Previous to last season the Redskins dealt some “core” players, as dubbed my Joe Gibbs in his second stint. Rock Cartwright and Jason Campbell headed out to Oakland. Ladell Betts, a staple at backup, departed last year as well. Troubled wide receiver Devin Thomas was finally released this season. Clinton Portis and Andre Carter are no longer Redskins either and Santana Moss could join them if the “#ReSign89″ campaign fails.
If you were to fast forward from about three years ago to now, this team would be almost unrecognizable. This generation of Redskins will hopefully be defined by the players we draft as opposed to the ones we find in free agency. The last ten or more years have all been covered with scrutiny due to the free agency moves by Washington when it was actually our home-grown talent that was making plays on the field. Lavar Arrington, John Jansen, Chris Samuels, Sean Taylor, Jason Campbell, Carlos Rodgers (ehh…sort of), Chris Cooley… the list continues. Despite the hundred million dollar contracts that roll through DC, our best players have generally been grown from the ground up.
How many of you guys can remember Terry Allen? and Gus Frerotte going head first into the wall? How about Stephen Davis and Rod “50/50″ Gardner? Michael Westbrook? Ifenyani Ohalete? Trung Candidate? Sam Shade?
There isn’t a huge legacy for players to build on in Washington. We’re going to look back ten years from now and think about how Santana Moss caught the game-winning touchdown in Dallas after 58 minutes with no points. We’re going to remember Clinton Portis’ first carry as a Redskin and the cutback all the way across the vaunted Tampa defense. We already reminisce about Jason Campbell and his extremely mediocre play. (What always sticks out to me is the 6-2 start and 2-6 finish of a team that had so much promise.)
It’s a change that hasn’t been seen in a long time for Redskins fans. The release of these veterans means two things. The first is that the team is finally going to get significantly younger. The second is there has been a clear message sent to every player and that message is that nobody is safe. It’s sad to see such key players or former key players leave but it’s also exciting as a fan to know that what is happening right now within the organization has the potential to impact the next ten to fifteen years for the team.
So who is going to step up? Washington now only has six players with ten or more years of NFL experience.
Anthony Armstrong, Lorenzo Alexander, Brandon Banks, Ryan Torain, Trent Williams and company are now charged with helping to resurrect the glory days. There’s also the potential for a 2011 draft pick to have an immediate impact- whether the team goes quarterback, linebacker or offensive lineman.
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