Might things have gone differently for Jason Taylor in Washington if he hadn’t fox-trotted the 2008 offseason away? Might he have been in better shape to handle the rigors of his profession if he hadn’t spent so much time hoofing it up on “Dancing with the Stars”?
It’s a moot point, really. If Taylor hadn’t gotten in touch with his Inner Fred Astaire last spring - and irked his new boss, Bill Parcells, in the process - he might still be pressuring passers for the Dolphins. Jason’s extracurricular exertions were what enabled the Redskins to trade for him, injured and ineffective though he often was.
So, thank you, Edyta Sliwinska (his dancing partner)… for nothing.
Yes, 13 games, 3.5 sacks and $7.5 million later, Taylor is gone from the Redskins - along with the team’s second-round draft pick this year and sixth-rounder next year. That makes him, come to think of it, the 2009 winner of the Adam Archuleta Award, which goes to the Major Redskins Acquisition who gets dumped after only one season. In the end, which came late Monday afternoon, Taylor balked at being a regular at offseason workouts, as the club was requesting, so Dan Snyder and Vinny Cerrato - who can use the cap space, anyway - simply said, “See ya later.”
Now Jason gets to kick back between seasons again, spend time with his family and find another sucker for his services. I’m sure he’ll be successful - just as Shawn Springs, an equally disinterested Redskin in 2008, will probably scrounge up a job. Their resumes are simply too compelling, even though there’s some question about how much they want to still play football at their advanced ages. Clearly, they still want to be PAID to play football, but the actual training and tackling are another matter.
Still, at least Taylor and Springs have accomplished something in their careers. Both have been to the Pro Bowl, and Jason has been NFL defensive player of the year. What are we to make of the five-year, $26.5 million contract just handed Derrick Dockery, who has returned to the Redskins after two years in Buffalo? Is the NFL now rewarding players for failing?
Dockery was a bust with the Bills, a thoroughly ordinary - or worse - left guard who capitalized on the 2007 free agent frenzy to secure a seven-year deal for $49 million, $18.5 million guaranteed. So the club cuts ties with him… and the Redskins welcome him back into their warm embrace, guaranteeing him another $8 million? What’s wrong with this picture?
What makes Dockery worth so much more than Pete Kendall, who made about $3 million each of the past two seasons and was a perfectly serviceable player? He’s younger, you say (28 to Kendall’s 35)? So what? Are we giving guys bonuses for being younger now, too? At what point does How Good You Are enter into the equation?
We’re seeing this with increasing frequency in the NFL: A player signs a big free agent contract; his club, dissatisfied, unloads him after a year or two; and some other club comes along and hands him another big contract - giving him two huge paydays in a relatively short time. The Redskins now have two players who fit that description, the second being DeAngelo Hall.
Hall, you may recall, received a $7 million signing bonus with the Raiders last year and lasted all of eight games with them. Now he has a new six-year, $54 million deal that includes $22.5 million in guarantees. And the Redskins are Totally Sold on DeAngelo - who’s had well-publicized issues with coaches in Atlanta and Oakland - because, well, he behaved himself for seven whole games with them last season.
Meanwhile, the Dolphins handed safety Gibril Wilson a five-year, $27.5 million package ($8 million guaranteed) - a year after he got $8.4 million to sign with the Raiders. And it’s only a matter of time, no doubt, before cornerback Drayton Florence, who flunked out in Jacksonville after just one season (and $8 million in bonuses) finds a substitute sugar daddy.
Comical, isn’t it? Owners used to fret about how players would respond once they got The Big Money. Now they’re giving it - without a whole lot of hesitation - to some players twice in two years. Wonder how that impacts on somebody’s appetite for excellence.
This is why there’s a certain hollowness at the Redskins’ core. They have all this dough to spend, and they choose to throw it at Derrick Dockery and DeAngelo Hall (and to a lesser extent, at Fred Smoot, a washout in Minnesota). Which suggests once more that Dan Snyder, the owner of a billion-dollar ballclub, still hasn’t figured out the value of an NFL buck.