You can reach Rich Tandler by email at WarpathInsiders@comcast.net
Things are extremely quiet at Redskins Park right now. The
players are resting, recovering and, in some cases, rehabbing after the long
season (well, not as long as some expected it to be). Joe Gibbs and company
finished their after-season review and are vacationing and recharging their
batteries. The beat writers are among the media throng in Miami trying to get
anyone associated with either team to say anything interesting. So far, no
In short, things are pretty slow. That’s about to change,
There is guaranteed to be some Redskins news on Saturday.
Art Monk either will or will not get elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Either way, it’s news. Of course, should he fail to get in that would be the
“dog bites man” kind of news—nothing new. For the last five years he has made
it to where he is now, to the 15 finalists (it’s 17 this year) who will be up
for discussion when the august body that carries the title of The Pro Football
Hall of Fame Board of Selectors meets. His name has yet to be read when the
list of enshrinees is called off.
I’ve tried a few times over the past week to work up an
article about the subject, but everything that can be said about Monk’s
qualifications has already been said many, many times over.
The word is that Monk has a better chance this year at least
in part because Peter King of Sports Illustrated has gone from being one of the
main Monk detractors on the board to being a Monk supporter. He could well pull
some other past “no” votes along with him. This, along with the fact that there
are no obvious, slam-dunk candidates on the ballot this year (other than Monk,
of course, but evidently not everyone sees it that way) could help him get enshrined
Working against Monk’s chances is the fact that there will
be one less representative from Washington in the room this year. For the past
two selection meetings Michael Wilbon was an at large member of the board, Len
Shapiro was the designated Washington representative and David Elfin of the
Washington Times was on the board representing the Pro Football Writers
Association. Now Wilbon is gone, Shapiro is in an at large role and Elfin is the
DC writer on the board.
None of this should matter since the man who once
simultaneously held the records for most receptions in a career and the most
receptions in a single season, the man was a critical component of a team that
made five NFC title games, won four of those games and won three Super Bowls,
the man who epitomized everything that coaches, fans, and teammates would want
in a football player should be the ultimate no-brainer selection. But it does
matter as the it appears that the stars will have to be aligned just right for
Monk to get his visage cast in bronze to be unveiled this August.
If I had to bet I’d say that things will fall into place and
he’ll get in this time, but I wouldn’t be shocked to see him miss out on the
final cut to seven possibilities either.
Russ Grimm also is on the Hall’s short list. Had he gotten
the nod for a head coaching job the increased visibility might have boosted his
dark horse candidacy. As it is we’ll probably have to wait at least another
year for the first Hog to make it to the Hall.
Sometime in the week or so after the Super Bowl the coaches
will reconvene in Ashburn and will make decisions that will have considerably
more long-term impact on the Redskins than the HOF selectors will. Last year
some very strange thoughts came out of these meetings, disastrously strange.
Notions like, “We will do whatever it takes to land Adam Archuleta,” and, “A
third and a fourth for Brandon Lloyd? What a steal!” Hopefully whatever was in
the water in Ashburn last March has cleared up and they will go back to making more
rational decisions like bringing in Marcus Washington and Cornelius Griffin and
making deals for Clinton Portis and Santana Moss.
They need to get a cornerback and Redskins One is already
plotting a course for Buffalo or wherever Nate Clements will be at the stroke
of midnight on March 1. It says here that they won’t be able to get him. Sure,
the Skins could clear out enough cap space to sign him to a standard, big money
free agent deal. But most NFL teams have in excess of $10 million of free cap
space, some have over $30 million free. It seems that everyone needs a corner
and it would be very easy for a rival suitor—say, the Dallas Cowboys who are in
need of a quality cornerback—to front load a deal to the point where the Skins
would be extremely strapped to match it.
Before free agency starts on March 1 the scouting combine will
be held in Indianapolis. The Redskins have draft picks in the first, fifth,
sixth, and seventh rounds. The top pick is the sixth overall and that is where
the focus of the speculation will be. Assuming that nothing unexpected
transpires at the combine and/or at the University of Michigan’s Pro Day, the
speculation here is that the pick will the Wolverine defensive tackle Alan Branch. Teamed with end Andre Carter he will give the Redskins a solid pass
rushing duo on the line, one inside and one outside.
Rich Tandler is the
author of The Redskins From A to Z, Volume 1: The Games. This unique book
has an account of every game the Redskins played from when they moved to
Washington for the 1937 season through 2001. For details and ordering
information go to http://www.RedskinsGames.com
For complete, detailed Redskins salary cap information
visit the CPND
cap information center, compiled by resident capologist Robert Large.