Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports
Perry Riley is now the senior inside linebacker, so it was vital that Washington retained his services.
Brian Orakpo may have been the player worthy of the franchise tag and just shy of $11.5 million for 2014, but Perry Riley was the one player Washington couldn't afford to lose. Gaining his continued loyalty for a price of $13 million over three years was a good deal for both parties, too.
With the retirement of London Fletcher and the ongoing saga of Keenan Robinson's injuries, the loss of Riley would have meant there was no one at inside linebacker who could be relied upon to lead the defense and protect the secondary.
For a team that consistently failed to wrap up tackles or stop the run last year, that was an incredibly worrying prospect.
Riley is the sort of player that Haslett needs on his defense, especially if the plan is to draft another starting ILB. Riley is committed to doing the simple things well, which combined with a good instinct for the ball, makes him a trustworthy contributor.
Those aren't exciting qualities, but Haslett needs them in abundance if there is to be a rookie taking the field alongside Riley next year. Stanford's Shayne Skov and Wisconsin's Chris Borland are names being thrown around in reference to the nation's capital. Riley would be the perfect mentor for either of them, just as Fletcher was the perfect mentor for him.
Unflashy but consistently underrated, Riley could prove to be the most important signing Gruden makes in 2014.