armchairquarterblog

LET ME GET THIS STRAIGHT Ross MacCallum

In MEDIA SOUND BITES Leonard Shapiro on July 26, 2011 at 4:50 pm

Were there any winners in the end of the 18-week lockout of NFL players? When will we know the winners? In 10 years when the new collective bargaining agreement is replaced by yet a newer CBA?

We know this for sure… there are losers in this deal. BIG LOSERS!

And, the Redskins are among those losers, although they might not completely grasp that, yet.

The Skins have lost valuable time that could have been used to market both Donovan McNabb and Albert Haynesworth to other clubs. Instead of having months to beg a team to swap a second or third round draft pick for the overpaid, unproductive defensive lineman, the Skins now literally have days to make a decision that could weigh heavily on their bottom line and on their sanity.

It might be a hard pill to swallow, but the Redskins’ best option here might be to cut and run; and do it now before potential Haynesworth suitors make other plans. From what I understand of the NFL salary cap and the Skins’ off-season maneuvers, it would be a win-win situation to simply give Albert away. It’s an obvious immediate savings of $5.4 million in 2011 salary, and reportedly, will not negatively impact the cap over the remaining five years of the contract term. Haynesworth is major damaged goods right now, and every other team in the league knows this. He spent the last four games of the ’10 season on suspension for “conduct detrimental to the team.” And, he hasn’t exactly been a sparkling member of society off-the-field either (when you have a moment GOOGLE: Haynesworth legal troubles). Sure, there’s always some foolish team out there willing to take a risk on a guy like Albert, but even they will be just smart enough to wait for the Skins to pull the trigger and end one of the most dysfunctional relationships in the history of the NFL. The question is how long will it take for Mike Shanahan, Bruce Allen, and/or Dan Snyder to make that move. Sure, they could pay him to basically sit on the bench in hopes a great deal might magically appear before the trade deadline in mid-October, but why waste the cash just to show who’s boss. Remember: Haynesworth’s salary would be guaranteed for the entire ’11 season, if he’s still a Redskin come Week One of the regular season.

As for the McNabb situation, this could still play out more easily than Haynesworth for the Skins. Donovan still has value to a number of teams seeking a talented, experienced back-up. But, again this is a deal that must be done quickly to prevent a “quarterback controversy” in the midst of what figures to be a wild and wooly pre-season with free agency, contract signings, and training camp all jammed into about 40 days and 40 nights. From a financial standpoint, the Skins won’t feel the pressure to move McNabb until the first week of the regular season when he’s due a monster roster bonus of $10 million.  Of course, the longer the Redskins wait on moving Donovan the less value he’ll have as teams make other quarterback decisions. If they wait into September, the Skins only hope of really cashing in for Donovan (or Haynesworth for that matter) is if some club suffers a catastrophic loss of a player requiring an immediate and experienced replacement.  (Assuming, of course, that Brett Favre stays retired.) A secondary problem in parting company with Donovan McNabb is the possibility of seeing him again this season in another uniform. Two teams where Donovan could wind up, Minnesota and Miami, are both on the Skins schedule this fall. And, don’t think for a moment that Donovan won’t take that opportunity to show Shanahan the McNabb who led the Eagles to five NFC Championship games.

Ironically, the other big loser on the Redskins might be John Beck, the heir-apparent to McNabb as starting QB. Although, he has a full season of holding the clipboard and observing the Shanahan system under his belt, he missed out on the critical off-season education program. For Beck, there were NO mini-camps, NO organized team activities (OTA’s), NO one-on-one time with Shanahan (Mike or Kyle), NO chance to workout at Redskins Park, NOTHING. And, you can forget those little practice sessions that the players organized during the lockout.  They were little more than a show for the media and the fans. The illusion that work was getting done.

John Beck will have to absorb the starting quarterback role and a thick playbook in a whirlwind of a training camp along with bits and pieces of four pre-season games.  Normally, the first teamers make only token appearances in the exhibitions with maybe a full half of action in Game 3. I can’t imagine that alone will provide a de facto rookie quarterback enough prep time to get in synch with the play calling, the receivers, and the offense in general. Maybe Shanahan re-thinks how much time Beck will get in the pre-season games, but then again, does he want to risk injuring Beck or Rex Grossman or whoever winds up in the starting role (undrafted rookie Ben Chappell? – just kidding).

And, none of the above takes into account that, thanks to a delayed free agency period, the Redskins, as of this writing, are unsettled at wide receiver, at running back, and on the offensive line. Good luck, John, you’re really, really gonna need it.

Naturally, the other big losers on the Redskins, and around the NFL as a whole, will be the rookies; drafted and especially undrafted. They’ve also lost valuable prep time at team facilities during the lockout, and, more critically, they’ve lost the chance to showcase themselves for the coaches at the mini-camps and OTA’s. With so little time to get ready for the season, coaches will likely stick with who they know rather than take a chance on some unknown, undrafted kid who has a hot night or two in the pre-season. The first major roster cut won’t come until late August after the third pre-season game, but a lot of the kids will be gone or all-but-gone by then. Of course, somebody could get lucky if some veteran clown reports to camp totally out of shape (other than Haynesworth), or if the lightning round-style of free agency backfires and leaves some rookie as the only option. And don’t think this can’t happen. The Skins’ recent track record with free agents is not a thing of pride.

For the Redskins, it could be the most intriguing August in quite a while. One thing’s for sure, the September 11th home opener with the Giants will be here all too quickly for Shanahan and company. So too will the Monday Night game in Dallas two weeks later. Let’s just agree that if the Skins haven’t taken care of business in a timely fashion, found the talent they need, and eliminated the “distractions,” the season could be in jeopardy by Week Three.

NOTE: The Redskins have announced that 11 training camp practices will be open to the public between July 30th and August 15th. Fans looking to attend a practice must fill out an “INVITATION” at www.redskins.com and bring it with them to Redskins Park.

Ross, the creator of Throwback Baseball 1.0, also blogs about sports memorabilia at: www.aberdeentradingco.com

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