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Thursday, February 26: ESPN Having Some Trouble Making Up Its Mind On Haynesworth

Posted by Matt Terl on February 26, 2009 – 9:10 am

Well, the rumors of the Redskins signing DT Albert Haynesworth are still going full blast. WUSA9′s Sara Walsh talked to him for an hour yesterday and reports that “he spent much of the conversation grilling me about life in Washington and what the Redskins are like.” (Walsh hosted a weekly radio show with Haynesworth during her time in Nashville.)

Since free agency officially kicks off just after midnight tonight, ESPN.com is getting ready for the flurry of action in those heady first few hours of wheeling and dealing, and their Insider section has Scouts Inc making list after list to analyze the guys who might change teams. So what do they have to say about this particular impact free agent?

Well, he headlines their list of Five Worth The Investment, so that’s good:

Albert Haynesworth, DT, Tennessee
A few years ago he would have fallen more into the buyer-beware category, but after coming back from an unfortunate incident of on-field violence he has turned his career around. The low motor and work-ethic issues of the past are gone. In Tennessee, Haynesworth was a dominant force at the point of attack and the Titans built their defense around him. Their goal was to bring outside pressure and funnel the ball back inside, where Haynesworth was taking on (and beating) double-team blocks and making plays around the line of scrimmage. He was the best unrestricted free agent coming into the process and probably will hit the open market.

Oh, that’s great news. Maybe all the negative reports about him are overblown. I mean, it’s not like he’s right on top of their list of Five Risky Free Agents or anything like that, right? Right? Well…. Read more »

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Suisham Tendered, Kicker Battle Looms

Posted by Matt Terl on February 25, 2009 – 8:25 pm

The Redskins tendered a contract to Shaun Suisham today, meaning that the team can now match any offer to he might receive as a free agent.

From a practical standpoint, this makes it fairly likely that Suisham will battle Dave Rayner for the kicker position in training camp. From a less practical standpoint, it maintains the Canadian presence in the international corner of the locker room, which is nice.

Suisham started off the season kicking as well as he ever had, but suffered a noticeable drop-off as the weeks progressed. As I look at the season stats now, there is a bit of a correlation between Suisham’s struggles and Ryan Plackemeier taking over the holding duties. Plackemeier’s gone now, so that possible excuse is eliminated — maybe that means Suisham goes back to his strong starting form; maybe it’s a false correlation (and it certainly doesn’t explain why his kickoffs got worse).

Either way, the Kicker Battle will tell all. My goodness — this plus the long-snapper duel certainly promises another NON-STOP THRILL RIDE when training camp rolls around. Read more »

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On February 25, Banks Says: Andre Smith, OT, Alabama

Posted by Matt Terl on February 25, 2009 – 3:51 pm

Just over a month after version 1.0, Don Banks returns to update his mock draft based on the impressions gleaned at the NFL Scouting Combine. Last time, he had DT B.J. Raji heading to the Redskins with the 13th pick, which seemed reasonable enough.

This time around, Raji is off the board to Oakland at pick number 7 (and, though Banks doesn’t mention it, it seems reasonable to assume that he was writing this one while the Haynesworth-to-the-Redskins rumors were at their zenith yesterday, which could’ve led to the assumption that DT was less of a need).

So where do we go, according to Banks? How about Andre Smith, OT. From a media standpoint, it’s a golden pick, one where the story writes itself — the Outland Trophy winner out of Alabama would join current OT Chris Samuels, who left Alabama in 1999 after winning the Outland Trophy.

So that’s one upside. Smith’s comments during his brief stint at the Combine offer another: Read more »

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Wednesday, February 25: Better Get This Hat Quick

Posted by Matt Terl on February 25, 2009 – 9:12 am

I’m sure there’ll be plenty of pre-free-agency (pre-agency?) scuttlebutt to discuss later today, but reader Ryan was browsing NFLShop.com and came across something a little lighter to start the day with. I present to you the official Reebok Washington Redskins 2009 St. Patrick’s Flex Fit Hat!

In his email, Ryan notes, “You can essentially either wear that for one day a year, or state that you are a Redskins and a Celtics fan.”

In fact, though, even the Celtic fan approach doesn’t actually work, because the brim specifically states that it’s a “St. Patrick’s Day edition.” The whole thing strikes me as oddly specific and weird, but there you go.

The one relevant day a year is coming up fast, so you probably should get your order in soon. Me, I’m holding out for a Cinco De Mayo Redskins sombrero. Read more »

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Reactions to the Haynesworth Rumor

Posted by Matt Terl on February 24, 2009 – 4:22 pm

Earlier today, Pro Football Talk linked to a report on the Houston Chronicle‘s blog that the Redskins are going to sign Titans free agent DT Albert Haynesworth, and that he’s not going to come cheap.

The Titans could come over the top of the Redskins deal as well, but my guess is that the Redskins will let Haynesworth get the best offer possible from the Titans and then “better deal” it. My source tells me to look for a contract that could break $100 million with an average of $15 million to $16 million per.

This dovetails with Peter King’s observation in yesterday’s Monday Morning Quarterback column that Washington might be the only team willing to pay the money Haynesworth is going to command.

In fact, Washington might be the logical landing spot. Hmmmm. I wonder why Redskins owner Dan Snyder was having dinner with the agent for Haynesworth, Chad Speck, at Morton’s here Saturday night.

