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Duckett Deal Raises Questions

Duckett Deal Raises Questions

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What exactly did the Redskins give up in this deal?

You’ve heard a third-round pick, but that’s not entirely accurate. The compensation will have the draft pick trade chart value of a third-round, but it may not be a third-rounder that changes hands. According to Bill Williamson in the Denver Post, and confirmed by Warpath’s John Keim, these are the possible scenarios:

  1. The two teams exchange first-round picks, in which the Broncos would make a huge jump up the round
  2. The teams flip-flop their first-rounders and the Broncos get a fourth-rounder in 2008
  3. The teams flip-flop their first-rounders and the Broncos get a third- rounder next year
  4. The Broncos get a third-rounder in 2007 and a fourth-rounder in 2008.

To make this as expensive as possible, let’s assume that they are looking at the point value of the first pick in the draft, which on the 2006 chart was 265 points. So, somehow or another, the Redskins have to transfer 265 points to the Broncos. Obviously for any of the first three scenarios listed to happen the Broncos would have to the picking later than the Redskins meaning that the Broncos would need to have a better record in 2006.

Let’s say that the Broncos win the Super Bowl and have the 32nd pick of the first round. To make up those 265 points in an exchange of first-round picks the Redskins would have to own the 20th pick or better. Presumably scenarios #2 and #3 will come into play if the teams are closer together in their draft positions. The fourth possibility, the one that has the Redskins giving up the two picks for Duckett, would occur if the Redskins finish with a better record than the Broncos.

On the face of it giving up a first-day pick for a player with one year left on his contract is a pretty hefty price, one that says very loudly that the Redskins are looking to win it all in 2006.

What does this tell us about Portis’ condition?

The “smart set” out there is saying that this trade means that the condition of Clinton Portis’ shoulder is worse, maybe much worse, than the Redskins are letting on. While it’s in the realm of possibility that there is some truth in this line of thinking it is sheer speculation. People are certainly entitled to being able to engage in that in this age of instant analysis. So I’ll exercise my right and engage in some sheer speculation of my own and try to get into Joe Gibbs’ thinking here. I’m speculating that Gibbs made this deal for two reasons.

First, in his first go around in the NFL he liked to have multiple starting-caliber running backs. In the early years it was John Riggins and Joe Washington. The second Super Bowl was won with George Rogers and Kelvin Bryant gaining the yards during the regular season and then with Timmy Smith setting the Super Bowl rushing record that still stands. In ’91 rookie Ricky Ervins spelled Ernest Byner and Gerald Riggs toted the rock over the goal line.

Now he has Portis and. . .who? Ladell Betts has shown flashes but he hasn’t shown enough to be considered a starting-caliber back. Rock Cartwright is a great guy and a superb special teams player but as a starting running back, well, he’s a great guy. Nemo Broughton? He got his audition in the late going against the Jets on Saturday and was just OK and he fumbled the ball away. Jesse Lumsden? This is the big leagues here, not the CFL. Although Duckett has started just 13 games in his four seasons, that’s eight more than all of the Redskins’ backs not named Portis have started combined.

Second, Gibbs wants to save some of Portis for when it really counts. Last year the Redskins played 18 games. By the last couple of games, the playoffs, Portis was pretty beaten up. Despite all of the talk we heard earlier in the year about Betts taking some of the load off, Portis got virtually every single carry of any significance all year long. Add to it the X factor of the injured shoulder and the fact that he’s starting off the year banged up and there is good reason to want to make sure that his load can be made lighter

The Redskins hope to play in 19 or 20 games in 2006. If their season is going to last longer, Portis is going to have to last longer. Duckett should help make that happen.

This deal doesn’t necessarily mean that the team thinks that Portis will be unavailable for the start of the regular season. It does mean that the want to increase the chances that he will be available for the end of the season.

What about Betts?

Betts quoted as saying, “I don’t understand it” in regards to this trade. I don’t understand something either. I don’t understand why he thinks he’s entitled to anything. Again, he’s shown flashes, but they have been few and far between. What haven’t been few and far between are his injuries. Imagine if the Cincinnati game was a regular-season game. Portis goes down early, Gibbs turns around to look for Betts to go in and, oops, he’s on the bench with a tweaked hammy.

Betts hasn’t proven to be much of a role player either. He’s not a short-yardage back. In 2005 he carried just twice in third and two or less situations and netted a loss of two yards. Third and long hasn’t proven to be his specialty either unless you consider 10 catches for a 7.8-yard average and four first downs to be an acceptable level of production in that role.

If Portis were to miss some significant time, say three or four games in a row, could Betts be relied upon to carry the load, to carry 20-25 times a game? His body of work suggests that he can’t.

This is not to say that Betts is worthless. He has good size, decent speed and good running instincts. The guy can play the game. But if you’ve been around for four years and you have nothing to hang your hat on, you don’t have a role that you own, you haven’t instilled confidence that you could handle the starting job even in the short term much less over the long haul, you should expect to be challenged.

