The Washington Redskins have a history of spending big money for failed free agents, but 2012 ushered in a fiscally conservative approach for the Redskins regarding the free agent market.
Washington acquired one big name free agent in wide receiver Pierre Garcon in an effort to solidify the Redskins’ offense. Garcon recorded 44 receptions for 633 yards and four touchdowns during an injury filled 2012 NFL season. That’s not exactly the production Washington expected when they signed Garcon, a former Indianapolis Colts’ standout as a teammate of current Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning.
However, it wasn’t the Redskins’ offense that faltered in 2012. Washington’s defense finished 2012 ranked 28th in total defense. Needless to say, there’s room for improvement there. The release of cornerback Charles Woodson and defensive end Dwight Freeney by the Green Bay Packers and the Colts, respectively, adds intrigue. Cornerback and defensive end are two positions that Washington can stand to solidify.
The Redskins would be wise to eschew their recent history of free agent spending. Woodson was the 2009 Defensive Player of the Year who missed nine games in 2012 due to a broken right collarbone. Freeney recorded 107.5 sacks during his 11 year career in Indianapolis. However, each will command top free agent dollars.
Because of NFL sanctions against the Redskins for salary cap circumvention, Washington will have $103 million in salary cap spending for 2013. That’s $18 million less than the majority of NFL teams. It would be difficult to justify Washington reverting back to their free spending ways in an effort to sign Woodson and Freeney at the advanced ages of 36 and 33, respectively.
Washington lost several key defensive players in 2012 due to injury or suspension. Two of those players, linebacker Brian Orakpo and defensive end Adam Carriker, were integral to the Redskins’ pass rush. Their return to the defense would help the unit tremendously in an effort to improve the Redskins’ pass defense.
Astute fans remember that running back Alfred Morris was a sixth round draft pick by the Redskins in 2012. He rewarded the team by setting a franchise rushing record with 1,615 rushing yards in 2012. Maybe Washington can duplicate that feat by obtaining a real find on defense using the team’s limited draft picks in 2013. In any event, the franchise would be better served to exercise patience by integrating those key defensive starters into the rotation. If that happens, and the team in general continues to improve, then the Redskins will have the opportunity to make a deep playoff run in 2013.