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Will New Philosophy Work Out?

JReid files again:
From reading your responses to our recent posts, I get the feeling many of you are upset that the Redskins haven't done more in free agency. In addition to re-signing backup quarterback Todd Collins and return specialist Rock Cartwright, Washington pursued former Seattle wide receiver D.J. Hackett, who this week joined the Carolina Panthers.
Based on Washington's free-spending history, I braced for a wild ride in my first experience with free agency in the NFL. Under owner Dan Snyder, the Redskins have been among the league's most aggressive teams at pursuing players, but they weren't in this market.
With Hackett having rejected Washington's minimum offer (the Panthers reportedly gave Hackett a two-year, $3.5-million deal) the Redskins have shifted their focus to the draft to fill needs. The Redskins' lack of activity probably shouldn't have come as a surprise, especially considering that Vinny Cerrato, Washington's executive vice president of football operations, repeatedly told anyone who asked that the team wouldn't be a major player in this market.
Of course, many people in power often are less than truthful in their public comments about, well, everything, so some skepticism about the Redskins' supposed new approach wasn't surprising. But Cerrato also told many agents he wasn't interested in their clients, and that wasn't for public consumption. In fairness to the Redskins, the market wasn't considered deep, compared to previous seasons, because many of the top potential free agents signed new deals with their teams or couldn't test the water because they were designated with franchise tags.
To be sure, there were talented players available, though few had been productive starters for many seasons. After a season in which the Redskins qualified for the playoffs and many first- and second-year players made major contributions down the stretch in the regular season, Cerrato, new head coach Jim Zorn and their staffs determined Washington did not need four or five new starters. The Redskins want to get younger on the offensive and defensive lines, improve their depth at corner and safety and add a pass-rushing end.
That seems like a whole lot to accomplish in one draft even with having many picks (the Redskins have all their selections except one in the fourth round and are expected to get two more compensation picks), but the Redskins feel good about their roster. If the Redskins are right about quarterback Jason Campbell - and they believe they are - they expect to be a playoff team for the next six to 10 years.
As for failing to sign a big wide receiver to help Campbell as he learns Zorn's version of the West Coast offense, the Redskins will be a player in the bidding for Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Chad Johnson, a team source said, if Cincinnati decides to trade the disgruntled star. That's unlikely to happen because of the salary-cap ramifications for the Bengals, but the Redskins have room to maneuver (about $8 million) and still would prefer to acquire a bigger target for Campbell.
Were there free agents who could have helped the Redskins? Probably. But the Redskins just didn't believe the guys available were worth the cost. If they make the playoffs next season, no one will remember that they sat on the sideline during this time. Now, if they don't make the playoffs ...

By Cindy Boren  |  March 20, 2008; 10:23 PM ET
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