You could hear the sympathy in Bill Polian’s voice Tuesday morning as he discussed some of the difficult decisions facing the Redskins.
What will the market be like for free agent tight end Fred Davis, whose last two seasons ended with a drug suspension and a torn left Achilles’ tendon, respectively? How does a cap-strapped team decide whether to release or restructure contracts for capable veterans such as cornerback DeAngelo Hall and receiver Santana Moss?
“That’s why this time of year is not fun for general managers,” Polian said.
Polian, an ESPN analyst who served as the Indianapolis Colts’ vice chairman from 1998-2011, believes the Redskins must ask themselves about Davis, Hall and Moss the same questions a general manager would if he were considering signing them as unrestricted free agents.
“The period we’re in right now is one where every club is faced with the question: How much do I play a player based upon, A, his productivity; B, his availability; C, his longevity; and, D, his contribution to the overall cap situation. So whenever you have red flags like injury, like potential suspension or character issues, like age, like size – and age, injury and, to a lesser degree size, enter into the dead money issue – you have very, very tough decisions to make.
“I’ve often said no general manager can be right in free agency,” Polian continued. “The system is designed to have you make mistakes. The union wants players to get paid, and people are going to make mistakes here. You try to eliminate as many mistakes as possible by taking as few risks as possible. Some people may see it differently, and that’s what makes the world go round.
“What you’re describing in the case of the Redskins is three very difficult decisions because all…the danger factors, if you will, come into play on virtually all of these players. When you have a high cap number, can it be restructured without looking at a lot of dead money down the line? That’s the issue there, assuming everything else is OK. In the case of a player with suspension issues and injury issues, boy, that’s much, much more complicated because you don’t know what you’re playing for. So that’s a much tougher one. They’re both tough issues.”
Judging from Polian’s admitted aversion to risk, we can infer he would stay away from Davis. It would take only one team with a different approach, however, to sign Davis away.
Polian, though, hinted at an advantage the Redskins have.
“Keep in mind, please, I don’t know any of what goes on inside the locker room, inside the building, which is 50 percent of this process. I don’t pretend to be an expert or even have any knowledge of that. That’s the individual club knows that, and that drives a great deal of their decisions.”