The 2017 NFL Free Agency period is shaping up to be an interesting one with a variety of impact players potentially hitting the free agent market come March. The Redskins figure to be major players in free agency this year due to their surplus of cap space, number of impending free agents, and team needs that need to be addressed. The decisions that Scot McCloughan and company make during free agency could shape the direction of the Redskins franchise for years to come so it is imperative the right decisions are made in regards to what players are retained, let go, and brought in this offseason.
Let’s see what the Redskins offseason has in store:
Contract: 4 years/$4.4 million
At this point, the Redskins only move in the offseason has been the re-signing of long snapper Nick Sundberg. While this may not have been the sexiest move, Sundberg has been a reliable and steady presence for the Redskins special teams unit. Getting this deal done early should allow the Redskins to focus their efforts on the more difficult personnel decisions facing them in free agency.
Ricky Jean Francois
Cap Savings: $3 million, Dead Money: $1 million
Ricky Jean Francois is a rotational player at this point in his career and his stats during his time in Washington are hardly inspiring. Jean Francois’s presence in the locker room and vocal leadership cannot be overstated, however, the Redskins defensive line needs to be upgraded and the cap savings from this move can help accomplish that.
Cap Savings: $4 million, Dead Money: $1 million
Shawn Lauvao is clearly the weak link on the Redskins offensive line and he has not played up to expectations ever since joining the Redskins in 2014. He has struggled with injuries the past few seasons but has also failed to produce when on the field, despite being given every opportunity to do so. Cutting ties with Lauvao should be one of the easier decisions the Redskins make this offseason as there are better options to be had in the draft and free agency.
Cap Savings: $1.875 million, Dead Money: $333,334
Niles Paul is coming off an injury marred season in which he tore his labrum in week 8 and subsequently spent the rest of the season on IR. Paul’s injury problems the past few seasons have slid him down the depth chart behind the likes of Jordan Reed and Vernon Davis. He may still hold value as a key special teams player but at this point it is probably best for both parties to move on and for the Redskins to invest in a younger, cheaper player to take his place.
Cap Savings: $1.025 million, Dead Money: $0
Derek Carrier is in the same boat as Niles Paul; both have had injury issues while with the team and have found themselves at the bottom of the depth chart because of it. Although, the decision to let go of Carrier should be a much easier one because he quite simply is not as good as Paul and doesn’t provide the same value on special teams. In addition, releasing Carrier would not cost the Redskins anything as there would be no dead money. This one should be a no brainer.
Original 2017 Cap Hit: $5,062,500
Restructred 2017 Cap Hit: $1.25 million
DeAngelo Hall is an interesting case; he is a player who is clearly past his prime and coming off a slew of injuries the past couple seasons but he has openly stated he is willing to restructure his contract to stay with the team. Hall has had a lot of success since joining the Redskins and has become an important veteran presence in the secondary and a leader in the locker room. After cutting Ricky Jean Francois and Niles Paul, the Redskins should keep Hall around at a reduced price to mentor the younger players in the secondary and provide leadership in the locker room.
Contract: 5 years/$118 million
Kirk Cousins should be the Redskins number one priority this coming offseason. He is coming off impressive back to back seasons where he threw for a combined 9,083 yards and 54 touchdowns while completing nearly 70 percent of his passes. His play is one of the biggest reasons why the Redskins are coming off their first back to back winning seasons since 1996-97. Recent speculation indicates that Cousins won’t sign a long term deal until after the franchise tag is applied for leverage purposes. This will guarantee that he won’t accept a contract worth less guaranteed money than the combined value of his next two franchise tags, worth approximately $52.67 million. After a long period of negotiations, the two parties ought to come to an understanding the Redskins will lock up their franchise quarterback for years to come.
Contract: 3 years/$27 million
Pierre Garcon may not be the most publicized Redskins free agent on the offensive side of the ball but that doesn’t mean he should be overlooked. Garcon has been one of the most consistent players on the Redskins roster since joining the team in 2012, playing in 72 straight games for the team while slowly creeping up the Redskins career receiving leaders list. Not to mention he is a relentless worker, positive locker room presence, and charitable human being. Some will point to Garcon’s age (30) and say he isn’t worth re-signing because he is destined to decline, however, he hasn’t shown any signs of slowing down and his style of play should allow him to continue to be productive à la Steve Smith. By all accounts, Pierre Garcon is not a player the Redskins can afford losing which is why they won’t allow it to happen.
Contract: 4 years/$29 million
Everyone and their mother knows how disastrous the Redskins defensive line has been the past couple seasons but not everyone knows how impactful Chris Baker has been at the defensive end position. Baker has flown under the radar for most of his career but has just recently started to get recognition for his play and is looking to cash in for his efforts in free agency. He has been identified by multiple outlets as one of the top 3-4 defensive ends in the 2017 free agent class. Even though Baker figures to be in relatively high demand come free agency, he has already expressed his desire to stay with the Redskins going forward. In the end, the Redskins will make a competitive offer that will keep Baker in the burgundy and gold for the next few seasons.
