Breaking Down What Fred Davis' Re-Signing Means for the Washington Redskins

Gary DavenportNFL AnalystMarch 29, 2013

LANDOVER, MD - DECEMBER 04:  Fred Davis #83 of the Washington Redskins celebrates the Redskins first touchdown against the New York Jets during the first half at FedExField on December 4, 2011 in Landover, Maryland.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
Rob Carr/Getty Images

With very little salary cap space to work with, the Washington Redskins haven't had much leeway to make moves in free agency this year.

However, the Redskins made a shrewd move on Friday.

As Pro Football Talk originally reported, the team has agreed to terms on a one-year deal with tight end Fred Davis, who had 24 catches in seven games last year for the Redskins before tearing his Achilles tendon.

At least one of Davis' teammates was pumped about the signing.

Fans of the team should be too. Maybe not "doing cartwheels because you just won the lottery" pumped, but excited nonetheless.

Granted, there's always going to be some risk involved with inking a player returning from a major injury. But the deal is essentially a win for both sides.

By signing Davis for a single season, the Redskins have gone a long way towards mitigating that risk. If Davis can show that he's fully recovered from last year's injury, then the 27-year-old can try to cash in again next year.

Of course, there's also the matter of how Davis will fit in with the Washington offense.

After catching 59 passes for nearly 800 yards in 2011, Davis' numbers were down significantly in 2012.

This lead some to question his fit with Robert Griffin III at quarterback.

However, according to Pro Football Focus Davis' target numbers haven't really dropped that much (5.3 per game to 4.6) from 2011 to 2012.

And in all fairness, seven games really isn't a big enough sample size to accurately gauge the rapport between Davis and Griffin.

The fact remains that when healthy, Davis is one of the better tight ends in the NFL at beating defenses vertically, with his 13.5 yards per catch in 2011 ranking seventh at the position. He is ahead of the likes of Jimmy Graham of the New Orleans Saints and Jason Witten of the Dallas Cowboys.

That yards per catch average in 2012, by the way? Exactly the same: 13.5 yards a grab.

So, while the quantity of Davis' receptions may have dropped in 2012, the quality didn't.

And, assuming that he's healthy, Davis will at the very least provide Robert Griffin III with a safety valve over the middle.

That could come in very handy, as the last thing the Redskins need is Griffin to take as many big shots in 2013 as he did in 2012—especially coming back from an ACL tear.

At best, Davis will return to the field at 100 percent. This will provide the Redskins with an option in the passing game that will create mismatches over the middle and draw safety help away from wide receiver Pierre Garcon.

As I said, the Fred Davis signing isn't the sort of "big splash" deal that will headline sports talk shows.

But it is is a smart, low-risk signing by a team without a lot of wriggle room that's trying to make a return trip to the playoffs after a surprise NFC East title in 2012.

Often, those are the deals that really make a difference.