Breaking Down the Contract Needed to Re-Sign Every Redskins Free Agent
It's going to be a quiet offseason in Washington.
Thanks to a massive salary-cap penalty leveled on the team in 2012, there is little wiggle room for the front office as the offseason gets under way. There will be no big free-agent moves and there will be few decisions regarding any players outside of the organization.
The most important work will come from the inside, where the Redskins have several players eligible for free agency—20 to be exact, including 15 unrestricted players who can test the market. It will be tough, if not impossible, to retain all of these players due to the cap situation.
Bruce Allen, Dan Snyder, and Mike Shanahan must seriously consider which players are worth the money and which are not.
Before I delve into the possibilities, it bears mentioning that there are moves the Redskins can make to alleviate the sting of the cap penalty. As it stands, Washington is about $4 million over the cap after the approximately $18 million penalty. By either releasing or restructuring the contracts of players like London Fletcher, DeAngelo Hall, Jammal Brown, Brandon Meriweather and Santana Moss, the Redskins can save themselves up to around $20-23 million.
There are also some free agents on the roster whom the team almost certainly will not bring back, such as Brandon Banks, Chris Cooley (as unfortunate as that may be) and Madieu Williams.
It will be very difficult to navigate the cap situation, but the Redskins can still gauge the value of some of their best free agents and find a way to keep them in Washington. Penalty or not, there should usually be a way to retain the players most critical to the organization.
Jordan Black, Unrestricted
Jordan Black had a solid season in 2012, but he's nothing more than a backup offensive tackle. It's not imperative that the Redskins re-sign him, but they could get a great value.
He had a drug suspension at the end of 2012 that should drive down his asking price and allow the Redskins to sign him for no more than $1 million. Black doesn't have enough of a reputation to expect better offers from around the league, so a small contract with Washington may be his best shot.
Estimate: 1 year, $800,000
Bryan Kehl, Unrestricted
If Bryan Kehl wants to remain in the NFL, he's probably hoping the Redskins try to re-sign him. There's not much of a market for a seldom-used former fourth-round draft pick, and his familiarity with D.C. is likely his only shot at a job.
Luckily for Kehl, he played decent in a couple of games in 2012 and showed some flashes in limited time. The Redskins don't have to re-sign him by any means, but it wouldn't hurt to shore up the linebacking corps. All he'll get is a minimum deal.
Estimate: 1 year, $700,000
Rex Grossman, Unrestricted
Robert Griffin III had a spectacular year and Kirk Cousins proved to be a valuable backup, so Rex Grossman's value is far below what it ever was.
But you can be sure the former starter will return to Washington in some capacity, be it a player or an associate coach. He reportedly wants to stay in D.C. and help the young quarterbacks develop, and he could get playing time if the team is decimated by injuries.
Estimate: 1 year, $925,000
Cedric Griffin, Unrestricted
Cedric Griffin is an interesting case because he's not a particularly special talent, but he could still cash in due to the situation of the Redskins' defensive backfield. He still has legitimate skills and could provide depth—and could prove to be a vital cog if Washington decides to part ways with DeAngelo Hall.
Griffin's recent drug suspension works against him and he won't make as much money as he could have, but the Redskins should definitely offer him a contract.
Estimate: 1 year, $825,000
Lorenzo Alexander, Unrestricted
Lorenzo Alexander is a fan favorite in Washington and finally received proper recognition in 2012, getting a Pro Bowl nod on special teams. The Redskins are undoubtedly satisfied with his gradual ascent, but his stellar year puts the front office in a precarious position. How much do you pay a standout on special teams?
It's a known fact that the team wants to bring Alexander back, offering him a contract that he reportedly denied. He'll likely test the market and play up the significance of his Pro Bowl appearance.
Still, it's hard to imagine him wearing anything other than burgundy and gold, and his services will be needed in D.C. He can play several positions and is invaluable to the team's overall schemes.
There will be some tense negotiations, and some concessions will have to be made, but the Redskins should find a way to get it done.
Estimate: 3 years, $4,000,000
Tyler Polumbus, Unrestricted
Tyler Polumbus had a pretty sub-par 2012, but he's got value as a backup and did play in 15 games last year. It's never a good thing when you have to depend on the performance of a guy like Polumbus, but the Redskins seem to have injuries to their front five every year and could use him in a sticky situation.
He should return to D.C. You can never have enough offensive linemen, and he won't have a high asking price. If it's close to $1 million, Washington should reconsider.
Estimate: 1 year, $800,000
Chris Wilson, Unrestricted
It's unfortunate that Chris Wilson was never able to build off of his four-sack rookie season in 2007. The guy has a load of talent, but has never been on the field enough to display it.
His time is running out, and while he's good for a few spectacular plays per year, he might not be worth it anymore. The Redskins will probably re-sign him for depth, but it'll be for a minimum. Wilson won't find many opportunities elsewhere.
Estimate: 1 year, $700,000
Sav Rocca, Unrestricted
Sav Rocca is in a bit of a pickle. He's going to be coming off of some significant surgery on his knee and is quickly approaching 40. He was pretty good in 2012, but he'll probably want a contract somewhere north of $1 million and the Redskins shouldn't pay it.
Punters are replaceable, and there will be booming legs likely available in the later rounds of the draft who will gladly take the rookie minimum to suit up in the NFL. Rocca could be on his way out of Washington.
