It appears that the cost—reported to be a second-round pick in 2009 and a sixth-rounder in 2010—was quite steep for a player who has said he will play for one more season.
I don't usually like to do pull quotes from something I wrote just a few hours ago, but I'll make an exception in this case:
From this article posted today a 4:16 PM EDT:
Trading for Jason Taylor and giving up a conditional fifth-round pick and having him work his contract to a cap-friendly deal that would contain a big roster bonus to be paid on opening day of 2009 would be OK. Giving up a second-rounder and having to work around his $8.1 million salary this year, making him a very expensive one-year rental, would be dumb.
The deal that went down this evening was the "dumb" deal and then some. The Redskins gave up an '09 second and a '10 sixth for the right to Taylor's contract as is.
The only potential mitigating difference here is that Vinny Cerrato is "100 percent confident he'll play more than one year." There's some reason to believe that this is the case as, according to Jason LaCanfora, the relationship between Cerrato and Taylor's agent Gary Wichard is "uncommonly close" (not that there's anything wrong with that).
So, if Taylor plays for two or three years, the deal starts to make a little more sense—but only a little. A second is a lot to give up for a short-term player and by any definition two or three years is short term.
The trade does improve the defense, immediately and considerably. Taylor was the league's defensive MVP just two years ago and he immediately becomes the team's best defensive linemen, perhaps their best overall player. For the first time in years the Redskins will line up bookend defensive ends, both of whom should post double-digit sacks. Andre Carter posted 10.5 sacks in 2007.
It's the kind of deal that would be great for a team that is just a player away from being a legit Super Bowl contender. Are the Redskins, a playoff team two of the past three years, that sort of team?
If not for a couple of factors like a head coach and a quarterback who are going to be doing some on-the-job learning, maybe. By Zorn's own admission, it's going to take Jason Campbell a few years to master his version of the West Coast offense. Jason Taylor won't be playing here in a few years and neither will the second-round talent that the Redskins gave up to obtain him.
Initially, the news that the Redskins had pulled the trigger on this trade surprised me. It seemed like they were changing their ways and using draft picks on college players instead of dealing them for short term quick fixes.
But then I remembered all the way back to April when Cerrato had an offer of at least one first-round pick and possibly two for Chad Johnson. They were saved from that one by the Bengals insistence that they were not going to trade away Johnson.
The Dolphins weren't inclined to save the Redskins from themselves on this occasion.
Maybe Taylor will play for three seasons, post 35 sacks, and be a key to a couple of deep playoff runs. Or he may provide a few, very expensive thrills before riding off into the sunset after the 2009 season.
The Redskins are all in betting the former.
Rich Tandler blogs about the Skins at RealRedskins.com.