Thursday, February 15, 2007

Brunell and the cap and the future

It's getting harder and harder to create insightful Redskins analysis with all the competing blogs around here. Skin Patrol at Hog Haven put up a gem of a story on Mark Brunell's discussions with the Skins to restructure his contract. This post has it all. SP states the issues; goes into the cap impact; describes how guaranteed money affects the future and concludes "cut him immediately."

Go over and take a look (but, be sure to come back).

Mark this date: March 2, the start of free agent negotiations and trades. Last year, the Redskins off-season was more entertaining than the regular season -- unfortunately. We wait with baited breath for what those madcap fellows in Ashburn will come up with next. If only the Redskins could buy talent like the New York Yankees. If cash were the only obstacle, there would be no stopping Mr. Snyder. But, it's not.

The salary cap levels the playing field. It requires teams to get the most talent on a balanced roster while keeping to a spending limit. You have to be smart about the roster. The Redskins are smart about the cap. Thus, every year, they restructure contracts of players whose cost exceed their value, all to make cap room for more free agent signings. Injured Brunell, for example, will miss the entire off-season program and will go into training camp as the number three quarterback.

It's short-sighted. The owner thinks he's doing what the people want, trying to get a championship. He's operating with blinders. True, we want another Lombardi Trophy. We want a perennial contender more. The team that consistently wins eleven or twelve games in a season is consistently positioned to take a title and a lot more fun to watch. They get higher playoff seeding and home field advantage. That makes their title chances better. By taking shortcuts, the Redskins are falling short.

Consistency and managing the cap are why New England and Philadelphia contend every year with few big name stars. Consistency is the set-up for players to coalesce into teams. Players just entertain. Teams win championships.

This year, the Redskins might not have enough margin to compete. Twenty teams have cap room of $20 million or more. The Skins have about $2.5 million cap room before restructuring salaries. Good thing the coach-in-chief is emphasizing stability and continuity. Will that emphasis extend to Derrick Dockery as he tests free agency in an enriched market? Or, will the Redskins figure another guard can be had for less while they pay outsized bonuses to somebody else's star?

We'll know in about two weeks.

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