- The Washington Times - Monday, April 28, 2003

In years past, Dan Snyder's hyperactive management style has been a source of amusement for the rest of the NFL. Whether he was signing Deion Sanders, charging admission to training camp or firing Norv Turner with the Redskins still in playoff contention, Dan the Man was always giving his fellow owners a chuckle.
His offseason maneuvering this year, though, has definitely piqued their curiosity. Snyder spent four of his draft picks including his No.1 on restricted free agents, something that has never been done before. If the strategy works, if the Redskins take a big step forward this season and make the playoffs, you'd better believe other clubs will follow their lead.
So it goes in the NFL. One year you're clueless, the next year you're a visionary and teams are falling over one another to copy what you do. After the Patriots won the Super Bowl with a bunch of low-priced unrestricted free agents, a lot of folks thought that might be the way to go, and now the Redskins are trying to win the Super Bowl with a bunch of moderately priced restricted free agents.
Hey, at least they've got the guts to try something different, even if it might ultimately blow up in their faces.
If nothing else, clubs figure to be more careful in the future about dealing with their own RFAs. The Jets clearly blew it with Laveranues Coles and Chad Morton, tendering them offers well below their market value and well below what general manager Terry Bradway was willing to pay them. This reduced their compensation and made them more vulnerable to bids from other teams. A mere first-round pick for a wideout with 89 receptions? What if Coles had signed an offer sheet with the Raiders, who had the 31st selection in Round1 (instead of the Redskins, who had the 13th)? How foolish would the Jets have looked then?
(Bradway tried to wipe some of the egg off his face by trading up in the first round and taking the top defensive lineman, tackle Dewayne Robertson. It'll be interesting to see if the Jets, in their season opener against the Redskins, line up Robertson opposite Randy Thomas, another free agent Snyder stole from them.)
The Redskins' logic is that it makes more sense to spend draft picks on players you know can play (RFAs) than on players you hope can play (untested collegians). It's also, however, a bigger drain on your salary cap. Coles, Morton, free safety Matt Bowen and defensive tackle Jermaine Haley will cost the Redskins much more than their first-, fifth-, sixth- and seventh-rounders would have.
Something else to consider: The Redskins pretty much know what they're getting with these guys because they all have track records in the league. With draft picks, though, you don't always know what you're getting and that can be good. Why? Because sometimes they turn out to be better than everyone thought (see Terrell Davis, Tom Brady et al.).
The "sure thing" is nice, in other words, but an underrated gem can be nicer.
The Redskins' prioritizing in this offseason can also be second-guessed. By drafting a receiver in the second round and an offensive guard in the third, when they obviously had more pressing needs, they were basically saying, "Never again. We were outmanned at those two spots last season badly and to prevent it from happening in the future we're going to load up on receivers and guards. To the point of overkill, if necessary."
I humbly submit that with Coles, Rod Gardner, Darnerien McCants, Patrick Johnson and Cliff Russell plus Trung Canidate out of the backfield Steve Spurrier had enough targets to make the Fun 'n' Gun function. I also think the addition of Thomas and Dave Fiore, along with the re-signing of Tre Johnson, left the guard position in pretty good shape. So why, pray tell, did the Redskins take Taylor Jacobs in Round2 and Derrick Dockery in Round3 unless they've decided that defense doesn't matter much anymore?
The makeup of this team is beginning to remind me of the Redskins' clubs in the mid-'60s the Otto Graham years. Graham had lots of offensive weapons (Sonny Jurgensen, Charley Taylor, Bobby Mitchell, Jerry Smith), but what did he ever win? The Redskins gave up as many points as they scored back then.
The current defense is better than the one Graham had, but it's also suspect up front and thin in the secondary. Of course, you can't have everything in the NFL, and the Redskins have obviously made their choice:
Bombs away.



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