out with the old

(photo by Brian Murphy)

Let us start by following up yesterday’s post about the Washington Redskins’ free agent signing of defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth.

While everyone happily reported that Haynesworth signed a seven-year, $100-million contract, Peter King of Sports Illustrated has had a chance to break down the deal and says in all actuality it’s a four-year, $48-million contract. According to King, the contract calls for Haynesworth to earn $29 million in 2013, $10.8 million in 2014 and $12 million in 2015 – numbers Haynesworth will never actually see.

If that is in fact the case, then we like the signing a whole lot more. Even still, we’ll refrain from getting too excited until we see exactly how the rest of the roster shapes up between now and the first day of training camp.

Okay, with that out of the way, let’s move on to the second chapter of our 2009 free agency coverage. Since free agency kicked off last Friday, the Redskins have parted ways with two players – defensive back Shawn Springs and defensive end Jason Taylor. Releasing both veterans saved the ‘Skins more than $14 million in cap space, and if nothing else, was a favor to the medical staff charged with the impossible task of keeping both aging players healthy.

Over the last three seasons, the oft-injured Springs has played in just 34 games of a possible 48 regular season games. With Springs turning 34 this month, it’s unlikely he’s magically going to get any healthier. Conversely, cornerback DeAngelo Hall, who Washington effectively re-signed over Springs, is just 25 years old and has missed just one game over the last three seasons.

Taking a deeper look at their stats, Springs has 30 passes defended over the last three years. Hall has 53. Springs has six interceptions the last three years. Hall has 14. No matter which way you spin it, Hall has outplayed Springs. On a defense that rarely creates turnovers, Hall gives the Redskins a definitive upgrade at the cornerback position.

What’s more, Springs isn’t a team player. While 99 percent of the Redskins players understand how this franchise operates and are willing to sit down during the offseason to help the front office create space under the salary cap for roster improvements, Springs routinely declined. He’s also the same Springs who skipped team workouts in favor of doing his own thing out in Arizona each offseason. In the ultimate team game, Springs always remained an individual.

We debated whether or not to reach out to Springs for comment after his release, but we don’t have tits or a video camera, so he wouldn’t be interested in talking with us.

Taylor’s situation was a little bit different. We didn’t really have a problem with the team acquiring the All-Pro after defensive lineman Phillip Daniels suffered a season-ending injury the first day of training camp a year ago. Sure, a second and sixth rounder are valuable, but this team has never really cared about the draft, so why lose sleep over something beyond your control?

The biggest problem with Taylor was he was a bad fit for the Redskins defense. On the surface, adding a former NFL defensive player of the year to a perennial top-10 defense sounds fantastic. But this scheme was always a poor fit and for whatever reason, defensive coordinator Greg Blache and friends never showed a willingness to try and maximize Taylor’s abilities by adapting the defense.

Remember LaVar Arrington? He was a guy with all-world talent, but freelanced too often for the Redskins’ liking. Well, that’s kind of what Taylor brings to the table. He’s best when allowed to survey the situation at the line of scrimmage and then attack however he sees fit. The ‘Skins, rightfully so, are confident that their proven defense works. Therefore, they asked him to play a position he’s dominated for more than a decade in a completely foreign way. It’s that whole “square peg, round hole” deal. If Blache wasn’t going to use Taylor in the way that made him one of the most dominant players of his era, then why have him?

Thanks to injuries and a difficulty adjusting to a completely different defensive philosophy, Taylor finished the season with just 29 tackles and 3.5 sacks. That’s not bad for a journeyman lineman, but it’s unacceptable for Taylor, who took home more than $8 million last year. Even he knew he was stealing paychecks from the ‘Skins. He said so. But don’t fault him. He’s just did what the team asked him to do.

But now that Taylor’s gone, it’ll be interesting to see what comes next. The $8.5 million in cap space the team now has after cutting Taylor will hopefully be used on adding depth to the offensive and defensive line. One would hope the team now focuses on attempting to bring back free agent defensive lineman Demetric Evans, unless he’s asking for too much money.

Evans is 29 and hasn’t missed a game in four years, not to mention the fact that he had as many sacks as Taylor last season (3.5). If he’s as smart as we think he is, Evans immediately called his agent when Taylor got canned to demand a deal be worked out with Washington. He’s on the record saying he wants to start, well how would he like to do so alongside Andre Carter, Albert Haynesworth and Cornelius Griffin?

It shouldn’t take Evans long to answer that question. And once he does, the team should be able to turn its attention to an aging offensive line that still needs plenty of work. If the team can bring back Evans and upgrade the offensive line with this newfound cap space, then maybe – just maybe – we’ll sit back and smile at what the Redskins have done this offseason.

1 comment

  1. Baddog
    March 3, 2009 at 1:32 pm

    I am very hopeful that the signing of Haynesworth will turn out better than many other big name signings, but the one thing that worries me about it is the exactly what is mentioned above about Taylor- he’s a freelancer. The Titans adjusted their defense around Haynesworth… will we be willing to do the same?

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