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Free At Last

Posted by Brian Tinsman on July 30, 2011 – 8:25 am

AP Image

Last year, did you know that there are actually other Redskins on the roster besides Donovan McNabb and Albert Haynesworth?

I often had to check twice to make sure.

In all seriousness, the Redskins finally got the opportunity to cut the cord on two of the biggest distractions in team history, and they did so.  Better than that, they got value in return for both players, which was more than many football experts were predicting.

Head Coach Mike Shanahan said he made dealing Haynesworth a priority before camp bagan.  “I think after being with someone for a year, you figure out where they fit in your scheme, or they don’t fit.  We would have released him if we hadn’t traded him.”

So basically the Redskins picked up draft picks for free.  And better yet, they’re finally free of the McNabb, Haynesworth saga.

Let me be very careful to not present these two players as cut from the same stone, because they are not.  Haynesworth was brought in on a historically large contract and never reached his potential.  Questionable work ethic and insubordination, followed by offseason legal troubles made Haynesworth expendable regardless of his abilities.

McNabb was a far more sympathetic character, one who just didn’t fit the system in Washington.  He was a consummate professional: good to the fans, good to the media, and never let his frustrations come out in public.  Even as his results deteriorated, he stayed steady.  That’s commendable for anyone, and it likely earned him future opportunities in this league.

There are several reasons why everyone should like these trades:

1. Cap space is priceless:

The salary cap is back under the new CBA and for the first time ever, the cap went down.  This means that there is less money to go around, and every player earning a paycheck better be contributing.  After last season, it was obvious that neither player remained in the team’s plans for 2011.  Hitting the eject button ceased to be a question of if, but when.  Even if the Redskins fail to do anything with a fifth and two sixth round picks, this is a move that frees up substantial room to add contributing pieces.

2. Lockerroom accountability:

Every time a Redskins teammate had to answer questions about Haynesworth or McNabb was a distraction from what they needed to worry about: winning football games.  Whether or not teammates are friends off the field does not matter as much having each other’s backs in the workplace.  This happens only when everyone answers for themselves.

Getting rid of this distraction will bring teammates and coaches closer together and more focused on X’s and O’s.

3. Down the road:

The value of any draft pick isn’t known until three-to-four years down the road.  How will each of these picks be used?  Will they be used as selections to the team, or will they be packaged to acquire other players?  What will they’re impact be after a couple seasons?

All of this remains to be seen.  For now, the distraction is another team’s problem.


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