Quick Links

Duckett Deal Raises Questions

Duckett Deal Raises Questions


You can reach Rich Tandler by email at WarpathInsiders@comcast.net

What exactly did the Redskins give up in this deal?

You’ve heard a third-round pick, but that’s not entirely accurate. The compensation will have the draft pick trade chart value of a third-round, but it may not be a third-rounder that changes hands. According to Bill Williamson in the Denver Post, and confirmed by Warpath’s John Keim, these are the possible scenarios:

  1. The two teams exchange first-round picks, in which the Broncos would make a huge jump up the round
  2. The teams flip-flop their first-rounders and the Broncos get a fourth-rounder in 2008
  3. The teams flip-flop their first-rounders and the Broncos get a third- rounder next year
  4. The Broncos get a third-rounder in 2007 and a fourth-rounder in 2008.

To make this as expensive as possible, let’s assume that they are looking at the point value of the first pick in the draft, which on the 2006 chart was 265 points. So, somehow or another, the Redskins have to transfer 265 points to the Broncos. Obviously for any of the first three scenarios listed to happen the Broncos would have to the picking later than the Redskins meaning that the Broncos would need to have a better record in 2006.

Let’s say that the Broncos win the Super Bowl and have the 32nd pick of the first round. To make up those 265 points in an exchange of first-round picks the Redskins would have to own the 20th pick or better. Presumably scenarios #2 and #3 will come into play if the teams are closer together in their draft positions. The fourth possibility, the one that has the Redskins giving up the two picks for Duckett, would occur if the Redskins finish with a better record than the Broncos.

On the face of it giving up a first-day pick for a player with one year left on his contract is a pretty hefty price, one that says very loudly that the Redskins are looking to win it all in 2006.

What does this tell us about Portis’ condition?

The “smart set” out there is saying that this trade means that the condition of Clinton Portis’ shoulder is worse, maybe much worse, than the Redskins are letting on. While it’s in the realm of possibility that there is some truth in this line of thinking it is sheer speculation. People are certainly entitled to being able to engage in that in this age of instant analysis. So I’ll exercise my right and engage in some sheer speculation of my own and try to get into Joe Gibbs’ thinking here. I’m speculating that Gibbs made this deal for two reasons.

First, in his first go around in the NFL he liked to have multiple starting-caliber running backs. In the early years it was John Riggins and Joe Washington. The second Super Bowl was won with George Rogers and Kelvin Bryant gaining the yards during the regular season and then with Timmy Smith setting the Super Bowl rushing record that still stands. In ’91 rookie Ricky Ervins spelled Ernest Byner and Gerald Riggs toted the rock over the goal line.

Now he has Portis and. . .who? Ladell Betts has shown flashes but he hasn’t shown enough to be considered a starting-caliber back. Rock Cartwright is a great guy and a superb special teams player but as a starting running back, well, he’s a great guy. Nemo Broughton? He got his audition in the late going against the Jets on Saturday and was just OK and he fumbled the ball away. Jesse Lumsden? This is the big leagues here, not the CFL. Although Duckett has started just 13 games in his four seasons, that’s eight more than all of the Redskins’ backs not named Portis have started combined.

Second, Gibbs wants to save some of Portis for when it really counts. Last year the Redskins played 18 games. By the last couple of games, the playoffs, Portis was pretty beaten up. Despite all of the talk we heard earlier in the year about Betts taking some of the load off, Portis got virtually every single carry of any significance all year long. Add to it the X factor of the injured shoulder and the fact that he’s starting off the year banged up and there is good reason to want to make sure that his load can be made lighter

The Redskins hope to play in 19 or 20 games in 2006. If their season is going to last longer, Portis is going to have to last longer. Duckett should help make that happen.

This deal doesn’t necessarily mean that the team thinks that Portis will be unavailable for the start of the regular season. It does mean that the want to increase the chances that he will be available for the end of the season.

What about Betts?

Betts quoted as saying, “I don’t understand it” in regards to this trade. I don’t understand something either. I don’t understand why he thinks he’s entitled to anything. Again, he’s shown flashes, but they have been few and far between. What haven’t been few and far between are his injuries. Imagine if the Cincinnati game was a regular-season game. Portis goes down early, Gibbs turns around to look for Betts to go in and, oops, he’s on the bench with a tweaked hammy.

Betts hasn’t proven to be much of a role player either. He’s not a short-yardage back. In 2005 he carried just twice in third and two or less situations and netted a loss of two yards. Third and long hasn’t proven to be his specialty either unless you consider 10 catches for a 7.8-yard average and four first downs to be an acceptable level of production in that role.

If Portis were to miss some significant time, say three or four games in a row, could Betts be relied upon to carry the load, to carry 20-25 times a game? His body of work suggests that he can’t.

