D.C. is the center of the NFL universe this week now that the NFL lockout is over. Now that the league is back to business as usual and NFL free agency has begin, it appears the Washington Redskins are well on their way to being the offseason champs once again, even if it a shortened version of an offseason. Maybe DeMaurice Smith and Roger Goodell could stop by the capital later this week.
This week's edition of Chain Reactions deals with all things Redskins, and some Washington Nationals news too, including an unfortunate moment of foot in mouth disease for a club official. One question: is Albert Haynesworth still a Redskin, and if so, WHY?!! OK, that was two questions. Anyway, here is Chain Reactions.
Burning Question for Redskins: Has the Circus Left Town?
As the Redskins and the rest of the league get back to the business of football, the burning question about the franchise has nothing to do with the personnel. No, it has to do with the environment. When Mike Shanahan became the president and coach and Bruce Allen the general manager, the hope was the circus atmosphere of distractions had left with Vinny Cerrato.
However, as we found out in year one with Shanny-Allen, it only ramped up a notch. The handling of Haynesworth to the Donovan McNabb situation only showed there is still a long way to go in clearing the air. Have they had the water tested in Ashburn? Anyway, as players began to report, they pointed out to need of a change in atmosphere.
"This year we're not going through all that Albert nonsense. . . . If he's here, let's roll," linebacker Brian Orakpo said. "If he's not, wish him the best and we gotta move on without him and forget all this saga: Albert, McNabb, you name it. We just gotta start winning some ballgames around here and forget all the drama we go through each and every year."
You have to love Orakpo. Not only is the guy a playmaker on the field, he clearly is a quick study heading into Year 3. He is well aware of the Redskins' pathetic off-field track record in the Dan Snyder regime.
Donovan McNabb To Minnesota?
The Donovan McNabb deal never lived up to the Sonny Jurgenson deal of yesteryear between the Redskins and Eagles. We could spend the rest of the column placing blame. Instead, I will just point out that Virginia and D.C. needs to look into nepotism laws.
Anyway, it appears McNabb is headed to Minnesota. As bad of a season as it was for the veteran, it should be pointed out his quarterback rating of 77.1 was better than the much coveted former understudy Kevin Kolb, who in limited play had a 76.1 rating. I am not a huge fan of QB rating because I hate math, but I will offer this to the folks in Arizona who may want Kolb: buyer beware.
Redskins Smartly Resign Santana Moss
Among the many "to do lists" I have laid out in this column in anticipation of the Redskins' season, I had re-signing of Santa Moss as a top priority after a move with McNabb (check), Haynesworth (still waiting), and offensive line help (still waiting). It was a job done by the Redskins to get the productive wide receiver to sign a three-year extension worth of $15 million with $6 million guaranteed. Whoever, the quarterback ends up being, they will need Moss to have another productive season like he did a year ago.
One request if I may to Bruce Allen, who was good enough to send me and the rest of the fans a email the other day: please do not waste valuable cap space on Santonio Holmes, and please get Haynesworth out here now.
Another 4-3 Player for the 3-4
Did the Redskins agree to terms with a player that can play nose tackle, or just another guy that does not fit in Jim Haslett's 3-4 system? Hopefully it is the latter with Barry Cofield, who is coming off a career year with the New York Giants. I like the deal for the fact that it takes away talent from a division rival, and he is young at just 27 years old.
Foot in Mouth Disease for Nationals Official
No one is questioning that Bryce Harper is under some big time scrutiny. However, recently, Nationals Director of Player Development Doug Harris and fellow player development guru Tony Tarasco had a little bit of hyperbole diaherra of the mouth. They compared Harper's issues to that of Hall of Famer Jackie Robinson in an interview with Sports Illustrated.
Harris, after some reflection, offered this clarification to through the Nationals media relations department.
"Id like to clarify my remarks as they appear in Tom Verduccis recent Sports Illustrated feature story on Bryce Harper. In talking to Tom, my sole intent was to speak to the scrutiny that Harper faces on a daily basis.
"That said, the hardships that Mr. Robinson endured in/around 1947 were unique and historical in context. While Harpers current situation is extraordinary by most measures, it pales in comparison to the life of Mr. Robinson, nor will it approach the lasting impact. I regret making this ill-fated correlation."
Yep, it "pales" in comparison on many many levels. I think Mr. Harris, Mr. Tarasco and the Nationals need to use the Mark McGwire tack and not talk about the past.
Nationals Make a Minor Move
There has been lots of smoke surrounding the Nationals making a splash before the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline. Some rumors focusing on Tampa Bay's talented outfield BJ Upton, and other focus on possible Ian Desmond deal as well.
Jonny Gomes was not talked about much, but that is who is coming to D.C. for now. The 30-year-old outfielder was hitting .211 with 11 homers, 31 RBI and a .336 on-base percentage in 77 games with the Cincinnati Reds this season. The Nationals surrender a pair of minor leaguers for him. Here is what the Nats expect to get from the move.
"This guy gives us an added boost off the bench," general manager Mike Rizzo said. "It's a compensation pick for us if we don't get something done for him longer term. We thought it was a good, prudent move in giving up part of our strength and our depth in the minor leagues."
The way the Nats are playing now, they need more than prudent moves.