I’m willing to write off Betts’ comments as a heat of the moment type of thing. Nobody likes to have competition brought in and he can be forgiven for having an emotional reaction.

But any player on this team that has an entitlement mentality and doesn’t believe that he needs to go out and earn his playing time will soon find his way onto the end of the bench and, eventually, will find his way out of town.

What’s the bottom line here?

The Redskins have once again shown that they are the most aggressive organization in the game. If they believe they have a hole that needs to be filled, they go out and fill it with the best player they can get. They don’t care if someone is going to get on the air or in front of a keyboard and write that they overpaid for that player. It happens virtually every time they acquire a player. It started when everyone said they overpaid for Portis and for Mark Brunell in Gibbs’ first acquisitions. Since then they’ve paid too much for Marcus Washington and Shawn Springs, gave up too much to get Rocky McIntosh, took an unbearable cap hit to swing the deal to get Santana Moss and so on. The Redskins made the moves anyway.

Let’s talk about this concept of “overpaid” for a minute here. A house in my neighborhood sold for $200,000 recently. I look at the house and the size of the lot that it’s on and I would say that the family that bought it overpaid for it. But it so happens that the house backs up to the elementary school and the family that bought it has two young children. To me, the proximity to the school is worthless but it was quite valuable to the family that will have their kids’ school in their back yard for the next several years. They were willing to “overpay” for the house for that reason.

To me, any money spent on a two-seat Porsche is overpaying because I don’t like driving cars like that and I have no use for one. Others would feel the same way about the minivans and SUV’s that I prefer. It’s all a matter of utility to the end user. In this particular instance, Duckett has a great deal of utility for the Washington Redskins. They gave up what they had to in order to get his services. They are now in a position where they could sustain an injury at running back and where they can better spread out the workload at the position if everyone stays healthy. They also have gained the short-yardage and goal-line power back that they have been missing for the past couple of years.

While there is no question that they will be better in 2006 for having made this deal, there is the matter of the third-round pick, possibly more. At least in all of the other “overpayment” situations mentioned above the player obtained was under contract for a number of years. Duckett becomes an unrestricted free agent after this season and a third round pick is a high price for a one-season rental.

The Redskins haven’t exactly pushed all of their chips into the pot, gambling that they will win it all in 2006. But the pile in the middle of the table keeps getting bigger and bigger.

Rich Tandler is the author of The Redskins From A to Z, Volume One: The Games. This unique book has an account of every game the Redskins played from when they moved to Washington in 1937 through the 2001 season. For details and ordering information go to

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Scandrick, Hankins both visiting with Redskins soon


Scandrick, Hankins both visiting with Redskins soon

The Redskins will be taking visits from two former NFC East foes in the next few days.

Former Cowboys cornerback Orlando Scandrick will visit Redskins Park on Monday. Scandrick, 31, has been with Dallas since them made him a fifth-round pick in the 2008 draft. He has eight career interceptions and seven forced fumbles.

The Cowboys released Scandrick on Friday in a salary cap move. The Redskins would be attracted to Scandrick’s versatility. He can play either side at corner and, of particular interest to the Redskins, in the slot. That is a position of concern for Washington since they traded Kendall Fuller to the Chiefs as part of the deal for quarterback Alex Smith.

The Redskins have been trying to get former Giants cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie to sign for the past several days, but they can’t come together on money. Scandrick could be a fallback if they need one.

The other visitor will be former Giants defensive lineman Jonathan Hankins, per John Keim of ESPN. Hankins, 25, was a second-round draft pick and played his first four years in New York. Last year he moved on to the Colts as a free agent. They are changing their defense and decided to release Hankins after paying him $10 million last year.

Hankins could bolster a defensive line that still needs young talent. It’s not known if he would be considered a nose tackle in the Redskins’ scheme. The Giants ran a 4-3 defense and in the Colts’ 3-4 he was used as an end.

The Redskins had former Jets defensive lineman Muhammad Wilkerson in for a visit earlier this week, but he decided to sign with the Packers.


Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page and follow him on Twitter @TandlerNBCS.

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News, notes and observations from the first week of NFL Free Agency

News, notes and observations from the first week of NFL Free Agency

A whirlwind week in the NFL, but that's come to be the norm when free agency opens. Actually, not even when free agency opens, rather the legal tampering period opening two days before the actual start of the new league year. 

A lot happened, and more to come, but let's try to make sense of it all. 

  • The worst keep secret ever finally got revealed when the Redskins held their press conference to announce Alex Smith as their new starting quarterback. Everybody knows about the trade, and losing Kendal Fuller, but this trade makes a ton of sense and Smith was a homerun at the presser. He doesn't care about image or perception, a refreshing angle from the passer, and seems quite prepared for his new role. Smith was great in Kansas City in 2017. If he can replicate that in 2018 for the Redskins, the move will be loudly applauded. 
  • We still haven't gotten total clarity on Smith's contract. My intel says three years are really guaranteed, so Smith will be on the payroll through 2020 at least. Doug Williams joked at the presser that Smith could maybe play until he's 40, and since he's 33 right now, that would be a long time from now. 


