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Did the Redskins Overpay?

Did the Redskins Overpay?

As the Redskins have signed free agent after free agent over the past few days, the questions have kept popping up. How are they pulling this off with their supposed cap problems? And did they overpay for what they got?

The answer to the first one is easy. The Redskins’ cap guru, Eric Schaffer, is simply the best in the business. The organization doesn’t just throw around money; Schaffer crafts out each deal dollar by dollar, year by year to ensure that it fits within the team’s projected cap situation. The way Snyder runs the team generates the cash flow—cash beats cap—but it’s Schaffer who puts it all together.

Without going into details, (I’ve been told that the eyes of most of my readers here glaze over at such information) through the creative manipulation of the cap Schaffer and his team, helped by Snyder’s cash, can fit a six-year, $30 million contract with $10 million guaranteed into cap space of under $2 million in the first year.

And what about the other $28 million? Aren’t they just mortgaging the future, putting it on a big credit card that will come due at some point in the future?

Not really. To continue the credit card analogy, there a plenty of people out there who run up large credit card debts that manage them just fine. The bill for the balance never “comes due” as long as the money is managed properly with an eye towards the future. The debt can be refinanced and restructured as needed. You can keep on making purchases on the card as long as you stay under the limit and keep an eye towards the future. And you figure that as the years go by, you should be making more money, making the debt smaller relative to your income

The salary cap never “comes due”. It’s an ongoing thing. You can push money into future years indefinitely. As long as you don’t push too much into one season, you can keep doing it. Deals can be restructured and money pushed back. And the cap goes up from year to year, devaluing the dollars that you are pushing back.

To be sure, others use such maneuvers, but few do it as frequently and with such careful regard for the implications down the road as Schaffer does. Words like genius and mastermind get thrown around too often, but they apply to Schaffer. Should the team collect another Lombardi trophy in the next few years, Schaffer’s name should be engraved on it.
Perhaps one day the Petes and Lenny’s of the world will learn to praise the Skins’ cap management instead of predicting disaster year after year and then making snide comments about cheating when their forecasts bear no relationship to reality. I guess they’d rather continue to be wrong.

That’s how they paid. Now, did they overpay?

There is nary a Pro Bowl appearance among Adam Archuleta, Andre Carter, Brandon Lloyd and Antwaan Randle El. No league leadership in interceptions, receptions, or sacks among them. There are some highlight-reel moments starring some of these guys, no doubt. But their respective resumes, while better than pedestrian, are hardly the gold standard.

No gold changed hands, but a Brinks truck with some $40 million of guaranteed cash in it backed up to the facility at Redskins Park and dumped it on these four players (actually, Lloyd has not yet signed his deal, but he will get something in the neighborhood of $10 million guaranteed when he does). Did the Redskins pay filet mignon money for ground chuck?

First of all, in the year 2006, that is not filet mignon money. That went to center LeCharles Bentley, who the Browns are paying $36 million over six years with $12 million guaranteed, guard Steve Hutchison who will be paid $49 million over 7 years by either the Vikings or Seahawks, and running back Edgerrin James, who gets over $11 million guaranteed out of a four year, $30 million deal.

One thing that a lot of folks—media and fans alike—don’t seem to grasp is the fact that there is a lot more money to be spent this year than last. You hear a lot that each team’s cap went up $7.5 million due to the CBA extension. What you don’t hear much is that the cap was already slated to go up by $10 million even before the new labor agreement. Multiply that $17.5 million increase from 2005 to 2006 times the 32 NFL teams and you have over half a billion—that’s billion with a “b”—new cap dollars in play. It’s simple economics; when the money supply goes up, so do prices.

Still, it appears that the Redskins were happy to pay these guys more than anyone else was willing to. So, by that definition, they did overpay.
But if you get the player you want, it is really overpaying? Is it better to settle for someone who might save you a million or two but doesn’t quite fit your needs? A $2 million difference in guaranteed money on a six-year deal is $333,333 a season, or just less than the two-year veteran minimum salary. It adds up, no doubt, but it shouldn’t be enough to make you settle for second best.

Time will tell. Ultimately, the only thing that matters, the only way to judge whether or not the Redskins forked over too much money for a player, is results on the field. If the Redskins win and the new players fill their expected roles, it will have been worth every dollar and then some. If the team is not successful, it will be as though they had put a match to a dump truck full of $100 bills.

