Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

04 Mar 2010

Redskins Release Like Half The Roster

We're going to need a running thread for Redskins releases. They include:

- Ladell Betts
- Rock Cartwright
- Cornelius Griffin
- Antwaan Randle El
- Fred Smoot
- Randy Thomas

Are they clearing out space for a big splash in free agency? Are they the Redskins?

Posted by: Bill Barnwell on 04 Mar 2010

30 comments, Last at 06 Mar 2010, 9:41pm by Bowl Game Anomaly

Comments

1
by MilkmanDanimal :: Thu, 03/04/2010 - 6:10pm

They only did it so Snyder can re-sign them to bigger contracts.

2
by GoVikes (not verified) :: Thu, 03/04/2010 - 6:12pm

Judging by the releasing of all their RB's not named Portis or Ganther and cutting Randle El, something tells me they may look to sign Sproles. Is that what they consider their missing piece?

3
by sundown (not verified) :: Thu, 03/04/2010 - 6:16pm

I don't see them giving up a first and third to get Sproles.

10
by mjb :: Thu, 03/04/2010 - 8:40pm

The Chargers didn't put a franchise tender on Sproles until today. Me thinks the Redskins over played their hand here.

13
by Brendan Scolari :: Fri, 03/05/2010 - 12:02am

They didn't tender Ganther either apparently.

4
by The Ninjalectual :: Thu, 03/04/2010 - 6:18pm

When I start over with a new team in Madden, I begin by cutting every player who has no value to the type of system I want to run, who I wouldn't even want as a backup. Sometimes I really will keep literally less than half a roster.

But all these guys? I don't like this. Every player listed above is at least replacement level, and that is the kind of depth player you want to keep around, right? Someone who can also start if you find yourself without anybody else available, without creating a disaster?

I understand that rooting for a team is essentially rooting for a set of laundry, but this is ridiculous.

"Just look at that pumpkin."
-John Madden, looking at the moon.

15
by Bowl Game Anomaly :: Fri, 03/05/2010 - 4:59am

The only players the Redskins might have considered keeping were Griffin and Cartwright. Betts is not good, Randle El is terrible, Smoot was paid too much, and Thomas can't stay healthy.

Griffin surprised me though, since his salary wasn't high. I thought they could have kept him or traded him.

EDIT: I see Joe T. has some similar opinions.

26
by C (not verified) :: Fri, 03/05/2010 - 5:29pm

If you really wanted to purge the roster and "start over", then why not start with the obvious... Jason Campbell? Why not dump Portis too?

All 5 of these guys can still play and will be signed by other teams. 4/5 were free agents ( smoot was signed back), and yes, the Redskins overpaid. I was laughing when they gave ARE, a slot WR, big money because he threw a TD pass in the super bowl.

Ladell Betts would be a poor man's Chester Taylor to me.
Fred Smoot is a legit 3rd corner

I think the rest of the offseason will be Shanny building a new line, and bringing in new RB's. I doubt Portis lasts long in Washington. Washington will draft either an OT or Jimmy Claussen.

28
by tuluse :: Fri, 03/05/2010 - 6:46pm

I think the reasoning behind keeping Campbell is that he plays well enough to see how bad the rest of the offense is. Yeah he won't win you any games you have no business winning, but he lets you evaluate how other players are doing.

29
by C (not verified) :: Sat, 03/06/2010 - 8:12am

He won't win you games you have no business winning, and he will lose you plenty of games you could win, and even lose you games that you SHOULD win... like the Lions game last year, the Chiefs game last year, and nearly the Bucs & Rams.

but Barnwell still likes him and Bobby Carpenter.

30
by Bowl Game Anomaly :: Sat, 03/06/2010 - 9:41pm

They kept Campbell because they weren't going to get anyone better and his tender was reasonable. It's just one more year, so they can draft another QB and use Campbell as a bridge.

Portis's contract makes him virtually uncuttable this year. Something about a large amount of guaranteed money this year.

Betts and Cartwright were both Skins draft picks. So only 3/5 were free agents.

Betts is nowhere near as good as Chester Taylor. He had that one big year and hasn't looked good since.

