The Washington Examiner’s John Keim (JK) takes questions from fans about linebackers and the salary cap and a little draft/free agent talk in this installment of “Redskins Mailbag."
Q: As always thanks for the great work, and great ‘among the best of a tiny sample size’ shtick. What can you tell us about the role of a special teams coach? If play calling is up to the head coach, and personnel decisions are with the GM and head coach, then where does that leave the special teams coach? On a botched special teams play – whether it’s a high snap from the long snapper or a muffed punt – television producers love to cut to the special teams coach. Is he responsible for the technique of special teams players? If that’s the case, why isn’t Haslett blamed for a bad angle taken by a safety? Can you give us a quick Roy Helu update? How do you view his status entering the 2013 season? He showed flashes in 2011. Is there one position where the free agent market is stronger than the draftee market, where observers might expect the Redskins to make a foray into the free agent market? — Thanks again,
JK: Thanks…Yes, the special teams coach is responsible for teaching the techniques, etc. Among other things, he’ll decide which way a return will go; where to place the ball on a punt or a kickoff. But ultimately it’s on the player – just as you said Jim Haslett does not get blamed when a safety misses a tackle or takes a bad angle. For example on the blocked field goals last year, players I spoke with said the guilty parties did not do as they were taught. I think the special teams coach often is singled out more in part because there just aren’t as many plays. So one bad special teams play could impact the whole game whereas the defense might be on the field for 60 or more plays. … Helu said in early January that he still could not sprint, but that he should be ready for offseason workouts in mid-April. I worry about his durability, but if he’s healthy he’d help on third downs. Helu is more of a threat on screens than, say, Evan Royster, because of his speed.
Looks like receiver is pretty strong in free agency (Wes Welker, Dwayne Bowe, Mike Wallace, Greg Jennings) compared to the draft, though it sounds like a deep class regardless. I’ve heard the safety and corner class is pretty solid in the draft. There won’t be many solid right tackles available in free agency, but there should be solid options in the draft. Don’t forget, there are always players who get cut right before free agency.
Q: Front-loading Haynesworth’s and DHall’s contracts by $36 million in a year with no salary cap was a shrewd move and worth a try to quickly rid us of Cerrato’s incompetence. However, I keep reading articles that mention the NFL’s cap penalty on the Skins as though it is some grossly unfair punishment. Granted, I would love to have seen what Bruce Allen would’ve pulled off with that money this year (and last). However, if they kept Haynesworth’s & Hall’s contracts exactly like they were originally, then wouldn’t they be in the same financial shape that they’re in now? If I pay cash for a $20,000 car or finance it, it’s still 20 grand spent either way right? — David
JK: That’s my understanding but in all honesty these numbers make my head hurt. When they tried to dump all the money into 2010 they knew there was a chance of a penalty, according to one league source who was in the room at the time the warnings were issued.
Q: what’s the likelihood of an OLB transitioning successfully to MLB. Could Rob Jackson fill that hole? Dude had 3ints this yr. — @themoshe
JK: Depends on the player; Lorenzo Alexander did it but as a backup and not in a full-time role. For Jackson? No way. He did a nice job making plays but he would not be considered a good cover linebacker by any means. He did a terrific job on the picks, but playing in coverage is a big weakness and to move inside would require a major improvement in this area. (He’d also have to lose about 20 pounds). I can’t imagine him covering tight ends or backs. It’s safe to say the coaches would not want to see that either. You’d also need him to re-learn the defense from an inside ‘backer’s perspective and I think that would take time for him.
Q: who do you think are realistic candidates for restructure? And of the players you name home much do you think it will save us? — @thekingrobert7
JK: Santana Moss and DeAngelo Hall are the two most likely candidates to have work done on their deals. The problem with Hall, who would count $8 million against the cap in 2013, is that he has two years left on his contract. So it depends on how long you see him remaining with the franchise. The reality is he’d likely have to accept a pay cut to remain. They can clear out all that cap space if they release him by June 1. Moss will count approximately $6 million against the cap and has one year left on his deal. All the same questions apply: How much money do you want to shove into the future? This is why you need to develop as many young players as possible. … Jammal Brown will be cut, but if they do it before June 1 he’ll count $3.3 million against the cap vs. $1.1 million if released after (with the other $2.2 million on the cap for 2014). They could always approach a Chris Chester ($4.3 million cap hit) or Barry Cofield (approximately $6 million cap hit), among others, about restructuring. But to make a living off doing business this way is tough and it often just pushes headaches into the future. At some point hard choices will need to be made.