Redskins ensure flexibility at linebacker in the 2020 NFL Draft
By Ian Cummings
The Redskins can’t call their linebacker core a strength, but after their free agency performance, they can at least say the position group has a foundation.
The primary function of free agency, and the most publicized function, is to fill needs and work closer to contention. But a secondary function, if a team isn’t one year away from competing, or if things don’t go according to plan in the initial wave, is to set oneself up to have flexibility in the NFL Draft, at the very least. The Washington Redskins did this in the 2020 free agency period.
When the Redskins’ efforts to be aggressive failed to accumulate any returns, the team reverted to a more conservative approach, opting to keep some money to roll over in 2021, while spending the rest on low-risk, high-upside depth signings. At linebacker, they were particularly busy, signing productive veteran Thomas Davis, athletic reserve linebacker Kevin Pierre-Louis, and re-signing 2019 starter Jon Bostic.
That’s not a unit that’s going to incite fear in the hearts of enemies, but for the Redskins, it’s good enough for now, especially considering other holdovers. The Redskins’ infusion of depth at linebacker allows them positional flexibility in the NFL Draft, which is something they need, considering their relative dearth of draft capital. What Washington needs first and foremost is talent, and if they can’t reach linebacker within the seven-round slate, they can at least take comfort in the fact that they addressed the position in free agency.
Additionally, while nothing is guaranteed for Washington in 2020, the team’s linebacker group does have some lingering upside. Reuben Foster is still working his way back to full health, but if he can get there, he’s an impact player who’ll surely be given a premier role. Shaun Dion Hamilton has flashed in limited action for two years now. Cole Holcomb put up a great rookie season in 2019, and should be able to keep developing.
There’s still uncertainty at linebacker for Washington, but the team’s retained youth, combined with the depth acquired in free agency, gives them the flexibility to potentially pass over the position in the 2020 NFL Draft, if the board demands a contrary selection. It’s not flashy roster management, but it’s smart, and it should help the Redskins in the long run.