Who should the Washington Football Team avoid in free agency this coming March?
Christmas-in-March — AKA NFL free agency — is nigh. In just a few short weeks, NFL GMs will be bashing each other over the head for this year’s Tickle Me Elmo and Razor Scooter. I’m sure the Washington Football Team brain trust is scouring the lists of free agents and plotting their moves. That list changes every day as teams jockey for salary cap position. Just two weeks ago, Pro Football Focus listed, in order, their top 152 free agents for 2021, from Dak Prescott to B.J. Goodson.
Today, I will do my part to help lighten the load for Martin Mayhew, Marty Hurney, Eric Stokes, Chris Polian, and whoever else needs to juggle all those potential targets. Today, I offer a Do Not Sign list for the Washington Football Team. These are players, all rated in the Top 30 of PFF’s countdown, who the Washington Football Team would be best advised to avoid. They are not necessarily bad players. Just bad fits in D.C.
Free agents the Washington Football Team should avoid
Lavonte David (Linebacker – PFF Free Agent Ranking: 8)
Lavonte David is a very good player. We all saw that throughout the post-season, where he and Devin White patrolled the middle of the Tampa Bay defense, making play after play after play. But David just turned 31, and though he has not shown any signs of slowing down, that day is coming.
I am not opposed to singing older players (and full disclosure, I myself am depressingly close to being twice as old as Lavonte David), but I am opposed to bringing in players past 30 on big contracts and expecting them to maintain their high-level productivity for more than a year or two. And though I think David’s skill set could transition from his current 3-4 inside linebacker to the middle in Washington’s 4-3, that’s not a sure thing. I don’t want to be paying premium prices to find out.
Hunter Henry (Tight End – PFF Free Agent Ranking: 10)
Hunter Henry sure looks the part of an elite tight end. He’s big and young and athletic. I’ve just never seen a truly elite player on the field. He missed all of 2018 with an ACL injury, and has missed a game or two every other year he has been in the league. Please learn from the Austin Hooper experience of 2020. When the shelves are bare at tight end, a B+ talent gets elevated to A+ level and gets paid accordingly. Henry just isn’t worth what he will eventually get.
Taylor Moton (Tackle – PFF Free Agent Ranking: 12)
Taylor Moton, on the other hand, is a very good player. He is also young and has a history with Ron Rivera in Carolina. But Moton has excelled at right tackle, and the Washington Football Team has a rejuvenated Morgan Moses in that spot. Were you to give me a choice between the two, I’d take Moton, but that’s not how this works.
Moses did not look comfortable during his brief switch to the left side late in the year, and you certainly cannot count on Moton being as good if he was to move to the left side. It’s obviously possible, but as with Lavonte David, do you really want to be paying a lot to see if a guy can replicate his past success at a different position?
Joe Thuney (Guard – PFF Free Agent Ranking: 13)
Joe Thuney only makes sense if Washington fails to re-sign Brendan Scherff. Otherwise, despite how attractive a player he is, you can’t be that heavily invested in two offensive guards. Since I don’t want to entertain the notion that Washington will not be able to re-sign Scherff, I’m not going to even mention Thuney’s name again.
Richard Sherman (Cornerback – PFF Free Agent Ranking: 18)
Richard Sherman is going to the Hall of Fame one day. But really, all he does is elevate every defense he has ever played on, lead his team into the playoffs year after year, and get chosen as an All-Pro. Who needs that?
Sherman is among the best cornerbacks of the past several decades, but he will be 33 on opening day of the 2021 season. I believe you can spot a very slight decline in his recent play. One of these days, that decline will become much more pronounced. Sherman needs to go to a team that is one cornerback away from the Super Bowl. Washington is not that team.
Desmond King (Cornerback – PFF Free Agent Ranking: 21)
This is the same as the Taylor Moton/Morgan Moses situation described above. King may well be a better slot cornerback than Jimmy Moreland, but the difference between them isn’t great enough to pay a high price for the modest upgrade you would get. King’s punt return ability makes him more attractive, but I think there are better options for the Washington Football Team.
Corey Linsley (Center – PFF Free Agent Ranking: 26)
Linsely is a very good player. So is Chase Roullier. You already have one of them under contract.
Antonio Brown (Wide Receiver – PFF Free Agent Ranking: 30)
I fully expect the Washington Football Team to go after one of the many premiere wideouts currently on the market (FYI, my personal ranking of them goes Golladay, Robinson, Godwin, Fuller). Whether they sign one of these players or not, you don’t want to roll the dice on Antonio Brown.
Brown proved he can still be a dangerous player for Tampa, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him play well for the next few years. But there are too many better options above him, and safer, cheaper options below him to roll these particular dice.
I hope this makes things a little easier for Washington’s front office. Next time, I’ll offer up a collection of players from the bottom half of the PFF list at whom Washington should take a long look, because they offer great value.