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Hunkering Down

Hunkering Down

Hunkering Down

The clock is ticking at Redskins Park with a week left to go before free agency. That happens every year in late February, but the difference in 2006 is that nobody knows what’s going to happen when the clock strikes midnight.

Vinny Cerrato said a lot about the Redskins cap situation on Thursday by saying very little on WTEM in Washington.
If there is a Collective Bargaining Agreement, we can answer a lot of our questions in free agency. If there's not a Collective Bargaining Agreement, which we should know hopefully in the next few days, then we'll be doing most of our [player acquisitions] in the draft.
In other words, the Redskins will have plenty of cap room to spend should the CBA get extended. An extension would likely carry the dual benefits of a higher cap, probably in the neighborhood of $110 million, and an easier environment in which to redo contracts. Washington could file a little paperwork, perhaps release a player or two and then start the preflight checklist for Redskin One to start ferrying prospects to Ashburn

Without a new CBA, however, the Redskins will be severely pinched to squeeze in under the cap as we talked about here earlier this week. First the Turk, normally a staple during training camp, will be making premature visits to perhaps as many as a dozen players, telling them that the coach wants to see them and, oh yes, bring your playbook. Players’ agents will be in the lobby and on the phone, as they try to hammer out new deals that will shuffle enough money in the right way so as to provide cap relief but still remain within the guidelines of the CBA. It will take every bit of creative accounting to get the Redskins under the cap and have enough room to sign their draft picks and leave room for an injury replacement or two.

If one were to listen to what NFLPA chief Gene Upshaw said today it’s would appear that the latter scenario is the one that the Redskins will be dealing with. After speaking with a group of player agents today, Upshaw seemed quite pessimistic that a deal would be reached:
Unless something is going on ... that I've not seen in the last day or two, we're just not there yet. I'm not putting a lot of faith in that we're going to reach agreement in the next couple of days.
Of course, all of that talk could be just that, talk, a negotiating tactic. There are rumors that the deal is close and it would take just one breakthrough to get it done
Complicating the matter further is the fact that the NFL has yet to announce exactly what the salary cap for 2006 will be absent a new CBA. It could be anywhere from $92 million to $95 million. Those three million dollars make a big difference for a team that will be needed to squeeze every dime. On top of that, every contract signed and renegotiated will have ramifications through future years. The 2007 season may be uncapped, it may not be if a CBA is reached sometime in the next few months. The Redskins will have to take their best guess at what will happen down the line.

All of this means that the Redskins not only have a Plan A and a Plan B, but because of all of the possible dimensions and permutations their stacks of plans likely run through most of the alphabet. The Excel spreadsheet used to calculate the cap must have entries in Row 782, Column CZ.

And those are just the contingencies dealing directly with the salary cap. Cerrato, Joe Gibbs, and the rest of the scouts and coaches have to evaluate free agents that the Redskins may or may not be able sign and start figuring out how to replace players that they may or may not have to cut.

Some are seeing other teams releasing players and redoing contracts already and wondering why the Redskins have yet to announce anything more than the signing of long snapper Ethan Albright. The complexity of the Redskins’ situation dictates that virtually everything takes place at the last minute. The elements of each plan are intertwined and it’s likely that very few if any potential moves are common to all of the plans. There is no point in playing your cards early when the potential gain is minimal and the possible consequences of making the wrong move are very damaging.

Those of you who have been complaining that it’s been too dull be patient. Things will begin to heat up in the next several days as the clock keeps ticking.

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Barry Trotz's departure reminiscent of Joe Gibbs' resignation in 1993

Associated Press

Barry Trotz's departure reminiscent of Joe Gibbs' resignation in 1993

The sudden resignation of Barry Trotz as the coach of the Stanley Cup champion Capitals is the most stunning Washington coaching departure since Joe Gibbs retired from the Redskins about 13 months after the team won its third Super Bowl in a 10-year span. 

In the years leading up to Gibbs’ departure, there were some rumblings that he might leave. As early as 1986, John Madden said that Gibbs was a candidate to burn out of the profession early. During the 1989 season, Gibbs said that he was contemplating retirement, but he retracted his words the next day. In 1990, columnist and TV pregame panelist Will McDonough reported that Gibbs would retire after the season. Retirement rumors popped up again in early 1992, just two days before Super Bowl XXVI. Again, Gibbs denied them. The Redskins easily beat the Bills to claim their third championship in 10 years and there was no apparent reason why such a successful coach would think about leaving. 

Redskins fans had become so used to hearing the Gibbs retirement reports that many just started to tune them out. So on the morning of March 5, 1993, when reports of Gibbs’ resignation as coach started to circulate, many were in a state of denial.

That turned out to be wishful thinking. The fans were given a hard jolt of reality when the team announced a noon press conference. 

There the coach was on TV, as promised, confirming the news. He said it was a family decision. 

