Sunday, March 11, 2012
Weekend mailbag: High Redskins hopes
By Dan Graziano
The mailbag is bursting with questions two days before the start of free agency. I will do what little I can here to help alleviate.
Russell Goodacre of Ijamsville, Md., asks whether the Washington Redskins -- assuming they take Robert Griffin III with the No. 2 pick in the draft -- are thinking long-term or if the move means they can make the postseason this coming season.
Dan Graziano: Russell, I think the trade indicates a desire to win now. Yes, part of the appeal of Griffin (over someone like Kyle Orton or even Peyton Manning) is that he can be the long-term answer at quarterback. But with all of the salary-cap room they appear to have, the fact that the NFC East was won with only nine wins last season and the fact that they beat the team that won it twice, the Redskins believe they have an opportunity to put together a team that can reach the postseason this coming season. Whether they do it will depend on the work they do in free agency and the middle-to-late rounds of the draft to put the right pieces around Griffin and on how quickly Griffin develops as an NFL quarterback. But we've seen rookies make the playoffs in recent years, and guys like Joe Flacco and Mark Sanchez had even done well once they got there as rookies.
Jason Quinn from San Diego points out, as several others have, that the franchising of Anthony Spencer doesn't technically eliminate the Dallas Cowboys from the pursuit of someone like Mario Williams. Jason's take is that they could sign Williams and rescind the franchise offer if Spencer doesn't sign it right away.
DG: Yes, that is true. My assumption has been that Spencer would sign the franchise tender, and I think it's very likely that he will. But someone else pointed out to me recently that, once Williams signs, Spencer becomes a desirable fallback option for other teams seeking outside linebacker help, and that he may like the idea of keeping his options open. If the Cowboys do sign Williams and rescind the franchise offer to Spencer, there could be a market for his services that would pay him more than $8.8 million for one year. So yes, it's technically possible. I still see Williams someplace like Seattle or San Diego, though. We'll see.
Eric Rubenstein from Orlando wants to know if I think the New York Giants would look at Plaxico Burress as a No. 3 wide receiver if, as expected, Mario Manningham leaves as a free agent.
DG: I do think it'd be a possibility, Eric, and I think it says a lot about the people running the Giants that they'd keep an open mind about it. Burress has publicly shredded Tom Coughlin at every available turn since Burress got out of prison. And last year, when the Giants were genuinely interested in signing Burress as a No. 3 receiver, he blatantly used them for contract leverage with other teams and ended up signing with the Jets. But Coughlin and Jerry Reese are both solid, upstanding fellows who don't seem like the type to hold grudges, and I believe they would not rule out Burress as one of many potential options, assuming the price is right.
Stephen from PA wants to know who I think the Eagles will target at linebacker in free agency.
DG: The linebacker market is a good one this year, Stephen. There's a belief around the league that the Eagles will be quiet in free agency this year -- especially in comparison to the splash they made last year. But if there's one spot where the market is ripe for them to make a big move it may be linebacker. I imagine you will hear them connected to many of the big names available, including Stephen Tulloch, Curtis Lofton and even London Fletcher. There's been a lot of buzz lately around Baltimore's Jarret Johnson, an underrated piece of the defenses there the past couple of seasons. I know that Lofton, Fletcher and Johnson are all looked at as strong locker-room guys and leaders, too, which would be something the Eagles could use.