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Two NFC teams were hit hardest by injuries last year. One already set the AGL record in 2016, while the other has a coach with the worst AGL since 2002. Also: the Rams' incredible bill of health in L.A., and Tampa Bay's questionable injury reporting.

23 Oct 2009

Under the Cap: Cap Mismanagement

by J.I. Halsell

This week on "Under the Cap," we take a break from the position-by-position analysis of the league's highest paid starters in order to take a look at the Redskins' flawed approach to roster-building. Given that I worked in the front office of the organization for two seasons, I have the unique perspective of having seen that philosophy first hand. As a native Washingtonian, it pains me to see the current state of the organization.

In my Wednesday interview on Washington's "The Sports Fix" on ESPN 980 (click to hear the entire interview courtesy of ESPN 980), one of the prominent issues we discussed was the Redskins' heavy investment in a few players and how this impacts the overall roster and the depth and quality of that roster.

One perspective that I failed to mention is how this approach impacts a team's salary cap situation, particularly when it doesn't have draft picks to fill out its roster. The Indianapolis Colts, who have spent a ton of money on a few players (e.g. Manning, Clark, Sanders, Freeney), are in contention year after year. Heavy investment in a few players, then, isn't the problem -- although a great quarterback can cover up a lot of deficiencies. The key to the Colts and the key to effective salary cap management is the ability to find skilled, cheap labor to offset those expensive few.

This skilled, cheap labor comes in the form of draft picks. When you build your reserves through the draft, not only are you saving a ton of money on the cap, but you're (hopefully) developing your next solid starter or maybe your next great starter. In Tennessee, they drafted a cornerback named Cortland Finnegan in the seventh round, who made cap-friendly peanuts -- relatively speaking -- on his rookie contract, before getting a lucrative contract extension after proving to be a Pro Bowl-caliber player. Similarly, the Eagles drafted starting guard Todd Herremans late in the draft, allowing them the benefit of a cap-friendly contract, before signing him to a lucrative extension.

In Washington, aside from the 2006 draft class' late round selections -- Kedric Golston, Reed Doughty, and (up until this year) Anthony Montgomery -- the team hasn't had draft picks to use or, when they did have picks, failed to select players that stayed with the team. In 2007, The Redskins used a fifth-round pick on Dallas Sartz. He didn't make it past training camp. In 2008, in the third round, Washington drafted Chad Rinehart. He was inactive the entire season, and appears to have been benched this year after getting an opportunity to fill in for Randy Thomas. In 2009, the Redskins used a third-round pick on Kevin Barnes. He has yet to be active for even one game this season.

All of that said, when you have these issues in the draft, you have to fill your roster with more expensive veteran back-ups, a point I failed to make in the interview yesterday. For example, a player like Dallas Sartz, who would've had a cap number of under $300,000 as a reserve linebacker, doesn't make the team in 2007. You, as a manager, are then are forced to sign a veteran linebacker such as a Randall Godfrey for a $1 million cap number. Or, instead of drafting an inexpensive offensive lineman in any of the recent drafts in order to build depth and hopefully develop that draft pick into a starter, the Redskins have been forced to sign more expensive veterans such as Jason Fabini, Todd Wade, or Will Montgomery as reserves.

Another dynamic to acquiring quality, cheap labor is that because the cheap labor isn't significantly impacting your cap, you then have unused cap space that you can then roll over into the next capped year. We'll again use the Eagles as an example. They build through the draft cultivating young talent (particularly on both the offensive and defensive lines) and then roll the unused cap space over into subsequent years. This additional cap space allows the team to have a salary cap of $148 million this year, while a lot of clubs -- including the Redskins -- have a salary cap of less than $130 million. In the case of the Eagles, this higher cap gives them an advantage: They can continue to acquire cheap talent, but at the same time take their shots on, as I said on Wednesday, an Asante Samuel in 2008 or a Jason Peters in 2009 (or even a Michael Vick). In Minnesota, where they have a $139 million cap, this advantage gives them the means to sign Brett Favre, after signing Sage Rosenfels to a relatively expensive back-up quarterback contract, to a $12 million contract. This is where effective and efficient cap management gives you the means to dramatically improve your club by taking calculated gambles here and there on veterans.