This is not to say that Betts is worthless. He has good size, decent speed and good running instincts. The guy can play the game. But if you’ve been around for four years and you have nothing to hang your hat on, you don’t have a role that you own, you haven’t instilled confidence that you could handle the starting job even in the short term much less over the long haul, you should expect to be challenged.

I’m willing to write off Betts’ comments as a heat of the moment type of thing. Nobody likes to have competition brought in and he can be forgiven for having an emotional reaction.

But any player on this team that has an entitlement mentality and doesn’t believe that he needs to go out and earn his playing time will soon find his way onto the end of the bench and, eventually, will find his way out of town.

What’s the bottom line here?

The Redskins have once again shown that they are the most aggressive organization in the game. If they believe they have a hole that needs to be filled, they go out and fill it with the best player they can get. They don’t care if someone is going to get on the air or in front of a keyboard and write that they overpaid for that player. It happens virtually every time they acquire a player. It started when everyone said they overpaid for Portis and for Mark Brunell in Gibbs’ first acquisitions. Since then they’ve paid too much for Marcus Washington and Shawn Springs, gave up too much to get Rocky McIntosh, took an unbearable cap hit to swing the deal to get Santana Moss and so on. The Redskins made the moves anyway.

Let’s talk about this concept of “overpaid” for a minute here. A house in my neighborhood sold for $200,000 recently. I look at the house and the size of the lot that it’s on and I would say that the family that bought it overpaid for it. But it so happens that the house backs up to the elementary school and the family that bought it has two young children. To me, the proximity to the school is worthless but it was quite valuable to the family that will have their kids’ school in their back yard for the next several years. They were willing to “overpay” for the house for that reason.

To me, any money spent on a two-seat Porsche is overpaying because I don’t like driving cars like that and I have no use for one. Others would feel the same way about the minivans and SUV’s that I prefer. It’s all a matter of utility to the end user. In this particular instance, Duckett has a great deal of utility for the Washington Redskins. They gave up what they had to in order to get his services. They are now in a position where they could sustain an injury at running back and where they can better spread out the workload at the position if everyone stays healthy. They also have gained the short-yardage and goal-line power back that they have been missing for the past couple of years.

While there is no question that they will be better in 2006 for having made this deal, there is the matter of the third-round pick, possibly more. At least in all of the other “overpayment” situations mentioned above the player obtained was under contract for a number of years. Duckett becomes an unrestricted free agent after this season and a third round pick is a high price for a one-season rental.

The Redskins haven’t exactly pushed all of their chips into the pot, gambling that they will win it all in 2006. But the pile in the middle of the table keeps getting bigger and bigger.

Rich Tandler is the author of The Redskins From A to Z, Volume One: The Games. This unique book has an account of every game the Redskins played from when they moved to Washington in 1937 through the 2001 season. For details and ordering information go to http://www.RedskinsGames.com

Quick Links

The seven best undrafted free agent signings the Redskins have made since 2010

The seven best undrafted free agent signings the Redskins have made since 2010

Every NFL training camp is different, but there are a few consistent things you can count on happening at each one each year.

At some point, for example, a star will say that he's "just excited to hit a guy wearing a different colored jersey" after about a week of practicing against his teammates. Also on the list: a coach will tell reporters that his defense plans on being more aggressive and hopes to create more turnovers in the regular season.

One of the more pleasant camp traditions, meanwhile, is that undrafted rookie who goes from stand-in to stand out and makes the team by impressing in drills and preseason contests.

But while there will be plenty of time in the coming weeks for trying to figure out who'll do that for the Redskins in 2017, let's instead look back at a handful of the players who've already accomplished that in the past with Washington. Here are the seven best undrafted free agents the franchise has unearthed since 2010.

MORE: PLAYING OVER/UNDER WITH KEY STATS FOR KIRK COUSINS IN 2017

Logan Paulsen (2010)

No one will ever mistake Logan Paulsen's film for Rob Gronkowski's, but the former UCLA Bruin held down the third tight end spot for the Redskins from 2010-2014.

His two best years came in 2012 and 2013, where he posted 25 and 28 catches respectively, scored four total times and was on the receiving end of this magical fourth-down pass from Robert Griffin III against the Giants, a play that might've just been the peak of Griffin's rookie year. Now 30, Paulsen is reuniting with Kyle Shanahan out in San Francisco, continuing to exceed expectations and extending what's been a fruitful NFL career.

Will Compton (2013)

Will Compton's made a steady climb up Washington's roster since entering the league as a free agent linebacker out of Nebraska.

He was cut in his first season back in 2013 but latched onto the practice squad. He eventually debuted near the end of 2013, though, and made the 53-man squad the next go-round. 2015 was when he first started playing regularly, then last year he started 15 contests while also serving as a captain.

