By Rich Tandler and Tarik El-Bashir
Fred Davis said he harbors no ill will toward the Redskins for using the franchise tag on him.
Instead, the tight end said he is focused on making his fifth NFL season the best of his career – and bouncing back from the drug suspension that cost him the final four games last season.
Davis, 26, could have become an unrestricted free agent in March. Instead, the tag tied him to the team for one year and $5.4 million.
“I respected it because I know why, coming off the suspension,” Davis said Friday. “I feel like they did what they had to do. For me, I’m fine with that. I just have to go out there and prove yourself and show them what you’re worth.”
The Redskins had to weight risk against reward when it came to doing a contract for Davis. A long-term deal would have entailed giving him an eight-figure signing bonus. Not only would doing that have come across as rewarding Davis in spite of his big mistake, it would have left them with considerable exposure should Davis violate the substance abuse policy again. While salary can be recovered, signing bonus can’t.
On the other hand, if Davis stays out of trouble and has a big year as many analysts believe he will, the Redskins may regret not having locked him up for the prime years of his career at a point when his value was at its lowest.
Before his suspension, Davis was enjoying a career season. He finished with 59 receptions for 796 yards in 12 games.
If he has as much success this season and avoids any off field trouble – another drug suspension will cost him a full season – Davis could be setting himself up for a big payday.
“Those are factors at play,” Davis said. “But I don’t even really think about it right now. If you start thinking about money and the future, sometimes it doesn’t happen the way you want it to happen. I’m just focused on playing at that same high level I did last year and getting to where I need to be. The money ain’t going to change me.”