Friday, February 27, 2009

Albert Haynesworth Meet Dana Stubblefield

Cue the band. The champions of the offseason are back and spending more money than ever. What? No love for the Skins? At least we're winning something. I want a ticker tape parade. Maybe that will make me feel better about this whole situation.

The Washington Redskins became the first team in NFL history to spend $100 million on a non-quarterback by inking former Titan Albert Haynesworth to a ginormous seven-year deal that included an absurd $42 million up front. And they earned that honor by using all that money on a player who has played 16 games once — when he was a rookie — during his seven-year career.

This is Albert Haynesworth stepping on the Cowboys' Andre Gurode's face.

Well lemme tell you a little story here that I was randomly reminded of when I was in New York around Christmas time. Staying at Greg's place, his roommate that I randomly went to middle school with, started talking Redskins with me and brought up his memory of me as a Skins fan revolved around the free agent signing of Dana Stubblefield.

Basically, it was seventh grade and I was entering the first years of my extremist Skins fandom. And the team had been bad, comically bad at times during the first years of the Norv regime and were coming off the most tragically of bad seasons in 1997 where they started 7-1 and ended up 8-7-1. Most remember it as the "Gus Frerotte running into a concrete wall" season. On a side note, these collection of years tragically will live for eternity as when I jumped on the Skins bandwagon.

So after this heartbreaking year, I was belated to find out the Skins had decided to sign Dana Stubblefield and Dan Wilkinson, two beefy defensive linemen to shore up a weak run defense. Seriously, these signings were all I talked about for days, which then only intensified when I found out Wilkinson's daughter was going to move to Potomac. Let's hear what Michael Wilbon has to say about all

But it could fail spectacularly, too. Once upon a time the Redskins acquired a defensive lineman who plays the middle just like Haynesworth, a player who was coming off an MVP of the NFL season and entering his prime, a lineman who had already been in the Super Bowl. His name was Dana Stubblefield, and at the time it seemed like the Redskins were getting a player on his way to the Hall of Fame. His name was Dana Stubblefield and there was nothing but joy when the Redskins got him. A few years later, there was nothing but relief when the Redskins showed him the door after utter disappointment. The Redskins were the only ones, in retrospect, who didn't know that it was Bryant Young who made that 49ers' line great, and not Stubblefield.

Now I don't want to be too down on this. Frankly, the prospect of having Haynesworth taking up blockers so that Jason Taylor and Andre Carter can have free rein on opposing quarterbacks is an appetizing thought. And to be fair to Haynesworth, he has been far more consistent during his career than Stubblefield was at the point he came to the Skins. But like Wilbon said, Stubblefield also had a Super Ring already and a 15-sack, MVP season in the books.

This is Albert Haynesworth holding a small child, presumably his own. BTW, I want to start a pool: Will Haynesworth step on someone else's face during his time as a Skin, and will it be a teammate or an opponent. I'm going with year two of his tenure during training camp. The victim ... Fred Smoot.

Here's what gets me, though. The two-headed management monster of Dan Snyder and Vinny Cerrato promised us last year that they were eschewing this whole break out the big bucks approach and instead trying to build through the draft. Now I realize they failed miserably at that goal last year (drafting three wide receivers that caught a combined 21 passes during the season, a punter who they ended up releasing midway through October, oh yeah and a promising safety in the 7th round). While I never trusted Vinny or Danny Boy to have full throttle success building up through the draft, I kind of expected them to at least give it another whirl.

But then the salary cap Gods gave Snyder exactly what he wishes for every night before he goes to sleep in the offseason: More Cap space. Yes, the salary cap projection came in $4 million higher than anyone expected, $127 instead of $123 million. At that point we all should have seen the writing on the wall when the Skins released guys like Shawn Springs and Marcus Washington, while restructuring the deals for Antwaan Randle-El, Chris Samuels, and several others. Throw in the additional signings of CB D'Angelo Hall and O lineman Derrick Dockery to big time deals and you've got the annual Snyder splurge at its finest. What do you think, does the Skins bringing in the first non-Qb $100 million man rank ahead of the off season of 2000 (you know when Deion, Team Bruce Smith, Mark Carrier, and Jeff George came on board)? I'll let Mike Wise of the Washington Post get the last word on this one:

And if there was ever any doubt who is in charge of deal-making for this franchise, who is still very much the architect of who comes and who goes, Snyder answered it by ponying up for the NFL's most sought-after free agent. ...

Outbidding a half-dozen other NFL teams for Haynesworth would make real sense if it didn't fly in the face of everything the Redskins have been preaching lately about building and not just buying another Super Bowl. They could well collect their fifth Steinbrenner trophy this decade -- an award that, if it existed, would be named for another impetuous free spender and given out annually to the team that wins the mythical offseason title.

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