REDSKINS MIGHT GET ONE RIGHT

Battle Plans REDSKINS MIGHT GET ONE RIGHT

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The latest scuttlebutt in the hot stove of Biltmore, Arizona, where the NFL owners’ meetings are being held, revolves around a potential trade that may take place between Washington and Chicago. The Redskins covet disgruntled Bears’ linebacker Lance Briggs, who was slapped with the team’s franchise tag in February. Washington is willing to trade the sixth overall selection to Chicago in return for Briggs and the Bears’ 31st draft choice.
 
A number of analysts have filed this under another one of the Redskins’ extravagant, yet unnecessary attempts to improve its roster. Giving up draft picks in order to acquire high-profile veterans has been a typical move made by the organization in recent history. In fact, it was only a year ago when the Redskins tossed away successive (the 2006 and 2007) third-round picks for marginal players like T.J. Duckett and Brandon Lloyd.
 
However, this move could be a solid one. The Redskins will need to pay Briggs a contract structured similarly to the deal that fellow linebacker Adalius Thomas received from the New England Patriots. Thomas will receive $20 million in total guaranteed money, with $24 million in salary owed over the first three years of the deal.
 
That is a lot of green to invest in any player, but the Redskins will have to spend close to the same amount of money on an unproven talent if they stay put in the sixth slot. In terms of financial commitment, the Redskins will have to throw around dollars either way, unless they trade down. But the odds of the team trading down are about the same as them producing a winning season; it only happens about once or twice in the span of 10 years.
 
It seems like a wiser move to spend on a proven commodity like Briggs, as opposed to paying a rookie who may or may not turn into a super bust. The Redskins would also drop down to pick 31, and with that pick, they could select a much-needed pass-rushing defensive end or defensive tackle.
 
Briggs would play alongside of newly minted inside linebacker London Fletcher and Marcus Washington, forming one of the most talented units in the league.
 
The deal makes a lot less sense for Chicago. Although the Bears would have to continue to endure Briggs’ threat of holding out, they hold the trump card over him.
 
If Briggs holds out during the regular season, he loses money, not the Bears. If Briggs holds out during the regular season, he loses the chance to enhance his statistics, not the Bears. And if Briggs holds out, he’ll have to forgo an opportunity to play in the playoffs, not the Bears. Not to mention that if Chicago feels inclined, they can franchise Briggs again in 2008.
 
Assuming that the Bears honor Briggs’ demand to be moved to another team, they may face some repercussions in the future when another player creates the same type of ruckus.  The front office could be viewed as soft if they bend too hard.
 
Aside from the politics of the move, the trade wouldn’t help the Bears in any way. If they can’t afford to give Briggs a long-term contract, how can they afford to sign a rookie? And which player would the Bears select at pick six? Chicago needs help on offense, not on defense, and the only players worth picking at that spot are defensive end Gaines Adams, defensive tackle Amobi Okoye and safety LaRon Landry. (Assuming that none of the top five offensive guns are available.)
 
So if indeed this trade is consummated, one should score this as a rare win for the Redskins as opposed to their trade partner…
 
Expect to see a more expanded role for backup tight-end Quinn Sypniewski in the Ravens’ offense. As a rookie, Sypniewski received more playing time near the tail end of the 2006 season.
 
The 6’6, 270 pound role player out of Colorado could serve as a terrific red zone target in scoring situations. In addition, given that the team has yet to acquire a true blocking fullback, Sypniewski could serve as an extra blocker in obvious passing situations. In fact, he handled himself quite well when it came time to pick up a blitzing defender last season.
 
Although Daniel Wilcox is a better receiver than Sypniewski, his strong suit is not blocking, which could be a key reason why the second-year player may leapfrog the veteran on the depth chart. Using Sypniewski as a blocking bodyguard should also free up Todd Heap, who is not used enough as a receiver out of the slot position…
 
The boss, the head honcho, the CEO, the… okay I’ll stop now. Well, one Tony Lombardi already broke down Joe Theismann’s list of the top five organizations in football in his Blackbird Singing piece.
 
But in my opinion, Theismann’s list is way, way off the mark. Here is my ranking:

1. New England Patriots: Theismann had this pick right. Without a question, the Patriots are a cut above the other 31 franchises in the NFL. They are the team of the 2000 era much as Dallas is the team of the 90s, the 49ers are the team of the 80s, the Steelers are the team of the 70s, and the Packers are the team of the 60s.

2. Indianapolis Colts: Since 1999, Indianapolis has made the playoffs seven times. In that time span, the Colts won their division six times, reached the AFC Championship twice, and finally won the Super Bowl just three months ago. General manager Bill Polian is regarded as one of the top executives in NFL history.

3a. Baltimore Ravens: Like the Colts, the Ravens have won a championship within the last seven years. However, Baltimore has failed to make the playoffs in three of those seasons. Still, the franchise boasts perhaps the best front office in the game, in terms of scouting and personnel evaluation.

3b. Pittsburgh Steelers: The reason that I could not separate the two franchises is because they have achieved a nearly identical performance since 2000. The Steelers also own one Lombardi trophy, but achieved a 15-win season two years ago, which has only been done three other times since the implementation of a 16-game schedule. They replace free-agents through the draft or in-house as well as any team in the league.

5.   Philadelphia Eagles: The lone NFC team represented on this illustrious list. Philadelphia is a perennial playoff contender, earning four trips to the NFC Championship since 2001, including a Super Bowl appearance against the 2004 Patriots. Despite dealing with injuries and roster shake-ups over the years, the Eagles remain an elite team because they manage the cap well.

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Dev Panchwagh

About Dev Panchwagh

Dev Panchwagh is a versatile analyst who breaks down the Xs and Os of the game and has been a columnist/analyst for Ravens24x7.com since the summer of 2004. In his regular season column Battle Plans, Dev highlights the Ravens’ keys to success against each upcoming opponent.

Dev started modestly as a sports journalist, but his contributions to sports talk radio were noticed, leading to duties as a regular columnist for the Scouts.com network before joining RSR.  It would be very difficult to find his rare combination of youthfulness, knowledge and insight in all facets of football anywhere else.  Fortunately, Dev brings it here each and every week. 

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