John Feinstein: Snyder Goes on Annual Spending Spree
Tuesday, March 3, 2009; 2:18 PM
It really is a shame that Danny Snyder doesn't own a baseball team. Imagine what havoc he could wreak if he wasn't burdened by the National Football League's pesky salary cap.
Manny Ramirez wants $100 million over four years at the age of 37? Done. Just so long as Snyder gets to have his picture taken with Manny and uber-agent Scott Boras. After all, Boras is Snyder's kind of guy: he's got no conscience, will say absolutely anything to get his way and lives for power as much as for money.
Curt Schilling needs a team. Come on down to D.C., Curt! Snyder will pay you extra bucks for your blog and over-pay you just so he can tell people how much he paid for you.
How about swinging a trade with the Yankees for A-Rod? No sane team would touch Alex Rodriguez right now, especially with nine years left on his $275 million contract. Snyder wouldn't bat an eye. He'd lay off a few more people, trade his entire farm system and his three best pitchers for A-Rod and then tell everyone how cool it was having Madonna sit in the owner's box with him. She might even be allowed to speak to him during a game, unlike the current box denizens. Okay, maybe not speak but perhaps hammer out a couple of songs.
Snyder's latest March spending spree -- more than $180 million in contracts for three players -- can be looked at in several ways. What's most apparent is that he's an addict: not so much to spending money but to being able to stick his chest out and say, "I outspent all those other guys."
He certainly does that every year and, somehow, he does it without completely blowing up his salary cap although the wild spending makes it almost impossible for the Redskins to every build any kind of depth. The best teams try to have competent back up players since injuries in the NFL are inevitable. The Redskins spend all their money on a few stars and then whine as if they are the only team to lose players when they get hurt.
Albert Haynesworth, when healthy and not stomping on people's heads, is an extraordinary talent. DeAngelo Hall is a very good cornerback when he chooses to play hard -- which he did after being cut in Oakland and suddenly finding himself playing for a new contract. Derrick Dockery should certainly help in the place the Redskins need help most -- on the offensive line.
One thing the three of them have in common is that they are known quantities: it doesn't take any bit of scouting brilliance to know that all three have been very good NFL players. That's important because if there's one thing we know for certain about the scouting team of Snyder and Vinny Cerrato it is that they aren't likely to draft Tom Brady in the sixth round (or Matt Cassel in the seventh) anytime soon. In fact, if memory serves, Cerrato drafted a punter in the sixth round last year. And he didn't exactly turn out to be Ray Guy.
If Haynesworth stays healthy, the Redskins defense, which was very good last year, should be even better this year. That means this team, like most NFL teams, will rise or fall on the play of its offensive line.
Most smart football people know that the most important unit on any football team is the offensive line. For all the talk about Joe Gibbs winning Super Bowls with three different quarterbacks there was one common thread to all those teams: The Hogs.
Mark Rypien was sacked seven times in 1991. Rypien could win games behind an offensive line that good today as could any quarterback who can throw a spiral 20 yards downfield. The Hogs made John Riggins a great running back and they made Joe Theismann, Doug Williams and Rypien Super Bowl winning quarterbacks.
For all the moaning and groaning in this town about how unfair it was that Art Monk wasn't in the Hall of Fame, the real crime is that none of the Hogs are in the Hall. In fact, they should go in together, the plaque should just read: "The Hogs ... Responsible for Three Super Bowls in Washington."