Same Ol’ Redskins? Or A Savvy Splurge For a Great Player?

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I like the Redskins signing of Panthers CB Josh Norman. No, I LOVE it. It may also be a disaster. And we surely paid too much. So with that tangle of seemingly confilcting angles on the deal, let’s start sorting out the standard arguments pro/con.

To start with, I found out quickly on the 140-character rock fight app on Friday night, that apparently my team is NEVER allowed to sign another expensive player again. Never. Because, you know. Haynesworth. This is so idiotic, it almost doesn’t bear a counter-argument. But here goes: you can’t just quit the big ticket free agent market forever because you’ve been burned before.

Furthermore, there is a credible GM in place now in Scot McCloughan, so I have to presume this was made with his full approval and football blessing. Could Dan Snyder have been blowing his phone up the minute the Panthers released Norman? Sure. Possibly. But McCloughan stood firm on putting Chris Cooley back on the roster last year, despite both Dan and Bruce Allen all but begging for it.

This makes me happy. A GM, who really does have control.

Now, let’s talk about Norman. He’s good. REALLY good. How do I know this? Well even if I didn’t see a single play of his this year, I know he’s good because the Panthers did not want to let him walk out the door. And by putting the franchise tag on him, they were prepared to pay him $14M this season on a one year deal. Also, reports said Carolina was willing to get to about $12M per year on a long term deal.

So yeah, teams don’t do that for a player who they don’t think is “that good.”

Common refrains from critics of the signing pointed to the “one good year” and “he’ll be 28 next year” and “he’s a zone corner, not elite” and such and such.

Its funny, because everybody is a capologist on Twitter.

The way I look at it… the $3M difference in AAV is the only thing that should be argued. And when you focus on that, then I don’t think it matters much to the Redskins. The $3M difference doesn’t buy much in terms of players. You get a guys like G Shaun Lauvao, WR Andre Roberts, or DE Stephen Paea.

Those guys did not, and likely would not, have ever made a real difference as players.

A guy like Josh Norman – assuming the “football people” have accurately evaluated him – CAN make a difference. And when you have a possible difference making player come suddenly available, and the rest of the league has pretty much spent their free agent lunch money this late in the cycle, and you do not want him to visit anybody else…. well, then you overpay.

Which the Redskins did. Probably by a couple million per year. And the % guarantee of this deal is unusually high.

But if Norman plays at his relative level to last year (within the margin of error), and he does so for the next 3 years, I think it’s a GREAT purchase. I seem to think Norman is a competitive type who loves football. I don’t think he’s just a guy who loves the fact he gets paid alot to play football.

But again, I could be dead wrong.

As for his age, whatever. People think 30 is a death sentence for every NFL player. It’s plainly not. Running backs, sure. They hit the wall around 30. But CB is a much lower-contact position, where guys can play well easily into their mid-30’s. Besides, just about any blue chip player you buy on the FA market, is going to be at least 25, thanks to the NFL’s mandatory rookie contract lengths.

I don’t believe a bad FA signing puts a team in purgatory. Too many, sure. And you can’t sign shitheads. (Haynewsworth). But you have to pay somebody, and you might as well slightly overpay the best ones.

As for the Panthers, I think they made a mistake. I think there was no cost to carrying these talks through the summer. The pressure on Norman would have only built and built to sign that franchise tender, if not soften his long term money. If the stalemate somehow reached September, I can’t imagine missing any games.

But the Panthers know where all the skeletons are with Norman (attitude, work ethic, true ability, etc.) and they do have other good players coming up for renewal soon. It’s possible this was a smart play by both teams. And only time will tell.

If that sounds like a waffling, room temperature, “non-take” on the deal, so be it. Sometimes sports is actually that way. But for my team, I like it. Love it!

Now Josh, free up some of that pile of cash to pay Duke Ihenacho for that jersey number.

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Steve Czaban is a 25 year sports radio veteran, who hosts an afternoon drive show in Washington D.C. "Czabe" also writes and edits his own commentaries for www.czabe.com and other on-line and print publications. He can be reached at czabe@yahoo.com.

1 COMMENT

  1. Here is a non-Redskin fan view. When Haynesworth was signed it seemed nearly impossible that he, or anybody, could live up to that number. This seems like a pricey signing but one that could succeed.

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