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 luck.
In short, things are pretty slow. That's about to change, however.
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 next summer.
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.