With the deadline drawing near, the Redskins cut five players on Friday to get down below the allowable $102 million cap figure. While the cuts were all veteran players, none were so egregious as to remotely qualify as 'blowing up the team'.
Walt Harris spent two seasons in Washington, but won't see a third. The cornerback struggled with injuries last season and could not provide the dependable depth that the secondary needs. With Shawn Springs, Carlos Rogers and Ade Jimoh the only CBs on the roster with experience, Washington will likely make a move in the next week to find a solid nickel defender to replace Harris. Rogers will undoubtedly be capable of starting in his second season though, so the Redskins will only be looking for some depth.
Brandon Noble also saw his tenure in Washington end Friday. Noble had a brutal knee injury in the 2003 preseason that could have ended his career, but managed to return in 2004 and play in all 16 games (7 starts). But repeated bouts with infection in that knee in 2005, put and kept Noble on the injured reserve list for all of 2005. His high cap number for 2006 made the chances of him getting another chance to return from injury impractical. Noble has the heart of a lion and will undoubtedly try to catch on somewhere else, but retirement is more than a possibility with that bad wheel.
Tom Tupa was another victim of injury circumstance. A back problem last preseason ended his campaign and put what was arguably the Redskins' top 2004 performer on the shelf. Tupa had the best season a Redskin punter has had for a long, long time in 2004. He was consistent, he was long, and he was dependable. Derrick Frost took over the duties last year and showed Redskin fans just how valuable Tupa had been the year before. Tupa's release is a cost-saving measure, and nothing else. Washington won't likely find a better punter, but they may find one that is younger, less susceptible to injuries and perhaps most importantly -- less of a cap hit.
Matt Bowen also found himself looking for work Friday, as his run in Washington also came to an end. Perhaps the most predictable move due to Bowen's lack of contributions lately, the backup safety translated into a cool $2 million cap savings. Known more perhaps for the hit that he put on Trung Canidate in a preseason scrimmage than anything else, Bowo just never seemed to find a niche in the Gibbs' plan. While injuries also played a part in this cut, the Redskins have been really banged up in the secondary for the last two seasons and Bowen just never grabbed that opportunity by the horns. Still young, and very cerebral, there's likely some football left in the young man yet.
Last but not least is Cory Raymer. To the average Redskin fan, many may wonder aloud as to why Raymer would be even a remote concern considering that he got very little playing time in 2005. But to THN, this marks the most saddening loss. To a fan, football can just be about football and nothing else. But when you're fortunate enough to draw a little closer to the team and it's players, there are intangibles that sometimes go unnoticed on the football field. Cory has those intangibles. A consummate teammate and professional, Cory is a friend to a great many of the Redskins and to this web site. He has stated in the past that he would retire before he'd play for another football team, so Raymer's NFL career may very well be done. If it is so, then it is a career that any rugged, workmanlike football upshots can draw inspiration from. Work hard, be a good team player, and good things can happen. Raymer has come a long way since his days in Wisconsin and hopefully there is a place in the Redskin organization for Cory if his playing days are indeed done. There will always be a spot at THN for Cory Raymer to call home. In an age of primadonnas, his attitude and humility alone are refreshing. Best of luck to the big guy, and from one hockey lover to another -- keep your stick on the ice.