After being consigned to two years of debilitating cap penalties due to a still under-explained and arguably inexplicable NFL ruling, the Washington Redskins are back in good standing and primed to reclaim their title as offseason champs.
Washington is a little more than $20 million under the NFL-mandated $133 million salary cap for 2014, and that's without the team making that many marked moves to shave money. Defensive end Adam Carriker and punter Sav Rocca were both released last week. The Redskins also moved to retain both cornerback DeAngelo Hall and linebacker Brian Orakpo.
Otherwise, it has been an uncharacteristically quiet few days at Redskins Park while the organization makes yet another transition.
Gone are the Shanahans, Mike and Kyle, and replaced with a Gruden—just not the one who you'd expect would be shaking hands with Dan Snyder. Former Cincinnati Bengals offensive coordinator Jay Gruden is now running the show in the nation's capital, with almost every other important coaching piece remaining the same.
The Redskins are repeating a bit of Snyder history here, replacing a celebrity coach with an unproven assistant. In 2008, Jim Zorn replaced franchise legend Joe Gibbs—and suddenly a playoff team was 4-12 two years later. Gruden had an up-and-down reputation in Cincinnati, where his developmental work with Andy Dalton should be commended while his play-calling could, umm, use some work.
Considering the toxicity of the Shanahan-Snyder-Robert Griffin III triangle, though, any change is probably a good one. We'll just have to see whether the Redskins choose to repeat themselves again by wildly spending beyond their bearings in free agency with short-sighted decisions aimed at instant and bolded headlines.
Washington could have learned its lesson—or this could be one massive train wreck. Either way, it'll be fun to watch.
Redskins 2014 Free Agents
|Player||Position||2014 Team||Contract Details|
|Santana Moss||WR||Redskins||1 Year|
|Andre Roberts||WR||4 years, $16 million||B-|
|Shawn Lauvao||G||4 years, $17 million||C|
|Bruce Campbell||T||1 year, $710k||B-|
|Jason Hatcher||DT||4 years, $27.5 million||B+|
|Daryl Sharpton||LB||1 year, $2 million||B|
|Adam Hayward||LB||3 years||B|
|Ryan Clark||S||1 year||B|
Jason Hatcher (DT)
The Redskins made a splash signing by inking defensive tackle Jason Hatcher to a four-year contract worth up to $27.5 million, as per NFL.com's Ian Rapoport:
The 31-year-old was playing exceedingly well last year for the Dallas Cowboys, but was not able to maintain a high level of production for the entire season. It'll be interesting to see if he can be more consistent in Washington.
Darryl Sharpton (LB)
Josh Alper of Pro Football Talk noted that the Redskins have signed Sharpton to a one-year deal worth up to $2 million.
Sharpton burst onto the scene for the Houston Texans last year after replacing the injured Brian Cushing. He wound up recording 115 tackles and an interception, showing that he has the potential to be a major contributor in Washington.
Clifton Geathers (DL)
ESPN's Adam Caplan reported that the 'Skins targeted Geathers from the NFC East rival Philadelphia Eagles and brought him in on an undisclosed deal:
Geathers participated in 16 games last year for the Eagles, but only recorded 13 tackles. He's not likely to see too much time on the field in Washington, but should provide some depth.
Jake Rogers (K)
Kai Forbath has some competition, as the 'Skins have reportedly brought in Jake Rogers on an undisclosed deal, according to Rich Tandler of CSNWashington.com
Rogers has not taken a kick in the NFL, but has been around the league since the 2011 campaign.
Adam Hayward (LB)
Hayward is a great special teamer and a solid reserve inside linebacker, so it makes sense that the Redskins brought him into the fold.
Bruce Campbell (T)
John Keim of ESPN points out that the Redskins will bring in Bruce Campbell:
Considering Campbell once put on a dazzling display of athleticism at the NFL combine and the fact that it is a low-cost, low-risk and high-ceiling move, this is a "B-" signing for Washington.
Andre Roberts (WR)
Mike Jones of The Washington Post reports Andre Roberts and the Redskins have agreed to terms:
Given the team's need for another solid wide receiver to take pressure off Robert Griffin III and Pierre Garcon, this is a "B-" move for Washington.
Shawn Lauvao (OG)
While the Redskins are yet to egregiously overpay a player, their two biggest moves of Tuesday's opening day of free agency are still making some scratch their heads. Not long after Roberts' signing, Mike Jones of the Washington Post reported the Redskins and former Browns guard Shawn Lauvao agreed to a four-year, $17 million deal.
Lauvao, 26, spent each of his first four seasons with Cleveland. He's been the Browns' starting right guard for the last three of those years, which is where he will likely wind up in the nation's capital. Washington couldn't possibly fill all of its offensive line gaps with high-profile names. Lauvao is about a replacement-level player, so he's not going to get anyone killed.
But at $17 million, we'll go with a "C+" and hope it works out for the best.
Tracy Porter (CB)
The Redskins needed help in the secondary in a big way, and according to Dianna Russini of NBC, they landed former Raiders CB Tracy Porter.
The ballhawking corner fills a huge hole for the 'Skins, with his pass defending abilities and man marking skills. Overall, this is a solid signing, so let's give it a B.
Wide Receiver: The Redskins need to acquire someone for Robert Griffin III to throw to whose name is not Pierre Garcon. They have a keeper in tight end Jordan Reed, but developmental projects like Leonard Hankerson and Aldrick Robinson just haven't worked out. Garcon has proven himself an adept WR No. 1—assuming health—so Washington doesn't need to splurge for the likes of Eric Decker. They should look to find low-risk players looking for "prove it" deals, such as Kenny Britt or Sidney Rice.
