective bargaining agreement.
Atogwe, a six year veteran, is reunited with Jim Haslett, his defensive coordinator with the St. Louis Rams. Haslett is in the same role with the Redskins. Atogwe visited the Redskins February 22 and left without a deal.
Most Redskin fans will remember Atogwe for his 75 yard fumble return for a score to help the Rams beat the Redskins at FedEx Field in 2008. The win snapped an eight-game losing streak for the Rams. It was on of only two losses in Jim Zorn's first eight games as Redskins head coach.
Atogwe is credited with 393 total tackles, 22 interceptions and 42 passes defended. ESPN's Mike Sando describes the contract machinations that led to Atogwe's release. Atogwe reported signed a five-year, $26 million deal.
Point after: Sean Taylor's jersey No. 21 is sacred to Redskins' fans. Atogwe wore the same number with the Rams. Washington hasn't officially retired the number, but Atogwe says he will wear a different number while with the Redskins. Hat/tip to Cindy Boren at WaPOST for pointing me there.
It's been incredibly difficult not to remind readers that the Redskins signed safety Adam Archuleta from St. Louis. Coincidence doesn't prove co-relationship. There's no reason to believe that Atogwe will be the bust that Archuleta was just because they both played for the same team--unless the 'Skins change their whole approach to the secondary as they did with Archuleta's arrival then expect the player to do things he's not good at.
The better comparison is London Fletcher who was well known to then assistant head coach Gregg Williams through their prior association with the Buffalo Bills. Williams knew exactly how he wanted to use Fletcher. Fletcher has been golden ever since. Hope that Jim Haslett has as clear a concept for Atogwe and that OJ contributes as well as Fletcher.
Every once in a while, Redskins Hog Heaven receives questions from a reader pertaining to stuff we have written. And sometimes, it happens the other way: we get questions that are worth writing about. This is one of the latter cases.
Reader Mitchell wrote in asking Tony to analyze his Redskins mock draft. Tony sent it my way because, well, because he knows I like to write about these things. And write. And write some more.
Mitchell's dream Redskins draft (commentary, his) goes as such:
1 - Mike Pouncey 2 - Marvin Austin 5 - Brandon Harris (no way he'll be here) 5 - Noel Devine or Jacquizz Rogers - we never have anyone to dump the ball off to in the flat and let them make a play. both of these guys are explosive and are homerun hitters 6 - Adrian Moten Fast, undersized, overall good football player who could contribute on special teams right away
With the Redskins sitting at the 10th pick and Von Miller likely being selected in the top 5, do you think the Redskins will "reach" for another pass rushing linebacker? Maybe like Akeem Ayers out of Cal? or maybe try and pick up Tamba Hali?
"IF" there is still a free agent market this season, what do you think about the Skins going after Davon Joseph from Tampa Bay, Tamba Hali (opposite of Orakpo looks good), Antonio Cromartie and maybe Tom Zbikowski? They are all fairly young still and have a lot of time left.
Before I talk about his mock draft -- the total haul looks good to me -- I was going to start on the questions first. And once I start, it is hard to slow me down.
Do I think the Redskins will reach for another pass rushing linebacker? That's tricky. My analysis from last year shows that the most crictical part of a competent three-four defense that the Redskins didn't have on the roster last year was a second edge rusher. The 3-4's advantage is that you can confuse an offense by bringing pressure from all angles. You can't do so much if all an offense has to do is find 98. In 2010, that was a problem. Brian Orakpo was able to beat the pass protectors often and create holding situations, but he didn't exactly surprise anyone as to where he was coming from. Pass rushing schemes for the Redskins were often ineffective because there werent enough quality rushers to attack quarterbacks with. This meant more guys in coverage, and more guys in coverage meant more time to find guys who could be exposed in coverage. Which there were plenty of.
The Redskins have a huge need at the linebacker level for someone with pass rushing skills. If quarterback is the team's most glaring need, a pass rusher is a close second.
