The Redskins never stop trying to improve. I don't know if every organization works this way, but the only time that you can truly let your guard down a little bit is when you know that Mike Shanahan is on vacation.
Even then, players can always do something and rumors can always send you on a wild goose chase.
Wednesday was a day where the Redskins were on the front burner. For many reasons. Some that are now complete, and some that are very much still in progress.
The Redskins appear to have been able to retain not only a overwhelming part of their core, but also have been able to add to it. Washington will very likely not bring back starting free safety Madieu Williams. ESPN 980 had first reported that news a few weeks ago. If that situation remains, the Redskins will have been able to retain 21 of 22 starters.
They lost their special teams captain, Lorenzo Alexander and risked losing DeAngelo Hall. However to think that they could bring back Kory Lichtensteiger, Tyler Polumbus, Darrel Young, Logan Paulsen, Nick Sundberg, Sav Rocca, Bryan Kehl, Chris Baker, Rex Grossman and Hall after releasing him would have required you to have 3-D rose colored glasses on while pounding burgundy and gold kool-aid down your throat and yet the Redskins accomplished just that.
Think about it. The Redskins, with an 18 million dollar salary cap hit were able to retain all but one starter and their special teams captain while at least for now, not mortgaging any of the future. They lost more assistant coaches (Danny Smith and Ike Hilliard) than they did starters from the 2012 NFC Eastern Division Championship team.
On Wednesday, the Redskins retained more of their core by agreeing to terms with Rex Grossman. While not a popular move, it was a necessary addition. Here's the bottom line reality that most Redskins fans do not want to face. The (strong?) possibility exists that Robert Griffin III is not ready for Week 1. Kirk Cousins would be the starter, but it is very likely that if Griffin is not ready to start that he would not even be active on the 46 man game day roster. You need a competent, quality and experienced backup and you can do A LOT worse than Grossman.
Grossman took his time before coming back, a move that was made official on Thursday morning. He told ESPN 980 via phone "the real opportunity wasn't out there, so I wanted to be here."
Grossman was a key figure behind the scenes for the development of Griffin III and Kirk Cousins in their rookie years. It's a good move.
The Redskins also officially signed Pat White to a one year contract, a source close to the situation confirmed to ESPN 980. The former West Virginia product was a second round pick in 2009 and was quickly out of the league, partially due to health reasons and partially due to a bad skill set fit.
Plenty of questions remain on White, and if he can actually play the position. As ESPN 980 first reported on Tuesday, White has worked with noted quarterback guru, George Whitfield Jr. to prepare for this opportunity.
He was also busy taking care of legal matters, as Nathan Fenno of the Washington Times first reported here http://wtim.es/10z6YdM.
Then there's the Kirk Cousins dynamic to this four-headed quarterback monster...He was on ESPN 980 on Wednesday after it became known that White would be signing, but before Rex Grossman's agreement became public.
Per Steinberg's transcript, Cousins told the "Sports Fix" - “I felt like with Robert’s health where it is right now, to be able to have a guy who can do some of the thing Robert does athletically would be important, especially in this offseason time when you’re trying to stay sharp and develop your base playbook and improve your base playbook. While I believe can to some degree run those kind of things, the zone-read stuff is gonna be much better with a Pat White-type athlete in there who’s closer to Robert’s skill set."
“I think that’s a no-brainer to have a guy like that in at least for OTAs, if not longer,” Cousins said to Kevin Sheehan and Thom Loverro.
That's all fine and good, and makes perfect sense. The Redskins will have at least four, if not five quarterbacks during training camp and pre-season on the roster because Griffin will be extremely limited, if he is even able to do anything in August.
Anybody that thinks Kirk Cousins would be traded to the first team that has an opening in camp (due to injury) is just a flat out space cadet. Sorry. It's just NEVER going to happen, and I strongly believe it would not have happened even if Robert Griffin III had made it through his rookie season completely healthy.
DeAngelo Hall is officially back in the fold, signing a one year deal. Now the interesting part is can the Redskins somehow still reel in Antoine Winfield?
