Finally, in the final years of that run, there was Plan B free agency. In 1989, Washington signed 15 Plan B free agents, including defensive end Fred Stokes.
Of course, those were different times, a different NFL — the league before the salary cap. Draft picks are more valuable than ever, as teams try to manage their annual payroll.
“I guess it could happen today,” said Casserly, who was the Redskins general manager from 1989 to 1999 and with the Houston Texans from 2002 to 2006 and now serves as an analyst for the NFL Network. “The difference is the salary cap. Having so many veteran players now would just squeeze you too much. Back when the USFL folded, the Redskins could go and get Doug Williams and pay him $400,000 to be a backup at that time and not worry about it.”
It also helped Washington that when you do have just three first-round draft picks, you make the most of them.
The Redskins had a first-round draft pick in 1980. They drafted Art Monk.
The Redskins had a first-round draft pick in 1981. They drafted Mark May.
The Redskins had a first-round draft pick in 1983. They drafted Darrell Green.
Two Hall of Fame players and a mainstay of the Hogs offensive line.
“We hit 100 percent on those first round picks,” Casserly said. “Monk was a consensus first rounder. May was a consensus first rounder. Darrell Green, if we hadn’t taken him, he would not have gone in the first round.”
The Redskins didn’t always make the most of their first- round draft picks after that — see Desmond Howard and Heath Shuler. It remains to be seen if they did so when they gave away three of them for a chance to draft Robert Griffin III.
• Thom Loverro is co-host of “The Sports Fix,” noon to 2 p.m. daily on ESPN 980 radio and espn980.com