Will the Skins reach for someone who isn't Von Miller? Miller is the highest rated 3-4 OLB type, and theres a good chance that he'll be gone when the Redskins pick. But it's not like Miller is the only player at the top of the draft who can play the 3-4 OLB position. Mitchell mentioned Akeem Ayers as a potential "reach" at no. 10. But I think two things about that hypothetical:
As far as reaches go, Akeem Ayers isn't that bad of a reach at no. 10, as even though he didn't run well at the combine, he's going to be a hot name in the 11-25 range.
3-4 OLB types Robert Quinn and Aldon Smith are both expected to go before the 15th pick.
I like Georgia's Justin Houston so much, that I would take him in the first round ahead of Ayers.
In other words, the Redskins won't have to reach at no. 10 for pass rushing help, even if Von Miller is gone. They are actually perfectly positioned to land the edge rusher of their choice, if they choose to do so. But it's not the only place they can go on the defensive end. Because the Redskins also need help in the front three on the defensive end. And the best player for their scheme would probably be Alabama's Marcell Dareus, who could slot in instantly at RDE, and provide pass rushing acumen in the four man rush schemes that complements Brian Orakpo. Cal's Cameron Jordan wouldn't be nearly as sexy (or as good a value) as Dareus or Nick Fairley, but would fill the same hole for the same price. And obviously, the other possibility is that a rising Dareus and Robert Quinn end up pushing Von Miller down to no. 10, and the Redskins do get their guy.
As for Mike Pouncey at no. 10, I'll say a couple of things. I have it on pretty good record that the Redskins plan to use their draft picks in the first two rounds of the upcoming draft on either a quarterback, or on defense. This doesn't mean things can't change between now and the draft. It doesn't mean that if AJ Green is sitting there for the Redskins at no. 10 overall that they won't adjust their draft plans and take him. The draft is dynamic. Smart franchise leaders must be able to adjust to unexpected outcomes. But it's unlikely that if a quarterback the Redskins like at no. 10 is unavailable, that the Redskins will use the pick on the offensive side.
The Redskins have had a large hole at guard since Randy Thomas began getting hurt constantly in 2007, and it was a hole that was only briefly filled by Pete Kendall. Drafting Mike Pouncey would fill that hole. But at no. 10? I don't feel like the Redskins would be getting good value on Pouncey because I feel like he's being rated a bit higher than his film would suggested based on a bloodline with a successful recent NFL rookie. And I'll grant that such a bloodline mitigates a bit (though not much) of draft risk in the player. Problem is, with only two picks on the first two days, the Redskins need to give themselves as many possible swings at the fences as they can get. Pouncey, while filling a major need, almost certainly would use that 10th pick in a manner that gives the Redskins, at best, a role player. If he's a trancendental guard in the way that the Redskins hope Trent Williams can someday be at left tackle, then great choice, but otherwise, the Redskins need to at least draft to win for later, not just to limit the possible damage caused by poor OL play in the upcoming 2011 season -- if there is a 2011 season.
And to fix this guard problem, I think Davin Joseph makes a lot of sense, for now. Tamba Hali has since received the franchise tag (driving the need for the Redskins to draft pass rushing help even higher), but Joseph will, at some point, test the market. Potentially, a restricted free agent tender could stand in the way of the Redskins getting Joseph, but the CBA agreement will be the final ruler on whether the tender given to him by the Bucs is even valid. If not, he will be a free agent. I have a soft spot for Tom Zbikowski (Buffalo Grove High School, University of Notre Dame), but he received a third round tender from the Ravens (with only three years of service time, this RFA tender is far more likely to hold than Josephs), and since the Redskins don't have a third round pick, you can consider Zbikowski as a possible target for 2012 free agency. I would not go after Antonio Cromartie, because he's looking for DHall money, isn't as good as Hall, and I already think Hall is a liability as is.
Marvin Austin could be an interesting target in the second round, but I don't like Austin as a nose tackle type, or in the 3-4 defense at all. I think he would be a bad scheme fit here. It's going to be way easier to find OLB pass rushing help later on in the draft than quality 3-4 defensive linemen, but if you're looking at the type of 3-4 DL who might be available in round two, I'd look at Stephen Paea or Phil Taylor at nose tackle, or perhaps Hampton's Kenrick Ellis. Non-elite RDE help will be available later on, but at that point, it might be smarter to wait a year.