Hall is an interesting case. He's another guy who clearly doesn't have a lot of popularity in the fan base, which is the nature of the position. I have always thought he was a above average pure cover corner and that's as far as I can go. This goes back to his days in Atlanta, and it was laughable that an organization as dumb as the Oakland Raiders gave Hall the kind of money they did and cut him halfway through his first year.
The Redskins are anything but dumb under Mike Shanahan, Bruce Allen and Eric Shaffer. As a result of their 2010 creativity which landed them in hot water with the National Football League, the Redskins saved three million dollars in cap space in 2012 - as Hall's cap hit went from 9.5 to 6.5 million. The move also allowed the Redskins to have no dead money if they chose to whack Hall in 2013 or 2014. His base salary and workout bonuses was a simple 8.0 million in 2013 and 9.5 million in 2014, all non-guaranteed.
So when the Redskins released Hall last month, they technically saved a total of 17.5 million additional dollars over the 2013 and 2014 seasons. Washington made it official on Thursday morning, signing Hall back to a reported one year, 2.5 million dollar deal with a likely incentives based package for him to make more.
If you combine the on books savings of 2012 - 2014, it adds up too a whopping 20.5 million dollars, and for salary cap accounting purposes if you add the 3.0 million (high side w/ roster bonus projection) - the Redskins actually saved a total of 17.5 million as a net.
They were stripped of 15 million, but gained back the flexibility to have 17.5 million in credits spread over three years. Even if Hall is brought back for 2014 at a similar structure to this year, the Redskins would still have saved about 15 million dollars in cap space over the 2012, 2013 and 2014 seasons.
As far as dealing with Hall, and still retaining his services for at least 2013 - you could not ask for any better than that.
Especially if somehow, the move to bring back Hall still allows you to secure the services of Antoine Winfield. As we have reported several times, strong mutual interest still exists between both sides with Minnesota and possibly another suitor still in the mix (Denver?).
Winfield visited Redskins Park last week, and the Redskins tried to initiate contract discussions about 15 times to Winfield's representatives. The two sides briefly spoke that night and have remained in contact, with Winfield reportedly out of the country.
How do the Redskins accomplish such a move? That's the multi-million dollar question. As I write this, we are all still trying to figure out exactly how the Redskins with less than 700,000 in cap space as of Wednesday night, made the signing of Hall, Grossman and White all official https://www.nflplayers.com/reports/RunPublicReport.aspx?report=top51.
Clearly, they have some work to do and it very much seems that Winfield and his camp are more than willing to be patient in the process. Sure, returning to Minnesota is an option but he has to see what everybody sees and that is Christian Ponder is going to be hard pressed to take a team to a Super Bowl, something that has eluded Winfield during his career.
Based on multiple conversations with multiple sources, I have been able to rule out as of Wednesday a re-structure for Pierre Garcon. His base salary for 2013 is guaranteed anyway, and a provision does exist that would allow the Redskins to convert that base to "bonus" to allow them to re-distribute the cap charge. That move had not been executed as of Wednesday per sources.
Trent Williams is another likely candidate. He's coming off his first Pro Bowl year, and done with year three of his rookie contract that spanned five years. An extension is much safer and more likely in my eyes, and could be in the works. I would stay tuned on this front.
Other than that, the Redskins will very likely have to release a player or two to have the flexibility needed to create enough room to not only have a chance to sign Winfield, but also to ink their 2013 draft class.
Another option would be to trade a current contract to an interested party for future draft picks & flexibility. Two names that would come to mind in my eyes, are Josh Wilson and Brian Orakpo.
**Finally, a note on Fred Davis who re-signed earlier this week officially. The Redskins gave him a deal that will count initially at 2.5 million against the cap, but could count as much as 3.0 million under the 2013 limit. Davis got a 1.5 million signing bonus, a 1 million dollar base salary and a 500 thousand dollar incentive clause that he receives (and the Redskins are charged for) if he is on the gameday 46-man roster for a minimum of 12 games. Davis also can earn another 750,000 in incentives that are tied to snap count and a possible Pro Bowl selection.
The Redskins essentially got a franchise tag free agent that cost them over 5.5 million last year, for a significant discount with no long term liability. Of course, they really had the leverage because of Davis' blown achilles.