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Rich Tandler is the author of Gut Check, The Complete History of Coach Joe Gibbs' Washington Redskins.
There's nothing like having to have a perfectly good blog entry rendered null and void in less than 24 hours.
Yet that's the case as Saturday night's piece on the Redskins wide receiver situation was shot to hell by this article in the Washington Post:
Washington Redskins wide receiver Laveranues Coles has had at least two extensive conversations with Coach Joe Gibbs since the season ended which are expected to lead to his release from the team, according to sources familiar with the situation.Apparently, Coles is unhappy with Gibbs' conservative offense that emphasized the running of Clinton Portis and the short passing game. Most of the passes to Coles, a smaller, speedy receiver, were short tosses and screens designed for Coles to gain yards after the catch. He averaged just 10.6 yards a catch in 2004 after having averaged no fewer 14 yards per in any of his previous four seasons.
So, the one given in Saturday's piece, that Coles would man the #1 receiver slot, is now apparently gone if Nunyo Demasio's report is correct. It's back to the drawing board.
Exactly what the Redskins will have to work with in rebuilding their WR corps is unclear. According to the Post article, this will not be your garden-variety release where the team eats the portion of the signing bonus--in Coles' case $13 million--that hasn't been charged to the salary cap. The bottom line on the team waiving Coles would be a net increase of just under $6 million to their 2005 cap. The team can ill afford such a hit.
This transaction will not be a waiver maneuver but something more like a mutual voiding of the contract. Coles will pay back some portion of the $13 million bonus. Exactly how much he might repay is not known, but if he gives back about half of it his departure will be just about a wash on the salary cap books. Of course the 2003 first-round pick that the Redskins gave up as compensation for signing Coles as a restricted free agent is now gone.
There will be efforts to assess blame for this fiasco. The two lightning rods will be Coles and team owner Dan Snyder, who was responsible for the deal to acquire Coles to be the primary weapon in Steve Spurrier's Fun and Gun offense.
Certainly it will be easy to put the blame on the rich, spoiled athlete who is pouting because he isn't getting his own way. And there's a lot of truth in that, but at least Coles is going about this in the right way. He could pout and whine to the media and essentially force the team to relese him. Instead, he's keeping his mouth shut, taking out his checkbook, and buying his freedom. That's the high road. And if he wants out that badly, it's best to let him go.
Snyder is always at the center of the storm and it' hard not to place some of the blame at his feet; he made the deal. However, the nexus of Coles' unhappiness is the best move that Snyder ever made--hiring Gibbs.