A Tale of Two GM’s: The Jason Taylor Experience

vinny-cerrato
One General Manager has an aging, yet still capable defensive star on his squad whose focus doesn’t seem to be 100% on football and carries a pretty hefty salary cap hit.

Another GM has a sudden hole to fill on his defensive line and capitalizes on the first GM’s displeasure with the defensive star, negotiating a lightning-round trade in exchange for a 2nd round pick in 2009 and a 6th round pick in 2010.

At the time of the trade, back in July 2008, the deal seemed somewhat equitable in most quarters, although some questioned GM #2’s proclivity for dealing away draft picks.

A year later, however, the deal serves to demonstrate the chasm of difference between the football minds of two GM’s. One GM is a future Hall of Famer who truly understands both the business side and the X’s and O’s of the game. The other GM is a yes man playing amateur hour with the big boys.

Consider this: before the trade, Jason Taylor was due to earn a total of over $16 million from the Dolphins through the 2009 season. Now that the 2009 draft is complete, we know that Bill Parcells essentially traded away Jason Taylor for West Virginia QB Pat White (plus another player we’ll learn about next year).

Pat White is an amazing fit for the Dolphins’ Wildcat offense and will likely get playing time in his rookie year in some of those special formations and plays. Parcells clears out $16 mil off the Dolphins books and gets rid of a guy whose commitment he had questions about in exchange for a dynamic player. He then turns around and re-signs the player he traded away a year later for only $1 million!

He saves the team $15 million, picks up another decent player, and then winds up with Taylor back on his roster, now willing and eager to play at the very least a significant locker room leadership role on the team that is nearest and dearest to his heart. As an added bonus, Parcells gets to be the good guy, satisfying a fan base in Miami that had grown to love Taylor, whose charitable foundation and family are based in South Florida.

Vinny C, meanwhile, spends $2.5 million per sack for Taylor’s services and releases him after one year, while at the same time giving up a valuable second round pick. We all understand that draft picks represent the future of a franchise and are the starting point upon which every successful NFL franchise builds championship teams. When one thinks of teams that build through draft, teams like the Patriots, the Steelers, the Colts, and the Giants come to mind, teams that have been consistently successful, or that the very least, competitive, over the last decade.

And let’s not dismiss the value of a second round pick. These days, the second round is the new first round, as teams have found the talent level in that round to be comparable to that in the first round, but without the staggering price tags. Here are some second round picks over the last few years that are widely recognized as elite players: Devin Hester, Tiki Barber, and Bob Sanders, to name but a few.

Sure, some bad luck was involved in this transaction. If Taylor had stayed healthy, who knows what his 2008 would have been like and whether the Redskins might have been more apt to retain him for 2009? But as is often said, successful people, talented people, make their luck.

And on the flip side, if the Skins hadn’t traded away their second round pick, they might have had the firepower to make a real move for QB Mark Sanchez during the 2009 Draft and might not have wound up with Brian Orakpo.

Only time will tell if Sanchez would have been better than JC or if Orakpo will live up to expectations, but it doesn’t take a genius to conclude that any Skins fan would rather have Parcells calling the shots on the personnel side than Vinny C.


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