Jay’s Mediocrity, 2014-2017
The Jay Gruden years probably saw more consistently poor swings and misses at free agents than any other extended time under Snyder. With one or two exceptions, none were the colossal failures of the early Snyder years. There just seemed to be an endless stream of mid-level contracts handed out to players who could not live up to their press clippings. Sometimes, the mistake was to overpay for a veteran who had maybe one or two good years in an otherwise average career.
Defensive linemen Jason Hatcher, Stacy McGee, and Terrell McClain are prime examples. Hatcher and McGee in particular were pretty good players, but they were also getting on in years and subject to injuries which essentially ended their stays in Washington. Other were plain and simple examples of players being rated too highly – Stephen Paea (who was outplayed by Swaggy), and Terrelle Pryor (who returned 20 catches on his 8-million dollar contract). Then there was Shawn Lauvao, a decent offensive guard, who only managed to play in 31 games (out of 64) in his final four years in Washington. There will be some bigger failures during the Gruden years coming, but these players summed up the mediocrity pretty well.
Linebacker disappointments, 2002
Washington was going to fix its linebacking problem by poaching two solid vets from division rivals in 2002. Truth be told, getting Jessie Armstead for $10.5 million from the Giants wasn’t a bad move. Well past 30, Armstead was not the player he once was, but he still was OK for Washington in his two seasons.
But the bigger move – signing the younger Jeremiah Trotter from Philadelphia – was also a bigger disappointment. Washington shelled out $36 million for a two-time Pro Bowler. He wasn’t a total trainwreck for Washington, but he was not the game-changer they thought they were getting. Like Armstead, he was gone in two years. The fact that he went back to Philadelphia and immediately regained his Pro Bowl form made it extra bitter.
Bizarro World, 2012 and 2015
These aren’t exactly disasters. They are just weird. In 2012, Washington signed local kid Tanard Jackson to play free safety. He had been a very promising player for Tampa Bay during his first five years in the league. He had also been suspended twice for substance policy violations. When Washington signed him, he was off suspension, but he would never play a down for his hometown team. A combination of injury and further suspensions ended his career. For some technical reason that I have never understood, he was still contractually tied to the team for many years after his playing days were over – if you looked deep enough into the fine print of the roster. As of last year, he is, officially, no longer with Washington.
Neither is Junior Galette, the mercurial edge rusher signed by Washington in 2015 after recording more than 30 sacks over four years in New Orleans. In year one with Washington, Galette tore his left Achilles. Out for the year. In year two, he tore his right Achilles. Out for the year. He finally got on the field in 2017 and recorded three sacks as a situational pass rusher. That would be the end of his time in Washington, and in the NFL.