Sunday, July 31, 2011
Busy Skins get Hightower, Jammal Brown
By Dan Graziano
Yeah, there was some traffic. Next time I'll take the train so I can work on the way down. Lesson learned. Or I need to hitch a ride with Mortensen on that bus he's got.
Anyway, some stuff happened while I was on the road, and I'm going to start with the Redskins, who made a couple of moves.
They traded 35-year-old defensive lineman Vonnie Holliday and a conditional draft pick to the Arizona Cardinals for 25-year-old running back Tim Hightower. I put the players' ages in there for good reason, since it's the latest illustration of what the Redskins are up to -- namely, getting younger and rebuilding with their eyes more on the future than on 2011. They've been remaking their defensive line with the additions of Barry Cofield and Stephen Bowen and the subtraction of Jeremy Jarmon and now Holliday. More moves might be coming there, and if they do, expect them to fit in with most of the moves the Redskins have been making -- moves for younger, hungry players who are already good and somewhat established but have room to grow as the team moves on into the future. Hightower enters the running back mix with Ryan Torain, Roy Helu and Evan Royster. He's got the most experience of that bunch, and Mike Shanahan likes having depth at the position. Sensible move that gets them younger overall and brings in something of a veteran presence at a position where they lacked it.
They re-signed right tackle Jammal Brown, who started slow last year in his first season with the team but improved in the second half as he became healthier, to a five-year, $27.5 million contract. This move was expected, though there was some thought they'd look elsewhere. (Denver's Ryan Harris had come up in some speculation.) Continuity is good for an offensive line, and Brown will return for a second year in Shanahan's zone-blocking scheme. Left-to-right, the Redskins' starting offensive line right now is Trent Williams, Kory Lichtensteiger, Will Montgomery, Chris Chester and Brown. Everybody but Chester from that group was on the team last year.
They also brought back H.B. Blades, who'll be a special-teamer and a backup for them at the inside linebacker spots. Depth is good, and with Lorenzo Alexander possibly moving inside to make room for first-round draft pick Ryan Kerrigan on the outside, the Skins have it.
The Redskins have had a very busy -- and I think a very good -- first week of free agency. They're not making the kinds of moves that make you think they'll just right into 2011 contention, because they likely won't. But in the second year of a five-year contract, Shanahan is building a team, and trying to do it the right way. And don't look now, but it appears Dan Snyder has been staying out of it. Just like he promised.