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The New Perception Of Value

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This time of year, as the shattered pieces of broken NFL dreams are pieced back together in hope of building (or rebuilding) a Super Bowl-bound franchise, front offices are forced to make some of the toughest decisions of their careers - who to hire, who to fire, who to acquire, and who to simply admire.

Decisions concerning free agency, renewing contracts, offering tenders, proposing trades, and of course, drafting players, can make or break an NFL team. Drafting Jamarcus Russell helped Oakland dig themselves even deeper into their own Black Hole of misery. Trading for Drew Brees got New Orleans their first Super Bowl trophy.

As a fan, you can’t expect the guys upstairs to get every decision right, but it’s safe to say that Washington fans have seen their beloved franchise on the wrong end of these decisions way too often lately. Brandon Lloyd. Adam Archuleta. Jason Taylor. Randel El. Albert Royal Painsworth. The list goes woefully on.

Yes, they all made sense at the time I suppose. I rationalized those moves and figured (privately, hoped and prayed) that Vinny & Co. knew what the heck they were doing. After all, you’d much rather have a proven player than have to take a stab on some rookie, right?

But after watching these acquisitions fail horribly, one after the other, while watching the perennial world beaters gleefully swim in a pool draft picks like Scrooge McDuck year after year, I slowly began to realize the truth. We weren’t going anywhere as an organization until we brought better decision-makers into the building.

With the firing of Vinny Cerrato and subsequent hiring of both general manager Bruce Allen and head coach Mike Shanahan, Dan Snyder has at last given the Burgundy faithful something that it’s been starving for: unified upper management qualified to properly evaluate and make sound decisions. What a concept.

Since then, the road to recovery has begun, and the evidence of change is crystal clear, particularly in the way we’ve approached the off season. Tempered free agent spending. Short, low-risk contracts. Removal of under-performing cap space. Building depth. Unpredictability. Finding a franchise QB.

Although there are countless factors taken into consideration for all these decisions, it ultimately all comes down to one thing – value.

So what is value? Like most things, it depends on who you ask. And, like most things, it all comes down to money.

According to Webster, they’re 8 definitions of the word, but only the top 3 really pertain to NFL player personnel.

1 : a fair return or equivalent in goods, services, or money for something exchanged
2 : the monetary worth of something
3 : relative worth, utility, or importance

Think about the difference between those 3 definitions for a second. #2’s take on value is the price tag. #3’s definition revolves around what the purchased thing you’ve paid for actual gives you. And #1, not surprisingly, is the implicit relation between #2 and #3.

So what does any of this have to do with the Redskins? Everything.

With previous management, our concept of value was aligned with the idea that you get what you pay for. In many cases under the Snyder-Cerrato regime, when you read a headline about a Washington move, it was usually followed by the words “record contract”, “big splash”, “multiple draft picks”, “high priced”, etc. They figured that the more you spent, the more you got. Can’t really blame them for their approach. Made sense to me, and as a fan, I’d rather see my franchise owner shell out millions to try to help the team succeed rather than become the Bills.

But then what happened? All the big investments crashed. We provided plenty of #2, but didn’t get any #3 in return. We lost the value game, and we lost it BAD. To put it in perspective, we paid Brandon Lloyd over $450,000, the cost of a 2010 Lamborghini Murcielago, for each reception he made over his two-year Washington career.

So what’s different now? For starters, we’re setting ourselves up to win big, rather than lose big.

In Donovan McNabb, we got ourselves the quarterback we’ve never had, but always needed, and at a price that doesn’t break the bank, today or tomorrow. Making a play to move up to that 1st pick to acquire Bradford probably would have cost us multiple day 1 and day 2 picks, not to mention a contract that will reach up into the $50 million range. This was something yesterday’s management would have considered, but not today’s. Instead, we got a franchise quarterback for a 2nd and a 4th, and a contract that when signed, will probably be half of what the untested rookie gets paid.

I don’t expect much from Larry Johnson or Willie Parker, but the fact that we paid roughly $6 million for the two of them, it doesn’t really matter. We’ve invested little, so our potential losses will be little. But think about the famous Shanahan zone blocking in Denver, and how it made careers out of no-name, late-round picks such as Terrell Davis, Olandis Gary, Mike Anderson, Rueben Droughs, and Tatum Bell. The potential for either Johnson or Parker to resurrect their careers and thrive is absolutely possible, and therefore so is the opportunity to win big in the value game we’ve grown so accustomed to losing.

Today we acquired Adam Carriker, a former 1st round pick , from the St. Louis Rams for the price of ….. switching our respective 5th and 7th round selections in this week’s draft. Basically, for free. And although his oft-injured 2 years in St. Louis was met with disappointment, the concept of Carriker finally getting the opportunity to play as a 3-4 defensive end (what many had considered him perfectly built to play), makes for yet another low-cost, high-reward possibility.

As Draft Day races closer, and more trade talks about Haynesworth & Co. continue to swirl, it’s impossible to say what’ll happen next. But one thing I know for sure. I know I can trust them not to do anything incredibly stupid.

And you just can’t put a price on that.

Updated 04-20-10 at 07:57 PM by Aston Gambino



  1. Billfishead's Avatar
    Amen, Amen and Amen!
  2. fansince62's Avatar
    very nice! the sort of erudite piece that draws me to BGO.

    short on time so I'll have to revisit this blog again...but there are some gaps in the argument!!!

    - value is not constant....it is measured (in some common reference) as a stream of returns over some time period discounted for risk, opportuntity cost, etc. You have clearly identified the differences from past behaviors and assigned a greater subjective weight to currrent roster management practices. but...as with every resource decision.....there are costs (tradeoffs) that you haven't factored into the calculation.

    - you haven't addressed the risks attendant to the current roster management strategy - and there are certainly many.

    - you haven't located the new practices in the context of what other teams are doing. for example, the Iggles very clearly have a different approach from the Skins. Which strategy is more likely to succeed in the long-run?

    - you need to lay down the goals & objectives one can use to determine ultimate success/failure. you and I both know if this team reaches 8-8 next season it will be hailed as a grand success when compared to what will be claimed is the baseline: 4-12. I look at it differently. I will see it as a failure given that the strategy appears to be predicated on "win now" - which in my book means playoffs now + SB w/i 3 years.

    Critique notwithstanding......awesome work! I'll be watching you Rosowski!!!!!


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