“Every year, we get away and talk about it,” Gibbs said. “We always reach the same conclusion. This year, it was different. The boys didn’t encourage me one way or another, but they understood when I told them what I was thinking. I think Pat’s happier than anyone. This isn’t an easy lifestyle for a coach’s wife. The coach is the guy who stands up and hears everyone tell him how great he is. The wife is the one waiting at home alone while the coach is spending every night at the office. 

“I wanted more time with my family. I wanted more time with my sons. I look at this as a window of opportunity with them and I couldn’t let it pass.” 

Although he has been diagnosed with a condition that has caused some pain and some difficulty in sleeping, Gibbs said that health was not a factor in his decision. 

Richie Petitbon, the team’s longtime defensive coordinator, was named the team’s new head coach. It had to be one of the shortest job interviews ever. 

“I get a call from Mr. Cooke who tells me Joe has retired and that he wants me to coach the Redskins,” Petitbon said. “After I picked myself up off the floor, I said yes.” 

After hearing the news, most Redskins fans had to pick themselves up as well.  

Petitbon lasted only one season as the head coach and the other eight head coaches who followed, including Gibbs himself in a four-year second stint, have been unable to get the Redskins back to the Super Bowl. Coincidentally, the Caps’ head coaching job is widely expected to go to Todd Reirden, who was Trotz’s top assistant just as Pettitbon was Gibbs’. 

Washington fans hope that the Caps have better fortune with Trotz’s successors. 

More Redskins

- 53-man roster: Roster projection--Offense
- 53-man roster: Best players 25 or younger

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


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Need to Know: Post-minicamp Redskins 53-man roster projection—Defense

Need to Know: Post-minicamp Redskins 53-man roster projection—Defense

Here is what you need to know on this Tuesday, June 19, 37 days before the Washington Redskins start training camp.  

Redskins 53-man roster projection—Defense 

It may still be early to project the roster, but things are coming into focus after the round of practices in helmets and shorts. Here is my look at who I think will make it on defense; the offense was posted yesterday.

Defensive line (7)
Jonathan Allen, Da’Ron Payne, Matt Ioannidis, Anthony Lanier, Stacy McGee, Tim Settle, Ziggy Hood

I don’t think that McGee’s groin injury will be an issue, but it seemed that Jay Gruden was very tight-lipped about the whole thing, so we will have to wait until training camp starts. This is one more than they normally carry here and Hood’s presence on the roster could be in danger if injuries force the team to carry more players at another position. 

Outside linebacker (4)
Ryan Kerrigan, Preston Smith, Ryan Anderson, Pernell McPhee

Anderson is certain to make the roster, but he was mostly invisible during the offseason practices that were open to the media. The spotlight will be on last year’s second-round pick in training camp. After a zero-sack rookie season, Anderson will be under pressure to produce this season. 

Inside linebacker (5)
Zach Brown, Mason Foster, Zach Vigil, Josh Harvey-Clemons, Shaun Dion Hamilton

The player I have on the wrong side of the bubble here is Martrell Spaight. If he does work his way on, the spot most in jeopardy is Vigil’s. Harvey-Clemons got a lot of reps with the first team in OTAs and the team thinks he can help in nickel situations and perhaps more. And Gruden called Hamilton a potential future starter. So the two younger players seem safe, leaving Vigil vulnerable.

Cornerback (6)
Josh Norman, Quinton Dunbar, Fabian Moreau, Orlando Scandrick, Josh Holsey, Greg Stroman

As is the case with the running backs that I looked at yesterday, this group seems to be pretty well set. It’s not that it’s an exceptionally strong group, but there isn’t a lot of real competition. Behind these six are three undrafted free agents, and while Danny Johnson, Kenny Ladler, and Ranthony Texada all have had flashes in the offseason practices, they are extreme long shots to make the roster at this point. 

Safety (4)
D.J. Swearinger, Montae Nicholson, Deshazor Everett, Troy Apke

If there are concerns about Nicholson’s health—to be clear, as of now there are none—Fish Smithson could make it as a fifth safety. 

Specialists (3)
K Dustin Hopkins, P Tress Way, LS Nick Sundberg

It looks like the Redskins will have the same trio of specialists for the fourth straight year. I will look it up at some point but for now, I’ll say that it’s been a while since they had such stability here. 

Defensive players: 26
Rookies (5): 
Payne, Settle, Hamilton, Stroman, Apke
New to the Redskins in 2018 (7): Rookies plus McPhee, Scandrick
Not on 2017 Week 1 roster (13): Rookies plus new players plus Vigil (released in the final cut, re-signed later in the season). 

On the 53-man roster:

24 offense, 26 defense, 3 specialists
Rookies: 8
New to the Redskins in 2017: 12
Not on 2017 Week 1 roster: 16

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

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Days until:

—Training camp starts (7/26) 37
—Preseason opener @ Patriots (8/9) 51
—Roster cut to 53 (9/1) 74

The Redskins last played a game 170 days ago. They will open the 2018 NFL season at the Cardinals in 82 days. 

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