  • Smith was the headline, but the Redskins also held a press conference with new WR Paul Richardson. He was possibly more impressive than Smith, just because the young speedster was more of an unknown. Smith has talked at a ton of podiums and faced a ton of reporters. I don't know, but that might have been Richardson's first ever press conference with a room that had probably 100 or more people in it. Check out the video above. 
  • Richardson had a great line when asked about the dangers of big hits on passes over the middle: "They gotta catch me." He's right. He will get a lot of opportunities for the Redskins, and he should make things better for Josh Doctson and Jamison Crowder. The Redskins wideouts did not get great separation in 2017, there are Pro Football Focus stats to back that up, and the offense got bogged down because of that. In 2018, with Richardson in place as a deep threat, defenses will need to react. 
  • The key to the Redskins offense truly succeeding in 2018: Jordan Reed. If he can stay healthy, the Washington air attack looks dangerous. 
  • Smart contract structure for the Redskins with Richardson. 
  • Zach Brown's contract is a 10/10 for the Redskins. A tackling machine that can actually improve from a strong 2017 season. Getting him back changed the entire tenor of Redskins free agency, as the team went from quietly sitting out the spending sprees (minus the Richardson move) to locking up their most important defensive player. 
  • Brown back, along with Mason Foster, gives the Redskins two strong inside linebackers. It's hard to remember now, but last September, that Redskins defense looked fierce. Injuries robbed the unit of a chance to completely gel and improve, but 2018 brings a new opportunity for that.
  • Offensively, the Redskins had to invest at wide receiver in free agency. The money for Allen Robinson got crazy and the team was smart to move forward with Richardson. He fits their desired profile: Young player coming off a rookie contract on a career upswing. 
  • The Redskins did not invest at running back, despite Jay Gruden and Doug Williams saying the team must improve at the position. Frankly, the Isaiah Crowell contract with the Jets was quite affordable, and he's a player some team sources had interest in. The Redskins do not have the luxury of taking a running back early in the draft, and I'd argue they shouldn't even look at RB in the second round. The Redskins should be focused up front on the offensive and defensive lines. A dream scenario: A player like Vita Vea or Da'Ron Payne at 13, and then Ohio State interior offensive lineman Billy Price at 44. Price would have been a first-round lock but for a pectoral injury at the Scouting Combine. Medicals say he should be fine for training camp. Washington has shown a proclivity to draft players that slip due to injury concerns (Kendall Fuller in 2016, Fabian Moreau in 2017) and Price could fit the same mold. 
  • The vacancy at left guard has not been addressed, and wasn't going to be addressed in free agency, or at least not in the early days where the big money gets paid out. Washington has more than $26 million invested this season in just three players on their offensive line (Trent Williams at $14M, Morgan Moses at $5M, Brandon Scherff at almost $7M) and the team knows Scherff will cost more money soon. The Jaguars just gave Andrew Norwell $30 million guaranteed; the guard market has arrived. The 'Skins will want to keep Scherff, and to do it, they need to keep some cash on hand. That means the new left guard will either be a budget free agent find, or come from the draft.
  • To that point, the team viewed Spencer Long expendable. He was well liked by players and coaches, but has never played a full 16-game season and missed half the year in 2017. Also, the emergence of Chase Roullier helped the team move forward without Long. 


  • A bit of a surprise to see Trent Murphy leave, but he got good money from the Bills. Washington liked Murphy, and wanted to keep him, but not at the price Buffalo paid. 
  • What happened to Ryan Grant is complete junk. The Ravens are a first-class organization, but that was a bush league move. The guy has never missed a game in four years and now he can't pass a physical?!? C'mon man. Hoping the best for Ryan and will be interested to see if his represenatives seek retribution from Baltimore. 
  • Bashaud Breeland sure likes to keep it interesting. Why sign a contract if you know you have a hurt foot and can't pass a physical? Why would the agent not disclose that? Maybe it was disclosed, but that situation just seems so weird. The Redskins were never bringing Breeland back, something I reported as far back as December, but now it seems Breeland's next NFL team will have to wait to see when his foot can pass a physical. Bree is a good and funny dude, hope he heals up. 
  • Two crazy things from one draft class: The 'Skins NAILED their 2014 draft haul. Without a first round pick, they got five solid contributors in Murphy, Moses, Long, Breeland and Grant. But now, after their rookie contracts have all expired, only Moses remains with the team. Bizarre. 

  • Credit where it's due: The 2014 Draft belonged to a certain Bruce Allen. That was the year after the Shanahan crew was fired and the year before Scot McCloughan was hired. Credit where it's due. 
  • I think a Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie deal gets done. I think a Junior Galette deal might get done. 
  • Ndamukong Suh is still out there. Just saying. 
  • So is Bennie Logan. Just saying. 

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