I'm more interested and intrigued by the late-round plan of the Redskins than willing to predict or expect anything out of those players. Look at the late rounders last year from the Redskins: they got virtually no contribution from that group. But they added a couple of undrafted free agents who are already selling jerseys. The biggest thing about this year is that until there is a new CBA, there will be no signing of undrafted free agents. That will almost certainly change the dynamic of the draft's third day. Whether they can land a fun RB type like Jacquizz Rodgers, Noel Devine, or Dion Lewis, or whether they rest on their laurels and bring in undrafteds to play with their current RB group, or whether they go the developmental QB route, I think we'll learn a lot about the future of the franchise by sitting back and watching Day 3 unfold rather than rooting to add a whole bunch of college stars in the late rounds.
If you want your question to be the subject of a Hog Heaven post, email us, or hit us up on Twitter @SkinsHogHeaven.
I have a deal for Washington Redskins head coach Mike Shanahan. I give you a dollar and you give me a quarterback.
And can you please get it right this time?
No other position on the team is more unsettled than quarterback. None garners more attention even though quarterback performance ranks third or fourth on the list of things to fix on offense.
Shanahan said at the close of the season that he was evaluating the Redskins quarterback situation and Donovan McNabb's place in it. Last week he added that he would wait until the end of April, after the NFL Draft, before deciding McNabb's fate. We want to help the process, so here are:
Three reasons to keep Donovan McNabb...
1. Donovan McNabb is the best quarterback on the roster. You can look it up. There is nobody behind McNabb but John Beck, the itinerant BYU quarterback who spent time in Miami and Baltimore before Washington signed him in 2010. Beck last saw action in 2007 with the Dolphins when he completed 60 passes of 107 attempts for one touchdown and three interceptions. To be fair, Beck was a rookie drafted by a coach under pressure (Cam Cameron) and thrown into the fire mid-season on a dreadful Dolphins team. New football executive Bill Parcells promptly drafted Chad Henne and traded for Chad Pennington in 2008. Beck's story as a rookie quarterback on a flawed team is a cautionary tale for Washington's coaches and fans.
Beck was second on the depth chart by the end of the season. I'd like to think the coach saw something in him to justify the spot. But, I don't think Shanahan knows. He just put Beck in a position to find out. Neither he nor we will know about Beck before June.
Rex Grossman is not under contract as of March 4. The Redskins did not franchise him. He is free to go wherever he wishes, but that is a low risk proposition. Nobody is in a rush to sign him. Nobody else believes in him as much as Kyle Shanahan does.
2. With time in the system, McNabb will revert to average. Rex Grossman spent a year in Kyle Shanahan's Houston offense. When given his opportunity, Grossman produced the best performance of his career. Yet, that was uncomfortably close to his career averages. That was not very good.
In Grossman's three game run at the end of the season, the Redskins showed marginal improvement in per game yards and points, 21.3 average points, compared to the season average of 18.9 points per game. What's troubling is that Washington's point output declined with each successive Grossman start (30, 20, 14).
Given the same time in the system that Grossman had, McNabb would revert to his career norm. McNabb's norm is higher than Grossman's norm. That is not good enough to win a Super Bowl, but will be better than last season. Good enough to win two or three more games.
3. Mike Shanahan never actually said he would trade McNabb. He's said many things about McNabb, but why leave the wiggle room? Perhaps he realizes there are no alternatives to McNabb. Roshan Bhagat at Football's Future blog compiled a list of 2011 quarterback free agents and our own Greg Trippiedi listed a mix of free agent and rookie QBs who might interest the Redskins. The Redskins must look at that list and shake their heads.
The Colts and Eagles franchised Peyton Manning and Michael Vick. The Redskins couldn't spare the draft picks to offer in trade even if they were foolish enough to try. Trading for McNabb is how they got into their current predicament.
Matt Hasselbeck is an unrestricted free agent. He is also 35. Seattle coach Pete Carroll says re-signing Hasselbeck is his top priority. The rest of the veteran list include the likes of Alex Smith, Drew Stanton, Tavaris Jackson and Rex Grossman. All clearly destined to be back-ups.
Auburn's Cam Newton is on everyone's lips, but is moving up the draft chart in spite of a so-so performance at the Combine. Unless the 'Skins trade up in the Draft to reach for him, Newton won't be available when Washington makes the tenth pick.
