Cheap Seats: What Every Skins Fan Should Know
By: Daniel Coleman 
Posted: 2006-11-07
Category: Washington Redskins News
Redskins fans carry a reputation for being among the most knowledgeable fans in the nation, and rightly so: At its core, Washington has been, and will always be, a football town.

However, the excessive media attention given to the Redskins, who are the most profitable sports franchise in the U.S., ensures that a special, scrutinizing and national spotlight will always be on Dan Snyder.

Many Skins fans apply a selective memory when it comes to Snyder’s first few years and try to forget the reality that was Norv Turner, the 2000 former all-stars starring Bruce Smith and the Steve Spurrier regime. Despite his failures, Snyder made the one -- and only -- move that could save face in Washington: He brought back Joe Gibbs.

ESPN and Fox, however, are not quite as forgiving of Snyder as most fans. Snyder’s reputation for big spending ensures an automatic off-season barrage of jokes and criticisms.

Every season Redskins fans are assured that their franchise is destined for Salary Cap Hell, where the team must dismantle its roster, and where you pay Deion Sanders to play for other teams or to enjoy retired life.

No major media outlet seems to realize that, for the Skins, Cap Hell always remains a safe two seasons away.

Unfortunately, whatever comes down to us from the analysts at ESPN and Sports Illustrated seems to permeate casual sports conversation. Therefore, knowing that every Skins fan must bear the burden of dealing with the ignorant fans of rival teams, TheHogs.net has provided you with the tools you need to enlighten the barbarians and educate the rabble.

Our “capologist”, Bernie Marshall, has pieced together an unofficial guide to the Washington Redskins salary cap from NFLPA records and news reports.

Knowledge is the best way to counter the skeptic. The next time your co-worker asks why your team is paying all that big money for free agents, ask them exactly which players they are talking about, and how much these players are making.

As illustrated in a recent article, many of our solid contributors (including Chris Cooley, Mike Sellers, Ladell Betts and Joe Salave’a) count less than $1 million against the cap.

Ask your overconfident friend if he or she realizes that the Redskins are about $2 million under the cap, as it stands. Show them that, whatever the reports about Archuleta signing a record contract for a safety, he’s only making $1.5 million this season, $2.5 next year.

Further, tell them it is pointless to discuss contract totals in this era of back-loaded deals, restructuring and the salary cap "magic” that the Skins seem to use every year.

You’d be surprised how a couple of solid, real numbers can affect any debate. Instead of talking in vague terms, such as “spending too much” on free agents, you can simply ask “show me where” and shift the burden of proof to those that take ESPN’s editorials at face value.

Few people realize that our biggest cap problems lie with Chris Samuels, Mark Brunell and John Hall, and not with Clinton Portis (who is a steal at $3 million), Andre Carter, Brandon Lloyd, or Archuleta.

Keep the cap page on your bookmark list, take a glance at it occasionally and combat ignorance wherever you go. Snyder may be paying for the wrong free agents at times, and draft picks are certainly a worthy topic for another article entirely, but the management behind the team’s finances is something that no Skins fan will have to worry about in the foreseeable future.

Snyder walks that fine line between under-spending in cap space (something that, until recently, kept the Arizona Cardinals mired in mediocre rosters) and the irresponsible “throw money at it” attitude that still haunts him to this day.

Perhaps, someday, Salary Cap Hell will arrive in D.C. Just don’t expect it in the next two years, or in the two years following that.
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