Another flaw to the Redskins' approach to roster building, particularly as it relates to its impact on the cap, is that instead of signing an Albert Haynesworth to a lucrative free agent contract, the club should be seeking to reap the same inexpensive benefits that the Titans were able to reap when they drafted Albert Haynesworth. Instead of signing a hugely expensive Albert Haynesworth via free agency, the Redskins should be trying to find the next Albert Haynesworth in the draft. That way, if the kid turns into a star, you've had him under contract for about three seasons at a low cap number, yet receiving high-quality play. Unlike signing a veteran from another team and system, you'll know whether that player is a good fit for your organization and your system before investing a ton of money; you're not going to have this same assurance with a veteran from another team (e.g. Adam Archuleta, among others). In Tennessee, Finnegan was a home-grown talent, drafted and cultivated by the club. The same can be said for Herremans in Philly. How many late-round or undrafted players (because there's no excuse for missing on guys in the first two rounds) have the Redskins cultivated into starters or contributors at a cheap price? Heyer, Golston, Doughty, Horton, and that's about it.

Until there is a fundamental change in philosophy on how the Redskins approach roster building, one cannot expect for this team to be a consistent, winning organization.

Next week: The top ten offensive lineman contracts article that we postponed for this look at Washington.

Follow J.I. Halsell on Twitter: @SalaryCap101

Posted by: J.I. Halsell on 23 Oct 2009

41 comments, Last at 21 Dec 2009, 8:55am by Timmeh


by JasonK :: Fri, 10/23/2009 - 11:05am

"Until there is a fundamental change in philosophy on how the Redskins approach roster building, one cannot expect for this team to be a consistent, winning organization."

Or a fundamental change in how the salaries and salary cap in the NFL work...

by Francisco (not verified) :: Fri, 10/23/2009 - 11:32am

Indeed. And until they change the scoring rules, the team will not be competitive on the field.

by Timmeh (not verified) :: Mon, 12/21/2009 - 8:55am

Wasnt the salary cap supposed to be going away sometime soon? I really dont see why there is one? I dont see the players union wanting to keep it in place, not to mention there really cant be to many owners who are interested in keeping the cap in place. Seems like every year, we hear about the cap coming to an end, but it seems like its always next year. Like this season, you would hear "The salary cap restrictions might not be a factor for the 2010 season" I heard the same last year WTH? HTTR

by Eli (not verified) :: Fri, 10/23/2009 - 11:15am

I've never understood how the Redskins sign big money free agents every year and manage to stay under the cap. Even if you cut someone, don't you still take a cap hit from the guaranteed money? Is it all done with incentives?

by J.I. Halsell :: Fri, 10/23/2009 - 11:27am

In the 2nd paragraph of the article there is a link to an interview I did this week in which I discuss how the Skins can sign a Haynesworth, while staying under the cap (no pun intended). As you'll hear, it's not the ideal to go about your salary cap business.

J.I. Halsell
Salary Cap Analyst | "Under the Cap"
Twitter | @SalaryCap101

by DrewTS (not verified) :: Fri, 10/23/2009 - 11:51am

Sheesh. I just had to read that first sentence 5 times before finally getting what the pun was supposed to be.

by ABW (not verified) :: Fri, 10/23/2009 - 12:59pm

Some of us are still reading it...

by Bobman :: Fri, 10/23/2009 - 1:36pm

... aaaaaaand reading it....

by J.I. Halsell :: Fri, 10/23/2009 - 2:00pm

OK, so maybe "pun" wasn't the correct word, but i was simply (although apparently unsuccessfully to do so clearly) refering to my use of the phrase "under the cap" in a comment on the column entitled "Under the Cap." Sheeesh... : )

J.I. Halsell
Salary Cap Analyst | "Under the Cap"
Twitter | @SalaryCap101

by DrewTS (not verified) :: Fri, 10/23/2009 - 2:19pm

Hey, I got it.

by Anonymousssss (not verified) :: Fri, 10/23/2009 - 11:19pm

I thought it was a reference to the fact the skins are in the nation's capital.

by Moses (not verified) :: Mon, 10/26/2009 - 10:37pm

It's simple, though I'll simplify further in my explanation. Every three or four years he spends a TON of money on signing bonuses. This money is amortized over the life of the contract.