John Beck's experience in Miami applies to the other rookies. Starting a rookie on a flawed offense is problematic. You can make a case for drafting a top prospect, build talent around him at let them grow together as Detroit and Tampa Bay are doing. Could that be what Mike Shanahan means when he says you have to build a team the right way? I hope so, but Coach Mike didn't show that kind of patience last season.
Shanahan does things to "win-now." The right way to win now is to follow the original plan. Use McNabb to stabilize the position while you rebuild talent at more pressing areas.
and three reasons not.
1. It's not you. It's me. I envision the Shanahan's and McNabb saying something like that to each other (with each side thinking no, it really is you.) It's the classic language of break-ups and it always means, "I'm not changing for you." This relationship is irretrievably broken. Mike Shanahan appears to be the more rigid of the two. As I wrote yesterday about Shanahan and Albert Haynesworth, Coach Mike has to take the first and the biggest step to reconcile with McNabb. Joe Gibbs had the make-up to take that step. I doubt that Shanahan does. Cut your losses and move on.
You want your team to do the right thing to do for a player of McNabb's stature. The right thing is to release him, now, or shortly after the Draft. By then you will know whether another team will give up picks to get him. If they do not, let the man go soon enough to connect with another team. Shanahan did as much for Clinton Portis.
2. This is a coaching failure. Whether that falls more on Kyle Shanahan, who resisted the McNabb trade then clashed with him through the season, or on Mike, who overruled Kyle then lost confidence in McNabb by mid-season, the coaching staff failed to get from a 2009 Pro Bowl player what the Minnesota Vikings got from Brett Favre in 2009.
Every part of McNabb's story falls as much on the coaches as it does on the player. No player, even McNabb, can succeed when his coach sees him as the least bad alternative. If the Shanahans have closed their minds to what McNabb can do, they won't coach him up to their standards. There is no point to McNabb being here if you just won't work with him.
3. McNabb never figured out how to talk to the Shanahans. Yes, that's a stretch. I don't know what's said in the privacy of Redskins Park. Yet, I'm struck by the difference in approach by McNabb and Albert Haynesworth. Where McNabb preferred to handle his business professionally behind closed doors, in face-to-face meetings between the coach and McNabb's agent (ahem), Haynesworth was outspoken. He didn't care how his views affected the reputation of the coaches. If they needed to be challenged, he challenged them, especially when it came to his working conditions.
Big Al may be on to something. Maybe the Shanahans get off on outspoken players who ignore them. There are many hints the team wants Haynesworth to stay while McNabb's" R-U-In" posters are removed from every bus in town.
Speak up, Donovan. Express yourself. Tell the Redskins what you want. More important, tell us what you want and let public opinion shape events in your favor. As things stand now, McNabb is going meekly into that good night. Or something poetic like that.
Whatever McNabb said, however he said it, his Bourgeois politeness doesn't work with the Shanahans. A change in speaking style may change his fate. Otherwise, he's outta here. He has nothing to lose.
Everybody is reporting that Adam Schefter (ESPN) is reporting that the Washington Redskins are unlikely to release disgruntled defensive lineman Albert Haynesworth like everyone, including Albert Haynesworth, wants.
Of the two sides of this argument, Mr. Haynesworth has been the more forthcoming. Think about it. Where does Big Al stand on the 3-4 defense? Or OTAs? Or coach Mike Shanahan? Haynesworth has been transparent on his feelings.
That's more than can be said about Shanahan. Coach Mike has been cryptic with his thoughts and mystifying in his intent when it comes to Haynesworth. The Redskins' justifiable treatment of Big Al belies recent hints that the team hopes Haynesworth will stay. Shanahan is giving passive-aggressive anger a bad name.
We are outsiders looking in. We don't really know what's happening behind the scenes between the coach and player. I'm sure of one thing. If this marriage is to be fixed, Shanahan must take the first and the biggest step.
Former Tennessee Titans coach Jeff Fisher is as tough a disciplinarian as Shanahan. Fisher got the most from Haynesworth by letting Big Al play in the style Big Al wanted to play. That would be a huge step for Shanahan to take, though DC Jim Haslett may be glad to do it. We know by now that Haynesworth won't be anything different than he already is. Why would he change now? He already has Mr. Snyder's money.
