Here is what Shanahan’s pitch to Manning should be: “You are our missing piece. Partner with me, and we will make this historical franchise a winner again overnight. Don’t just play out your last years in a sunny clime. Let’s do something great together, in a place that matters.”
Shanahan and Allen will need to put the Redskins’ best foot forward, of course, employ every bit of their pin-striped gravitas to convince Manning that a decade of amateurish dysfunction under owner Daniel Snyder is over. But they can make a surprisingly strong sell, based on how much they have done to upgrade the outfit in just two years. Here is the argument they can legitimately make to Manning: “We are a team on the brink and you are the tipping point.”
Yes, the Redskins were 5-11 last season, they will say, but all the signs and arrows tilt in the right direction, upwards.
In two brief offseasons, they have transformed the Redskins from one of the oldest teams in the league to one of the youngest, with an average age of just 26.
They have cleansed the locker room of its toxic influences, drafted strongly, and been resourceful but sensible in free agency. They have gotten younger and more talented while creating more than $40 million in cap space to fill in their remaining holes.
“And that is a dramatic break with the recent past,” Shanahan should say. “We are no longer handcuffed by overspending and lousy draft judgment. Our problems are nothing that one more round of strong offseason player acquisitions can’t cure, and we have the ability to go after any receiver and offensive lineman you like. Reggie Wayne? Pierre Garcon? We will open the checkbook.”
If there is such a thing as a promising losing team, the Redskins are one, Shanahan will argue. He can say without sounding silly, “We are closer to winning than we appear.” He can stress the 3-1 start before they lost nine starters to injuries. Six of their losses came by one possession, seven points or less. And that was with Rex Grossman and John Beck under center. There is no reason why they can’t flip those results with Manning. The bright side to the injuries is that it gave some young players a chance to develop.
Interestingly, they played some of their best football against playoff teams, giving the San Francisco 49ers all they wanted before losing, 19-11, and the same with the New England Patriots, 34-27.
It needs no repeating that they beat the Giants twice. They also beat two of Manning’s more avid suitors, the Arizona Cardinals and Seattle Seahawks.