First, let’s make it clear.
Lorenzo Alexander will be missed.
You don’t take away a guy who led to team in special teams tackles, who had 2.5 sacks, who wore the captain’s “C” on his jersey, who was as good a locker room presence as you could ask for, and not miss him.
But the Redskins will be able to make up for the departure of Alexander, who signed a three-year, $9.5 million contract with the Cardinals. The deal contains $3 million in guaranteed money.
He says that he was willing to take a lesser offer from the Redskins but when they dropped the guaranteed money from $2.6 million to $1.4 million (a spokesman denied that the team changes its offer) he made the business decision to take Arizona’s offer.
It should be said here that despite their salary cap situation the Redskins could have matched the Arizona offer, or at least come close enough so that Alexander would have stayed in the area he now calls home. Another player could have been restructured or the Redskins could have offered to structure Alexander’s contract in such a way that would have minimized this year’s cap hit and paid him the bulk of his money after the cap penalty is gone.
They offered Alexander what they thought he was worth to them. It’s a cold, hard business and it is always uncomfortable to have to put a dollar value on the services of a player who has been a hard worker and solid citizen for six years, through good times and bad. But football teams and virtually all business make those calculations all the time. And the Redskins looked at what a role player on defense and special teams stud was worth and decided that it was three years, $7.5 million, with $1.4 million guaranteed.
The Redskins responded to Alexander’s departure by bringing back Bryan Kehl, who agreed to terms yesterday. It goes without saying that Kehl does not “replace” Alexander as a leader or even as a player. Since nobody would be able to replace Alexander in the locker room, the Redskins did the best they could be brining back Kehl, a high character linebacker who has made his living playing special teams wearing four different uniforms.
It will be interesting to see what direction the Redskins’ special teams take with Alexander and longtime special teams coach Danny Smith out of the picture. While the fans may have gone overboard in bashing Smith and the play of the kicking teams, Rick Gosselin of the Dallas Morning News ranked the Redskins special teams 31st in his annual ranking using 22 statistical categories. Even if you want to say that the stats lie and the Redskins’ special teams were not among the very worst in the league, no rational observer could say that they were even better than average.
Things will be different with Alexander gone and Keith Burns replacing Danny Smith. Change could be for the better or for the worse but for the special teams, there isn’t much of anyplace to go but up.