Developing Your Own Breeds Success

In February of 2009, the Washington Redskins signed DT Albert Haynesworth to the largest contract ever signed by a defensive lineman; seven-years $100 million, $40 million guaranteed, paying him $32 million in the first year of the agreement. WOW! Seven months later what has that yielded the Washington Redskins? A player who ranks ninth on his team with 16 tackles, three sacks, four tackles for loss, eight QB hurries, three passes defensed, and one fumble recovery. The team leader in tackles is LB London Fletcher who has 40 tackles to his credit after seven weeks of regular seasons play. The team leader in sacks is DE Andre Carter and is also the team leader in tackles for loss with seven. Haynesworth’s statistics may appear to be decent statistics for any backup player in the NFL, but when a team doles out such large sums of money to a front-line player with average results, there is something missing. The production from Haynesworth does not equal the pay. Fletcher signed a five-year, $25 million contract with the Redskins in 2007, and Carter signed a six-year, $30 million contract with the Redskins in 2006. Fltcher and Carter’s contracts combined do not total the pay of Haynesworth, but their production far out paces his.

Players are often paid and then a huge drop off in production arises. How does this continue to happen?

The NFL pay system is broken and until the system is corrected, there will continue to be problems in professional sports when it comes to pay. Professional athletes deserve as much money as they can garner during the short career span of professional sports, if someone is willing to pay them for their services of entertainment. It is no different than if 80,000 people packed a stadium to watch famed author Tom Clancy read a book at the 50-yard line. Simple economic theory of supply vs. demand.

Just yesterday the Cowboys extend DE Demarcus Ware to a six-year extension totaling $78 million, with $40 million guaranteed. Ware currently has a team leading four sacks for the Cowboys and is well off his 2008 NFL leading 20 sacks. So what are the Cowboys paying for? Future speculation or past results? 

The difference in Haynesworth and Ware is that Ware is a “home grown” player whom the Cowboys selected with the 11th pick in the 2005 NFL Draft and developed as a player into their style of defensive play, whereas Haynesworth, along with Fletcher and Carter, were already well-know players from previous teams. A championship team will not be built by taking the best players from other teams and trying to make them your own. They became superstars somewhere else, so trying to change their routine and habits will only result in backlash and revolt once a player is paid large sums of money.  

Cowboys Owner/President/General Manager Jerry Jones once admitted that lack of on-field production from the Cowboys caused him to take a look in the mirror and realize while he had gets all the credit for success, he must also shoulder the blame. This resulted in much better results via the draft and helped to bring quality players back to the Dallas Cowboys. Until the Redskins do a better job of developing their own players through the NFL draft, there will be little to no success in Washington for many years to come. At this rate, the Redskins will become a team like the old Arizona Cardinals and Cincinnati Bengals of the NFL (who are now seemingly turning the corner with their football operations); lots of talent with poor management.

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