Free agency has become the civil war of Washington Redskins fans. One half wants major signings; the other half seeks more moderate choices. It's like fighting about politics, religion and money -- there's no middle ground.
The Redskins entered free agency with $23 million in salary cap space, enough for some splurging. Instead, they have taken a conservative slant. The days of winning the offseason by signing megastars such as Deion Sanders, Bruce Smith and Albert Haynesworth have given way to signings of role players who won't sink the team's cap space if not playing well.
It's boring, but sound. The Redskins, who were 3-13 in 2013, aren't one or two players away from making a Super Bowl. They're 6-10 players away, so why drop a ton of dough on a prominent player? The past 14 years under owner Dan Snyder have shown success isn't bought in March, but based on the draft afterward.
But that doesn't satisfy half of Redskins Nation, which has been bloodthirsty about not gaining marquee defenders Aqib Talib or Jairus Byrd. Instead, the Redskins reportedly signed cornerback Tracy Porter, a former second-round pick who played for three different teams -- New Orleans Saints, Denver Broncos and Oakland Raiders -- from 2011-13.
The Redskins have spent the first two days of free agency picking up role players and reserves. There's nothing wrong with that, because it takes all types to make up a roster.
Washington needs good special teamers, such as linebacker Adam Hayward, who signed with the team March 12. The special teams unit was dreadful last season, and Hayward will make a difference.
Former Arizona receiver Andre Roberts, who became a Redskin March 12, is a nice pickup to help Pierre Garcon. Roberts is like many of the Redskins' signings -- young, cheap and still has a chance to get better. Houston linebacker Darryl Sharpton is expected to sign with Washington and replace the retired London Fletcher as the Redskins go 13 years younger at the position.
The one controversial signing was former Cincinnati guard Shawn Lauvao, who joined the team March 12 on a reported four year, $17 million deal. Lauvao isn't that good, though better than predecessor Chris Chester. The Redskins overpaid, but new coach Jay Gruden gets one of his old players from Cincinnati. Gruden deserves a chance to get some of his guys on the squad.
Mostly, the Redskins picked up a bunch of guys. The best move was re-signing inside linebacker Perry Riley. Along with retaining cornerback DeAngelo Hall and linebacker Brian Orakpo, the Redskins kept the staples of the defense. Too bad the team hasn't found any safeties and corners, positions of need heading into the 2014 season. Then again, maybe second-year corner David Amerson fills one slot. Perhaps safety Ryan Clark returns to Washington after eight seasons in Pittsburgh.
Washington is steadily shuttling players from nearby Dulles International Airport. Part of it is general manager Bruce Allen's system of evaluating players for future signings, but Redskins Park feels like Walmart, and the team once shopped at Versace.
The bottom line this season is the Redskins will be as good as quarterback Robert Griffin III plays. If he returns to his 2012 form, maybe Washington can reach 8-8. Otherwise, it doesn't matter how much money Washington spends on overpriced free agents. It's still putting lipstick on a pig.