It’s April 2013, and for Redskins fans this has been an off-season unlike any other we have experienced in recent memory. There has been no BIG free agent splash thanks to the imposed 2 year 36 Million dollar cap penalty the NFL inflicted last year. So the perennial “off-season champs” have been left to sit and watch as other teams scooped up high level talent with our money. During this time the Redskins GM Bruce Allen and the Shanahan Machine have penny pinched and scrounged to get every last drop out of what is left of our money signing mid-level free agents Jeremy Trueblood, Tony Pashos, E.J. Biggers, & Darryl Tapp and re-signing players of varying values like Kory Lichtensteiger, Sav Rocca, Kedric Golston, Bryan Kehl, Tyler Polumbus, Fred Davis, DeAngelo Hall & Rex Grossman all while saving just enough to sign a few draft picks in April.
Okay, so mediocre free agent signings, a few good re-signings followed by more questionable re-signings. So why can this off-season be considered one of the best in Redskins history?
It’s because the 36 million dollar penalty — while ridiculous and completely unfair in nature — has altered the way many people view the signing of big name free agents. We have, by my observation, in fact been saved from ourselves. The inability to sign new players has made us put more stock in the development of the players that are under contact and has made the cogs of the system begin to turn in the direction that they should…..forward.
For the first time in a really really long time players who were drafted in the last 2 years, and who have put in tremendous time and effort into learning the system and developing their bodies to the speed of the NFL, will have a real shot at showcasing what they can do on the field this training camp instead of being buried deeper into the depth charts by massive amounts of free agents rolling into town.
The team that closed the regular season like a freight train and gelled into a massively cohesive unit will be coming back pretty much completely intact and will being coming back healthier and hopefully hungrier after seeing what all that hard work and sacrifice brought them last season: the first NFC EAST title in 12 years, and the first playoff appearance after hall of fame coach Joe Gibbs’ run in 2006.
While the Redskins are not favorites to win the Superbowl, NFC Championship, or Division, they are finally entering an era where they are not a laughing stock and everybody’s go-to punch line. They are on the radar, and it’s all thanks to this off-seasons forcing focus on developing the very talented young players they already have. Robert Griffin III brought “HOPE” to the Redskins franchise, and the NFL has given real hope to players who in the regular system would never have been given a chance to shine.