Cornering the Market

The Redskins clearly wanted to upgrade their corner depth. Now that they've done so, what is the impact? And what does this mean for Fred Smoot's future?

The signings of Ralph Brown as a nickelback and Walt Harris can lead to lots of theories. Here's one that makes me wonder: will they trade Fred Smoot for a high pick, say a second-rounder? The only place I've heard such talk is in my own head. Still, everything that happens makes you wonder what's next.

One AFC team executive said the Redskins wanted a third-round pick for Smoot last season (the Redskins tried to trade him to this team). Though this source hasn't talked to the Redskins about a possible trade, he, too, wondered about the possibility. At this point, it's merely speculation. We can't stress that enough.

``That may be what they're thinking,'' the source said.

Or not. Maybe the Redskins are trying to cushion the blow if Smoot leaves via free agency after next season. It's a possibility. Here's the thing: Smoot could be the best corner on the roster right now. Some say he definitely is.

``Smoot is better than all those corners,'' the executive said. Yes, he included Shawn Springs in that group. There wasn't much of a market for Springs, with this person calling it a ``one-horse race'' for his services. Too many questions about injury and loss of speed. Once a corner loses his speed, he's done. Cris Dishman made it to the Pro Bowl one season here, then overnight his play plummeted. All I remember is that when he lost his speed, he resorted to lots of holding. If he couldn't hold a guy, he'd get beat.

Springs has more speed than Dishman so we'll see. And he's not far removed from being a top corner.

But players such as Brown and Harris don't equal up to Smoot. Not by a longshot. Harris is even coming off surgery to repair a torn tendon, requiring him to rehab for the next four months. There's a decent chance the Redskins will play a lot more zone with this group, making it imperative that they find another good safety.

``Harris can't play, he's been going downhill,'' the executive said.

That's not to say this person thinks the Redskins have done bad things in the offseason. On the contrary, he calls them a better team than they were before free agency, though he didn't like the Springs or Phillip Daniels signing.

``Marcus Washington is a good player and Cornelius Griffin is a good player,'' the person said. ``Cornelius has had injury issues and that kept his play down. He's not great, but he's good. Portis is good and the quarterback situation with Mark Brunell is good for the short-term. And the fact that Joe Gibbs is there, they'll win because of that. In the big picture they're a better team. But down the road they'll have cap problems. They have no young players to help against the cap. They've sold out to free agency and you can't do that.''

Maybe that's why they'll look to add draft picks next month. I wonder what that means for Smoot. Let's hope it means nothing.


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