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GM Bruce Allen says no decisions imminent on McNabb, Haynesworth
Redskins general manager Bruce Allen today expressed optimism about the club’s future in spite of his disappointment with the team’s 6-10 record. He did so without providing status updates on QB Donovan McNabb, DL Albert Haynesworth and several other key players.
Allen fielded questions from print reporters during a 30-minute session at team headquarters. I say “fielded questions” because Allen didn’t provide many satisfactory answers. He dodged our queries with a deftness that would make the politicians in his family proud.
His quotable comments were few and far between, but here’s a rundown of what you should know from the session:
Allen would not provide any details or insight about the statuses of any players, including QB Donovan McNabb, DL Albert Haynesworth, RB Clinton Portis, WR Santana Moss, CB Carlos Rogers and OLB/DE Andre Carter, saying the coaches’ evaluations are ongoing.
Specifically about McNabb’s future with the team, he said: “Those decisions will come in time.”
A reporter noted that Allen has done a lot with the team’s alumni and cleverly asked when McNabb and Haynesworth would be added to the alumni list.
“No time soon,” Allen said to laughter.
Allen has spoken with McNabb’s agent, Fletcher Smith. However, he declined to provide any details about those conversations or characterize them in any way.
Asked whether the McNabb trade was a mistake, Allen said: “When we made the decision to trade for Donovan, I think based on what we knew and what we were looking at, it was the right decision. How we perform in the future will determine that.”
Allen believes the team made the correct decision in suspending Haynesworth for the final four games of the season, but he left the door open for Haynesworth to return to the team next season.
Just a reminder: Haynesworth won’t speak to the head coach and has a pending a non-injury grievance against the team.
“Hopefully if we give it some time to breathe, hopefully we can come back with a fresh outlook on it,” he said.
Why the optimism?
“Because he’s extremely talented,” Allen said. “Let’s take a look at it at a later time.”
Allen challenged the notion that team let agent Fletcher Smith dominate the news cycle after McNabb finalized his five-year contract extension hours before the Monday night game on Nov. 15. You’ll recall that Smith spoke at length with reporters in the press box that night, while Allen limited his comments to those he made on ESPN980.
In the greater context of the team’s soap opera continuing on his and Shanahan’s watch, he attributed the ongoing drama to the combination of a zealous fan base and the new components of the team.
“To say that we haven’t had a quarterback controversy before? Excuse me, we had Billy [Kilmer] and Sonny [Jurgensen]. That was a pretty dramatic one, with beeping horns. That occurs anywhere you have a passionate fan base. We’ve made some progress. We’re not where the Redskins and the fans have been in the past, but that’s our goal.”
The Redskins are proceeding into the offseason as if there were no looming labor crisis.
“We have to be prepared for free agency,” Allen said. “We have to be prepared for the end of the league year on March 4 and that’s what we’re working to. If someone is going to change the rules, I’m sure I’ll get an email and then we’ll adjust.”
As for his optimism on the league and players’ union agreeing upon a new collective bargaining agreement.
“They seem to get done,” he said. “They always do get done. It’s just when will it get done? All we can focus on is what we can control.”
Allen pointed out some positives from the season.
“We worked on the infrastructure a lot of what this Redskins team can be,” he said. “I can’t tell you how happy I am with the attitude of the football team. We have a very mature leadership group on this team that got a team to fight for 60 minutes.
“I think a lot of young players got some great playing time. We have a lot of tape to be able to evaluate them. It’s invaluable learning experiences that they had by playing in regular season games.”
Allen wouldn’t say how helpful the uncapped year was in positioning the team to add players. We know that they restructured several contracts and have very little guaranteed money remaining on the books for 2011. That should provide ample flexibility and resources to add pieces.
“Whatever rules they give us, we’re going to try and benefit from them from a Redskins standpoint,” he said. “Last year was an uncapped year, and we used the rules that we thought would help the Redskins.”
Allen was impressed by Mike Shanahan’s ability to keep the big picture in mind.
“He has a good vision for not only 2010 but beyond,” Allen said. “He never lost sight of that, that it wasn’t just about this moment. What is right for this football team down the road was always in the frontal lobe of his brain.”
Allen said the team is considering various options for building an indoor practice facility. He would not rule out moving team headquarters from Ashburn to another location.
“I’m not going to put a timetable on it,” he said. “We’re not looking at something for the short term. We’re trying to make an interesting decision.”