Meanwhile the contracts have low/NFL minimum salaries in the early years.

So, Snyder makes a big, big splash for the signing bonuses. But, over the life of the contract, he really doesn't pay any more money. In years 2, 3 & 4, the players just don't make a lot. These are the Redskins actual, cash, payrolls since 2000.

Year Median salary Total Payroll
2008 $ 874,320 $ 111,963,684 (18th)
2007 $ 855,640 $ 123,408,019 (1st)
2006 $ 904,730 $ 110,340,460 (5th)
2005 $ 665,250 $ 66,108,711 (30th)
2004 $ 539,300 $ 117,962,286 (1st)
2003 $ 530,000 $ 84,826,189 (6th)
2002 $ 439,000 $ 61,149,117 (20th)
2001 $ 554,710 $ 56,017,166 (27th)
2000 $ 477,100 $ 53,878,400 (19th)

Average (median) position over the past 9-years: 14th

Now, in reality it's a bit more complex than "splurge 1, fast 3" because you have a LOT of different contract cap/cash streams. But what happens is rather simple, over-all.

They also don't perform. But that's another issue.

We can also predict what the future holds for the Redskins over the next two years. Basically, unless they improve through the draft and marginal free-agents, the team they have is the team they have for 2009/2010. Snyder just came off back-to-back splurges. His cap is going to be messed up for a couple of more years and won't clear until 2011.

When he'll mess it up again.

by MJK :: Fri, 10/23/2009 - 11:15am

Great article.

Of course, teams that draft particularly well run into the opposite problem...their talented young players don't like playing for cheap and not impacting the cap much, so they either become dissatisfied and hold out, or even if they don't, they almost certainly leave at the end of their rookie deals. The Eagles and the Patriots both spring to mind. Of course, this is a problem a lot of teams probably wish they had...

by DrewTS (not verified) :: Fri, 10/23/2009 - 12:01pm

I think post #6 touches on the answer to this problem. Teams that can CONSISTENTLY find and develop talent (as opposed to the occasional lucky draft pick that everyone gets) know that if the current talented player is unsatisfied, they are able to replace him if need be, without having to resort to a huge-money free agent deal.

by Quality Control (not verified) :: Fri, 10/23/2009 - 11:36am

I think you undersell the importance of a quality evaluator of talent. The Colts can only afford to do what they do because Polian's network of scouts can independently identify talent and take chances where others cannot. Melvin Bullitt, Dom Rhodes, Gary Brackett, Eric Foster, and others went undrafted. I'm not sure Snyder knows how to find talent if it hasn't already been teased out for him by other teams, which is another reason he has to sign veterans. Having faith in your talent evaluators allows you to let veterans walk when it's apparent the replacement can be found at a cheaper price. I think the Giants should also be in this conversation, as well as the Packers.

by Todd S. :: Fri, 10/23/2009 - 12:14pm

Ravens are another team that leaps to mind.

by Bobman :: Fri, 10/23/2009 - 1:46pm

Yup. If you think of a team's opportunities to spend money, some teams spend on infrastructure (scouts, robust personnel depts, research) and others spend on... for lack of a better word, convenience store items. Fast food intended to make them feel good now--proven vets.

If you spend $10M on your scouting staff and dept you should reap reawrds for 20 years, in the form of good quality, reasonably prices players who stick with your team for 5-10 seasons and allow you to pay for a relatively small number of superstars. This probably helps with a winning tradition as well as building a stable, broad fan base that develops favorites (guys like Wayne Chrebet for NYJ, Brackett and Saturday in Indy). If you spend $10M on fast food guys, you have a single, famous, possibly high-producing player for a couple years, and then nothing to fall back on, so you have to spend again and again. (and if you spend it unwisely on a guy who doesn't fit your scheme or whose stats were bulked up by the scheme he previously played in or his teammates drawing double-teams, etc, you are freakin' sunk.)