Estimate: 1 year, $1,000,000 would probably convince Rocca to hang around, but it would be foolish for the Redskins to offer a contract like that to him.
Nick Sundberg, Restricted
Nick Sundberg became a local legend after a Week 1 performance when he continued to play against the Saints despite breaking his arm in the first quarter. He's nothing more than a long snapper, but he's a very important player.
Long snappers are often overlooked and Sundberg could be the solution to a problem that Washington doesn't want. They should try at all costs to sign Sundberg, if anything because of his familiarity with the players. Remember: Since Sundberg is restricted, the Redskins have rights of first refusal should another team try to pick him up.
Estimate: 3 years, $1,500,000
Fred Davis, Unrestricted
If Fred Davis was able to stay healthy, he could be comfortably locked in to a multi-year deal with the Redskins, making millions and millions of dollars while contributing to the gradual development of Robert Griffin III. Unfortunately, Davis keeps getting hurt, and it's hurting his overall value.
Davis' potential is undeniable, and that's the only reason he's still in Washington. He's on the cusp of becoming something really special, but since he hasn't proven anything yet, he's not going to get a multi-year extension from the front office.
There will be teams looking to pay for his services, but they'll likely never get the chance. The Redskins will probably end up using their franchise tag on Davis and keep him around for one more year. If he can stay on the field, he'll be in for a big extension in 2014. Using the franchise tag is never a bad idea, especially with a player who has unfulfilled potential.
Estimate: 1 year, $6,500,000 (franchise tag)
Tanard Jackson, Unrestricted
No one on the roster hurt his salary prospects more than Tanard Jackson, who signed a one-year, $700,000 contract prior to the 2012 season and was promptly suspended for the year for violating the league's drug policy. In a year when Washington needed safety help in the worst way, Jackson effectively ruined his chances at a bigger contract by missing every game.
If he's re-signed, it's only because the Redskins need immediate help at safety. If they release Madieu Williams, Jackson will probably return, and the front office will be tied up because of the state of the unit. They'll give him a contract because they have to, not necessarily because they want to. A one-year deal for near the minimum is all they should push, but they could go higher if they deem his availability a necessity.
Estimate: 1 year, $700,000, or slightly higher if the front office feels he's an especially important player given the safety situation.
Logan Paulsen, Unrestricted
The Redskins have to re-sign Logan Paulsen, there's no question here. Paulsen was excellent in Davis' stead last year and is deserving of a new contract. He and RGIII developed a decent rapport, and he showed how important a good receiving tight end can be to an offense.
Comparing Paulsen and Davis is foolish; Davis is clearly the better player. But that doesn't mean Paulsen isn't integral to the game plan. He's clunky and slow, but he gets the job done, and that's all the Redskins can ask for. He's a fan favorite and could get a multi-year deal.
Estimate: 3 years, $1,800,000
Rob Jackson, Unrestricted
Rob Jackson's situation is as difficult as any the Redskins will face this offseason. After Brian Orakpo suffered a season-ending injury in Week 2, Jackson stepped in and played at an undeniably high level. He made some of the biggest plays of the season, including a timely interception that turned a game in Cleveland and a season-defining interception in the finale against Dallas. There's no question that he is starter-caliber and has a high ceiling.
The problem is that Orakpo is still a better athlete, and has a higher upside. You'd be hard pressed to find someone who believes the Redskins won't start Orakpo over Jackson in 2013.
This is what makes Jackson unique: He's shown that he's a great player, but he won't be a starter on his own team.
This is why he'll probably test the market and field some offers. There's no question he can get a good deal somewhere. Can the Redskins match offers from other teams? It depends on whether or not they think he's worth starter money or backup money. Jackson might not accept a lower offer.
Estimate: 3 years, $3,500,000 if they even want to keep him as a backup.
Kedric Golston, Unrestricted
In terms of tenure, Kedric Golston has been a fixture on the Redskins roster for what seems like ages. He's never become a star—and he never will—but it doesn't matter because he always contributes and does what is asked of him. He's a workmanlike player and brings a solid work ethic to the field and to practice.
Like some of the players on this list, it's not imperative for the Redskins to re-sign Golston. But it would behoove them to do it. He's a heart-and-soul player and can provide depth and experience. The fans will thank the front office if they bring him back.
Estimate: 1 year, $800,000
Kory Lichtensteiger, Unrestricted
Much like Polumbus and Black, Kory Lichtensteiger is a guy who isn't spectacular. What makes him different, though, is the fact that he is a legitimate starter and is better than the typical backup. He doesn't blow anyone away, but he gets the job done and did a very good job in run-blocking last season.
The Redskins must re-sign Lichtensteiger, mostly because they won't be able to find or afford anyone in free agency of his caliber. It would be a step in the wrong direction if the front office messed with the chemistry that the unit developed over the course of 2012. Lichtensteiger will be relatively cheap and will be a solid player.
Estimate: 1 year, $1,200,000
Darrel Young, Restricted
It's impossible not to like Darrel Young. He's a fun-loving teammate who just loves to play football. He's a stellar fullback and displayed blocking ability that harkened back to the old days of smashmouth Redskins football. In addition, he can take some carries and is a very good receiver out of the backfield.
It's hard to quantify how important Young was to the Redskins offense in 2012, but all you really need to do is take a gander at the stats: Washington was the best rushing team in the NFL. Darrel Young deserves a contract. You can be sure the Redskins will give it to him.
Estimate: 3 years, $1,800,000