Players they’ve Let Go:
The Redskins released Hall outright which was the right call for them to make. They needed to clear roughly $13-15 million to just get under the salary cap, sign minimum players to fill out their roster, tender restricted free agents and sign their draft class. That is just a bare minimum approach, if they wanted to add a moderate free agent or two and sign a couple decent back-ups they’d need more like $20-25 million. Cutting Hall outright gets them over 50% of the savings they need for the minimalist approach and almost 1/3 of the savings they need for that maximum of $25 million, as it shaves $8 million off the cap this year. Some may lament the loss of Hall, but the reality is this was a bad passing defense last year with him, so his impact is pretty negligible. And those who point to the Redskins pass defense in 2011, when they were only 12th in yards allowed should remember that number was depressed due to the lack of attempts. In 2011 the Redskins were 22nd in net yards allowed per attempt (which factors in sack yardage as well) which is pretty bad. Hall may have been willing to restructure his deal, but he never said he was willing to take an outright pay cut and he just wasn’t worth that amount of money. Another benefit of releasing Hall is it clears $9 million off the books in 2014, which should allow the Redskins to feel more comfortable moving additional money to that year with their signings and restructures.
The Redskins didn’t tender Banks a restricted free agent contract which now makes him an unrestricted free agent. This was a no-brainer as Banks was not worth $1.3 million to tender him. Banks came onto the scene in 2010 with some electric returns, but these past two years he’s been pretty quite and actually has been more of a liability. With the league changing the kick-off rule his value greatly decreased starting in 2011. Even worse though was the decision making by Banks. He took the ball out of the end zone on far too many occasions that cost the Redskins yardage than if he had just taken a knee. He also put the ball on the ground on far too many occasions, while they didn’t end up turnovers it was only a matter of time. His decision making in punt returns was also suspect as he would field punts inside his 10 yard line, or not signal a fair catch when the gunner was right on top of him. Despite all that his worst offense was his inability to do anything else, but return. Try as the Redskins might they couldn’t find a space for him on offense, even in a back-up role. When the team was dealing with multiple receiver injuries they still felt the need to sign guys off the street or go shorthanded rather than Banks play a larger role. He couldn’t even be described as a “Special Teamer”, because he only played on the two return teams. He didn’t do anything on coverage units, making him essentially the least utilized player on the team. Even a third string quarterback has the potential to play. Moving on from Banks frees up a roster spot both from an overall and game-day perspective.
Players they signed/re-signed who were UFA’s:
In some ways this probably shouldn’t have been a surprise. Afterall Mike Shanahan drafted him in Denver and he was one of the first signings that Shanahan made when he came to DC. On the other hand though, Lichtensteiger has been a pretty big liability for the majority of his time in DC. Other than a four game stint at the beginning of 2011, Lichtensteiger has struggled. His first year in 2010 and this past year, he was wildly inconsistent missing a number of key assignments that led to bad plays for the Redskins. He also led all Redskins with 10 penalties this past season helping to make the Redskins one of the most penalized teams in the league. The other worry with Lichtensteiger is the fact that he only played in 4 full games in 2011, because he tore his ACL/MCL in the fifth game. That is a pretty serious injury to invest money into for a player who hasn’t preformed that well as a whole. While it is unclear what exactly his contract is, the fact that it is for five years is a bit worrisome. His play and injury history hasn’t really warranted that type of commitment, even if the salary and guarantee are on the smaller side.
With Jammal Brown gone and Tyler Polumbus and Jordan Black unrestricted free agents, the Redskins had just Maurice Hurt and Tom Compton to compete for the starting right tackle job. Those aren’t exactly the two names you are hoping for to protect your star quarterback who will be coming back from a serious knee surgery. While Pashos is coming off a year of sitting out and rehabbing, he does help in the depth department. He may not win the starting job (or any job for that matter), but it will be nice to know that he offers better competition. Unless it comes out that the contract is more than a small deal, this is a smart depth signing for a weak spot on the roster.
Restricted Free Agents:
The Redskins placed an original round tender ($1.3 million) that gives them the right of first refusal on Baker (he was undrafted so no compensation in return). That may seem a bit pricey, but I understand why the Redskins did it. The other potential nose tackles on the roster (primarily Chris Neild and Ron Brace), are coming off injuries or have been ineffective in the past. Baker showed to be at least a solid back-up last year (especially against the run), and they need someone competent to back-up Barry Cofield. Baker is a guy who they know is at least that, so it gives them some comfort if he does end up coming back.
Though Sundberg’s first year as long snapper was a bit shaky, he’s been solid the past two years. While the details haven’t been released bringing him back on a 4 year deal suggests that he’s likely making league minimum this year, helping the Redskins cap situation. As long as they didn’t give him too much overall money this is a smart deal for the Skins.
Rob Jackson was a solid replacement for Brian Orakpo last year. While he couldn’t make up for his pass rush, he helped in other ways, and came up with a few big time plays. It’s a one year deal and while the terms aren’t disclosed it is likely to come in just under the restricted tender for a 2nd round pick at $2.023 million. That will save the Redskins a slight amount and gives them solid depth for another year.
Paulsen signed a three-year deal to stay with the Redskins and while the terms aren’t fully known yet, it can apparently max out at $7 million with a $1.1 million signing bonus. It’s likely for this year that Paulsen saves the Redskins money below both the 2nd round $2 million tender and the first refusal tender of $1.3 million. Paulsen is a solid number two TE, who really excelled this past year as a blocker. Given how much the Skins run the football the value of his blocking is very important for this offense. Even if the Redskins re-sign Fred Davis, it is likely that Logan Paulsen will still play on over 50% of the Redskins snaps given his blocking abilities, making this a really smart signing for the Redskins.
Young signed a reported 3 year $6.2 million deal, one that likely saves the Redskins some money from the $2 million tender they would have needed to place on him to ensure they kept him. Though for some teams fullbacks don’t have much value, that really isn’t true in Washington, given how much they run. Young played in over 30% of snaps last year and has developed into one of the best fullbacks in the league. In addition to his blocking (both run and pass), Young is a solid option as a short yardage runner or a receiver out of the backfield. He’s also one of the teams best special teamers making this another good signing.