As the deadline approached, 19 of the 32 teams were involved in deals this month. Appropriately, a majority of the worst squads in football sought to expedite their rebuilding by acquiring draft picks or younger talent for veterans who don’t fit their direction, including the Miami Dolphins, Atlanta Falcons and New York Jets. Conspicuously absent? The Redskins and Cincinnati Bengals, of course. Losing is rarely an accidental predicament, folks.
It’s no surprise that two of the league’s worst franchises dismissed an opportunity to improve their situations, but that makes it no less frustrating. Let’s focus on Washington — 1-7 Washington — which rejected an offer for 34-year-old running back Adrian Peterson, who likely has a maximum of eight games remaining in burgundy and gold. The franchise has been in an ugly dispute with Trent Williams all year, but it didn’t really take any offers on the 31-year-old left tackle until the 11th hour, and even when it listened, it wasn’t serious about making a deal.
So now Williams has ended his holdout, but only for business purposes. He needed to report to avoid losing a year toward his free agency. Williams has one season left on his contract unless the Redskins fight him over the half year he has missed. He isn’t expected to play, at least not immediately. In fact, he failed his physical Wednesday and reported discomfort while putting on his helmet. As long as Williams and the team continue to feud, it doesn’t make sense for him to play. He is too valuable a trade chip — if the Redskins ever cash it in — to risk getting injured in the second half of a lost season. And if Williams wants to get one more big deal elsewhere, he needs to stay healthy. Maybe he will stand around and smack gum. Maybe he will help translate interim head coach Bill Callahan, his former offensive line coach, to his teammates. Maybe he will just sit in Allen’s office and stare at him until a bell rings. This standoff has turned into perhaps the most awkward lose-lose ordeal of the year.
It could be different. Allen could have traded him. Owner Daniel Snyder could have forced Allen to trade him. Instead, the front office was obstinate, as usual. If Washington thinks it successfully punished Williams for losing faith in the organization, well, congratulations, but guess what: The Redskins are punishing themselves, too.
Once again, let me remind you that this was an exceptional NFL trading season. The league is changing as general managers get younger and more creative. There is more money at stake. Players are more willing to air their grievances. Loyalty has been exposed as a sham.
Patient team building remains important, but what matters most is to capitalize on the moment. Without question, the rhythm of the league suggested that this was a year you could benefit from being aggressive and proactive.
As nearly 60 percent of the NFL consummated at least one deal in October, Washington did nothing. Williams is still here. Josh Norman is still here. Ryan Kerrigan wasn’t discussed. It was a foolish time to be inactive.
Some have argued Washington was wise to hold on to Williams because the same potential deals could be available in early 2020, and the returns could be even sweeter depending on how this season ends. There is nothing wrong with that line of thinking, but I don’t believe Allen and the Redskins were diligent enough in considering what was available in the present. If they had done a thorough job and decided to wait, that’s acceptable. However, they weren’t truly open to the idea, which is shameful considering all of their needs. Then they changed their minds at the last minute and flirted with a trade. Still, they did so while maintaining unrealistic expectations of what they could get.
The asking price should have been a first-round pick, and in certain situations, a second-rounder should have been a dealmaker. Washington reportedly wanted multiple high picks. Surely, Allen used the Dolphins’ haul for left tackle Laremy Tunsil to set his expectations for a Williams trade. But that was a massive trade. To get two first-round picks and a 2021 second from Houston, Miami dealt Tunsil, wide receiver Kenny Stills, a 2020 fourth-round pick and a 2021 sixth-rounder. The Dolphins also took on Johnson Bademosi and Julien Davenport.
In addition, Tunsil is only 25. While immensely talented, Williams is on the wrong side of 30 and his body has been through hell trying to uplift a terrible team. And he claims he is done with the franchise because it violated his trust in botching the diagnosis and treatment of a growth on his head.
Everything about this situation screams for Washington to get what it can, move on and eliminate a humiliating and potentially devastating story for the franchise. But Allen has chosen to hold Williams hostage. He thinks he is winning. In reality, he is making a joke of the franchise again.
While the circus continues, the team’s needs pile up. The Redskins don’t have a healthy long-term starting tight end. They are one starting wide receiver and one quality role-playing wideout short of ideal. They need a young left tackle, and there is growing pessimism about their ability to re-sign Pro Bowl guard Brandon Scherff. Because the health of running back Derrius Guice remains a question, a young running back to share carries is necessary. On defense, they need a free safety, two more reliable cornerbacks with upside, another pass rusher and perhaps more competition at inside linebacker.
This is not the roster of a team “close” to big-time success, as the front office once declared. This is a roster of a team that needs to redo just about everything besides the defensive line and get in sync with the developmental timeline of rookie quarterback Dwayne Haskins (if he is actually The Guy).
This is the roster of a team that should be intent on stockpiling draft picks and assets under age 25. The Redskins don’t have to tear it all down like the Dolphins have. But the truth is, the Dolphins are a safer bet to rebuild. They have a plan, at least.
And what are the Redskins doing, really?
Being unnecessarily arrogant and difficult. Overvaluing their players. Wasting time, yet again.