Smoot can still play but you don't pay a declining 3rd corner $4 million.

Portis is probably finished, but like I said they can't cut him. Maybe he will play a little better being reunited with Shanny. Maybe not.

In any case, I would have kept Griffin and Cartwright. Whatever.

5
by JasonK :: Thu, 03/04/2010 - 6:35pm

Taking advantage of the uncapped year to wipe out some of the cap hits they've pushed forward with their annual salary-to-bonus conversion extravaganza?

Still, Cartwright and Betts at least had some value under their existing contracts, no?

18
by rageon :: Fri, 03/05/2010 - 10:37am

Taking advantage of the uncapped year to wipe out some of the cap hits they've pushed forward with their annual salary-to-bonus conversion extravaganza?

That's my assumption. Might as well accelerate as much money as you can in a year it won't matter.

6
by Joe T. :: Thu, 03/04/2010 - 6:48pm

Betts had a combined ACL/MCL tear, and will be 31 going into the season.

Randle "Horizontal Yardage" El was a waste of roster space, so I welcome his release.

Thomas was banged up and is 34. Smoot is an old, vulnerable nickel back.

I am surprised by the Cartwright release. He's the same age as Betts, but a decent specialist with low mileage. He's not really that great between the tackles, so that might've had something to do with it. But in the Shanahan zone blocking scheme, I would have thought he'd be a decent option.

A little surprised by the Griffin release, but I guess that's indicative of the 3-4 overhaul. He's an old 4-3 DL.

7
by jklps :: Thu, 03/04/2010 - 7:22pm

They are a bunch of spare parts. None of these guys would contribute to an actual winning Redskins team, which is 2-3 seasons away.

Betts/Cartwright have hit the 30 year old rb expiration dates.

Randy Thomas can't be counted on to be healthy.

ARE is a 4th receiver and awful and punt returns. His nickname is fair catch, and when he doesn't he usually got a yard or two by falling forward.

Fred Smoot isn't great in coverage, Griffin is old.

The Redskins need youth, and hopefully keep all their draft picks to use them.

8
by Peepshowmopguy (not verified) :: Thu, 03/04/2010 - 7:33pm

If the Seahawks do not sign Cartwright, I have lost all faith in a collective "football gods."

- The Peepshow

9
by mjb :: Thu, 03/04/2010 - 8:39pm

What? Rock Cartwright is FREE! Free Rock Cartwright!

In other thoughts: so what C.Griffin could play end in a 3-4 system? One of the few remaining teams running a 4-3 will be wise to pick him up. From what I remember of last year he could still get up field in a hurry and would likely fit nicely in a Tampa-2 system.

So, if Aaron is right, and the Patriots are going to start using more 4-3 alignments next season, wouldn't Griffin be a great pick up for them?

14
by Brendan Scolari :: Fri, 03/05/2010 - 12:05am

A think at least half the league still uses a 4-3, although it doesn't seem like it these days. I'm not sure why so many defenses are converting.

17
by David :: Fri, 03/05/2010 - 7:01am

My belief, and it's been mentioned around here a few times, is that this is a 'Moneyball' style move.

The 3-4 was enjoying a lot of success, for a number of reasons. The impact players (in particular) were being undervalued (pass-rushing OLBs) and seem plentiful coming out of college.

Meanwhile, the important elements of a 4-3 (pass-rushing DE, WLB that can operate in space) were craved by a lot of teams, and so were expensive.

So, if you are a DC running a 4-3, there's a simple decision point. Do you have the necessary personnel to run a successful 4-3. If you do, great. If not, second decision - will it be easier to get the 2 or 3 great guys you need to run the 4-3, or is it going to be simpler to just convert to the 3-4. You'll need more replacements, but ones which are (theoretically) easier to get.

The same thought process was in place as the Tampa-2 gained more followers, with the important positions being CB (hard to fill the position as an all-around great player, easier to fill as a pure zone, run-support guy) and MLB (traditional 4-3 wants a big run-stuffer, Tampa-2 looks for a smaller, faster, pass coverage guy). However, it wasn't as pronounced, as it was 4-3 and 4-3.

