On Friday, they signed London Fletcher, who is not just the defensive captain but the de facto leader of the entire team, to a new contract. Fletcher, who is about to turn 37, will finish his long and distinguished NFL career in Washington.
A week from Friday, there will be a press conference at Redskins Park to introduce the team’s new quarterback. Of course, Robert Griffin III doesn’t need much in the way of introduction to Redskins Nation. Many were following him closely during his Heisman Trophy season and the interest reached a fever pitch in early March when the Redskins pulled off the blockbuster trade to move up to the second pick in the draft to ensure they will get Griffin or Andrew Luck.
The return of Fletcher and the pending arrival of the man who will be the quarterback for the next decade are not the only positive developments around Ashburn lately. So far the Redskins haven’t lost any free agents that they wanted to keep. The team has learned that 2011 second-round pick Jarvis Jenkins will be sufficiently recovered from last year’s season-ending knee injury to participate fully in the offseason program and that the recovery of Leonard Hankerson, last year’s third-round selection, is on or slightly ahead of schedule.
Although the team was blindsided by an $18 million salary cap penalty hours before the start of free agency, they managed to get done a lot of what they needed to get done, including keeping Fletcher and upgrading at wide receiver with Pierre Garçon and Josh Morgan. It looks like the arbitration fight to get that penalty reversed will take place over the summer.
To be sure, there are some clouds in the sunny skies at Redskins Park. An effective defensive backfield must be assembled out of a group of players, most of whom are either unproven or have not performed well over the past couple of seasons. The offensive line still seems to be a work in progress.
Despite the issues, there is a feeling that the turnaround, the one that Dan Snyder of paying Mike Shanahan a ton of money to pull off, is starting to take hold. Perhaps it is asking too much for the Redskins to take a giant leap into Super Bowl contention. But being exciting, relevant, and in the playoff conversation after Thanksgiving seems to be quite possible right now and that would represent a great leap forward for this franchise, which has been mired in mediocrity, both esthetically and in the standings, for most of the last two decades.