The Washington Redskins are taking a slow methodical approach to free agency. The biggest move of the offseason was letting Kirk Cousins walk away and trading for Alex Smith. Since then the Redskins have signed wide receiver Paul Richardson, cornerback Orlando Scandrick and re-signed linebacker Zach Brown. Those are smart moves, but the Redskins should not be finished signing players.
Currently the Redskins most notable wide receivers are Josh Doctson and Jamison Crowder. Crowder is already one of the better slot receivers in the NFL. Doctson has the potential to be a star, but still has room to improve. Richardson modeled his game after former Redskins wide receiver DeSean Jackson (according to Redskins insider John Keim).
Washington signed Richardson to a 5-year $40 million contract. The move will not break the bank, yet gives Washington a receiver with game breaking speed that they have missed since Jackson left town. Redskins head coach Jay Gruden is excited about adding Richardson to the team.
“I remember coming out of Colorado, he was a blur on the screen,” Gruden said via ESPN. “He’s not just a little guy that runs fast. When the ball is up in the air, he attacks it. … We’re excited to see him get a lot of opportunities at different positions on the field. But I’m excited because he has a great skill set: speed.”
Cornerback was also a position of need. Washington traded away Kendall Fuller in order to acquire Alex Smith. Kendall Fuller was rated as the top slot defender in 2017 according to Bleacher Report. Bashaud Breeland is currently a free agent and nearly signed with the Panthers, so it seems unlikely that he will return to Washington.
The #Panthers announced that CB Bashaud Breeland failed his physical. He won’t be signing with Carolina… which had offered him a 3 year, $24M deal.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) March 16, 2018
Acquiring Scandrick provides Washington with some much-needed depth. Scandrick appears to have plenty of motivation as he claims that the Cowboys gave up on him.
“Whenever you get released, there’s a part of you that feels like they gave up on you,” Scandrick told the Washington Post. “Whether they gave up on me or not, in my mind, they gave up on me. I feel like I’ve got a lot of football to play and I’m going to go out every day and be the best version of myself and am going to continue to be productive.”
The Redskins best move of free agency is re-signing Zach Brown to a 3-year $21 million contract. Bleacher Report ranked Brown as the 7th best middle linebacker in the NFL. NFL1000 ILB Scout Jerod Brown said, “Brown has the athleticism and raw power to match any linebacker.” Brown led the NFL in tackles through 13 games before a knee injury sidelined him. There is a good chance that Brown could make the type of long-term impact that London Fletcher gave Washington.
“I must say everybody was a man of their word in the building, so for me, it’s easy for me to give my all for people that tell you the truth and to come back and finish out my career and re-sign with them,” Brown said via Redskins.com. “Hopefully we’ll be together for a long time, like them and London Fletcher. So for me, I’m trying to be here for the long run and I think they know that.”
Washington has a long and unsuccessful history of signing high priced free agents. A departure from the old Redskins way of doing things is smart. Leaving gaping holes on the team is not however.
The Redskins desperately need help on the defensive line. Washington gave up a league worst 134.1 yards rushing per game. The defense was not the same after rookie first round pick Jonathan Allen suffered an injury that ended his season after five games.
Great teams have quality depth at every position. In an ideal world no injury should ruin the season. The Eagles lost star quarterback Carson Wentz and still won the Super Bowl with backup Nick Foles.
Washington would be wise to add a few more bodies on the defensive line in free agency as well as the draft. The Redskins also need help on the offensive line specifically at guard and center.
Left guard Shawn Lauvao was the weak link on the offensive line last year and is currently a free agent. Starting center Spencer Long is now a member of the New York Jets. Surprisingly center is not a glaring need. Center Chase Roullier was the Redskins sixth-round draft pick last year. Roullier played well in his seven starts last year.
Washington does not have a lot of needs, but could use some reinforcements at guard and the defensive line. If the Redskins want to have a chance to win the NFC East then they must improve in the trenches.