The Washington Redskins should be big spenders in free agency this year
The Washington Redskins have a history of spending big dollars on free agents. After years of moderate spending, owner Dan Snyder should once again open up his checkbook to lure in more talent for the roster.
The NFL is a copycat league. A year ago, the Eagles were one of the more aggressive teams in free agency. Through a series of trades and signings, Philadelphia won its first Super Bowl in franchise history after a season in which they finished 7-9. Will the Washington Redskins follow the Eagles’ blueprint this offseason?
In late January, the Washington Redskins made a bold move when they traded for quarterback Alex Smith. This move essentially assured that Kirk Cousins would not be back with the team. Depending on who you ask, the Washington Redskins upgraded at quarterback. Cousins is entering his prime, but Washington’s front office deserves a ton of credit for bringing in an established player at an important position.
Jay Gruden will get a “gamer” in Smith, who’s coming off his best season as a pro with 4,026 yards, a 26-to-5 touchdown to interception ratio, and a 104.7 passer rating, a mark that led the league. It’s a move that could be an indication of the future. The Washington Redskins must be aggressive moving forward. They know they have to.
Last offseason, the Washington Redskins were in the Calais Campbell sweepstakes. They opted for the duo of Stacy Mcgee and Terell McClain instead. Fast forward to 2018, and the latter might be a cap casualty, while McGee is a rotational player at best. Meanwhile, Campbell went on to post 14.5 sacks in Jacksonville.
Terrelle Pryor was a failed experiment about halfway through the season, despite being a major acquisition on offense. D.J. Swearinger was a good find, but overall, the Washington Redskins’ hesitance hurt them last year.
I expect the Redskins to rebound from a subpar free agency a year ago and surround Smith with serious talent on offense. Some, including Will Brinson of CBS Sports, suggest they could do it “just to spite Cousins”.
It’s rumored that the Redskins have interest in wide receivers Allen Robinson and Paul Richardson. Richardson would provide the Redskins with a much-needed deep threat. Richardson amassed 44 catches for 773 yards and six touchdowns in 13 starts for the Seahawks in 2017. Robinson is an intriguing prospect as well. He missed nearly all of last season with a torn ACL, but he has shown flashes of dominance. In 2015, Robinson led the NFL with 14 receiving touchdowns, catching passes from Blake Bortles. Both Richardson and Robinson are coming off rookie deals and would infuse the Redskins receiving core with youth and big-play ability.
Washington could also be in the market for a new tight end. Jordan Reed has an alarming injury history. Vernon Davis is aging and Niles Paul is unlikely to be back. Gruden could have his eye on Tyler Eifert. Eifert started 15 games as a rookie while Gruden was the offensive coordinator with the Cincinnati Bengals.
Despite an extensive injury history, Eifert has stated he’s 100 percent healthy, per Darin Gantt of Pro Football Talk. Multiple tight end sets are a staple of the Redskins’ offense. In this sense, a healthy trio of Reed, Davis, and Eifert would be a nightmare for opposing defenses. All three players have thrived within Gruden’s system. If I’m Gruden, I’m pushing Bruce Allen to inquire about Eifert’s services.
Next: Redskins: Assessing the 2018 free agent defensive linemen
If we’ve learned anything from the Philadelphia Eagles’ 2017 championship run, it’s that it only takes a strong offseason to build a winner. The Jaguars and Saints saw similar fates. Parity hits the NFL every season. With a strong free agency class, the Washington Redskins could be the next franchise to abruptly rise from obscurity.