Not bad for a guy with no money.
By retaining cornerback DeAngelo Hall for six years at a cost of $54 million and by purchasing the services of defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth for seven years for a cool $100 million, the Washington Redskins have become a better team literally overnight.
The two elements that were missing from last year's defense, ranked #5 in the NFL in terms of yardage, were a pass rush and takeaways. Haynesworth gives the Redskins a better pass rush all by himself. He racked up 14.5 sacks the past two seasons, the most by any tackle in the NFL. In addition, he will make Andre Carter and Jason Taylor much more effective. Last year, the two ends, and any blitzing linebackers or defensive backs, had to take the Great Circle route to get to the opposing quarterbacks. Offenses were able to fan out their protection because of the lack of any sort of pass rush threat coming from up the middle. With Haynesworth present in the middle the opposition won't be able to do that.
Should the pass rush materialize, that will lead to a lot of passes off the back foot and a lot of passes with a defender in the face. That creates interceptions and Hall is hoping that a lot of them fall into his waiting arms.
The potential rewards come hand in hand with potential risk. Even if you sign two model citizens to deals totaling $64 million in guaranteed money there are concerns that they won't be able to live up to it. There is the chance of serious injury and the possibility that cashing in will remove the incentive to play hard.
And both Hall and Haynesworth come with some baggage, although it's important to note that neither is on Roger Goodell's radar screen as far as off-field issues are concerned. Hall has displayed a "me-first" attitude to the point of being tagged "MeAngelo". Haynesworth stomped on the face of Dallas' Andre Gurode during a 2006 game. That drew a five-game suspension, the longest in NFL history for an on-field incident.
How the Redskins can afford all of this is another question. It appeared that the Redskins went into midnight with about $11 million in 2009 cap space. Signing bonuses can only be spread out over five years for cap purposes and a player's salary, including roster and option bonuses, can go up by only 30% per season.
The details of the deals will come out later and it will be very interesting to see how they were structured. I have to think that Shawn Springs has seen his last day as a Redskin as his $6 million cap number probably needs to go off the books.
I also think that Snyder would be more than willing to let the salary cap go away next year. That would make any future cap issues created by these monster contracts a moot point.Rich Tandler blogs about the Skins at RealRedskins.com and he is the author of the upcoming book The Redskins Chronicle. You can reach Rich by email at firstname.lastname@example.org