The Washington Redskins have attempted to use the 2014 free agency period to address the myriad of holes they have on their roster, however, special teams still remains their biggest problem area. The Redskins’ kick return game has struggled in recent years. It’s been that way since the departure of wide receiver Brandon Banks, who served as the Redskins’ most efficient kick returner, in 2012. Washington had the opportunity to sign free agent return men Devin Hester and Trindon Holliday (pictured above). But Hester signed a three-year, $9 million contract with the Atlanta Falcons, while Holliday signed a one year, $700,000 contract with the NFC East rival New York Giants.
Missing out on Hester and Holliday could be a blessing in disguise for the Redskins. Despite being active in free agency, Washington needs to be prudent in building their roster. Fiscal responsibility is a big part of that prudency. Hester is arguably the greatest kick returner in NFL history, but signing Hester to a contract similar to the one he received from the Falcons wouldn’t leave the Redskins much money left to sign free agents, re-sign their own free agents, or to sign this year’s draft picks.
Holliday could be the heir apparent to Hester’s throne as the NFL’s best kick return specialist. He has a career average of nearly 10 yards per punt return, as well as four career touchdowns via kick returns. I don’t know if Washington’s kick returners even gained 10 yards on punt returns in 2013, much less average 10 yards. At the risk of sounding obvious, Holliday would have been an upgrade at kick returner for the Redskins. But Holliday also has an issue with fumbles, as he has 11 of them in his three year career. Holliday would have been a feast or famine type of returner, and the Redskins aren’t good enough to overcome that sort of inconsistency.
It looks like Washington will have to rely on a kick return by committee that consists of tight end Niles Paul, wide receiver Josh Morgan, and cornerback Richard Crawford. They don’t exactly strike fear in the hearts of opposing NFL special teams units. While the Redskins will once again experience the pains of the rebuilding process, passing on Hester and Holliday and saving those salary cap funds to obtain future depth was the correct decision.