Blog: It Wasn't Supposed to End This Way

Tandler's Redskins Blog Ver. 03.06.06--LaVar Arrington's Redskins career was supposed to end with a glorious retirement ceremony some 10 years hence, not with a seven-figure financial deal going down in the middle of the night.

You can reach Rich Tandler by email at WarpathInsiders@comcast.net

It wasn't supposed to end like this.

LaVar Arrington's career as a Redskin was going to last for another seven, eight, maybe 10 years. Number 56 was about to blossom from an excellent player into a dominant one, a super-duper star. He was supposed to make double-digit Pro Bowl appearances, perhaps win a defensive player of the year award or two. A Super Bowl ring was supposed to be supposed to be on at least one finger, especially after Joe Gibbs returned as coach of the Redskins and brought along Gregg Williams, whose aggressive style seemed to fit Arrington perfectly, as defensive coordinator. He would retire as the face of the franchise and still own the city of Washington.

This destiny was supposed to be locked up and written in stone after he signed one of those huge, Redskin for life deals at the end of the 2003 season. The contract was for eight years and some $78 million. But instead of that being the beginning of the height of Arrington's career, it proved to be the beginning of the end of it.

Certainly there is no need to recount the drama that has been LaVar over the past 24 months to the readers here. From the dispute over that very contract through the 2004 injury, his outburst to two reporters in the halls of Redskins Park when he had a second surgery for that injury, the benching at the start of the 2005 season and, the last straw, Arrington's comments to a Washington Times reporter just days before the critical regular-season finale that he wouldn't be back with the team, Arrington's stock has been falling like Enron's did a few years back.

It has long been anticipated that Arrington wouldn't be back with the Redskins in 2006. His merits as a player can be debated. Some say he's a badly-needed playmaker on a defense that lacks them while others paint him as a undisciplined freelancer and a major distraction. The truth is somewhere in between, but whatever that truth is it didn't justify either a $12 million salary cap number and a $6.5 million roster bonus due in July and a total of $51 million over the final six years of his deal.

Now, you can say that nobody could possibly live up to such a deal and you'd probably be right. But there is a certain minimum level of performance and conduct that is expected from a player carrying a double-digit cap hit and it's hard to make a case that Arrington met those standards. He was inconsistent on the field, had to come out on third downs, and had a tendency to be very outspoken at exactly the wrong times.

The conversation he had with David Elfin of the Times the day after Christmas was the end of the end. Elfin had been trying to get an interview with Arrington for five months to talk about his status with the Redskins. The day after Christmas Arrington called Elfin and invited him to his home near Annapolis to talk. Arrington said:

The Redskins will try and trade me, but if no one wants to take the trade, they're going to have to cut me. If they string me into July, that's not debilitating to me. If that means the end, that means the end.

This was not a heat-of-the-moment comment where Arrington was caught off guard and blurted out something spontaneous. He had five months to think about what he was going to say and he chose the worst possible moment—six days before the biggest game of his professional career, a road game that would determine if the Redskins would go to the playoffs.

If he wanted his ticket out of town punched, he couldn't have done it any better had he orchestrated the whole thing. Oh, wait, he did orchestrate it.

One of Gibbs' policies from day one has been that those who do not want to be on the team any more would be accommodated. Regardless of cap hits and roster bonus payments, any thin chance of him remaining a Redskin went up in smoke that day.

It was just a matter of what the end game would be. Apparently Arrington reconsidered what he said about it not being debilitating if they kept him until July. With a new CBA looking possible if not probable, one that would let the Redskins save 2006 cap money by waiving Arrington after June 1, Arrington decided it would cost him a considerable amount financially to be kept around until then.

So, it was a simple deal, one that has advantages for both sides. Arrington gets his freedom now, at the start of the free agency period when teams will have some dollars to spend. Even if the market is strangled somewhat should the CBA extension not pass, he still will be able to get a better deal now than in July.

For their part, the Redskins were able to gain some cap space. Depending on the exact amount of Arrington's repayment to the team, the transaction will create at least $3 million in additional cap room. If there is not a CBA extension the space is crucial and even if there is one the extra dollars will be very helpful in filling team needs (including Arrington's replacement if they decide to go that route to fill the spot).

So, in the end, it was a simple business transaction. Four million dollars exchanged hands and it was over. The Redskins have paid Arrington some $33 million over the course of his six years with the team and they have gotten their money's worth. He provided some great moments and some game-winning plays.

There will be no farewell day at FedEx Field, no retirement of jersey number 56, no grassroots LaVar for the Hall of Fame movement.

