Free Agency Review: Washington Redskins

Key Additions: WR Terrelle Pryor ($6M), DE Terrell McClain ($5.3M), DE Stacy McGee ($5M), S DJ Swearinger ($4.5M), DT Ziggy Hood ($1.3M)

Key Re-signings: QB Kirk Cousins ($23.9M), TE Vernon Davis ($5M), LS Nick Sundberg ($1.1M)

Key Losses: WR Pierre Garcon (49ers), DT Chris Baker (Bucs), WR DeSean Jackson (Bucs), S Duke Ihenacho (FA), S Donte Whitner (FA), LB Ricky Jean-Francois (Packers), DE Cullen Jenkins (FA), CB Greg Toler (FA)

Estimated Cap Space: $11.3 million

Dead Money: $9.7 million

Estimated Salary Per Year: $161 million for 73 players

Snaps Gained/Lost in Free Agency:

Role2016 Snaps2017 SnapsChange
Offense11,96711,785-182
Defense11,5289,981-1,547
Special4,8014,337-464

Player Signings

Kirk Cousins- 1 year, $23.9M, $23.9M guaranteed

Currently Cousins is signed to a one year exclusive franchise tender but the team has until July 15 to come to terms on a long term agreement. I don’t think it’s fair to give this contract a grade until then because the Redskins did make the correct decision in tagging him again, but I can’t see any logic in not getting a contract done. For players like this all the tag does is delay the inevitable payday for the player and in the long run that is typically going to be a loser for the team. I’d be pretty disappointed if Washington did not get a deal done or trade him for a big haul. Grade: N/A

Terrelle Pryor- 1 year, $6M, $6M guaranteed

The Redskins were able to take advantage of a great situation that developed with Pryor as other teams discounted his ability and he seemingly priced himself too high at the start of free agency. Pryor is a terrific athlete and made a nice transition to receiver last year for the Browns. He’s stepping into a far better offense in Washington and will get every opportunity to prove he is worth more than $10M a year. Considering the uncertainty with the long term at QB and the questions about Pryor the one year deal at a very low 2nd tier APY is a perfect fit.  This was a better decision that overpaying for their 30+ players they lost to come back for longer term contracts. Grade: A

Terrell McClain- 4 years, $21M, $10.5M guaranteed

I don’t know if this was a team desperate for help on the line, happy to raid a rival, or just lost because of their front office issues but this is a bit of a reach for a 29 year old player who just this last season developed into a competent starter. And by starter we mean capable of playing 40-50% of the snaps not a higher level. To go to basically double the guarantee for a player of his grade is a bit surprising. They should have had a blueprint with the Quinton Dial contract to work off of here or just been more patient and waited to watch players like Tyson Alualu sign or Karl Klug sign for $3M or less. Grade: D

Stacy McGee- 5 years, $25M, $9M guaranteed

Take whatever I said about McClain and multiply it by 100. At least McClain came off a good season. McGee missed 7 games which brings his total to 17 games in 4 years. He’s been a career backup and ended up a free agent is a really down year salary wise for the position yet he still landed a pretty terrific deal. I’m not sure I see the logic in this outside of the fact he is youngish. I guess both contracts were based off the two year Akiem Hicks contract but with far more generous guarantees. Grade: F

Vernon Davis- 3 years, $15M, $7.5M guaranteed

It’s hard to say what market the Redskins thought existed for Davis to have gone to a $7.5 million guarantee and $5 million a year after playing last season for just over $2 million and just over $4 million the year before. Davis did have a rebound year, but 580 yards isn’t that kind of season and he wont be expected to contribute as much if Jordan Reed is healthy. In a league where Dennis Pitta off 700+ yards cut his salary to $3 million rather than chance free agency I cant see how the Redskins justify this.  Grade: F

DJ Swearinger- 3 years, $13.5M, $9M guaranteed

This is a bit of a risk given Swearinger’s bouncing around a bit the last few years, but he has very good talent and played reasonably well in Arizona last season. Pricewise this is fair market though again the guarantee package is representative of a higher paid player. Still he will definitely upgrade the defense and the two year guarantee shouldn’t be an issue unless he just fails to fire this season now that he has a new contract. Grade: C+


Overall Thoughts

The NFL can be an odd place when it comes to contracts and the Redskins are a perfect example. Here is a team that just went out and guaranteed Davis, McClain, and McGee $27 million and $21 million at signing but can’t make a long term commitment to a quarterback because of valuation concerns.  The Redskins are not alone in this as its commonplace with stars though rarely with the QB position. Still I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt that they will get something sorted out with Cousins by the summer.

As for the rest of their offseason it’s a mixed bag leaning towards very poor. I like the potential of the Pryor signing especially at that price and Swearinger is fine, but the other three are among the worst signings of the offseason. Just like anything else if teams are bullish on these players and they pan out nobody is going to criticize the contract but its hard to look at any of these contracts and say they were outbidding someone. The same thing happened to Washington a few years back when they overpaid a bunch of defensive players who didn’t pan out.

With all the craziness that went on with the team during free agency it was already difficult for Washington and maybe they rushed into a couple of contracts just to change the narrative.  Still this just feels like a somewhat aimless direction and a reshuffling of parts on a team that wasn’t good enough to make the playoffs last season and didn’t make the most of their resources to improve the team in part because they still did not make a decision on Cousins.

I get the idea of changing the mix which wasn’t good enough and not bringing back Garcon, Jackson, Baker, Jean-Francois, and so on, but to just make lateral, at best, moves that are more expensive than what they already had usually isn’t the way teams win. This could have been a better offseason for the team and it’s hard to really like the direction they took with any of the contract decisions thus far.

Overall Grade: D
  • McGeorge

    After the Redskins lose Cousins they will be back to a 5-11 team.
    Snyder must be proud.

  • WW

    How do you rate the Zach Brown signing? Does it impact on your overall assessment?

  • WW

    OTC seems to have completely overlooked the Redskins’ signing of Zach Brown (not just in this article, but across the site in general).