End of an Era
By: Mark Solway 
Posted: 2006-03-09
Category: Washington Redskins News
In the days and weeks to follow, much will be written about Lavar Arrington and his career in the nation's capital. Commentaries on his drop in production the last two seasons, about his disputes with management, and about his huge contract -- because after all, when a star is expunged, a little damage control may be in order.

But is that a fair judgement of a young man that ultimately has bled burgundy and gold since coming to the Washington Redskins in 2000?

Let's face it, the Redskins' constant need for cap relief is the main culprit behind the jettisoning of Arrington. While it's definitely true that Arrington struggled with injuries and then consistency in 2004 and 2005, wasn't the writing really on the wall the moment he re-structured his contract in a manner that virtually guaranteed this release and at this very time? Did the Redskins ever really intend to pay Arrington a $6.5 million roster bonus this offseason? Experts didn't think so at the time, everyone knows the answer now.

Experts may choose to write about Lavar's huge contract and how his production doesn't warrant the pay that he receives, but never once do they stop to examine the fact that he is getting paid so much money now because the Redskins have been delaying for years what they have previously agreed to pay the man. Sure his cap number was huge for 2006 -- it included bonus money from his original contract in 2000, a new signing bonus pro-ration from 2004, a $6.5 million roster bonus AND his annual salary. How could it have been anything but huge? But isn't Arrington's contract really just a microcasm of years of cap abuse in Washington?

This 'cap move' would appear to have been coming since 2004, and isn't it a lot easier to justify the move when you've encouraged certain things to transpire? Things like riffs with staff, disputes with management over contracts, discipline issues, performance issues -- all helping rationalize a move that was perhaps inevitible from the get-go. Are these things that co-incided with the 2004 contract extension, or things brought about by it?

While the media may stick to sexier headlines and sensationalize whatever they can, Redskin fans shoud be the ones to judge what type of Redskin Lavar Arrington was. Ever the showman, always the comedian and jester, Lavar has been a fan favorite in Washington from the moment Paul Tagliabue read his name as the second overall pick in the 2000 draft. And rightfully so. Any fan who has been to a training camp will attest to the fact that Arrington was easily the biggest attraction and rarely disappointed his adoring fans. The man loved being a Redskin, and Redskin fans loved loving Lavar Arrington. Try to remember that in the next few days when the organization, the media, and even some mourning fans are selling the 'he'd outgrown his stay' speech.

Thanks for truly bleeding burgundy and gold Lavar, and may you find greener pastures. Not everyone took your dedication for granted, and many, many Redskin fans will miss you.
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