But sometimes it's in the best interests of both parties in a relationship to move on. It wasn't supposed to end this way, but both LaVar Arrington and the Redskins decided that it needed to.


Breaking Burgundy Top Stories

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You can reach Rich Tandler by email at WarpathInsiders@comcast.net

It wasn't supposed to end like this.

LaVar Arrington's career as a Redskin was going to last for another seven, eight, maybe 10 years. Number 56 was about to blossom from an excellent player into a dominant one, a super-duper star. He was supposed to make double-digit Pro Bowl appearances, perhaps win a defensive player of the year award or two. A Super Bowl ring was supposed to be supposed to be on at least one finger, especially after Joe Gibbs returned as coach of the Redskins and brought along Gregg Williams, whose aggressive style seemed to fit Arrington perfectly, as defensive coordinator. He would retire as the face of the franchise and still own the city of Washington.

This destiny was supposed to be locked up and written in stone after he signed one of those huge, Redskin for life deals at the end of the 2003 season. The contract was for eight years and some $78 million. But instead of that being the beginning of the height of Arrington's career, it proved to be the beginning of the end of it.

Certainly there is no need to recount the drama that has been LaVar over the past 24 months to the readers here. From the dispute over that very contract through the 2004 injury, his outburst to two reporters in the halls of Redskins Park when he had a second surgery for that injury, the benching at the start of the 2005 season and, the last straw, Arrington's comments to a Washington Times reporter just days before the critical regular-season finale that he wouldn't be back with the team, Arrington's stock has been falling like Enron's did a few years back.

It has long been anticipated that Arrington wouldn't be back with the Redskins in 2006. His merits as a player can be debated. Some say he's a badly-needed playmaker on a defense that lacks them while others paint him as a undisciplined freelancer and a major distraction. The truth is somewhere in between, but whatever that truth is it didn't justify either a $12 million salary cap number and a $6.5 million roster bonus due in July and a total of $51 million over the final six years of his deal.

Now, you can say that nobody could possibly live up to such a deal and you'd probably be right. But there is a certain minimum level of performance and conduct that is expected from a player carrying a double-digit cap hit and it's hard to make a case that Arrington met those standards. He was inconsistent on the field, had to come out on third downs, and had a tendency to be very outspoken at exactly the wrong times.

The conversation he had with David Elfin of the Times the day after Christmas was the end of the end. Elfin had been trying to get an interview with Arrington for five months to talk about his status with the Redskins. The day after Christmas Arrington called Elfin and invited him to his home near Annapolis to talk. Arrington said:

The Redskins will try and trade me, but if no one wants to take the trade, they're going to have to cut me. If they string me into July, that's not debilitating to me. If that means the end, that means the end.

This was not a heat-of-the-moment comment where Arrington was caught off guard and blurted out something spontaneous. He had five months to think about what he was going to say and he chose the worst possible moment—six days before the biggest game of his professional career, a road game that would determine if the Redskins would go to the playoffs.

If he wanted his ticket out of town punched, he couldn't have done it any better had he orchestrated the whole thing. Oh, wait, he did orchestrate it.

One of Gibbs' policies from day one has been that those who do not want to be on the team any more would be accommodated. Regardless of cap hits and roster bonus payments, any thin chance of him remaining a Redskin went up in smoke that day.

It was just a matter of what the end game would be. Apparently Arrington reconsidered what he said about it not being debilitating if they kept him until July. With a new CBA looking possible if not probable, one that would let the Redskins save 2006 cap money by waiving Arrington after June 1, Arrington decided it would cost him a considerable amount financially to be kept around until then.

So, it was a simple deal, one that has advantages for both sides. Arrington gets his freedom now, at the start of the free agency period when teams will have some dollars to spend. Even if the market is strangled somewhat should the CBA extension not pass, he still will be able to get a better deal now than in July.

For their part, the Redskins were able to gain some cap space. Depending on the exact amount of Arrington's repayment to the team, the transaction will create at least $3 million in additional cap room. If there is not a CBA extension the space is crucial and even if there is one the extra dollars will be very helpful in filling team needs (including Arrington's replacement if they decide to go that route to fill the spot).

So, in the end, it was a simple business transaction. Four million dollars exchanged hands and it was over. The Redskins have paid Arrington some $33 million over the course of his six years with the team and they have gotten their money's worth. He provided some great moments and some game-winning plays.

There will be no farewell day at FedEx Field, no retirement of jersey number 56, no grassroots LaVar for the Hall of Fame movement.

But sometimes it's in the best interests of both parties in a relationship to move on. It wasn't supposed to end this way, but both LaVar Arrington and the Redskins decided that it needed to.

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