Since Dan Snyder took over as the owner of the Washington Redskins in 1999, the one consistent characteristic of the team’s front office has been its irrational belief that the Redskins are always only a few big-name players away from winning a Super Bowl. That mindset caused the team to sign Bruce Smith, Deion Sanders and Jeff George prior to the 2000 season, trade second and third-round picks for Donovan McNabb prior to the 2010 season and overpay Adam Archuletta in 2006 and Albert Haynesworth in 2009 rather than building teams with depth and setting the team up for the long term.
Fortunately, this offseason seems to be a little bit different. Under Bruce Allen, who recently received a title change to team President and General Manager, there has actually been some evidence that the front office is aware the team is not a championship contender this year, and that they are aware of the need for depth, youth and competition. They made some splashes with the signings of Jason Hatcher and Desean Jackson, but those deals were not as expensive as some of their past signings, and the team had enough money left to build depth at other key positions — the Redskins signed interior linemen Mike McGlynn and Sean Louvao, ILBs Akeem Jordan and Daryl Sharpton, WR Andre Roberts, CB Tracy Porter, S Ryan Clark, special teams standout Adam Hayward and kept every key player from last year’s team.
It is a different approach — instead of making a huge splash with one or two big name players, they kept their own players, signed younger, less expensive guys in order to build a broader base of talent on the team, and when they needed to sign a veteran to plug in at an area of need, they got an inexpensive one like Ryan Clark.
The only player that is possibly being overpaid this season is Brian Orakpo, who the Redskins decided to use the franchise tag on and will pay $11.46 million this year; but that is the point, it is only one year. A lot of fans were upset when the team used their second-round draft pick on Trent Murphy, an outside linebacker with a similar skill set to Orakpo and Ryan Kerrigan, but in light of Orakpo’s franchise status, it makes a lot of sense. The team now has another year to evaluate Orakpo, and a year to see how good Murphy will be at this level, so they will be able to make a more informed decision next year on whether they should keep the expensive free agent to be, or the guy on the rookie contract.
Regrettably, the Redskins lost Director of Pro Personnel Morocco Brown, who is said to have had a major impact on this offseason, to the Cleveland Browns recently. Nonetheless, the approach taken by the front office was encouraging and there is still hope that Allen and the rest of the staff will continue to build the team properly in the years to come.