Deal: How Washington made Jason Taylor a 'Skin in less than six hours
I am very bullish on this Jason Taylor trade, Miami dealing the unhappy defensive end to Washington for a 2009 second-round pick and a 2010 sixth. It's a better trade for Washington than Miami, but a good recovery-deal for Bill Parcells and the Dolphins.
The amazing thing is, while you were having Sunday brunch, the two sides hadn't even started discussing it yet.
This trade happened, from idea-germination to finish, in five hours and 45 minutes. From Redskins executive vice president of football operations Vinny Cerrato's first phone call to Parcells to getting the deal done took three hours and 10 minutes. That's how long it took for the 2006 Defensive Player of the Year and a guy we'll debate for the Hall of Fame someday to go from miserable on a bad team to hopeful on a playoff team.
Only in Washington. Only with Dan Snyder.
Now, I'd heard some interesting rumors in recent weeks about Taylor. I'd heard a good one last week about a three-way deal between the Giants, Dolphins and Saints, with Taylor going to the Giants to replace Michael Strahan at left end, Jeremy Shockey going to New Orleans to give Sean Payton the tight-end weapon he so desperately wants, and second- and fifth-round picks going from New Orleans to Miami. I don't think there was any meat to that, though it made an awful lot of sense for all three teams. [I still think, by the way, that the Shockey story is not over. If he's a turd at training camp, or a no-show, I still think there's a chance the Giants rekindle things with New Orleans.]
I have to hand it to Snyder and Cerrato. This was a very good trade for them. I've been hard on them, and rightfully so, for some of the dumb trades and free-agent signings (do we have to relive them?) of the past six or seven years. But this offseason was a smart time for Washington, because it was a time to get its financial house in order, not a time to go crazy over some barely above-average wide receiver.
The Redskins were the only team that began the offseason over the cap -- laughably over, in fact, at a $19 million cap deficit -- and they did the smart thing, the thing the Patriots did in 2000 when Bill Belichick began to right the Pats' ship. Instead of spending money by borrowing against the future, the Patriots shaved more than $13 million off their cap back then; the Redskins did the same, reversing their cap state by $29 million. At the close of business Friday, they were $9.8 million under the league's cap.
That allowed them to do this deal after an incredibly ill-timed injury to defensive end Phillip Daniels on the first series of training camp Sunday morning in Ashburn, Va.
Daniels, slated to be the starting left end for Washington, tripped over a teammate during the summer's first drills, a camp-opening 8:30 a.m. practice. Tough, tough injury, and not just because Daniels was expected to be a good rush end and solid run stopper on the left side. He's a popular player, and one of the hardest workers on the team. But no one thought the injury was more than a hyperextension when it happened ... until veteran Redskin medic Bubba Tyer found Snyder and Cerrato on their way to lunch Sunday at 12:30.
"Daniels tore his ACL,'' Tyer said. "He's out for the year.''
Sunday night, Cerrato told me: "We were sick. Just sick. I just said, 'I'm not hungry anymore.' Dan felt awful. On the first play of camp, for it to happen to such an important guy, and a guy everyone around here looked up to ... it's so tough.''
Cerrato and Snyder met with coach Jim Zorn and defensive coordinator Greg Blache to talk about alternatives; was there any other alternative than Taylor? They then met with cap guy Eric Schaffer to see if they could squeeze Taylor's $8 million 2008 salary into their payroll, and Schaffer assured him they could. At 3:10 p.m., as Cerrato recalled, he placed a call to Parcells asking about Taylor.
"I'd called Bill a couple of months ago, I guess, like a lot of other teams did, doing their due diligence, asking him what he was interested in for Taylor,'' Cerrato said. "But nothing ever came of it. I didn't talk to him again about it 'til this afternoon. Then, during the afternoon practice, I'd say I talked to Bill three times about the terms, trying to work something out.''
After practice, Cerrato spoke with team leaders Chris Samuels, London Fletcher and Shawn Springs, as well as former Miami offensive lineman Todd Wade. All wanted Taylor, obviously. "It'll help the secondary so much,'' Springs told Cerrato. "The corners aren't going to have to cover as long because Jason will be putting so much pressure on.''
At 6:15 p.m., Cerrato got Parcells on the phone for the final time to go over terms. They agreed on the two in 2009 and a six in 2010. "All right,'' Parcells said. "I'll fax you the paperwork. It's done.''
There aren't many teams that would have a major injury two hours after sunrise and have a better player in-house two hours before sunset. The Redskins historically have done the wrong kneejerk thing. This was the right kneejerk thing.
"I can't think of many teams that could have done this, or many owners that would have gotten this done so fast,'' said Cerrato, crediting Snyder for putting aside being distraught to concentrate on solving a gaping roster hole. "Dan was so down today. He was in the tank all day about losing Phillip. Even after the trade, he was more disappointed in losing Phillip because he likes him so much.''