With Fletcher Redskins Need to Learn From Past Mistakes

Over the last decade the Washington Redskins have become known for many things — most of them not good.

They have been called: a laughing-stock, a shell of the team that once boasted three Lombardi Trophies, and bluntly -. losers. Most notably though, they have become known as the place where past their prime players go to collect their final, big pay-day.

Outside of 2005 and 2007 this team has been the embodiment of all of those things. However, there is a bad habit this team can’t shake which is worse than all of the things mentioned above.

During every off-season under Vinny Cerrato, the Redskins would open their wallet to big name free-agents in an attempt to build a real life fantasy football team, while letting home-grown talent walk away without batting an eye.

For every Adam Archuletta, Randel El, and Albert Haynesworth, there were equally painful Ryan Clarks, Antonio Pierces and Stephen Davis’s.

Sadly, Snyder’s obsession with bringing in big money guys has prevented the Redskins from re-signing their own guys for years.

This week Bruce Allen faces the biggest potential blow – and it is not his fault.

You have to go back a bit to fully understand what I’m talking about – so let’s jump back to 2009.

The Washington Redskins had just come off a very disappointing season that began with a brilliant 6-2 start, only to see the wheels come off as they finished 2-6 (8-8 overall).

During that 2008 season, there was one constant, the defense, led by Captain London Fletcher, which bailed out the offense week after week.

When the 2009 season started, it had become clear the Redskins wanted to strengthen their already strong defense. In the weeks leading up to Free Agency, whispers around the league began to point to the Redskins targeting All-Pro defensive tackle, Albert Haynesworth.

Haynesworth had just come off a strong season which helped lead the Tennessee Titan’s to being one of the most feared defenses in football. Considered being the best player available during the 2009 free-agency class, Cerrato was smitten and prepared to do whatever it took to bring the ‘most dominant’ defensive lineman since Reggie White to D.C.

Cerrato succeeded a few hours into free agency, throwing $100,000,000 at the lineman, which completed Haynesworth’s deal. Leading many around the league to question if the Redskins had tampered with then free-agent.

The Redskins also re-signed “superstar” defensive back Deangelo Hall to an impressive 6 year $55,000,000 deal with $23,000,000 guaranteed. The two players were supposed to take the defense from being good to being feared. While also “getting the team over the hump” and helping Jim Zorn bring a Lombardi back to D.C.

They failed, miserably… but you already knew that. Here is something you may not have known.

During that same off-season the team’s Defensive Captain, and unquestioned leader, London Fletcher, quietly approached Vinny Cerrato for a contract extension.

Fletcher, who had led the team in tackles since joining the Gibbs 2.0 Redskins in 2007, was looking for a deal that would see him through the end of his career. He had won a Super Bowl in St. Louis and wanted to bring one to D.C.

What he got was a blow off.

Constrained by 10 years of a miss-managed salary cap, Cerrato knew that Fletcher was under contract through 2011 and wanted to make a splash. Making an extension for London a non-priority. Just like the long list of talent that Cerrato let leave to find success with other clubs, he was more worried about getting big names than keeping one of his own.

Jump forward three years, a new Head Coach, General Manager, Defensive Coordinator, and Defensive Scheme, Albert Haynesworth has been cut, DeAngelo Hall appears to be regressing, while London Fletcher is coming of his third Pro Bowl and looks as good as he ever has. Washington is coming off back-to-back 10+ loss seasons, and are less than one week away from losing the heart and soul of not just the defense, but the team.

The fact that London could even see free agency is absolutely criminal, but you cannot really blame Bruce Allen or Mike Shanahan.

When the team switched from a 4-3 base defense to a 3-4, no one could have known how the undersized Fletcher would transition. After back-to-back seasons of 136 and 166 tackles, Fletcher has earned the right to make his money.

For the Redskins, it’s time to pay the piper.

It is believed that London is seeking a 3 year deal in the area of $25,000,00 – a deal that is worth every penny.

I know Fletcher is in the twilight of his career, but if this were Ray Lewis would anyone bat an eye?

Fletcher’s career statistics are nearly identical to Lewis’. Had he been more outspoken, you have to believe that he would have far more than three Pro Bowls, in fact I would call him just as easy of a lock for the Hall of Fame as Ray Lewis.

In today’s NFL, characteristics like passion, integrity, leadership, teamwork and consistency often get overlooked for entertainment. Selling jerseys and popularity is what brings in the money (see Tim Tebow).

The point is; the characteristics that make London boring to the outside observer are exactly what this team needs. To lose his leadership and the accountability he holds to this team would be devastating. You can not replace a guy like London Fletcher who is one of a kind.

George Santaya once said ”Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” 

If Bruce Allen never does anything else for this team, learning from the mistakes of his predecessor would be enough to land him in the Ring of Fame.

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About Ray Smith

Ray Smith is the Head Writer and Senior Editor of www.sonofwashington.com as well as the Host of the SonOfWashington Podcast. Follow Ray on Twitter @SonOfWashington

Posted on March 5, 2012, in Uncategorized, Washington Redskins and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. That kind of leadership is worth every penny. I don’t want to take anything away from guys like Perry Riley but you’ve got to believe his performance has something to do w/learning from Fletcher. He’s the kind of man that makes other men better and I’d be proud of my Skins if they stroked him a fat check. He’s earned it.

  2. legacystatsibbidoe

    Very nicely said. Not getting Fletcher back will set us back more than people think. You can’t just replace the things that he brings to the team. #59 needs to retire a Redskin 3-4 years from now.

    #Resign59
    HTTR

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