Don't expect Big Al at the voluntary OTAs. He already said he would train on his own. It is 50-50 that he shows up for Minicamp. He wasn't there last season, even though he said he would be. Oh, and he doesn't have a high regard for the defensive schemes. He won't break his body to make it work.
That's only half as bad as it sounds. Haynesworth refuses to play nose tackle--says he's not good enough--so he will be off the field when the defense is in nickel and dime packages anyway. He can't hurt you from the sideline.
These things are known. They were known to Jeff Fisher, too. Fisher eventually gave Haynesworth his head and Big Al rewarded him in 2008 with 53 total tackles and 8.5 sacks. I take it that Shanahan is willing to try a page from Fisher's book hoping for similar results.
Or, Schefter's secret source is one month ahead on April Fool's day.
We've been fooled by these stories before. Jason LaCanfora reported in April 2010 that the Redskins would trade Haynesworth to the Titans. LaCanfora was the former Redskins beat writer for The Washington Post. He wrote that story as a scoop of an impending action. He surely thought he had a credible source.
Haynesworth was not traded following an April story that a trade was imminent. Schefter's story that Haynesworth would not be released can only mean one thing.
Every news source you hear this morning reports that the Washington Redskins will release star running back Clinton Portis as soon as today. Eighty-four games, 8,164 total yards and 49 touchdowns since joining the team, this seems a good time to look at the best 'Skins running back this decade.
Redskins head coach Mike Shanahan said during an interview at the NFL Combine late last week that high contract-value players like Portis should have the chance to test the market for his services...when that player was not going to be offered his next bonus to stay with the team. Portis in turn acknowledged that, if it was his time to go, he was ready to do so.
Portis joined the Redskins in 2004, the second controversial trade of Joe Gibbs's second run as Redskins head coach. Unlike Mark Brunell, Portis was young, 23, with his best years before him when he came to Washington. But the Redskins gave up Champ Bailey, the league's best shutdown corner, and a second round draft pick to acquire Portis.
Too many fans figured the Redskins got snookered by then Denver Coach Mike Shanahan on the deal. Not enough remember that Bailey forced the team's hand by refusing to accept Washington't contract offer. Bailey was made miserable by turmoil in the coaching ranks (three head coaches, five defensive coordinators) and a front office that didn't know how to win. He was not happy to be named a franchise player. Even with Joe Gibbs' return (I'm not sure Bailey knew who Gibbs was and what he meant to Washington), Bailey made plain that he was outta here when his franchise year was up.
Mike Shanahan built his reputation on a knack for discovering running backs. Clinton Portis was one of those finds. Not that Portis was a hidden gem. He was the star running back on the Miami Hurricanes National NCAA championship team. Never-the-less, he was a second round Draft selection by Denver. Pundits did not expect what Portis delivered in 2002 and 2003--3099 yards, 29 touchdowns, 5.5 average yards per carry. Portis was the best fantasy football back in those years. I know because I owned him.
Portis agitated to renegotiate his contract for a deal consistent with first round selectees. Shanahan held that Portis was a system back whose success was due more to his (Shanahan's) offensive scheme and the zone blocking than to Clinton's inate skill. Not the last time we would see the pattern of thought from Shanahan that star players are easily replaceable.
Shanahan also craved a shutdown corner and Bailey was the ticket. I suspect Shanahan would have accepted a straight swap of Portis for Bailey without that extra pick. Many fans saw Portis as over-priced goods because Gibbs and Snyder threw in the pick instead of using it.
But wait, there's more.
Gibbs used Portis as a between-the-tackles power rusher in the mold of John Riggins rather than the slashing edge rusher in Shanahan's West Coast offense. CP struggled in 2004, but would become Washington second leading rusher after Riggins. He led the team to the 2005 and 2007 playoffs with his rushing prowess.
For all the focus on the quarterbacks, Washington's failures in 2009 and 2010 has more to do with Portis' absence by injury than to any shortfall by Jason Campbell or Donovan McNabb.
