You can reach Rich Tandler by email at WarpathInsiders@comcast.net
What exactly did the Redskins give up in this deal?
You’ve heard a third-round pick, but that’s not entirely
accurate. The compensation will have the draft pick trade chart value of a
third-round, but it may not be a third-rounder that changes hands. According to
Bill Williamson in the Denver
Post, and confirmed by Warpath’s John Keim, these are the possible
two teams exchange first-round picks, in which the Broncos would make a
huge jump up the round
teams flip-flop their first-rounders and the Broncos get a fourth-rounder
teams flip-flop their first-rounders and the Broncos get a third- rounder
Broncos get a third-rounder in 2007 and a fourth-rounder in 2008.
To make this as expensive as possible, let’s assume that
they are looking at the point value of the first pick in the draft, which on the 2006
chart was 265 points. So, somehow or another, the Redskins have to transfer
265 points to the Broncos. Obviously for any of the first three scenarios
listed to happen the Broncos would have to the picking later than the Redskins
meaning that the Broncos would need to have a better record in 2006.
Let’s say that the Broncos win the Super Bowl and have the
32nd pick of the first round. To make up those 265 points in an
exchange of first-round picks the Redskins would have to own the 20th
pick or better. Presumably scenarios #2 and #3 will come into play if the teams
are closer together in their draft positions. The fourth possibility, the one
that has the Redskins giving up the two picks for Duckett, would occur if the
Redskins finish with a better record than the Broncos.
On the face of it giving up a first-day pick for a player
with one year left on his contract is a pretty hefty price, one that says very
loudly that the Redskins are looking to win it all in 2006.
What does this tell us about Portis’ condition?
The “smart set” out there is saying that this trade means
that the condition of Clinton Portis’ shoulder is worse, maybe much worse, than
the Redskins are letting on. While it’s in the realm of possibility that there
is some truth in this line of thinking it is sheer speculation. People are
certainly entitled to being able to engage in that in this age of instant
analysis. So I’ll exercise my right and engage in some sheer speculation of my
own and try to get into Joe Gibbs’ thinking here. I’m speculating that Gibbs made
this deal for two reasons.
First, in his first go around in the NFL he liked to have
multiple starting-caliber running backs. In the early years it was John Riggins
and Joe Washington. The second Super Bowl was won with George Rogers and Kelvin
Bryant gaining the yards during the regular season and then with Timmy Smith
setting the Super Bowl rushing record that still stands. In ’91 rookie Ricky
Ervins spelled Ernest Byner and Gerald Riggs toted the rock over the goal line.
Now he has Portis and. . .who? Ladell Betts has shown
flashes but he hasn’t shown enough to be considered a starting-caliber back. Rock Cartwright is a great guy and a superb special teams player but as a starting
running back, well, he’s a great guy. Nemo Broughton? He got his audition in
the late going against the Jets on Saturday and was just OK and he fumbled the
ball away. Jesse Lumsden? This is the big leagues here, not the CFL. Although
Duckett has started just 13 games in his four seasons, that’s eight more than
all of the Redskins’ backs not named Portis have started combined.
Second, Gibbs wants to save some of Portis for when it
really counts. Last year the Redskins played 18 games. By the last couple of
games, the playoffs, Portis was pretty beaten up. Despite all of the talk we
heard earlier in the year about Betts taking some of the load off, Portis got
virtually every single carry of any significance all year long. Add to it the X
factor of the injured shoulder and the fact that he’s starting off the year
banged up and there is good reason to want to make sure that his load can be
The Redskins hope to play in 19 or 20 games in 2006. If
their season is going to last longer, Portis is going to have to last longer.
Duckett should help make that happen.
This deal doesn’t necessarily mean that the team thinks that
Portis will be unavailable for the start of the regular season. It does mean
that the want to increase the chances that he will be available for the end of
What about Betts?
Betts quoted as saying, “I don’t understand it” in regards
to this trade. I don’t understand something either. I don’t understand why he
thinks he’s entitled to anything. Again, he’s shown flashes, but they have been
few and far between. What haven’t been few and far between are his injuries.
Imagine if the Cincinnati game was a regular-season game. Portis goes down early,
Gibbs turns around to look for Betts to go in and, oops, he’s on the bench with
a tweaked hammy.
Betts hasn’t proven to be much of a role player either. He’s
not a short-yardage back. In 2005 he carried just twice in third and two or
less situations and netted a loss of two yards. Third and long hasn’t proven to
be his specialty either unless you consider 10 catches for a 7.8-yard average
and four first downs to be an acceptable level of production in that role.
If Portis were to miss some significant time, say three or
four games in a row, could Betts be relied upon to carry the load, to carry
20-25 times a game? His body of work suggests that he can’t.
This is not to say that Betts is worthless. He has good
size, decent speed and good running instincts. The guy can play the game. But
if you’ve been around for four years and you have nothing to hang your hat on,
you don’t have a role that you own, you haven’t instilled confidence that you
could handle the starting job even in the short term much less over the long
haul, you should expect to be challenged.
I’m willing to write off Betts’ comments as a heat of the
moment type of thing. Nobody likes to have competition brought in and he can be
forgiven for having an emotional reaction.
But any player on this team that has an entitlement
mentality and doesn’t believe that he needs to go out and earn his playing time
will soon find his way onto the end of the bench and, eventually, will find his
way out of town.
What’s the bottom line here?
The Redskins have once again shown that they are the most
aggressive organization in the game. If they believe they have a hole that
needs to be filled, they go out and fill it with the best player they can get.
They don’t care if someone is going to get on the air or in front of a keyboard
and write that they overpaid for that player. It happens virtually every time
they acquire a player. It started when everyone said they overpaid for Portis
and for Mark Brunell in Gibbs’ first acquisitions. Since then they’ve paid too
much for Marcus Washington and Shawn Springs, gave up too much to get Rocky McIntosh, took an unbearable cap hit to swing the deal to get Santana Moss and
so on. The Redskins made the moves anyway.
Let’s talk about this concept of “overpaid” for a minute
here. A house in my neighborhood sold for $200,000 recently. I look at the
house and the size of the lot that it’s on and I would say that the family that
bought it overpaid for it. But it so happens that the house backs up to the
elementary school and the family that bought it has two young children. To me,
the proximity to the school is worthless but it was quite valuable to the family
that will have their kids’ school in their back yard for the next several
years. They were willing to “overpay” for the house for that reason.
To me, any money spent on a two-seat Porsche is overpaying
because I don’t like driving cars like that and I have no use for one. Others
would feel the same way about the minivans and SUV’s that I prefer. It’s all a
matter of utility to the end user. In this particular instance, Duckett has a
great deal of utility for the Washington Redskins. They gave up what they had
to in order to get his services. They are now in a position where they could
sustain an injury at running back and where they can better spread out the
workload at the position if everyone stays healthy. They also have gained the
short-yardage and goal-line power back that they have been missing for the past
couple of years.
While there is no question that they will be better in 2006
for having made this deal, there is the matter of the third-round pick,
possibly more. At least in all of the other “overpayment” situations mentioned
above the player obtained was under contract for a number of years. Duckett
becomes an unrestricted free agent after this season and a third round pick is
a high price for a one-season rental.
The Redskins haven’t exactly pushed all of their chips into
the pot, gambling that they will win it all in 2006. But the pile in the middle
of the table keeps getting bigger and bigger.
Rich Tandler is the author of The
Redskins From A to Z, Volume One: The Games. This unique book has an
account of every game the Redskins played from when they moved to Washington
in 1937 through the 2001 season. For details and ordering information go to http://www.RedskinsGames.com