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If at first you don’t succeed, just keep doing the same thing

February 27, 2009

As reported virtually everywhere (even here), the Redskins were widely expected to make a bid for DT Albert Haynesworth when free agency opened this morning. After last year’s uncharacteristically reserved activity, Dan Snyder’s belief that a team with 1 wide receiver, 1 1/2 linebackers and half an o-line is one run-stuffer away from immortality has apparently reasserted itself.

Despite the team’s late attempts to dissemble these rumours (which mainly consisted of Vinny Cerrato putting his hands in his pockets, whistling, and looking at the sky) most insiders – which crucially includes Haynesworth’s agent and other franchise’s front offices – assumed this meant the standard bank-breaking unequal-able megadeal would be slapped on the table at 12.01 this morning.

And so it has proved. At 5.30 Haynesworth signed a 6-year deal worth a staggering $100m, making him the highest paid defensive player in the league.

Amateur.

Amateur.

Now, leaving aside questions of whether or not the former Titans DT will be worth it – and today he tops SportingNews’ list of overrated free agents –  there’s no question that once again the Skins have played the contract negotiation poker game like a blind priest with transparent cards.

In this case, everyone round the table – including the player,  other potential suitors and representatives for other free agents -knew that the Skins were big bet junkies who would vastly overpay to get their man, regardless of market value. His agent could therefore sit back and keep saying “higher”, safe in the knowledge that Snyder would never walk away and let him test the market.

That’s the same approach that has netted the Redskins such gems as Brandon Lloyd and Adam Archuleta (highest paid safety in the league) in recent years, and it’s a mug’s game. Despite herculean attempts every offseason to restructure deals, it’s left the team with a significant cap problem year on year, a dearth of draft picks and a string of humiliating and expensive failures.

I want Javon Walker in here, now!

I want Javon Walker in here, now!

Recent NFL history is very clear – teams that have meddling owners who compensate for their inferiority complex with “big dick” acquisitions do not have a lot of success in the modern era (Cowboys, Redskins, Raiders), but teams who build well through the draft and have stable front office/cap situations do (Patriots, Steelers, Colts).

But Snyder has all the maturity and emotional self control of a hyena, and the learning curve of a goldfish, which means the Redskins are stuck in offseason groundhog day for the forseeable future. Whether Haynesworth turns out to be the best thing since sliced bread or, as many predict  he doesn’t, the culture and management in Washington will prevent the team being a contender anytime soon.  

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