“We’re going to go through all that – every member of this building, thorough evaluation – and we’ll go from there…I think together, we’ll come up with a plan and get the right players in here.”
That was Redskins coach Jay Gruden, speaking at his end-of-the-season press conference. It took place in January, a mere four months ago, but it feels like a decade has passed since that day.
Since then, the team has managed to shame and fire their general manager, alienate their star quarterback and stood idle as their whiz kid OC rode off into the proverbial sunset; all in a day’s work.
As chaos swirls around them, the front office (presumably under the direction of team president, Bruce Allen, although who knows for sure) has been on a minor spending spree.
Here’s a look at their haul, so far:
DT Stacy McGee: 5 years, $25 million
DT Terrell McClain: 4 years, $21 million
SS D.J. Swearinger: 3 years, $13.5 million
WR Terrelle Pryor: 1 year, $6 million
ILB Zach Brown: 1 year, $4.65 million
DE Evander Hood: 2 years, $2.7 million
OLB Chris Carter: 1 year, $885,000
WR Brian Quick: 1 year, $855,000
Brown is the latest addition, having signed earlier this week. In a career year, he made his first Pro Bowl and finished second in the NFL with 149 combined tackles. That’s 25 more than Mason Foster, who was the Skins’ leader in that category.
More importantly, Brown brings a dimension sorely lacking on the Washington d-line, last year: speed. He’s rangy, able to get to the edges and make plays. Also, he’s only 27 and possesses the physical tools to repeat his excellent, 2016 numbers.
And yet the deal he signed – one year for a reported $4.65 million and a $500,000 signing bonus – seems remarkably short-sighted, if he is someone they are targeting as a long-term asset.
A one year deal in the NFL is essentially a “show me” proposition. The thing is, if Brown has a similarly-productive year in Washington, he will be in the position to demand more money.
Pryor is in the same boat. He showed glimpses of elite potential last season. Now, armed with a real quarterback and other weapons around him, the former, Ohio State quarterback could break out in a big way.
In those scenarios, the options would be to either sign them to a long term deal for full, market value or franchise them (where have we heard that narrative before?). Either option would be significantly-more expensive for the team than if they had just ponied up for at least a second year on the first go-around.
To their credit, they’ve managed to curb the franchises penchant for wild spending. However, being cheap for the sake of saying we’re being cheap has become nearly-synonymous with the Bruce almighty regime.
Obviously, the most extreme example is the Cousins situation. They badly-undervalued their quarterback before, when they could have locked him up for cheap. Now, even after two years of solid play from Kirk, the team is still stubbornly holding onto its purse strings.
In the end, they’ve managed to turn what could have been an unbelievable asset (an elite quarterback signed to a below market deal) into a situation where he may eventually walk as a free agent, leaving them with nothing to show for it except for some twisted form of scorned lover’s pride.
Ultimately, it raises the bigger-picture question: what is their overall strategy? They certainly weren’t shy in throwing money at defensive tackle Stacy McGee who, at his best, was just a rotation guy in Oakland.
While it’s true that the Redskins need pass rushers to fill the edges of their 3-4 defense, McGee (three career sacks) does not have the stamina nor the versatility required to be a three down player.
Then there’s Terrell McClain. The 6-2, 302-pounder will presumably slot into the nose tackle position, last occupied by the departed Chris Baker.
You can’t say McClain is a more-proven commodity; Baker has the longer track record of success, with McClain only putting together a consistent season last year. It’s not about saving money, as the Redskins gave McClain more guaranteed money than Baker got from Tampa Bay. And, it’s not about getting younger; McClain is just a year younger.
Baker had the added currency of being a respected voice in the locker room. His veteran presence will be missed – especially with the influx of new players onto the squad, players with enough NFL-tenure to start disruptive factions should the Redskins season take a tailspin.
I understand the irony of Redskins fans begging their front office to spend money. Google “bad, NFL free agent signings” and their name will invariably pop up at least once.
We’re not asking them to throw money at the Adam Archuleta’s of the world. However, the front office has played it a little too safe. At some point, they need to show they are committed to something.