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Redskins Draft Room Revealed: Who works the phones, and who makes the call

Redskins Draft Room Revealed: Who works the phones, and who makes the call

Since the dismissal of former general manager Scot McCloughan, there's been little question who was in charge at Redskins Park. Unofficially anyway. 

Bruce Allen is back running the show, if he ever stopped, and will be at the center of the Redskins draft room and decision making process.

For weeks, Allen and Jay Gruden made clear that the entire Redskins front office - from scouts to the top brass - have input on draft grades. Those grades will determine what players the 'Skins take, and the team is unlikely to deviate from their draft board. 

On Monday, however, Washington director of college scouting Scott Campbell addressed the media and explained that when a decision needs to be made, it will be Allen's call. 

From Campbell:

The way we have the room when the draft is ongoing is we have Eric Schaffer and Alex Santos are constantly calling teams above us. They’re taking the phone calls from the other teams – also behind [us]. A lot of times per Bruce’s instructions, he’ll say, ‘Hey, you take these five teams. You take the next five teams. Start making calls.’ And then we’re receiving calls too at the same time. Once they get that information, they’ll tell the table in the front and say, ‘Hey, we can trade back for this, we can trade up for that.’ It would be me and Bruce and Jay saying ‘No, no, we’ve got enough guys there’ or say ‘I like these guys,’ or like, “Hey, there’s guys there.’ So it’s kind of a discussion amongst the people, and most times it’s Bruce saying, ‘Just tell them we’re not interested,’ or he says, ‘Get the league on the phone. We’re going to make that trade.’”

Campbell's comments reveal quite a lot. To start, it's interesting to know the roles of Schaffer and Santos during the draft. Both men carry a lot of impact in the team's personnel selection. Also, and it was fairly obvious since McCloughan's firing, but Jay Gruden's role continues to increase.

The biggest tell, however, is that ultimately Bruce Allen makes the decisions. It's not a surprise, but it is important to know. Officially.

<<<LOOKING AT REDSKINS DRAFT PROSPECTS>>>

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Redskins won't say if Joe Mixon is on their board but say character does count

Redskins won't say if Joe Mixon is on their board but say character does count

The Redskins may or may not have one of the most polarizing members of the 2017 draft class on their draft board. But they do believe that character counts.

Scott Campbell, the Redskins’ director of college scouting, would not say if  Oklahoma running back Joe Mixon, who is seen on video striking a woman and knocking her to the floor in an incident that occurred in July of 2014, is on the team’s board.

“We don't announce who's on and off the board for strategic reasons,” said Campbell on Monday at the team’s pre-draft news conference, saying that it’s the team’s policy.

He added that incidents like the one that Mixon was a part of do come into consideration.

RELATED: NFL Mock Draft Version 10.0

“Character is very important to me, it's very important to the Redskins,” said Campbell.

He explained that early in the scouting process, character issues are not taken into account.

“What I always told the scouts and how I was trained 30 years ago when I started is when you start to evaluate guys in the beginning, you don't factor in the character, you don't grade character, you grade talent,” said Campbell, who has been with the Redskins organization for 16 years. “You don't throw away somebody early who may have some redeeming quality or a part of the story you didn't know about.”

It’s later on that the scouts gather information on such incidents as problems with the law, failed drug tests, and other quarters of character.

MORE REDSKINS: Redskins mock 2.0 goes offense early, defense often 

“Our scouts do a great job getting a lot of information,” said Campbell. “Some of the incidents you brought up happened after the season, at the combine, and just a few days ago. All those things are factored into an evaluation as they are gathered.”

With that information at hand, they start the process of elimination, deciding who fits and who doesn’t.

“When it comes close to the draft, you start weeding out all that, getting more information, deciding, OK, that guy's not our kind of guy, that guy's not a Redskin, this guy could be drafted but good luck to them,” said Campbell.

It seems like much more of a gut feel type of process than anything rigid. There is not much of a clue there as to whether or not the team will consider bringing Mixon aboard, who is inarguably one of the most talented running backs in the draft. The upside is that Mixon could provide a jolt to the team’s offense. The downside would be an immediate public relations hit. The team also must consider what will happen if Mixon were to run afoul of the NFL’s domestic abuse policy in the future, which calls for a six-game suspension for a first offense with penalties getting progressively worse if problems persist.

Stay up to date on the Redskins! Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page Facebook.com/TandlerCSN and follow him on Twitter @Rich_TandlerCSN.