Key Additions: DeSean Jackson ($8M per year), Jason Hatcher ($6.9M), Shawn Lauvao ($4.3M), Andre Roberts ($4M), Tracy Porter ($3M), Darryl Sharpton ($1.8M), Clifton Geathers ($1.6M), Ryan Clark ($1M)
Key Re-Signings: Brian Orakpo ($11.5M per year), Perry Riley ($4M), Santana Moss ($1.02M), Brandon Meriweather ($1M)
Key Losses: JD Walton (Giants)
Major Cuts: Adam Carriker ($5M cap savings), Will Montgomery ($1.9M)
Free Agency Thoughts:
After two years of cap penalties the Redskins were finally able to get back into the free agency game without having to worry as much about cap costs in the first year of the contract. The team got busy in February re-signing some players long before the start of free agency and then were one of the most active teams in terms of quantity of signings.
The biggest signing came in the latest stages of free agency when they grabbed DeSean Jackson as soon as he was released by the Eagles. $8 million a year was probably a little on the high end considering there may have been lack of interest from the rest of the NFL at that point, but its not egregiously high. Surprisingly they used a void provision to further lower the cap costs, but maybe the three year cap cost represents where they wanted him at contractually (about $7.6M per year).
While it is disappointing that the Redskins could not come to terms with Brian Orakpo, it was imperative they keep him in 2014 and they blocked him from leaving by using the franchise tag. Orakpo has the talent to be one of the elite pass rushers in the NFL. If they can come to a long term agreement with him by the deadlines that would be a good move for the Redskins.
The next two highest priced signings were questionable. Jason Hatcher at $6.9 million a year is arguably the worst free agent contract signed this offseason. Hatcher will be 32 years old in 2014 and is coming off his first ever truly great season. He’ll earn $13.5 million over two years and likely leave the Redskins with $4.5 million in dead money in 2016. This is not a position that traditionally gets paid this much at this stage of a career.
Shawn Lauvao ended up getting a contract on par with the best offseason signings at the position. Lauvao is coming off a poor season and it’s doubtful any other team would have been as high as the Redskins were. They need to get two good years out of him to justify this deal.
In light of the Jackson signing the Andre Roberts contract is going to look bad. The Redskins paid him to be a second receiver based off his 2012 season when he was starting in Arizona. Now he will be a third target which is going to make the salary seem on the high side.
Tracy Porter’s contract is fair within the market, but I tend to think he was on the lesser end of the players who received a similar salary. That said it’s a justifiable deal because he doesn’t have the injury concerns that some of the other players do.
The team did ok with the bargain signings. Sharpton is a reasonable cost and should bring more speed than what they had before. Behind him is Akeem Jordan, a very low cost signing, who may be one of the steals of free agency. Clifton Geathers can bring decent depth to the position while Ryan Clark is certainly someone who can bring leadership to the team.
Overall Grade: C
This is a tough team to grade because I like some of the moves they made, but some of the contracts they doled out are terrible. When the season is complete the performance of Jackson probably makes or breaks free agency for the team. He brings a dimension they did not have and we’ll get a better idea of how RGIII can play with a deeper passing game. Since Griffin is eligible for an extension next year I think the Redskins have to give him as much as possible to get the best idea for him. What you don’t want is to be in a position like the Jets or Rams where every season the question is “if only he had…” when referring to the highly drafted but disappointing QB.
Hatcher is the worst deal of the group and they could have upgraded at safety or corner with some of that money rather than going so much with the quantity approach in the secondary. They may not have had to go into the upper echelon but if they did I would have preferred a Vontae Davis over Porter and Hatcher. In terms of talent I think a C+ or B- is fair but the way they go about many of their contracts and valuation process is something that just knocks it down for me.
Jason is the founder of OTC and has been studying NFL contracts and the salary cap for over 15 years. Jason has co-authored two books about the NFL, Crunching Numbers and the Drafting Stage, which are widely circulated in the industry and hosts the OTC Podcast. Jason’s work has been featured in various publications including the Sporting News, Sports Illustrated, NFL Network and more. OTC is widely considered the leading authority on contract matters in the NFL.