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Calling all Cap Experts


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I'd like to give nods out to all of you who have made my experience of being a Redskins fan so much more enjoyable through the down times that the team has underperformed. It has been so long since I have really been caught up in the mindless enthusiasm of the Superbowl in the 1990's and this forum has really meant a lot to me.

It seems that in the era of the salary cap, the Redskins have been willing to take major risks to find the right way to do things. If you follow Dan Snyder's business career as reported in the press, he had some spectacular failures before he hit it big and it seems that he is following a similar route with the team.

The NFL is not known for owners who blaze new trails, but ones who copycat others in putting together winning teams. I sometimes wonder if there may be new ways to put together good teams in the era of the salary cap that go against the grain of drafting and developing players that have to perform right away when they often do not blossom until several years into their careers.

Last year was a real awakening for me with the Coles signing and I wonder if there are scenarios where the draft could become less important than free agency in terms of team building for the future. What I mean by this is to keep your big bucks for proven players acquired thru free agency and de-emphasize the dollars spent on top picks who may or may not pan out.

Currently, there appears to be a pattern to how contracts are set up in terms of their duration, signing bonuses, and incentives. This changed in one respect with the Skins signing restricted free agents and basically dealing out their draft picks as needed.

Let's say a team were to trade it's entire draft and rely completely on free agents. Would they be selling themselves down the river or would they be able to assemble the right type of team out of players that have a track record in the NFL.

I'd be very interested in a discussion on this from some of the forum participants who know the business angle of this and would be willing to throw out the conventional wisdom about the draft to see a different side of this.

Could a team survive completely off of free agency forsaking the draft with the exception of marquee players such as the Arringtons and Michael Vicks of the world?

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It would be tough. Sustaining success is largely predicated on getting some cheap talent (mid late picks panning out).

I imagine that the hardest part would be statting off the process / chain reaction. If you were really successful and had an awesome atmosphere players would want to come and play. The high end players you'd land might come slightly cheaper and you'd get the pcik of the liter with the role playing vets who would play for the vet minimum.

I also imagine you'd have to trade your picks for players in thier last two years of their contract and after June 1, so that the SB doesn't kill the losing team. You'd also benefit on cap friendly contracts (Brad Johnson is a good example - please no remarks that we gave up too much to get him as that isn't my point).

I think you could trade your #1 and possibly #2's every season, but for L/T success you'd need your other picks to pan out and bring you cheap players.

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I don't see how you can foresake drafting players in favor of fa's and trades. Your salary cap is made up by a roster of 53 players + 5-10 players on IR + dead cap space for guys that were busts. You are interested in models for building a team.

Most teams have a core of no more than 10 highly paid players, with less than 5 really highly paid. If you look at team payrolls, every team has at least 30 players who cost $300K - $500K per year under the cap. You just can't get many proven players at that price. So you have to draft them or find them hidden away as an udfa.

Your argument really is that given the economics of the game, teams should be very hesistant to keep really high draft picks (top ten in the first round) because the cost/risk equation turns out so badly so often. If you feel that way then your strategy should be to trade down high picks for additional much cheaper picks. But you still have to successfully scout talent and draft players well to be successfull over any time period.

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