This glorified conference call turned must-see television meets Christmas for the football-inclined is where the Redskins can’t afford a mistake this week. The $18 million salary cap penalty left them turning over couch cushions for enough change to re-sign their own free agents and, even in a depressed market for veterans, sifting through free-agent leftovers.
The Redskins don’t pick until No. 51 overall on Friday, thanks to one of the three first-round selections shipped to the St. Louis Rams in the Robert Griffin III deal. That landed the franchise’s cornerstone, but combined with the cap penalty to leave the team with holes to fill and not many ways to do so.
They need help at safety. Tackle. Cornerback. Not starters, necessarily, but players capable of immediate contributions. No projects or wait-and-see selections. An early-round dud with the team’s limited means could be disastrous. They’re a sneeze away from the salary cap. This is the opportunity, as much of one as they’ll get this offseason, to make a significant upgrade.
Really, they need to mine another Alfred Morris. Mike Shanahan’s gang pulled the running back out of the sixth round last year, part of their solid haul in later rounds. The big boards and projected drafts and endless self-anointed experts didn’t favor the kid from Florida Atlantic who drives a 1991 Mazda. Then he rushed for 1,613 yards, good for second-most in the NFL.
Think of the impact sniffing out an impact defensive back, for instance, would make on the patchwork defense that habitually surrendered long plays last season and provide a long-term answer in the secondary.
This is a different sort of draft for the Redskins, one, at long last, with a quarterback to build around instead of the years-long quest for competency at the position. Possibility lurks among the cliches.
Just don’t forget the upside.