March is that month of wind and taxes, or so they say, but for the Washington Redskins it often represented a smorgasbord for false hope and spendthrift delights.
The Redskins always looked better on paper this time of year but always seemed to have that paper run through the shredder when August rolls around. Adam Archuleta and Albert Haynesworth come to mind. So do Jeff George and Deion Sanders. (And Dana Stubblefield and Jeremiah Trotter and ...)
This year? Maybe it's different.
[Be sure to check out Shutdown Corner's NFL free-agent rankings. Click here for the list of offensive players, and click here for the list of defensive and special teams players]
Oh, the Redskins have been active in free agency — quite so. They have tagged and re-signed Brian Orakpo, retained Perry Riley and signed a number of outside players: defensive tackle Jason Hatcher, cornerback Tracy Porter, guard Shaun Lauvao, receiver Andre Roberts and special-teams ace Adam Hayward. It's a decent little haul that has helped rebuild the foundation of the roster at its core.
Those last three words are important. These are middle-of-the-roster signings. They are not the shiny sportscar additions the team so gleefully has chased in recent years, with owner Daniel Snyder acting out his Peter Pan Syndrome. No, these are smart, thoughtful additions, and for reasonable money.
Hatcher is the one true "big money" guy on the list, but we don't yet know the guaranteed dollars, so that $27.5 million could appear bigger than it really is. And besides, even we can't fault Snyder for maybe tossing a few extra bucks at weakening Jerry Jones and a division rival.
Yes, the Redskins have missed out on some players, and a few of them could hurt. Mike Mitchell got away for only $5 million guaranteed to the Steelers; that's a bit surprising. Darren Sproles was traded to the division-rival Eagles, so that stings a little. And Corey Graham was in the building when the Bills called, but they can live with that one. Aqib Talib? Once the money got big, the Redskins bowed out.
Did you hear that? They removed themselves from a potential bidding war on a player they liked. That's huge. That might be the best restraint they have shown in some years. It's a more smart, measured approach, which — in the wake of a miserable season and the branded reputation of being overspenders — is an incredible stroke of maturity and growth.
They'll keep working the edges of free agency, and it brings tears to our ears to think that they might even land a few more bargain players. The Redskins are all grows up and they're all grows up (gratutitous "Swingers" reference, indeed).
We like what they have done. There's plenty more to do, and no first-round pick with which to do it. We get that. But compare this situation to that of the Cowboys and the Raiders. Things are looking up!
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