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A New Theory At Work

By Scott Moore | March 18th, 2004

Every now and then, someone finds an entirely new way of looking at the world. The Redskins have taken a unique position in the view of NFL Draft picks. The value of draft picks has been tied to the position of finish as ranked by the NFL. The team with the worst record in the NFL would receive the first pick in the following NFL draft. For years, NFL teams followed the path of drafting in whatever draft position was handed to them. However, the new positions of franchise designated players and transition tagged players have changed the status quo at Redskin Park.

The franchise and transition tags were supposed to discourage teams from trading for key players on other teams. Along with having to pay the salary of the player, the additional draft pick compensation varied.
In some cases, no compensation is required at all. In addition, rookies sometimes carry baggage of hold-outs, inexperience and may never actually contribute to the club. Rookies also have a considerable impact on the NF L’s salary cap. The fewer the picks, the less complicated the puzzle of fitting the team within a tight salary cap.

Head of Player Personnel, Vinny Cerrato asked a seemingly innocent question -“Do you know your draft pick can perform at the NFL level?”
Critics accused Cerrato and the Redskins of applying “beer goggles” to the situation. But the Redskins are applying their own rules for acquiring players. Simply put, the Redskins view the acquisition of a player as their “draft” pick. In effect, the Redskins ‘drafted’ veteran WR Laverneaus Coles and PR/KR/RB Chad Morton.

The ‘new philosophy’ carried over to this offseason with the Portis/ Bailey trade. Bailey wanted the equivalent of $9,000,000 per season to play for the Redskins and may well have held-out if the Redskins had designated him as their ‘franchise player.’ The Redskins were in real danger of having either a disgruntled player on the field, or battling through a bitter, distracting hold-out.
Instead, the Skins found a taker for Bailey, and wanted a quality player in exchange for the trade. The Broncos were in the driver’s seat – and they knew it. The result, the Broncos gained Bailey and a second round pick. The question is: Which team got the better deal? At first glance, the Broncos look to have the advantage. But after you consider the future impact of the salary cap implications of Bailey’s salary in addition to the constraints of an additional high-round draft pick… the Redskins may have found enough cap relief to make the trade well worth while. In addition to the cap relief, Portis is a more-than-welcome addition to the Redskins offense.

The Redskins attempted to acquire Jeremitrius Butler from the Rams this season, with the additional cost of a 5th round pick. The Rams matched the contract offer for Butler nullifying the attempt. However, it’s another illustration of the Redskins’ unique view of draft picks. The Redskins willingness to part with draft picks is based on the answer to Cerrato’s original question. “Our players have already shown they can perform in the NFL.”

The debate over the effectiveness of this new view will continue until one of two things happen: One – the Redskins begin to win. Two – other teams begin making similar moves. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, and the Redskins hope to be imitated… soon.

Edit: This blog was archived in May of 2016 from our original articles database.It was originally posted by Scott Moore

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