Comment: What a shame. As good as Portis is, the Redskins overpaid to get him. Bailey for Portis straight up is one thing, but adding a second-round pick is another, especially a high selection. That's another potential Jon Jansen. There's also no doubt in my mind that a shut-down corner is harder to find than a top running back. In a passing league, that's a must. Also, Bailey is headed toward a Hall of Fame ending and it's disappointing to know that the bulk of his career will take place elsewhere.
That said, here's the flipside: Portis, as long as he stays healthy, is an elite back and should remain so for a while. He'll transform this offense. And the Redskins had to trade Bailey. Had they kept him as a franchise player, they likely would have had him for only one season and then lost him without compensation (it's doubtful they could afford to franchise him next year). This way they clear up cap room to pursue other free agents and they get an elite back. Still, the loss of the second-round pick is troubling, though this front office's track record is spotty after the first round. Don't be surprised if the Redskins trade out of the No. 5 pick to grab more picks.
Let's make this clear, however: there's no way that corner Fred Smoot is ready to take over the No. 1 role. One local columnist wrote that Smoot had a better season than Bailey. What a joke. Smoot, much as I like him, never covered the other team's top receiver. Bailey did on just about every down. There's almost no comparison. Here's the thing: the Redskins DID shop Smoot around the league at draft time last season, asking for a third-round pick. They had no takers.
Item: The Redskins, as expected, cut Bruce Smith, Jessie Armstead, Lional Dalton and Bryan Barker.
Comment: Good riddance, Mr. Smith. He was going to retire so this is no big deal. But the organization is so much better off without him. People talked about his leadership, but I didn't see it. What I'll remember is his selfish pursuit of the sack record -- he'd complain during games about not getting sacks and he'd privately do so the day after games. In the game against New York when he did break the mark, one play stood out. He nearly got a sack, but missed and Armstead got it instead. As everyone else celebrated Armstead's third-down sack, Smith left the field visibly disappointed.
But Armstead will be missed. One NFC East scout said that Armstead appeared to have worn down toward the end of the season. Yet he was a true leader, not someone who talks about wanting to be so and does so when convenient. At some point, though, the Redskins must develop another young (inexpensive) linebacker. Other teams do it all the time. And cutting Armstead saves them $1.5 million, which could make the difference in finding a top-notch defensive lineman. That's more important than a linebacker.
As for the others, Dalton was a dog. Not so much on the field but in other ways: he was not known as a hard worker. Good thing they gave up a draft pick to get this joker. Just another example of front office mistakes. And Barker had to go. At $900,000, his production did not match his contract. Joe Gibbs has won with worse punters (though he also had better defenses, too).
Item: Quarterback Patrick Ramsey is going nowhere.
Comment: This much is certain and always has been. So Ramsey must get used to the idea of life with Mark Brunell. There's some talk that Ramsey is still upset about some things from the past, like the near trade to Chicago when he was a rookie. He should realize by now that this is a business -- and that this organization is not exactly well-known for treating people well (there's a difference between paying them well and treating them well). Ramsey must now find a way to mend fences, probably more so with the fans. By all accounts he and Gibbs have gotten along well. But Ramsey must show he's not as determined to leave as his agent is. One way he can do that: show up for Brunell's press conference, give a quote about how he welcomes the competition and that he's glad Brunell is here, then leave. Ramsey is a good kid and some in the organization don't think he's as upset as his agent said he was. We'll see.
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