Contract: 2 years/$5 million
Vernon Davis’s career looked close to being over when he signed with the Redskins last offseason but after a resurgent year in which he hauled in 44 receptions for 583 yards, he has extended the life of his career for at least a few more seasons. Davis’s value not only stems from him being the primary backup to the oft-injured Jordan Reed, but also from his skills in run blocking. Since Davis is old by NFL standards and has indicated how comfortable he is being back home in Washington D.C., the Redskins should be able to bring him back on a fairly cheap, multiyear deal.
Contract: 2 years/$2.5 million
John Sullivan was brought in last season after being released by the Minnesota Vikings to provide depth following an injury to starting center Kory Lichtensteiger. Sullivan did not see much game action but he was a steady veteran presence behind inexperienced starter Spencer Long. With Lichtensteiger recently announcing his retirement, the Redskins should once again turn to Sullivan to be the primary backup. Sullivan could attempt to parlay his play last season into a starting opportunity but he is getting up there in age (31) which makes it unlikely he draws a lot of interest. When all is said and done, Sullivan will receive an offer from the Redskins that is comparable to his other offers and decide to stay in D.C.
Contract: 1 year/$900,000
Junior Galette is coming off back to back lost seasons due to injury after he tore one of his achilles in the 2015 offseason and the other achilles in the 2016 offseason. Despite being a free agent Galette has stated that, as far as he is concerned, he is a Redskin and plans to be on the team in 2017. The Redskins and Galette have supposedly been in contact and are closing in on a deal for the third year in a row. Galette has stated that at this point money means nothing to him and he cares more about proving he can still play in this league which should allow the Redskins to sign the talented pass rusher to a low-cost, incentive-laden deal.
Chris Thompson (RFA)
Contract: 1 year/$2.85 million
Chris Thompson has had a roller coaster career to this point but it seems he has finally turned a corner and become the player that the Redskins expected him to be coming out of Florida State. He has become the quintessential third down back, providing a receiving threat out of the backfield and excelling in pass protection. Thompson is a restricted free agent so the Redskins need to place a tender on him which will allow them to match any offer he receives and get compensation if he does end up leaving. Placing a second round tender, worth $2.85 million, on Thompson will all but guarantee he will be back with the team next season.
Ty Nsekhe (RFA)
Contract: 1 year/$2.85 million
Ty Nsekhe has gone from a relative unknown to being considered one of the best backup tackles in football in one year. Nsekhe was called upon this past season to fill in at left tackle when Trent Williams was suspended four games and his performance in those games left many believing that he has the talent to be a starting tackle somewhere. Nsekhe is simply a player the Redskins cannot afford to lose which is why the Redskins will hit him with a second round tender worth $2.85 million. There is a slim chance that any team will give up a second round pick to sign a 31 year old tackle who is relatively unproven so Nsekhe is going to be back next season.
Will Compton (RFA)
Contract: 2 years/$3 million
Will Compton was a crucial depth player for the Redskins the past few seasons before earning the starting “Mike” linebacker spot after filling in for an injured Keenan Robinson in 2015. Compton showed clear progress during his time as a starter but also displayed his limitations in run support and coverage. He is a player the Redskins need to bring back from a leadership standpoint and he has stated he would like to be back with the team in 2017. Rather than offering Compton a tender, the Redskins will work out a short term deal that is beneficial for both parties.
Free Agent Signings
Contract: 3 years/$9 million
The Redskins have a conundrum when it comes to what to do about free agent receivers Pierre Garcon and DeSean Jackson. Both players have proven to be immensely important to the function and flow of the Redskins offense but the general consensus is that the team will not be able to retain both of them. Pierre Garcon seems to be the safer option to bring back due to his dependability and probability that his game will age favorably when compared to Jackson. If Jackson is not retained, the Redskins should not overlook the impact that his speed had on the effectiveness of the offense. Marquise Goodwin is a player that could provide the speed the Redskins need at a price that won’t break the bank. Goodwin is a former track star that possesses game breaking speed, evidenced by the 4.27 second 40 yard dash at the NFL combine. His career to this point has been unspectacular to say the least but he put together a solid season in 2016, reeling in 29 receptions for 431 yards. Goodwin does not have the talent of DeSean Jackson but he has the speed necessary to open up the field for the other receivers and can be had for a reasonable price tag.
Contract: 5 years/$39 million
The Redskins are in dire need of a true nose tackle who can eat up space in the middle of their defensive line and help their atrocious run defense. For the past couple seasons they have experimented with a variety of short term solutions at the position but they need to invest in someone who can hold down the position long term. Johnathan Hankins can be the player the Redskins need as he is only 24 years old and has proven himself to be a more than capable player in this league. Hankins has a well rounded skill set in that he is stout against the run and has shown an underrated ability to get to the backfield from the interior line. There figures to be plenty of competition for Hankins’ services but in the end the Redskins will convince Hankins that Washington is the place he needs to be.
After a tumultuous offseason the Redskins have all the pieces necessary to contend next season and beyond. The final installment of the Redskins Mock Offseason series will be coming soon.