Runs are important in both Gibbs' and Shanahan's offense. At his best, Portis scored once every 32 times he carried the ball. That's twice as productive as Ladell Betts who replaced him in 2006, and better than Ryan Torain in 2010.
Neither Torain nor any of the young backs Shanahan will turn to has matched Portis prowess as a pass blocker. Washington cannot retool the offensive line in one season. If the back can pass block as well as Portis did, the Redskins can free up Chris Cooley for a pass pattern. Cooley blocking is Cooley wasted.
Still need runs in a pass first offense
Mike shanahan never won a Super Bowl without John Elway. Elway never won one without Shanahan in three prior tries. Neither won a Super Bowl without strong running by Terrell Davis. Shanahan never won a Super Bowl with Champ Bailey who went to four Pro Bowls as a Bronco, but he might have won with Clinton Portis as lead rusher.
None of the above proves anything, but we Redskins fans hope that no Portis won't mean no Super Bowl for coach Shanny.
Point after: "Release" doesn't necessarily mean good-bye. Shanahan says he wants Portis to be free to test the market for his services. He no doubt expects Portis to find a thin market for his services. Portis says he'd like to stay. Long-time players say that kind of thing. Sanatana Moss said the same earlier this month. Both could re-sign with Washington at a lower salary. That would help with the salary cap. Moss and Portis would on the roster would also stand in the way of younger players taking the field.
Whether they leave now, or stay for another season, we are witnessing the sunset of the Joe Gibbs Gang. We owe a debt of gratitude to Portis and Moss, especially for those marvelous playoff runs in 2005 and 2007.
Andrew Strickert, my MVN and Bloguin colleague who covers the Tennessee Titans, asked how we were getting along with Albert Haynesworth?
What? I asked in mock shock. You haven't heard about the road rage charge and the sexual assault charge?
Both of those charges are alleged, so Andrew agreed with me that a presumption of innocence was called for.
"On the other hand," said Andrew, "if Albert had a history of road rage incidents or a history of anger management issues, such as fights and stomping people's faces, then I'd be tempted to think the worst."
That particular line is from a post by Laserjock on the goTitans forum. They still talk about Big Al in Tennessee, mostly how happy they are he has gone.
Most Washington Redskins fans would be just as happy if he were out of Washington. But, should he go?
We like to challenge conventional wisdom around here, so here we go with...
Three Reasons to Keep Albert Haynesworth...
1. Haynesworth is the best defensive lineman in the league. That makes him the best defensive lineman on the team. Note: I'm not calling him the most effective lineman on Jim Haslett's defense. Lack of confidence or motivation gets in Haynesworth's way. No one now on the roster plugs a gap, or collapses a pocket the way Big Al can. No one creates opportunities for others the way Big Al does. Haynesworth off the field means it easier for opponents to game plan LaRon Landry and Brian Orakpo. To quote Bob Dole, you know it. I know it. The American people know it. The Redskins coaches know it, too. That's why they drop broad hints that Big Al is welcome to stay...if he wants to.
2. The Haynesworth Way. Pro football is a game of precision, a game of inches as some describe it. Coaches perfect a system that works, develop assistants that understands the system and look for snap-in players who make it go. Former Redskins assistant head coach Gregg Williams always said "every player's a starter." He was going for depth, precision, and the sense that the whole defense was better when players accepted their role. Haynesworth argues that stifles what he is good at--disrupting the offense in a way no one can stop, or duplicate. He has a point. Williams earned his chops as Tennessee's defensive coordinator. Tennessee eventually, grudgingly, learned to let Albert play his way. The payoff? In his last two years with the Titans, Haynesworth produced 91 total tackles and 14.5 sacks. Tennessee's defense finished ranked fifth and seventh in those two years and the team won 23 regular season games in that span. Isn't that what we brought Haynesworth here to do?
