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If Redskins get aggressive in free agency, it won't look like it did in the past

For more than a decade beginning in 2000, the Redskins landed free agents with big names and big paychecks. Largely, the results were big busts. 

The names roll out like a Encyclopedia of Bad Free Agent Moves: Deion Sanders, Adam Archuleta, Bruce Smith, Jason Taylor, and the king of the terrible free agent signings, Albert Haynesworth. 

The bad moves compounded on errors. Washington signed older players -- often past their prime -- to contracts that were back-loaded and crippling to the salary cap. 

It was a bad era for the football organization. There's no way around that. 

Want some good news? That's over. 

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The point here isn't to throw undeserved accolades at the current Redskins front office. 

It is time, however, to point out that the Redskins era of dumb money and old free agents ended some time ago, and the perception has changed around the league. 

Be clear, the Redskins have made some significant missteps over the last five years, but they have not been a result of bringing in veteran, big money free agents. 

The Washington brass, including Jay Gruden and Doug Williams, said during the NFL Scouting Combine that this is the year the Redskins will be aggressive in free agency. Why is that news? It hasn't happened in a number of years. 

Last year, Bruce Allen moved quick to sign mid-tier salary players on the defensive line in Stacy McGee and Terrell McClain. Later in free agency, the team brought in Terrelle Pryor and Zach Brown, both on one-year contracts. The moves for McGee and Brown worked well, while neither Terrell(e) played well in 2017. 

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Say what you want about Allen, but he has largely been tight with the Redskins purse strings since he took over as team president. To that end, this offseason the Redskins have nearly $50 million in salary cap room. 

The only two big-name free agents signed in Washington since Jay Gruden took over in 2014 have been DeSean Jackson and Josh Norman.

Both players came available late in the free agency cycle, after unusual circumstances, and both players have produced in D.C. The Redskins were able to act because they had cap space when DeSean and J-No became available.

So what should fans expect in 2018?

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The Redskins want young players, preferably coming off rookie contracts, with high upside and athleticism. 

That doesn't mean the team won't consider veterans, and that doesn't mean the team won't move to bring back some of their own veteran free agents. 

What it does mean, however, is don't expect to hear the updates of Redskins One flying around the country to wine and dine the biggest names on the market.

It hasn't happened in years. 

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