There is no cap on coach/front offce/back office spending, so logically, it makes sense to maximize the talent there in order to maximize the production on the field. Short-term vs long-term thinking.

The only reason why teams like the Yankees can get away with this profligate spending on proven stars and remain successful is that they are able to literally spend four times as much as the lower-tier teams and twice what a mid-range team spends on payroll. So if somebody craps out, they just pay his salary and find another guy to spend $20M on. Football does not allow this kind of insanity, and I prefer it that way (and this is coming from a NYY fan).

by Soulless Mercha... :: Fri, 10/23/2009 - 2:31pm

There is no cap on coach/front offce/back office spending, so logically, it makes sense to maximize the talent there in order to maximize the production on the field.

The Redskins did try a variation on this recently. Their coaching staff under Gibbs v2 was huge and had quite a few impressive names (Al Saunders as OC, Gregg Williams as DC, Jerry Gray as secondary coach, etc.) and was far and away the most expensive coaching staff in the league. It didn't pan out very well, due to a bunch of factors, but one of the few recent Redskins moves that didn't seem nuts.

You'd think Snyder would try the same approach with scouting, but no.

by MJK :: Fri, 10/23/2009 - 2:34pm

Actually, it's more like 5-6 times the lower-tier teams, and that's only because the Marlins, Padres, Pirates, Nationals, A's, and Rays all are paying better this year than in previous years. Otherwise it would be even more.

by Moses (not verified) :: Mon, 10/26/2009 - 10:49pm

Snyder has Vinnie Cerrato. When he was in charge of the 49er drafs, they were, over-all, pretty horrible.

1995 - JJ Stokes was the best player we drafted. Wow. We gave up two #1's for him. One of those #1's turned into Ray Lewis. Oh. The. Pain.

1996 - Terrell Owens. That worked out, but I swear it was luck. Everyone else failed. And failed hard.

1997 - Jim Druckenmiller was a our QB of the future. Some future. The only headline he made was for date-raping a girl and beating the charges at trial. The rest of the draft was fail.

1998 - Desperate for a quality CB, we drafted RW McQuarters. Who couldn't play CB... We did get an outstanding lineman in Jeremy Newberry. But that was Bobb McKitterick's call, not Vinnie's.

Those four years of failing to identify and draft talented players forced the 49ers to pay-through-the-nose for FAs. That caused our salary cap hell that lead to the collapse of the 49ers talent-wise in 1999 and, again, in 2004 as we took care of the rest of the deferred money.

At one point in time, if the 49ers cut all their players to take care of the cap, they'd have had enough money to sign 39 rookie FAs at NFL minimum. That's how bad it was.

Now we're at the point if we solve QB and get an elite pass-rusher, we could be a special team. Don't know if we will. But we've finally filled-out our roster to the point that people sign OUR castoffs, instead of the other way around.

by phillyfinfan (not verified) :: Fri, 10/23/2009 - 11:57am

The analogy that springs to mind is of investing. The redskins are like the investors that wait until a company is huge before buying in, and probably for the same reason-it feels safer because there is a proven performance track record. But you cut yourself out of the upside that way and you're just stuck with a bunch of bloated companies, or players (in Haynesworthes case, literally).

by Danish Denver-Fan :: Fri, 10/23/2009 - 12:30pm

Yes, pff, but this is even more stupid. If i buy stock in a huge company there is always a chance the company can get even bigger (unless the company already has monopoly-like marketshares). This is not the case here: It's pretty much unseen that a DT can play better than Haynsworth did in 2008 - especially if said DT is changing system. And if you need something unseen to make your investment break even, it's a bad investment.

by apk3000 :: Fri, 10/23/2009 - 1:45pm

Not so sure that's the right analogy from a financial standpoint. The Redskins are like an investor who reacts to the performance of external indicators or on the brand name without looking at the company's actual fundamentals. Like, I don't know, buying Six Flags and wanting to turn it into some sort of media juggernaut.

