Predicting Washington Redskins’ 5 Biggest Free Agency Moves
Predicting The Washington Redskins’ 5 Biggest Free Agency Moves
Forecasting free agency for the Washington Redskins can be almost as frustrating as your second consecutive hour waiting in line at the DMV. The Redskins have been one of the most volatile teams in free agency in the past. Shocking contracts tend to come about within the first few hours that free agency opens, so you’re best off staying glued to a screen. After being limited this past offseason due to salary cap penalties from the uncapped season, the Redskins have the eighth-most salary cap space as of today and they will likely be ready to fire on all cylinders come March 11, 2014.
Where will all their money go? If you base things on past history, the Redskins are certain to make a big splash signing. They have shown a tendency to pinpoint a player that they want and offer him a contract over his market value. The latest example of this strategy can be taken from their 2012 free agency, when they signed Pierre Garcon to a five-year, $42.5 million contract. At the time, no one expected him to get a deal averaging over $8 million per season.
In this year’s haul, I believe they will follow that same strategy and begin free agency by signing a big-name player to fill a major need. When you look around the roster, it won’t take you too long before you come upon the greatest need — the secondary. The Redskins got a solid pass rush last season from outside linebackers Ryan Kerrigan and Brian Orakpo alongside their three-man defensive front. Even with an average pass rush, however, the Redskins gave up huge plays over the top of their defense on a consistent basis.
Next, the Redskins need to fix their run defense. I believe they will let linebacker Perry Riley Jr. walk in free agency because the two sides have a different opinion of his value. With London Fletcher handing in his retirement papers, the Redskins are left with a major hole in the middle of their defense. This can be good news, however, because Fletcher was one of the worst starting linebackers last season against the run and pass. Finding a thumper at inside linebacker who also fits the scheme will be key this offseason.
There is also a great debate in DC about who’s to blame for the copious amount of sacks that Robert Griffin III took last season. Those who point to the offensive line are simply not watching closely enough. According to Pro Football Focus, the Redskins graded out as the fourth-best team in pass blocking. Left tackle Trent Williams, who graded out as the best overall tackle in the NFL, will return to lead the unit again in 2014.
Here is my best guess at the five free agency moves that the Redskins will make based on their team needs and how I believe the free agent market will play out.
5. Deangelo Hall
Re-signing Deangelo Hall is an important piece to rebuilding this Redskins roster. There are a lot of great free agent cornerbacks on the market, but none of them have the experience and knowledge of the defensive scheme that the Redskins run. Hall has emerged as a leader in the locker room, and he can be transitioned to safety or continue contributing as a cornerback going forward.
4. Kenny Britt
Some believe that finding a second wide receiver to compliment Garcon is one of the top priorities for the Redskins in free agency. Kenny Britt is far from a guarantee, but he has the talent and chip on his shoulder to succeed on another team. Although I agree with the premise that the Redskins were lacking at second wide receiver in 2013, the 2014 NFL Draft is expected to feature one of the deepest wide receiver classes in the last 10 seasons. The Redskins can combine a Britt signing with a draft pick and fill this need cheaply, while allocating their salary cap to other positions.
3. Brandon Spikes
The Redskins have a gaping hole at inside linebacker in their 3-4 defensive scheme. Brandon Spikes can step right in and fill the role of a run-stopping thumper right away. Spikes is much better in coverage than given credit for as well. His past experience within a 3-4 scheme when he was with the New England Patriots will help to expedite his transition to the Redskins' defense.
2. Jason Worilds
If the Redskins want to fill the majority of their needs in free agency as they should, they will need to sign a 3-4 outside linebacker that is not named Orakpo. Jason Worilds only started 11 games in 2013, but he still led the Steelers in sacks. Worilds can be signed for a lot cheaper than Orakpo, and he does not come with the same injury history.
1. Jairus Byrd
The Redskins’ big free agency splash this offseason will be safety Jairus Byrd. He has the range of every great free safety in the past, but he wins at the NFL level with his football IQ and ability to read the quarterback and make plays on the ball. At just 27, Byrd has already racked up 22 interceptions in his career and he will immediately serve as a major upgrade for the Redskins’ pass defense.