Speaking as a niners fan, and looking at the difficulties that they have had converting to 3-4, the tricky bit isn't the OLBs (though this is still where they are having problems), it's the NT - the 3-4 just doesn't work without one, and they are getting a lot harder to find

24
by Bowl Game Anomaly :: Fri, 03/05/2010 - 12:31pm

My opinion, for what it's worth, is that the 3-4 is a more effective scheme than the 4-3, given that you have high quality personnel who fit the scheme. However, if you have average or below-average personnel, the 3-4 has no advantage over the 4-3, and (here is the critical part) it's harder to find good 3-4 players than good 4-3 players. So a few teams with really good 3-4 schemes got a lot of attention and people started saying, "hey the 3-4 really works!" but they missed the key point that you need the right personnel and those guys are hard to find. If you can get them, great, but if not, you are better off sticking with a 4-3.

JMHO.

25
by C (not verified) :: Fri, 03/05/2010 - 5:22pm

A 3-4 puts more speed on the field
A "good" 3-4 is cheaper to run
A 3-4 can create pressure from confusion, where as a 4-3 more so from talent

If you have a Dick Lebeau, you can blitz and confuse the other team and create pressure with generic players. Yes, you want BETTER LB's, but you don't need All Pro NFL linebackers to get sacks. You might try a certain blitz to confuse the other team and have free rushers.

In the 4-3, you will more than likely need a John Abraham type guy that can beat the guy in front of him etc, and even then, it doesn't always happen.

The 3-4 Lineman are cut from a different cloth, and if you can get those guys ( when less people run the scheme) it puts you at an advantage.

27
by tuluse :: Fri, 03/05/2010 - 6:44pm

Then there is the Jim Johnson style 4-3 which creates just as much confusion as any 3-4.

11
by Tracing plan (not verified) :: Thu, 03/04/2010 - 10:30pm

Griffin is the only one that is at all questionable. Smoot isn't useless but was due like $4m. Thomas, if he wants to take a vet minimum deal on the chance that he could stay on the field, might have some value. The real cut they need to make is obviously Portis. I suspect he doesn't make the final cut for the roster.

12
by Mr Shush :: Thu, 03/04/2010 - 11:01pm

I seem to remember reading somewhere that Portis' base salary for this season was guaranteed. If so, there's no real reason to cut him at this point. He knows the system, he's a good pass-blocker, and he may not be entirely washed up.

If I was a Redskins fan, I would see these moves as positive in the sense that they seem to me to indicate that Shanny really is being allowed to call the shots. Cleaning house is precisely what I would expect him to do at this point.

16
by Bowl Game Anomaly :: Fri, 03/05/2010 - 5:08am

Yeah, unfortunately cutting Portis is not feasible right now even without a cap. On the bright side, as Mr. Shush noted he's had success under Shanny and he can pass block. The Skins are pretty much forced to give Portis one last shot at redemption, during which he will probably pass John Riggins as the franchise's all-time leading rusher (he needs about 900 yards). Sigh.

19
by andrew :: Fri, 03/05/2010 - 10:43am

oh, wait, they did....

20
by Never Surrender (not verified) :: Fri, 03/05/2010 - 11:18am

Some great moves by the Redskins. I would liked to see a few more gone, but I suppose there is still time for that.

Even better, they haven't gone crazy in the early hours of free agency. Could it be that Danny has truly relinquished control?!

21
by Snowglare :: Fri, 03/05/2010 - 11:33am

Without Randle El, who will I pick for Loser League? They'll probably replace him with receivers who do more than catch short passes and fall down. Damn!

22
by The Other Ben Johnson (not verified) :: Fri, 03/05/2010 - 11:36am

They also released RB Marcus Mason, FB Eddie Williams, and DL J.D. Skolnitsky.

I've never heard of the other two, but Mason is a bit of a head scratcher. He was the Rudy of the Redskins last year. How much would it have costed to keep him through camp? 2 dollars? I expect a big stupid free agent signing/trade in the near future for a back. This roster has only 3 or 4 people in the backfield as of now.

23
by Joe T. :: Fri, 03/05/2010 - 11:48am

Peyton Hillis?