by Bobman :: Fri, 10/23/2009 - 2:04pm

Or buying a mutual fund whose price has run up after five years of 25% returns, only to find out that the rest of the market was lower priced and still returned a very good 15%. On top of that, key managers left to form their own funds, meaning that the next five years will see significantly lower returns for the superstar, while the other 15% funds are chugging along. (Yes those numbers are dated, but the past three years, well, nothing makes much sense)

Not that I'm bitter or anything....just poor.

by The Other Ben Johnson (not verified) :: Fri, 10/23/2009 - 12:20pm

You're leaving out the most important part of the equation: jersey sales. What about the jersey sales? You think people are going to spend 80 bucks on a Kedric Golston jersey? I think not.

While you other suckers are rooting for your favorite football teams to do good things on the field, us Redskins fans get a chance to root for the winningest team in the league over the past decade in the most important statistic: profitability.

On a slightly more serious note, this column leaves out another interesting facet of why the Redskins suck: if and when their homegrown talent does blossom in their own schemes (as rare an occurrence as it is, it has happened a few times) the Skins can't afford to keep these good, homegrown role-players around after their rookie contracts expire because they already have too much money committed to guys who aren't working out. Poster boys for this phenomenon are Ryan Clark and Antonio Pierce, but there are others.

The Redskins have not adjusted at all to the salary cap or free agency. Their entire organizational philosophy is based on the George Allen/Joe Gibbs idea of building with veterans and stashing guys on the practice squad and PUP lists. They did not change this philosophy when the rules changed to make it impossible to succeed with. Now we might be heading for an uncapped season and labor trouble. Another dirty little organizational secret is the Redskins only ever win it all when there's labor trouble. There's reason for hope as a Redskins fan, but all of that hope lies in "I hope everything in the NFL completely falls apart in the next two years." Not exactly the most fun thing to root for.

by The Other Ben Johnson (not verified) :: Fri, 10/23/2009 - 12:27pm

I am being somewhat serious about jersey sales, by the way. The Redskins are profitable largely because Snyder maximizes unshared revenue by selling merchandise and remodeling his stadium so that it's all luxury boxes. I'd even bet that the proceeds from the breach of contract suits against season ticket holders are unshared with the rest of the league.

by J.I. Halsell :: Fri, 10/23/2009 - 12:43pm

Regarding Ryan Clark, I've got a name for you, "Adam Archuleta," if they could afford to make Archuleta the highest paid safety in the game at the time, then they surely, in lieu of Archuleta, could've resigned Clark to a much cheaper contract than they paid Adam.

But our points are valid, instead of rewarding your in-house proven talent that you've developed on the cheap with an extension, the Skins have repeatedly fallen victim to signing the sexiest external free agent on the market.

J.I. Halsell
Salary Cap Analyst | "Under the Cap"
Twitter | @SalaryCap101

by The Other Ben Johnson (not verified) :: Fri, 10/23/2009 - 1:18pm

Yes, and sometimes that sexy free agent is really just keeping LaVar Arrington.

by The Other Ben Johnson (not verified) :: Fri, 10/23/2009 - 1:55pm

I know it makes me a little tinfoil-hatty, but I do think that the problem with the Redskins is Snyder is running the team like a business, and with a model that seeks profit first and football success second. I refuse to believe that an entire decade of questionable-to-completely-insane football decisions are the result of a dedicated-to-his-fans guy who "just wants to do whatever it takes to win." The Redskins consistently are one of the top three most profitable franchises in football. This guy is ALREADY winning, as far as he's concerned.

He has a business model that works fantastically well from a business perspective. Unfortunately that business model is based on maximizing his own profits and not caring especially about potentially harming whatever revenue sources are shared by all owners. It's smart and it makes a lot of sense to act this way. He's in a position to claim sole possession of profit rewards from schemes like selling jerseys by luring big name free agents and adding luxury boxes and charging the public (he briefly did this) to attend what should be closed football practice sessions. Even if all of these business decisions have a negative impact on the franchise's product, the most immediate potential losses in value from such a slip in quality (non-luxury box office and TV contract money) are absorbed by a revenue-sharing agreement with the other 31 owners. In short, it doesn't matter to him at all if the Redskins are not good. Simply avoiding being totally awful while having a high turnover is enough to keep the franchise highly profitable. He's duping his fans every single year.

