After a lull following the burst of free agent signings a couple of weeks ago, there have been a few Redskins-related news stories. There wasn’t enough there on any of them to warrant a story, but now that we have a small collection of things built up, here goes:
- The Redskins sign backup offensive line help—The Redskins came to terms with offensive linemen Tyson Walter and Mike Pucillo, adding depth to that unit. With Ray Brown’s retirement and the cutting of Cory Raymer, there was no experienced depth. Walter and Pucillo have similar resumes; both are entering their fifth NFL season and each has spent some time as a starter. Walter was Dallas’ starting center for eight games in 2002 and Pucillo was Buffalo’s starter at guard for 12 games in 2003. They are both 6-4 and over 300 pounds. Neither is expected to challenge for a starting job. Their former teams did not make much of an effort to retain their services. Joe Gibbs thinks that Joe Bugel can take the two big bodies and make serviceable backups out of them.
- Washington will open the season on Monday night hosting Minnesota—The NFL released some of its opening weekend schedule and the Redskins will be kicking off ESPN’s coverage of Monday night football with a game at FedEx Field against Minnesota. A couple of guys who know that stadium well, Brad Johnson and Fred Smoot, will be returning wearing purple. The Redskins will be hoping that Andre Carter will head an unfriendly welcome-home committee for Johnson and that Smoot will have his head turned around a few times by trying to figure out who among Santana Moss, Brandon Lloyd, and Antwaan Randle El he should cover. The early opening Bold Prediction: Lloyd and Randle El both score touchdowns and the Redskins roll 31-10.
- Washington will get a seventh-round compensatory pick in the upcoming draft—The Redskins were awarded the 250th overall pick in the upcoming draft as compensation for losing Smoot and Antonio Pierce as unrestricted free agents. These picks are awarded based on a formula that is kept super double secret by the NFL. It’s based on the net value of the contracts the free agents you lose sign minus the contracts that you use to acquire UFA’s. They can’t trade the pick, which has to be a disappointment to Gibbs and company, who have a propensity for doing so.
- Derrick Dockery signs his contract tender—The Redskins starting left guard took himself off of the restricted free agent market by signing the Redskins tender offer. That means that Dockery will be back for the 2006 season. After that, though, he will become an unrestricted free agent unless the Redskins can sign him to a long-term deal. The good news is that he is the only starter that is not under a contract that runs thorough at least 2007.
- Sean Taylor shows up at offseason workouts—The Redskins safety apparently changed his mind after his attorney said on Sunday that he would not be there for the OTA’s. Redskins.com treated the change of heart as a reporting error, leading its story on Taylor’s presence at Redskins Park by saying, “Contrary to a report published in Monday's Washington Post, safety Sean Taylor was in attendance for the start of voluntary off-season workouts at Redskins Park on Monday.” Come on, guys. The Post was accurately reporting a statement from Taylor’s own lawyer, who today said that they decided that his legal case could be prepared with Taylor just being there on weekends. That would be kind of like if the Post reported that the Redskins were trailing at halftime and then the team calling the paper’s report inaccurate because the team came back to win the game.
- Jason Campbell and Shawn Springs were at the Verizon Center on Sunday—OK, that’s a cheap way of working in the story of the year in sports and a story that has transcended sports, the presence on my alma mater, George Mason University, in the NCAA Final Four. I’ll admit right off the bat that I couldn’t have named a single player on the team prior to the start of the NCAA tourney, so I’m not going to get into any of this “we” stuff. I’ll also have to admit that I thought the Patriots were cooked after that reverse layup that hung on the rim until after the final buzzer fell in the basket, sending the game into overtime. Virtually everyone but Jim Larranaga and the dozen or so guys on the team thought so, too. But the Patriots continued to play loose and composed basketball, just like they had for every one of the 160 minutes leading up to that final five minutes. And they hit five of six shots in overtime and survived the second buzzer-beater attempt for the win. There will be no bold predictions here as to how George Mason will fare in Indianapolis. I will, however, ask the simple question: Why not the Patriots?
Rich Tandler is the author of The Redskins From A to Z, Volume 1: The Games. This unique book chronicles every game the Redskins played from the day they came to Washington in 1937 through the 2001 season. You can get details and information on how to order at http://www.RedskinsGames.com