In 2017, he'll have to compete with Zach Brown and Mason Foster for a starting gig, but he figures to play plenty no matter the outcome and he's one of Jay Gruden's most trusted defenders. Not bad for a guy who has admitted he "wasn't confident" as a rookie:

Houston Bates (2015)

Special teams often is the avenue a college free agent has to take to make a roster, and Houston Bates is an example of one who's been there, done that. He's appeared in 24 games for the Redskins in his first two NFL campaigns and will look to recover from a torn ACL he suffered last December so he can add to that total in year three.

Before that injury, he was Washington's most active special teams player with 292 snaps in 14 contests.

Quinton Dunbar (2015)

Quinton Dunbar has not only overcome being an undrafted free agent; the former Florida Gator has also made the successful transition from wide receiver to cornerback, too.

Like his classmate Bates, Dunbar has participated often in 2015 and 2016, and like Paulsen, his biggest moments have come against the Giants. As a first-year pro, he picked off Eli Manning in the end zone to the delight of a raucous FedExField crowd, and as a sophomore, he helped complete a risky fake punt and also notched another (absolutely insane) INT in New York:

Rob Kelley (2016)

This offseason, Jay Gruden joked that Rob Kelley has worked his way up from "ninth-string" to starter. He laughed as he said it, but it may not have been that big of an exaggeration.

Kelley never rushed for more than 420 yards at Tulane, but he ripped off 704 last year for the 'Skins. Now he's the top option in a talented backfield, and while Samaje Perine and Chris Thompson are nipping at his heels for carries, Gruden has repeatedly said how much he loves Kelley. He'll be fed plenty in 2017.

Anthony Lanier (2016)

Anthony Lanier's on this list not for what he's done, but for what he's projected to do. Gruden uses not one but two really's to describe how excited he is about Lanier, and a couple of months of working with assistant Jim Tomsula might be all the lineman needs to make the jump from a project to a problem. 

Maurice Harris (2016)

Last on the list is a receiver who displayed sure hands and a knack for converting third downs in limited action last year. Maurice Harris now looks like he'll be an early option off the bench in Gruden's offense and should see the field far more often than he did in the second half of 2016.

You may not be fully sold on Harris, but it sounds like his teammates are, so don't be surprised if he breaks out and develops into another option for Kirk Cousins:

RELATED: RANKING THE REDSKINS ROSTER FROM BOTTOM TO TOP

Quick Links

Need to Know: Redskins by the numbers—First-down rushing, forcing fumbles

Need to Know: Redskins by the numbers—First-down rushing, forcing fumbles

Here is what you need to know on this Sunday, July 23, four days before the Washington Redskins start training camp in Richmond on July 27.

Timeline

The Redskins last played a game 203 days ago; they will open the 2017 season against the Eagles at FedEx Field in 49 days.

Days until:

—Preseason opener @ Ravens (8/10) 18
—Preseason vs. Packers at FedEx Field (8/19) 27
—Roster cut to 53 (9/2) 41

The Redskins by the numbers

5.01—The average yards per carry against the Redskins on first down last year.

I have noted this before but I took a closer look and it’s even worse. In 2016, four running backs—Isaiah Crowell of the Browns, DeAngelo Williams of the Steelers, Jordan Howard of the Bears, and Ezekiel Elliott of the Cowboys—gained over 100 yards against Washington on first down alone. It took Elliott two games to get there but the other three made it in one. If the Redskins don’t get this fixed (this is the second year in a row they have been last in the league here) their defense won’t get much better.

3.85—The Redskins average offensive gain per carry on first down.

This is not a very good performance here — the average is 20th in the NFL. But it does represent a significant improvement from 2015, when they were last in the NFL at 3.3 yards per carry. One difference was negative plays. Two years ago, they had 63 first-down plays go for no gain or a loss of yards. Last year they had 48 such plays. Rob Kelley, who was fourth-best in the league as a rookie last year at gaining yardage after being contacted behind the line, can claim a lot of credit.

8—The number of opponents’ fumbles the Redskins recovered this year.

A total of 17 other teams recovered more fumbles than the Redskins did last year and their recoveries were exactly half of what they were in 2015, when they had 16, the most in the league. It wasn’t surprising that their recoveries fell. The numbers crunchers say that fumble recoveries aren’t “sticky,” meaning that there tends to be a lot of variance for each team each year. And that makes sense as a lot of recovering fumbles is the bounce of the ball.

But it should be noted that the Redskins forced just 22 fumbles last year after forcing 36 in 2015. You have to get the ball on the ground to recover it and the Redskins could do a better job of forcing fumbles in 2017

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.

In case you missed it