Dan Snyder is a lot of things, but stupid is not one of them. I find "he's ruthless" a little bit easier to swallow than "he has no idea what he's doing."

by DrewTS (not verified) :: Fri, 10/23/2009 - 2:22pm

"I refuse to believe that an entire decade of questionable-to-completely-insane football decisions are the result of a dedicated-to-his-fans guy who "just wants to do whatever it takes to win.""

Al Davis would like to disagree, and drink your blood.

by Anonymous Jones :: Fri, 10/23/2009 - 9:19pm

I think there may be a little leap in your logic. Profitability (given the somewhat arbitrary system of revenue sharing) is partially a function of location and stadium, not solely intelligence. Yes, Snyder has reaped great revenue without "winning," but that may be because of circumstance to some degree. Profitability is based both on revenues and expenses. His revenue may be high, but are his expenses that much lower than other franchises? Further, to show that Snyder does indeed "know what he's doing," you must show that that the marginal revenue of building a winner through the draft is less than the marginal expense of doing so. I'm not so sure that just looking at relative profitability among the franchises gets you there. That's not to say that you are wrong. I'm just unconvinced that he couldn't turn his gold mine of a franchise (which should be very profitable, that's why he paid serious dollars for it) into a more profitable entity through shrewder decision making, especially with regard to cap management.

by Bobman :: Fri, 10/23/2009 - 2:20pm

You have a valid point--it is a multi-faceted business and winning is only one part. Vince Lombardi would kill both Snyder and me for saying that, of course. Is it the most important part? An argument could be made for that, because if you connect a string of 1-15 seasons, you can field Jesus, Zeus, Mohammed, and Buddha in your backfield, but there won't be any fans to buy tickets, watch on TV, or buy jerseys.

But I do like your point; as a Colts fan I try to buy the mass-produced (cheaper) jerseys for roughly $60 instead of the custom real game jerseys for about $200, but the cheap group is only the stars. A few years ago I tried to get my son a Walter Jones jersey (I live near Seattle) but they didn't sell them--just Hasselbeck and Alexander (who stole the 2005 MVP from Manning, so I hate him). Quite disappointed. Same thing for the behind the scenes Colts guys--Clark was not available for a few years, Brackett--no, Gonzo--not sure, Mathis--no, Saturday--I bet not. These guys are pro bowlers and PB alternates, but get no love from the merch dept. If they went out and signed TO, you bet there were be his jersey available (to hang up and throw produce at). And I am too cheap to blow $200 on a shirt I will wear 10 times a year or my kids will outgrow in two years. (side note: My signed Manning jersey cost me $44 off eBay--I bought it in 2001 when they had lost four games straight and everybody was sure they sucked--it was the famous "Playoffs?!?!" year. These days it's probably over $250. I wish my real estate purchases went as well.)

by Marcumzilla :: Fri, 10/23/2009 - 5:29pm

I'm too cheap to spend $200 on one as well, but I picked up a Sanders jersey a few years back for $60-65 just by ordering it at Finish Line (I think) when they had a sale. The Colts pro shop has quite a selection as well. I've seen Saturday jerseys there in person. You can pick them up for $80.

eBay is probably the best place to find them for a deal, but it's not as bad to get some of the lesser-known players.

by sszycher :: Fri, 10/23/2009 - 1:02pm

During this year's Ravens-Redskins pre-season game, I believe the color commentator was mentioning how the Ravens are at or near the top of the league in terms of roster players obtained through the draft, while the Skins were at or near the bottom.

I suggest the Skins new fight song should be a revised version of "Where have all the flowers gone":

Where have all the draft picks gone?
Cerrato picked them every one
When will Dan Snyder ever learn?
When will Dan Snyder ever learn?

by ammek :: Fri, 10/23/2009 - 2:35pm

This article kind of tells us what we already knew or suspected, but with the authority of experience and some weighty examples. Snyder's "all fur coat and no knickers" approach is already widely ridiculed. The important question is why he hasn't done anything to change it. This piece gives us some leads.

