The Taylor Release and the Cycle of Futility

AP Photo/Lawrence Jackson

The Washington Redskins offered Jason Taylor a raise. Taylor already was scheduled to make an $8 million salary and a $500,000 roster bonus in 2009. The Redskins were happy to pay him that money on one condition-that he accept another half a million dollars in exchange for about 27 days of additional word duty. Taylor refused and, as a result, he was fired.

The 27 days represented the 75% of the team's offseason conditioning workouts, voluntary sessions that are held at Redskins Park. Attendance at these sessions has historically been very high for the Redskins, with all but a handful coming in to work out. Dan Snyder offered that $500K bonus to Taylor as an incentive for him not to be one of that handful of no-shows.

The Redskins didn't expect the 34-year-old to come to these workouts just because he suffered from two major injuries last season, to his knee and to his calf, that forced him to miss a total of three games. And his attendance was not expected just because he had one of the worst seasons of his career. And it wasn't expected because he could benefit from spending some time with his teammates and learning more about his role in the defense.

No, his attendance was requested in return for $500,000 or about $18,500 per day. For this amount of money, he was asked to leave his family on Monday evening, fly to Dulles, participate in three days of workouts and then return to South Florida on Thursday evening. All to be better prepared to perform for an employer who was willing to pay him an additional eight million, five hundred thousand dollars.

But, citing a desire to spend time with his wife and children in Miami, Taylor refused to agree. Snyder and Vinny Cerrato decided that they were better off spending that $9 million elsewhere and Taylor was released.

Taylor is gone before the second-round draft pick they gave the Dolphins in a panic move last July after Phillip Daniels was lost to a knee injury on the first day of training camp is even used. And that will help ensure the continuation of a cycle of futility for the Washington Redskins.

Here's what I said about the move a few days after it was made, even while Peter King of Sports Illustrated and Dave Elfin, the decidedly non-homer reporter for the Washington Times were praising it:

To be clear, I don't necessarily think that they should have taken Calais Campbell or Quentin Groves in the second round of the draft. I stand by my point that the biggest problem this team has had this decade is scoring points, not preventing the other team from scoring.

Still, if one injury to a starter at one position forces you to make a trade that burns a second and a sixth and over $8 million in cap space you haven't done a very good job in building depth at that position. You can nitpick over what player should have been taken over another with a given draft pick, but having depth means that you have someone who can step in as a starter in the event of an injury. The Redskins, by their own admission, didn't have that depth.

So the cycle will continue. They don't have that second-round pick so it's likely that some time in the future when a starter goes down with an injury-and that happens all the time in the NFL-they won't have a capable replacement ready to insert into the lineup. So they'll have to get on the phone again and trade away another future draft pick for another player who doesn't quite mesh with a system that he doesn't fully understand.

In the July 2008 post cited above, I commented on Elfin's characterization of the Taylor trade as a "no-brainer"

I don't know about the characterization as a no-brainer, but Vinny Cerrato and company certainly acted as though it was one. No doubt, however, it was a bold move and like most bold moves it's likely that it will prove to be either a master stroke or a colossal blunder.

Time will tell.

Time has told us that it was a colossal blunder. History tells us that it's one that is likely to be repeated.



Rich Tandler blogs about the Skins at RealRedskins.com and he is the author of the upcoming book The Redskins Chronicle. You can reach Rich by email at rich.tandler+real@gmail.com

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