One of the most compelling stories of free agency is how non-compelling the Washington Redskins have been. There were strong rumors (out of Houston for some reason) that the Skins would do whatever it took to land unrestricted free-agent defensive end Julius Peppers.
But we quickly learned the Chicago Bears were the ones willing to go the distance for Peppers -- and other aging stars. It almost felt like the Bears had turned to Dan Snyder as a consultant. Meanwhile in Washington, general manager Bruce Allen and coach Mike Shanahan are trying to sell versatile offensive lineman Artis Hicks to season-ticket holders. And against all odds, it seems to be working.
The Redskins' methodical approach to free agency is a refreshing change to many fans after years of wild spending in during the free-agency period. When SI.com's Peter King tracked down Allen on Sunday, he asked him whether Snyder was getting impatient.
"No,'' said Allen. "He didn't throw anything at me. And he didn't throw a tantrum. He's fine with it."
I know it's early, but it truly seems like Snyder has placed his trust in Allen and Shanahan. Every report you read indicates that Snyder's spending more time on his non-football enterprises. He's certainly still passionate about the organization, but he's actually giving this hands-off approach a chance. So what happens if the Redskins go 4-12 again? It's a fair question, but let's wait until we're there.
Here's what Allen told King about the Redskins' strategy this past Thursday at midnight:
"What we did is when we got the list of free agents with their phone numbers and agent phone numbers from the league, and I highlighted the 40 or 50 we were interested in, and we started calling them. We left messages for some of them, talked to some of them, and told them we were interested. And we'll see where it takes us."
With the Albert Haynesworth signing last March, the Redskins struck quickly and blew everyone away with their offer. But last week, the Redskins didn't show anywhere near the same sense of urgency in pursuing players. It remains to be seen whether this new approach works.
But I think we'd all agree that the former approach had run its course.