Every year it seems as though the Washington Redskins do something in free agency to make some sort of splash. Whether it is Albert Haynesworth or DeAngelo Hall, the Redskins never seem to acquire the right combination of talent to turn themselves into serious contenders.
This year, Washington didn't sign any superstars, but they brought in five new players through free agency that they hope will turn the team into a winner.
Let's take a look at each signing the Redskins made, and whether or not they will be enough to help the team contend in 2011.
Free safety Oshiomogho (O.J.) Atogwe signed with the Washington Redskins for a five-year, $26 million contract. Atogwe had spent the previous six seasons with the St. Louis Rams after playing his college ball at Stanford.
Atogwe comes to the Redskins as a safety whose strength is in coverage, and has a reputation as a ball hawk. Washington's new free safety has 22 career interceptions which should bring a boost to the Redskins' safeties whose starters (Reed Doughty and LaRon Landry) last season have a combine five career interceptions.
Combining Atogwe's coverage skills with Landry's ability to give run support seems like a good combination for the Redskins, although only time will tell how they play together.
At least on paper this seems like a signing which helps Washington in an area of need.
Nose Tackle Barry Cofield signed with the Washington Redskins for a contract of six years, $36 million. Cofield had spent the previous five seasons with the New York Giants, and played for Northwestern in college.
The Redskins traded away interior lineman Albert Haynesworth because he never quite fit in with the team's defensive philosophy, and they obviously need a replacement. Cofield has been a solid, unspectacular starter for the Giants who brings durability and consistency to the Redskins line.
My only real problem with this signing is that Cofield comes from a 4-3 defensive front in New York, and is unproven as a defender in a 3-4 base defense. If you are going to go out and spend the money, you should get someone who you know can play in your system.
Cornerback Josh Wilson signed with the Washington Redskins for a contract of three years, $13.5 million. Wilson spent three seasons with the Seattle Seahawks before playing last year for the Baltimore Ravens. Wilson played his college ball at Maryland.
After losing Carlos Rogers in free agency to the San Francisco 49ers, the Redskins had a hole to fill at cornerback, and actually made a smart move in signing a younger player to replace Rogers.
The perception of Wilson is that he is still improving and for the relatively cheap price Washington signed him for, he could end up becoming a huge bargain for the Redskins.
The only real problem with Josh Wilson is his lack of size. Standing just 5'9", Wilson can be over-matched by physical receivers fairly easily. Still, considering the reasonable contract and how young he is, Wilson is a solid signing by the Redskins.
Defensive end Stephen Bowen signed with the Washington Redskins for a contract of five years, $27.5 million. Bowen had spent his previous five seasons with the Dallas Cowboys and played in college at Hofstra.
Bowen brings a good combination of size and athleticism to the Redskins defensive line. While he has not been terribly productive in terms of tackles and sacks, he is widely considered a pretty good starter in the NFL.
Like Josh Wilson, Stephen Bowen is fairly young which makes this a better signing for Washington than this otherwise would be. Bowen should be solid for the Redskins, but anyone expecting dominant play from him shouldn't hold their breath.
Chris Chester is an interior offensive lineman who has signed with the Washington Redskins for a contract of five years, $20 million. Chester previously played for the Baltimore Ravens, and played college football at Oklahoma.
Chester has the versatility to play center or either guard position which was an area of need for Washington. The early thoughts on Chester is that he would start at left guard with Artis Hicks coming back from injury to return to the right guard position, and Will Montgomery (Hicks' replacement after he got hurt) moving from guard to center.
For an interior lineman, Chester is a good athlete and should serve to strengthen the Redskins' offensive line.
Considering Washington has yet to name a starting quarterback, they will likely rely heavily on the running game, and those running backs will likely be thankful for the addition of Chris Chester.
The Washington Redskins were 6-10 last season which was good enough to tie for last place in the NFC East. While the players they signed in free agency have some positive qualities and fill some holes, they are not enough to turn Washington into a contender.
Sooner or later, the Redskins need to learn that teams are built through the draft, and then put the finishing touches on in free agency. It appears as though Washington is trying to put the finishing touches on without having first built the foundation to make them necessary.
The last time I checked, the NFL was still dominated by teams with elite starting quarterbacks, and neither Rex Grossman nor John Beck fit that description.
Therefore, despite a couple nice additions through free agency, I do not expect the Washington Redskins to be contenders this year, or any time in the near future.