A.J. Francis was cut by the Washington Redskins on Monday, but it didn’t take him long to find a new home. The New York Giants scooped him up to add to their defense.
It was expected that the Washington Redskins would make some changes to their defensive line following the 2018 NFL Draft. After all, the team had spent their first round pick on Alabama nose tackle Da’Ron Payne and then proceeded to add Tim Settle in the fifth round. So, there was a logjam on the defensive line, and a couple of players would become casualties as a result.
On Monday, those moves were revealed, as the Redskins parted ways with Terrell McClain and A.J. Francis. Both departures were sensible, but it was assumed that the two would eventually find homes somewhere else in the NFL. And Francis did that very quickly.
On Wednesday, Francis was signed to a deal according to ESPN’s Jordan Raanan. That will keep him in the NFC East for the moment, and it actually is a sensible landing spot for him. However, it still may not be easy for him to make the final roster.
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Under new defensive coordinator James Bettcher, the Giants are switching their defensive front. They are moving from a 4-3 scheme to a 3-4 scheme, so they will be looking for players who fit that alignment. As it stands, their primary run stuffers figure to be Damon “Snacks” Harrison and Dalvin Tomlinson, but the team also did some work in the draft and brought in B.J. Hill and R.J. McIntosh to play on the line. Adding in Kareem Martin and Josh Mauro, who played with Bettcher in Arizona, may make it difficult for Francis to find a spot on the team.
Still, Francis fits the mold of what Giants general manager Dave Gettleman looks for in his players. He likes big, strong maulers on both sides of the ball, and Francis fits the bill. At 6-foot-5, 330 pounds, Francis could have a chance to earn a role as a backup nose tackle. He has NFL experience, albeit just in six games, and if he does well in the preseason, that could do enough to get him onto the final roster. It will be an uphill battle, but Francis may be able to do it.
Though Francis went to a divisional rival, the Redskins probably won’t be too disappointed. The fact is that they had already added talent to their defensive line and have turned it into a strength instead of a weakness. There was no way that Francis would beat out any players for a spot on the line. He couldn’t do it until injuries struck in 2017. So with improved competition, he was out of the rotation.
Seeing Francis go to the Giants might be a minor disappointment, but it is more likely an inconsequential move. The Redskins are ready to roll with Payne and Settle. And it will be interesting to see what they can accomplish in their first seasons in Burgundy and Gold.