Today was supposed to start the second part of the Redskins’ plan. After completing the trade that will land them their franchise quarterback, presumably Robert Griffin III, they were going to be aggressive in free agency to help build a team around him.
That was before the NFL owners and NFLPA decided to come down on the Redskins (and Cowboys) and decided to put a severe crimp in their plans by docking them $36 million in salary cap space over the next two years.
We haven’t heard the end of that, as there could be an appeal or legal action to reduce or remove the penalties. But that could take some time and free agency will start today at 4 p.m. regardless.
So how should the Redskins proceed?
Before any penalties, the Redskins were about $37 million under the cap. If they take half of the hit to their cap this year, they still will have $19 million. While that is not a large amount of money to spend, it is more than many NFL teams have.
What will this do to the team’s reported plans to make a big push to sign wide receiver Vincent Jackson? We will find out starting at about 4 p.m.
Even if the Redskins do end up getting docked salary cap dollars they could sign Jackson to a big deal. That could be accomplished by backloading the contract and having some guaranteed money paid out in future years after the penalty is gone and the new, more lucrative TV deals kick in for the 2014 season.
But that is exactly the kind of contract the Redskins gave to Albert Haynesworth, the kind of deal that Allen dislikes so much that he restructured it in 2010, leading to this whole cap mess.
The wiser course of action might be to go with a more low budget operation and see how the case unfolds. If the penalty gets overturned they would have more cap money to use next year.
There are some key decisions to be made in the next few days that will have long-term effects on the franchise. Redskins fans should hope that the decisions are made with cool heads and with eyes focused on the future.