3. Haynesworth has no trade value. Albert Haynesworth is worth more to the Redskins than he is to any other team.When Mike Shanahan looks in the mirror, he will see the only man responsible. Big Al is what he always was. Shanahan eroded any shot at trading Haynesworth for value. The first step in remaking the Redskins was to break down the star system, the sense of privilege for the owner's favorite players. I get that. Haynesworth was the perfect foil. But by the second day of "conditioning drill tests," that only Haynesworth had to take, the coach went all tunnel vision on Big Al. With a little guile and a broader view of Washington's need for multiple draft picks, Shanahan could have boosted Big Al as trade bait. All the coach had to do was to let Albert freelance a bit more for his video resume. It's not as if that would have hurt Washington's 31st-ranked pass defense. Talking Haynesworth up, rather than knocking him down, might have convinced cold-eyed GMs that they need to give up draft picks to get No. 92. Today, everyone is waiting out Shanahan until he cuts Haynesworth. It makes no football sense to cut Haynesworth.
and three reasons not
1. Albert Haynesworth is the biggest diva on the team. Willful refusal even to try to adapt to a new regime is beyond the pale. Haynesworth already said he would train this offseason as he did last season--his own regimen with his own trainer. Feeling betrayed by the new approach in defense, he's not going to try to make that work. Save it for Oprah. The inmates don't get to run the asylum. Keeping Haynesworth means this year will be like last year.
2. Off-field incidents erode franchise value. Hard to put a dollar figure on this, but Washington has enough problems holding on the fan allegiance without Big Al's repeated off-field imbroglios. The Redskins pretty much avoided that throughout Dan Snyder's ownership. High character is a team strength. It is most needed when adversity strikes as it did in 2007 with Sean Taylor's tragic death. The 'Skins made the playoffs that year...without Haynesworth.
3. Limited value to the defense. Haynesworth was inactive when the Redskins faced the Colts last season. Haynesworth's brother passed away the week before. He was excused from practice and most believed Mike Shanahan gave him bereavement leave from the game. That was a factor, but Washington threw a lot of nickel and dime packages at the Colts. Haynesworth would have seen limited action for reasons already given. When the Redskins can't throw a healthy premier defender at a premier opponent like Peyton Manning, there is no point to that player remaining on the team. Limiting when he is motivated to play limits his overall usefulness. Every employee struggles with this. Most work it out with a lot less drama.
Count on it. NFL owners and players will not resolve their differences by March 3. That will crimp offseason activities for who knows how long.
The two sides agree to disagree in continuing discussions about the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) to resume March 1. That comes after six days of meetings up to now.
"At bottom, some progress was made," said mediator George Cohen of the Federal Mediation & Conciliation Service. "But very strong differences remain on the all-important core issues that separate the parties. Nonetheless, I recommended and the parties have agreed to resume the mediation process in my office commencing next Tuesday (March 1). During the intervening weekend, the parties have been asked by us to assess their current positions on those outstanding issues."
The current CBA allows the league to evaluate rookies at the NFL Combine in Indianapolis and to conduct the 2011 NFL Draft April 28-30. Teams can sign any unrestricted free agents while the current CBA is in effect. All bets are off after March 3. Teams may not sign players, including drafted rookies until a new agreement is in place.
Why this is important to fans
Most fans believe that winning titles is a matter of getting star players. The truth is that stars don't make teams. They emerge from them. Finding the right players who fit your system, weaving them into a cohesive team with the talent of win and the resilience to overcome adversity are offseason activities. The better it is done, the better your team's chance to make the playoffs. The Redskins lost out on the 2010 post-season bucause of their offseason decisions.
The contract dispute hinders every team but is a heavier burden for teams with weak management, like the Redskins. We hope Mike Shanahan and Bruce Allen strengthen the front office. Several of Shanahan's 2010 decisions have shaken a lot of confidence.
Washington won two Super Bowls in strike-shortened seasons of the 1980s. Bobby Beathard, Joe Gibbs and Charley Casserley ran those teams. Casserly put together the 1987 replacement players who positioned the 'Skins for the post-season Super Bowl run. Beathard, Gibbs and Casserly were a stellar crew that few front offices can match.
Shanahan and Allen would have their hands full rebuilding the Redskins under normal circumstances. They can't even talk to players after March 3 until a new deal is in place. Washington needs every edge it can get. The lockout gets in the way.
Pretty boring stuff, but absolutely essential to a healthy league. In my state of denial, I hope this thing will be done by the end of the Draft. The reality is that a lockout may not end until the owners feel genuine financial harm. It could take a couple of weeks into the regular season before that happens.