Cornerback: If the front office's idea of solidifying the secondary was bringing Hall back, this poor team isn't going to have a chance. Hall is barely a starter-worthy talent at this point in his career and has been borderline wretched each of the last two seasons. Pro Football Focus' (subscription required) coverage snaps per reception metric ranked Hall 59th among corners last year and 70th in 2013. A dream scenario would be landing Alterraun Verner to shore up the outside, but that would again be a classic Redskins overpay move. Looking at the "mid but still good" tier, Corey Graham might be a nice fit.
Safety: If Washington is going to make a splash this offseason, here's where it's going to come. The team needs starters at both safety spots, and former Bills standout Jairus Byrd looms like the big, shiny toy Snyder typically gravitates toward. Signing a 27-year-old safety who mailed in part of his 2013 campaign might seem like a risk (and it is), but you'll be hard-pressed to find a bigger need on the roster. Chris Clemons is another nice (and cheap) option if the Redskins lose out on Byrd.
Inside Linebacker: London Fletcher's retirement leaves a gaping hole in the middle. Fletcher wasn't great by any stretch in 2013, but he was still OK and was one of the biggest and most respected locker-room voices on any team. Luckily, inside linebacker is a spot for which teams can often find really good value if they're patient. Brandon Spikes looked solid down the stretch in New England, and former Broncos linebacker Wesley Woodyard could be another option. Both should come cheap—and this isn't the position to splurge.
[Draws a Great Big Circle Around O-Line Depth Chart]: Washington just needs...better players. There's nothing more to say on this matter.
Latest Redskins Free Agency Rumors
Redskins Meeting with Antonio Smith
ESPN.com's Tania Ganguli reported that former Houston Texans defensive end Antonio Smith headed to Washington to meet with the Redskins:
When I asked if he had other visits scheduled, Smith said other teams had interest but he was planning to see how this trip went and where things would go from there. Then he had to catch his plane.
There have been a few other reports about scheduled visits for Smith which include the Titans, Rams and Raiders.
Smith played in 15 games last year for the Texans, recording five sacks and 30 combined tackles.
Redskins Looking at Kenny Britt
Jim Wyatt of The Tennessean is reporting that Washington has done homework on former Titans wide receiver Kenny Britt:
Washington in Hot Pursuit of OT Anthony Collins
Trent Williams, though not a superstar by any means, is probably the one player the Redskins could go without upgrading on the line this spring. Williams has made each of the last two Pro Bowls and plays with a mean streak—one that can sometimes get him into a little bit of trouble. Neither Pro Bowl berth was a no-brainer, but he was quietly quite good in 2013.
Pro Football Focus (subscription required) ranked Williams the eighth-best pass-blocker among the players who received at least 50 percent of their team's snaps. He'll be slotted into the left tackle spot going forward; not much is going to change that.
Right tackle, on the other hand, isn't great shakes. Tyler Polumbus handled those duties last season, doing fine as a pass-blocker but struggling mightily with the run. Polumbus' solid play even on passing downs was a bit of an anomaly. He was borderline unusable anywhere on the line in 2012, and PFF's underlying numbers paint the picture of someone who should be a backup—not having a $2.6 million cap hold.
According to The Washington Post's Mike Jones, the Redskins are looking to replace Polumbus with a blast from Gruden's past. Anthony Collins played right tackle in Cincinnati for Gruden each of the last three seasons and could be a massive upgrade. He broke out in 2013 after years of being a backup and might still come at a cheap price despite interest across the league.
Washington won't be alone in trying to sign Collins, but it may have a leg up thanks to the Gruden connection.
Team Puts Out Feelers All Over the Secondary Market—Including Jairus Byrd and Aqib Talib
You didn't think we'd let this whole article pass without discussing a potentially passive spending spree, did you? These might not be your father's Redskins, but they sure as hell remain your petulant 15-year-old niece's. (Note: Dan Snyder bought the team in May 1999, nearly 15 years ago. Now please laugh at my joke.)
As we previously noted, the Redskins need someone to pair with Hall on the outside and hopefully two guys who can capably atone for all the times Hall gets burned over the top. They'll probably have to go cheap at one of these spots to keep their cap sheet clean enough to fill other holes, but don't be surprised if Snyder goes full Snyder and lands two big names at the other spots.
Jones reports the Redskins have already expressed interest in Byrd, perhaps the most sought-after defensive free agent on the market. It's easy to write off Byrd's struggles last season because he was unhappy, but I remain skeptical about the concept of paying him big money. He had no interest in defending the run whatsoever, and missing five games with myriad injury issues is a concern.
Washington has also made a concerted push to sign cornerback Aqib Talib. The always talented, but oft-troubled cornerback was Bill Belichick's latest reclamation project with the Patriots. Many in the New England area will point to his injury early in the AFC Championship Game as the factor that pushed the Broncos ahead. Bleacher Report's Chris Simms indicated the Redskins plan on being aggressive in their pursuit.
As for how much this will cost, the answer is: a lot. The Boston Herald's Jeff Howe reported Talib expects to be paid like a star—not someone who was given away for table scraps in 2012 by Tampa Bay. With ESPN's James Walker noting Byrd wants an annual value of $9 million, the Redskins may have to choose one or the other—or shoot their cap-space windfall into just a couple players.
Dianna Marie Russini of NBC Sports News 4 in DC believes money might be the ultimate factor to determine Talib's next team:
If they make the prudent move—which is signing just one or eschewing both players altogether—Jones noted Washington already has a contingency plan in place. Cornerbacks Corey Graham and Captain Munnerlyn and safety Mike Mitchell have been in touch with the team since the early negotiation period began.
On Wednesday, it was also reported that Ryan Clark is visiting with the team:
All cap hits and information is via Spotrac.
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