Meanwhile, over in Green Bay, the natives are getting restless with their team's Snyderlessness. The Packers are doing most of the things that J.I. suggests a team should do: building through the draft, accumulating low-round picks, staying away from tantalizing shiny objects. But unlike other teams mentioned in the article — the Eagles and the Vikings — GM Ted Thompson is not using the extra cap space to gamble on high-risk, high-reward free agents. Instead, he's squirreling it away, either to sign his own guys (Ryan Grant, Nick Collins, perhaps Daryn Colledge and AJ Hawk in the offseason) or in order to rob Mike Brown of the laureat for "NFL's Most Parsimonious".

The results so far have been mixed. Everyone agrees that the Packers have lots of good young players. But every offseason a really huge and obvious hole appears in the team, which could be bandaged over by signing a free agent. Thompson, instead, promotes Allen Barbre, or bigs up a seventh-round rookie quarterback, or insists that Vernand Morency is the real deal. And so Thompson and Snyder begin waving to each other from opposite banks of the Straits of Mediocrity.

by Top Jobby (not verified) :: Fri, 10/23/2009 - 3:22pm

Green Bay's apparent stinginess is probably due to some very real cash flow issues. Just as a lot of people can't afford a 20% down payment on a house, neither can some teams afford a large signing bonus.

by Jerry :: Fri, 10/23/2009 - 6:19pm

I don't pretend to know how good the current Packers' front office is (it's traditionally been OK), but generally teams can fail under any philosophy if they're not sufficiently competent. Looking at baseball, where distinctions are easier to draw, the Yankees have been very successful spending lots of money, while the Mets haven't. The Twins and Athletics have been able to contend with relatively low payrolls, while the Pirates have been historically bad.

J.I. suggests that the Redskins could make the high-end free agent model work if they could also draft well on day 2 (or 3 this year), but they haven't to this point. The Steelers have been successful doing things the way you describe the Pack doing them. If good people implement a strategy, they can make it work.

by bingo762 :: Fri, 10/23/2009 - 3:28pm

I don't mean to be rude but isn't this article a little: Well,duh?

by Paul A (not verified) :: Fri, 10/23/2009 - 6:25pm

As a Skins fan, this article just reinforces the point that management is inadequate. I'd say it understates just how abysmal the drafting has been under Vinnie. I live in New York and I make the comparison of the Skins to the Mets. They always find a way, in every facet of administration, to eff things up.

by hubcap (not verified) :: Sat, 10/24/2009 - 10:21am

Another point about teams with good scouting - they tend to be teams that have a certain way of playing. Unlike the Redskins, they don't constantly churn offensive and defensive philosophies. Teams like the Colts, Steelers, Giants and Ravens have an identity as an organization. It seems like everyone knows what kind of players they are looking for and they evaluate talent in the context of, "how does this player fit into our system?"

One of the hidden frustrations of being a Redskins fan is watching the team go get guys who are good at something...and then use them for something else. Best pass-rushing lineman in college football? Let's put him at LB and make him cover tight ends (Brian Orakpo). Veteran defensive end who makes his living rushing from the right? Let's put him on the left (Jason Taylor). Ferocious-hitting DB with average cover skills? Let's make him a free safety (LaRon Landry). Trade a Pro Bowl corner for a back? Let's have him put on 25 pounds and run off-tackles all game (Clinton Portis).

Good organizations have a way of doing things, and they understand that just because a guy is a 90 in Madden doesn't mean he's a good fit for their team. But with the constant churn of coaches and schemes, the Skins never have any idea what it is they are looking for in a player. Except jersey sales. Always with the jersey sales.

by J.I. Halsell :: Sat, 10/24/2009 - 11:33am

All VERY good points; there's no organizational identity and it definitely is as a result of high turnover in schemes and an inpatience in developing not only players but an organizational culture.

J.I. Halsell
Salary Cap Analyst | "Under the Cap"
Twitter | @SalaryCap101