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There was a time in recent Redskins history where valuable baubles would be held on to, despite their age and their worth. There are a litany of players who have come to Redskins and have proven to have nothing left in the tank, yet still remain on the team due to their notoriety and the belief that they will "sell tickets." Bruce Smith, Deion Sanders, even in some regards Mark Brunell are all players whose contributions could be questioned against the roster space and payroll hit they were inflicting on the team.
Cutting Larry Johnson is another step in demonstrating that the Washington Redskins are a team that belongs to Mike Shanahan and Bruce Allen. Since joining the Redskins, Johnson has done nothing wrong and has been by all accounts a model citizen. He is a local product, who expressed the desire to retire as a Redskin and still believed that he had much to offer the team. However, Johnson lacked the ability to play special teams, and the Redskins cut him to sign a more multi-faceted player, rather than hope that Johnson returns to his top rusher status of a few years ago.
But isn't that just wishful thinking?
By cutting Johnson, the Redskins as an organization are moving closer to the example set by such franchises as the New England Patriots and Pittsburgh Steelers. Each year, both organization cut or replace popular fan favorites with newer, cheaper options. At first, this cutthroat method of management didn't sit well with the fans. After a prolonged period of success, both fanbases began to realize that the turnover was a large part of their success as franchises.
The Washington Redskins are still a long way off from the model established by either team. They are still one of the oldest teams in the league, with key positions held down by players who may be on their last legs. However, if today's cut is any indication, the days of sentimentality at Redskins Park are over, and the days of "produce or go home" have just begun.
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