This year the Redskins will have trouble trumping the energy and fervor that they attacked the free agent market in 2003, but it appears they are going to try. With 9 acquisitions in three days last year, it would seem near impossible, but the wheels are definitely in motion.
The most notable transaction will undoubtedly be for Champ Bailey. The consensus seems to be that Mr. Bailey has been offered approximately $53 million over 6 years to go play for the Broncos. The Redskins are offering up a second round pick and Bailey for a stud running back in Clinton Portis. There are many that feel that adding the pick is too much, and that the Redskins will be making too big a sacrifice. If the deal is as reported, the Redskins would be left with just two picks in the 2004 entry draft, their first round pick and their fifth round pick. Regardless of how the semantics of the deal shake out, this promises to be one of the biggest blockbuster trades in NFL recent history.
Washington will obviously be making the Mark Brunell deal official and reportedly shipping off their 3rd round pick for the veteran QB. The only anticipation on the Brunell deal is to see how the rumored 7-year $43 million contract will break down. It is believed that it contains an $8.6 M signing bonus and that Brunell will cost the Redskins' cap approximately 2 million in 2004.
And that's before they really start hitting the market.
The Redskins have a lot of holes to fill and the exodus of the Spurrier regime in favor of Joe Gibbs will mean a massive player overhaul in Washington once again. Gibbs has attacked his return like a rabid pitbull with a chip on its shoulder... he has something to prove. He always does. This past week the Redskins set a plan in motion to free up the cap space they needed to be aggressive once again in 2004. Bruce Smith, Jesse Armtead, Bryan Barker, and Lionel Dalton were all cut to add almost $11 million to Washington's available 'kitty'. Champ's departure would free up an additional $6.8 million, giving the Redskins approximately $18 million new cap dollars to play with.
So with needs a plenty, some money to spend, and a plan in hand, the Redskins have apparently assembled a list of wants to go along with their needs:
Defensive End - Jevon Kearse is the crown jewel, and his relationship with Redskins' new defensive co-ordinator Gregg Williams makes Washington a real possibility. Kearse will be one of the most expensive off-season acquisitions, so Grant Wistrom has also been mentioned as an alternative.
Defensive Tackle - Ted Washington was a hot prospect for the Skins until allegations of tampering arose. Now the targets appear to include Rod Coleman who was just released by the Raiders and Cornelius Griffin (NYG). Both players would be a dramatic improvement to the DT's that are currently on the roster. Also worthy of note is that the Redskins have apparently cooled on their interest in Warren Sapp.
Tight End - There's Jim Kleinsasser available, and then there's everybody else. JK is just the best option available by far. Mark Bruener was also released this week and would make a great addition as a blocking TE. Erron Kinney (TEN) would be the next best option.
Linebacker - Armstead was the only remotely surprising cut by the Redskins this week, and it does open a starting LB position. Talk of Lavar switching sides was pretty dominant over the last week and former bear Warrick Holdman has been mentioned as a possible acquisition. Washington may also just re-sign Lemar Marshall and Antonio Pierce and try fill the spot from within the organization.
Cornerback - obviously the hole left by Champ will have to be filled. There are a dozen possibilities at CB for free agents but right now the smart money seems to be on Shawn Springs.
Gibbs said this week that the Redskins had 'a plan on defense'. And though the naysayers will point to the fact that the Redskins win the off-season battle every year and then fall short in the regular season, there is no denying their aggression. There is also no doubting that the moves of 2003 were not comparable to the 2000-spending spree in that much younger players were targeted. The plan for 2004 appears to be the same - go after some top flight players in the prime of their careers, and supplement that with some lower tier acquisitions that are also young enough to bear out longer term contracts.
As always though... there's no doubting the buzz in Washington. Will the Redskins trump the fervor of 2003? We only have a few more days to wait and find out.
Editor's Note: BossHog and theHogs.net will be making their first appearance on the Pro Football Central radio show next Wednesday, March 3rd to talk about the Redskins off-season, the draft, and the first exciting day of free agency. The show will be on from 7:00-9:00pm on Wednesday night and we will post more details in the next few days. Please support us and book off an hour or two of your time on Wednesday night to join PFC and theHogs.net.