The Washington Redskins have performed well below expectations. Many people are starting to point fingers at coaches, players, and schemes. Perhaps the salary-cap penalty could be the real cause for the Redskins struggles?
The NFL is regarded as one of the most competitive professional sports in the world. Competition rages on every team and franchise, from starting Quarterback to water boy. The level of physical talent and mental aptitude in the NFL is almost unrivaled in sports. Franchises are in a constant struggle to find not only the best, most talented players but also have to find special role players, who fit specific mental and physical skills sets for the role they are to perform. Even the smallest of disadvantages could be catastrophic.
Prior to the 2012 season, the NFL handed down a harsh 36 million dollar cap penalty, to be evenly distributed over two seasons for contract dealings during the uncapped 2010 season. The penalty, thought by many in the sports world to be quite excessive and unfair, was upheld after attempts to appeal the decision.
Both the 2012 and 2013 season started slow for the Redskins. The Redskins finished the 2012 regular season strong but have yet to locate that same spark this season.
At a cost of $18 million a year, could most of the Redskins issues be a direct result of the cap penalty?
The cap problem was certainly amplified by the trade with the Rams to acquire the draft pick to draft Robert Griffin III, an issue voiced by critics of the trade. They had a point. Without ample draft picks, some roles would likely have to be filled via free-agency, something the cap penalty made nearly impossible. Though most would agree the Redskins still have plenty of talented players, human nature makes you wonder what this team would look like without the cap penalty.
Recently, Washington Redskins Head Coach Shanahan even cited the cap as a reason for the Redskins short-comings this season. Though even he will admit there is much more to putting together a winning football team then cap room, most agree that cap penalty certainly deserves some of the blame.
To really get an idea of the impact of the salary cap penalty, lets examine some of the 2013 free agents that the Washington Redskins missed out on.
The Offense is talented and more then capable, regardless of the cap penalty, but here are a few guys that would have been nice upgrades:
WR, Mike Wallace – The Redskins have been hunting for a legit deep-threat receiver for years. You have to think if the wallet had been thicker, they would have taken a stab at Wallace.
T, Jake Long – Long was looking for big money this offseaon. When the Dolphins failed to offer enough, the Rams stepped up and signed him and have been pleased with the investment.
T, Andre Smith – Smith decided to resign with the Bengals, but if the Redskins had good money to tempt him, he could have ended up in Washington.
RT, Gosder Cherilus – This former 1st round pick by the Lions has really solidified the Right Tackle spot for the Colts, something the Redskins would have really loved to have done.
Here are a few defensive free-agents that could have helped bolster that struggling Redskins defense:
CB, Sean Smith – There is no doubt that the Redskins could use some upgrades in the secondary. Smith has performed very well in his first season with the Chiefs.
CB, Dominique Rodger-Cromartie – The Bronco’s have relied on Rodgers-Cromartie heavily this year and he has come through. The Redskins are desperate for a guy who can play consistently.
SS/FS, Dashon Goldson – I was surprised when the Redskins chose not to chase after this hard-hitting safety, despite a tight budget and Goldson’s history with league fines.
MLB, Daryl Smith – This aging linebacker was cut by the Jaguars but has since proved that his career is far from over, playing handsomely for the Ravens (replacing Ray Lewis).
One of the biggest areas affected by the cap penalty seems to be the Redskins Special Teams, underperforming in almost every statistical category. After losing LB and ST Ace Lorenzo Alexander to free agency, it was evident that there was not cap room for those key Special Teams contributors.
For once, though, the Redskins could not afford to overpay for a player, something that will pay heavy dividends in 2014 when there is no cap penalty to deal with…expect the Redskins to be fairly active in 2014 Free Agency.