5 Cost-Effective Moves Washington Redskins Should Make This Offseason
Welcome back to free agency, Washington Redskins.
After being saddled with a $36 million salary-cap penalty over the past two seasons, Washington enters the 2014 offseason $28.6 million under the projected NFL salary cap, according to Comcast's Rich Tandler.
Additionally, evidenced by Washington's 3-13 record in 2013, there is certainly some money that it could clear from its cap sheet by releasing some over-the-hill veterans.
Nonetheless, even in the event the Redskins shed themselves of such albatross contracts, they'd be wise to adopt more of a frugal approach to free agency.
From Albert Haynesworth to Adam Archuleta, owner Dan Snyder's history is flush with high-priced failures in free agency.
With that said, here are five cost-effective moves the Redskins should make this offseason:
Salary cap information is courtesy of OverTheCap.com.
Sign WR Jeremy Maclin
There's no doubt about it, Pierre Garcon was phenomenal in 2013.
Garcon registered 1,346 yards and a franchise-record 113 receptions. But tied to Garcon's success was the lack of another consistent receiving option.
An injured Jordan Reed and Leonard Hankerson, and an aged Santana Moss, made Garcon option No. 1, 2 and 3 for quarterback Robert Griffin III.
Enter Jeremy Maclin.
Despite the fluctuating quarterbacks in his time with the Philadelphia Eagles, you could book Maclin for 60 receptions and 800 yards every season.
That was until he tore his ACL prior to the 2013 season. With this injury, it's likely that any talk of a long-term deal for Maclin is out the window.
This was a sentiment Maclin acknowledged in his comments to CSNPhilly.com:
I’m a realist, I understand that’s a possibility. For a team that wants to give me a one-year deal, that’s cool, I’ll just go out there and ball out, do the things I think I can do. Hopefully get that type of deal I’m looking for.”
Possessing a glaring need at receiver, Washington would be wise to enter the sweepstakes for his services. On a one-year deal, there wouldn't be much risk involved in signing Maclin.
With Josh Morgan no longer clogging their cap sheet, it's a risk the Redskins can certainly afford.
Release DE Adam Carriker
Carrying a cap charge of $6.7 million, Adam Carriker's play hasn't warranted this cost. Namely because he hasn't played.
After providing staunch run defense and tallying a career-high 5.5 sacks in 2011, Carriker has been derailed by injury.
In the past two seasons, Carriker has played a grand total of two games. As ESPN's John Keim notes, the injury Carriker suffered, a torn quadriceps, has ended the careers of other players, and he's torn it three times.
All the reason for Washington to cut ties with Carriker and free up $3.2 million in cap space.
Release S Brandon Meriweather
"Brandon Meriweather is the closest thing to a clear starter the Redskins have at safety. His athleticism allows Washington to play single-high and bring an extra defender into the box."
Even with that said, the fact is Meriweather's play isn't sufficient enough for Washington to retain his services.
Meriweather tallied 53 tackles, one interception and three pass deflections in 2013.
At age 30, it's clear that Meriweather isn't going to recapture the form that made him a Pro Bowler with the New England Patriots.
Instead, what the Redskins have in Meriweather is an average safety who may be best suited as a backup.
With Meriweather's cap number set at $3.4 million, he's too expensive to fill that role in Washington. Especially with young safeties Bacarri Rambo and Phillip Thomas already on the roster.
By cutting ties with Meriweather, Washington would save $2.2 million and could address needs along the offensive line and the defense.
Release OT Tyler Polumbus
While Tyler Polumbus' cap number is only $1.1 million, it isn't prudent for Washington to keep a player as ineffective as Polumbus.
Aside from saving a cool $1 million, Washington would be saving Griffin from the beating Polumbus subjected him to with his release.
The Redskins allowed 43 sacks on the season. The offensive line was so inadequate at protecting Griffin that he was benched with three games remaining in order to ensure that he remained healthy this offseason.
At the forefront of these woes was Polumbus. Most notably being the four sacks he surrendered to Justin Tuck in Week 13.
With the NFL draft stocked with quality offensive tackle prospects, Washington wouldn't be hard pressed in finding a suitable replacement.
Sign DE Michael Johnson
After posting 11.5 sacks in 2012, Michael Johnson disappointed in 2013 and will probably suffer financially for it.
In the what-have-you-done-for-me-lately NFL, the 3.5 sacks Johnson mustered with the Cincinnati Bengals isn't going to net the contract he'll be seeking in free agency.
Not a believer? You think some pass-rush-starved team will ante up the type of contract Johnson is after?
Both had better walk years than Johnson and yet they only garnered short-term deals from the Seahawks last offseason.
So in all likelihood, Washington wouldn't have to pony up an exorbitant amount of money to acquire Johnson. Further lessening the risk is head coach Jay Gruden's familiarity with Johnson from his three years in Cincinnati.
The only question is if Johnson can thrive in a 3-4 defense. Considering that he was projected coming out of the draft as a 3-4 fit, the answer is yes.
With Brian Orakpo set to be a free agent, pursuing Johnson could be a cheaper and better alternative to forking over the requisite cash it'd take to retain him.