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Vinny Cerrato out, Bruce Allen in. What financial havoc did Cerrato wreck?

During his nearly decade-long tenure, Vinny Cerrato presided over some good draft picks and signings – but his legacy is a stream of overpayed and underperforming duds.

By / December 17, 2009

Executive Vice President of Football Operations Vinny Cerrato, left, and owner Daniel Snyder discuss the Washington Redskins during the team's 2009 training camp in Virginia. Cerrato resigned Thursday and is being replaced by Bruce Allen, son of Redskins coaching great George Allen and former Raiders general manager.

Ron Sachs/CNP/Newscom


Vinny Cerrato's resignation as executive vice president of football operations for the Washington Redskins elicited an overwhelming schadenfreude from the battered fans of one of the NFL's flagship franchises.

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"If only there was a statue of Cerrato we could yank down," tweeted Maryland-based writer Mark Newgent.

Cerrato's tenure with the Redskins saw quite a few successes. He drafted the late great safety Sean Taylor and pulled All-Pro tight end Chris Cooley from the 3rd round rough in the 2004 NFL Draft. He traded for stalwart wideout Santana Moss in 2005 and signed middle linebacker London Fletcher in 2007.

And it's not hard to imagine that some of the angst directed at Cerrato was a general ill will toward Redskins management, which has much to do with the owner, Daniel Snyder,

But professional football is a business, in the end, in which managers must attract the best talent at the cheapest cost. In that light, Cerrato's tenure will be remembered by a string of high-profile busts and vapid drafting strategy that ended with overpayed and underperforming duds. Here are the three ways that Cerrato not only made the Redskins a poor on-the-field product but expensive as well:

1. Swapping draft picks for established players.

The NFL draft is a way for teams to retool with cheap talent. Throughout Cerrato's tenure, the Redskins have generally treated the draft like a rough neighborhood, passing through it only when necessary, and then trading the draft picks away. That can be a viable strategy, unless you overpay.

For example: When Cerrato exchanged a first-round draft pick for Jets wideout Laveranues Coles in 2003, the Redskins got a player who had been making less than $400,000. But the Redskins signed him to a contract with a $13 million signing bonus and a base salary of over $2 million. After two less-than-stellar seasons in Washington, Coles was traded back to the Jets (for wide receiver Santana Moss) with a signing bonus that was $8 million less than what he had received from the Redskins.

That same year, the Redskins made only three picks in the roughly 250 selection draft. In a league where homegrown talent like Steelers safety Troy Polamalu (a first-round choice in 2003) and Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (a sixth-round pick in 2000) are keys to long-term success, the Redskins consistently moved out of the draft in favor of expensive veterans.