This time of year is when PFT is in its glory, and King’s column is wildly popular, so just about everyone has weighed in with their opinions on the move as if it’s already a done deal.

Mister Irrelevant is unsurprised, unimpressed:

That’s from someone named Lance Zierlein who blogs for the Houston Chronicle. So, grain of salt and all that. Although we’re certainly prepared to believe that this is true. As if there was ever any doubt that Snyder would make a play for Haynesworth.

MJD at Shutdown Corner approves, cautiously:

I’d like to go on record as saying that if anyone out there is worth that kind of money, it’s Albert Haynesworth. Dan Snyder’s made his poor free agent investments in the past, but I’d fully endorse the signing of Haynesworth.

He’s 27 years old, and the most dominant player in the league at his position, if not the most dominant player in the league, period. When Haynesworth is on the field he’s going to occupy at least two blockers in the middle of the line, pretty much eliminating the possibility of the opposition running the ball between the tackles. He gets pressure on the quarterback, too. He is a one-man disruption.

Read more »

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Tuesday, February 24: An Optimistic View of Jason Taylor

Posted by Matt Terl on February 24, 2009 – 12:23 pm

So according to Jason Cole at Yahoo Sports, Jason Taylor will be back with the Redskins next season, with no apparent change in his deal. The money quote, from Vinny Cerrato:

“We’re not doing anything with Jason,” Washington vice president of football operations Vinny Cerrato said. “He’s going to be with us and that’s it. That’s the plan.”

This has sparked some irritation and disappointment on message boards, in my email, and (according to Ryan O’Halloran of the Washington Times) among the folks at the NFL Combine. From O’Halloran’s Combine Insider:

“Ugh” and “Seriously?” were the responses of those at the combine when told the Redskins might bring Jason Taylor back. It makes no sense fiscally or performancewise. He made 37 tackles (according to the NFL) in 526 snaps (according to The Washington Times). Taylor said late in the season, “This dog can still hunt.” But what he wouldn’t admit is that the hunting conditions weren’t optimum.

What jumps out at me here is the “no sense performancewise” assertion. Did Taylor’s stat line earn him next year’s contract?

Not even close. No one on earth would claim that 29 tackles and 3.5 sacks are worth eight million dollars (let alone second- and sixth-round picks) — even Taylor himself agrees with that. But here’s the thing: he’s not getting the eight million for those stats. Read more »

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Monday Redskins Links – 2/23

Posted by Matt Terl on February 23, 2009 – 4:19 pm

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Monday, February 23: A Potential Downside To Brian Orakpo

Posted by Matt Terl on February 23, 2009 – 1:10 pm

Brian Orakpo — DE/LB out of Texas — has been rumored as a potential Redskins draft pick pretty much since the projections started coming out this season. Yesterday, those rumors stepped up to the level of “reports,” according to the Washington Times.

Hours after they released former Pro Bowl linebacker Marcus Washington, the Redskins’ search for his replacement began when they told Texas standout Brian Orakpo they envision him as the strongside linebacker in their 4-3 defense.

The top pass rusher in the draft, Orakpo is out to prove he’s versatile enough to play defensive end and linebacker regardless of the scheme.

“The Redskins said I could be a ‘Sam’ backer in their 4-3 and, when it’s time to rush the passer, get down to it,” he said Saturday at the NFL scouting combine.

The move to linebacker would make sense, especially given the Yahoo Sports report that Jason Taylor is indeed expecting (and expected) to return to the Redskins to finish out his contract. And, in fact, the more I’ve researched Orakpo, the more I’ve found to like about the guy — and the less I’ve found to criticize him for.

But if I had to find a negative side to Orakpo (aside from the fact that he could very well be off the board by the time the team picks at 13), it would be Vernon Gholston.

Read more »

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Video From Cooley's High School Tour

Posted by Matt Terl on February 20, 2009 – 3:40 pm

I caught up with the Chris Cooley High School Tour 2009 at Clarke County High School in Berryville, Virginia, today. The crowd was thrilled to see Cooley — with the possible exception of one guy wearing a DeMarcus Ware jersey — and they all clapped and laughed in all the right places during his talk.

On the whole, it was possibly more exciting for everyone than the first of these events on Wednesday. “We don’t get a whole lot of excitement here in Clarke County,” a woman told Cooley as he signed autographs on his way out the door.

I was able to get a couple of short videos from the event. Here is Cooley explaining his typical work day to the students during his PowerPoint presentation; a selection from his post-presentation Q&A is after the jump.

%Video-277% Read more »

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Marcus Washington Released

Posted by Matt Terl on February 20, 2009 – 2:32 pm

Marcus Washington was released today.

On the plus side, this apparently saves the team something in the neighborhood of four million dollars against the cap.

On the minus side, he was a great energy guy, a great locker room guy, and — when healthy — a very good linebacker. From what I can gather talking to people around the facility today, letting Washington go wasn’t an easy decision to make, and everyone seems genuinely sad to see him leave.

His departure not only means that the team needs to fill his spot at linebacker, but also find someone else to compile the in-stadium playlist. At least the people working the P.A. can now play Five Stone’s Make Noise without fear of retribution from an enraged Marcus Washington.

Coach Zorn’s comment from the team’s press release sums it all up pretty well: “I really enjoyed having the opportunity to coach and be around Marcus during my first season as a head coach in the NFL. We wish him the very best.”

The move also leaves Jason Campbell and Carlos Rogers as the two remaining Auburn University guys on the roster. Read more »

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