With an uncapped year in the NFL less than two month away from reality, Redskins fans hope that GM Bruce Allen and the new team braintrust are currently formulating a comprehensive plan concerning veteran players under long-term contracts. Some of those contracts could become downright dangerous to the team’s financial situation after the NFL most likely shreds a divided NFLPA and puts an even more restrictive salary cap in place. The team can no longer deal with that looming issue the traditional Redskins way, i.e. pushing the impact of veteran contracts into future seasons. That approach has left the team with massive amounts of dead cap space when veterans are cut after they fail to perform at a high level or simply don’t fit the scheme of the latest head coach.
The idea proposed after each Skins regime change of ‘blowing up’ the roster and starting from scratch has been easier said than done in the past given the aforementioned salary cap implications. As it would only be an option when those implications are not in play, the Redskins should be discussing every potential scenario and roster move that will prepare them for life after the cap returns. One potentially radical but ultimately worthwhile approach is cutting veterans with significant long-term deals and offering those whom the front office deem to still have value to the franchise one-year deals before the ramifications of the new collective bargaining agreement are learned. Those players could also be offered in trade for draft picks in 2010 and beyond, though the focus should be more on moving players than haggling over the level of picks in return.
If those veterans don’t want to re-sign, the Skins should have the following reaction: ‘Bye!’ What’s the worst that can happen in the short-term if vets from Portis and Dockery to Hall and Haynesworth are offered the choice of a reworked deal or the door — maybe finishing last in the NFC East for another year or two? The uncertainty of what the next CBA might bring in terms of further cap restrictions and penalties makes it imperative that the Skins avoid sabotaging their latest rebuilding efforts by maintaining long-term expensive contracts without regard to future consequences. Having a new GM and coaching staff is even more of a reason to clear out the roster and give them to rework the team from the ground up, which no coach working for the current owner has been able to achieve.
Since Daniel Snyder’s known for signing ‘name’ players and marketing them to the fanbase rather than letting them walk, his new football people might need to convince him that the long-term benefits of a fresh start would be significant. Snyder has to know that Skins fans want to see a change from the old failed way of doing things, so fans would almost certainly welcome this type of roster retooling. The team could even splurge on some pricey one-year deals for veterans who could be evaluated by the new coaching staff and audition for a multi-year deal once the new CBA is in place. If the new brass is as good as advertised, they should be able to integrate youth into the lineup while building depth through the draft and maintaining the financial flexibility that has eluded the franchise for a decade.