The Redskins have a number of prominent starters and contributors playing for contracts this year and while they will have some greater cap flexibility next year they can’t re-sign everyone. Below are my picks to re-sign and why, and then I will look at why I’m letting some guys walk.
Redskins 2014 UFA Class (prominent names): WR Santana Moss, WR Josh Morgan, TE Fred Davis, OT Tony Pashos, OT Jeremy Trueblood, DL Chris Baker, LB Brian Orakpo, LB Perry Riley, LB London Fletcher, CB Josh Wilson, CB DeAngelo Hall, CB E.J. Biggers, S Brandon Meriweather, S Reed Doughty
-Orakpo is the best pass rusher on this team and in 2011 was among the best in the league. His presence helps makes everyone on this defense better and he’s still very young. Yes he’s coming off a lost season due to injury, but you don’t let players like him walk away, especially when you lack a first round pick to replace him with. This is going to be a big contract, but I think he’s well worth it.
-Riley is not elite but he’s gotten better each year and he really took over the middle of that defense from Fletcher last year. Fletcher made more overall tackles, but Riley made more tackles that mattered. Barring a huge year this year, he shouldn’t be too expensive (though he’ll get solid money) making him worth the dollar amount. With Fletcher probably on the way out it would be good to retain Riley to not have to replace both starting ILB’s.
-Wilson is the Redskins most consistent corner, and should be worth another 3 year deal. We saw the market shrink considerably for 2nd and 3rd tier corners, so Wilson even with a strong bounce back year shouldn’t be too expensive. He also ensures that the Redskins wouldn’t have to replace too many of their starting defensive backs next year. Wilson may be regulated to nickel duties after this season, but he’s a reliable player who will still be under 30 next year (29).
-Biggers was the Redskins really only free agent signing of significance this season, and it was only for one year. Biggers though (assuming an above-average or better year) is a guy who i think the Redskins should considering investing longer into. He’s got nice size, familiarity with Raheem Morris (though Morris will likely be looking for jobs next year to get a DC or HC position), and is still pretty young (26 this year). He’s not a guy I’d invest a ton of money or years into, but a 2-3 year deal at a solid rate, could be worth it. Young guys like David Amerson and Richard Crawford might not be fully developed, and the Redskins probably don’t want to spend another 2nd or 3rd rounder on the CB position next year.
-Moss will be 35 next season, but due to that reason and the fact that he’s just a slot guy, his market rate shouldn’t be too bad. Moss was highly effective for the Redskins this past year (albeit in a non-starting role), and if he is anywhere close to that again he’s worth bringing back. He offers veteran leadership and is consistently the Redskins best option in clutch situations. Moss is also really the Redskins only slot receiver option which further suggests the Redskins should bring him back.
-I wouldn’t mind seeing the Redskins bring Josh Morgan back, but they have to reduce his contract. Due to his previous deal the Redskins are going to be charged $3.7 million in dead money when his contract voids after this season. If they bring him back on a multi-year deal they can spread out that money, but the Redskins can’t afford to come close to spending what they did on him. With that $3.7 million in place, it probably only makes sense to bring Morgan back if it is for a below market deal to help balance the books. The Redskins are among the league leaders in money spent on wide receivers, which is something that needs to change given their style of offense.
-I like Chris Baker as a run-stopping back-up defensive lineman, but I don’t think he’s worth investing too much in. I see his game as to have peaked at this level (which is fine), so offering him good back-up money, or low-level starting money doesn’t make sense. Given a limited track record and some issues in his past hopefully Baker isn’t looking for too much money.
-If Doughty is willing to come back for a league minimum deal (which for him should be just over $1 million next year), the Redskins should gladly welcome him back. He offers good leadership and depth and is a very talented special teamer. Given that it is possible the Redskins have two very young starters next year, his presence could be very important.
-This is really a no-win situation for the Redskins. If Davis comes out and has a good-to-great year, you would be forced to offer him good starting money for a guy who has an Achilles injury and one incident away from a year long suspension hanging over his head. If he doesn’t produce fans will still want him back on another cheap deal. I think it is time to move away from Davis. The Redskins drafted his replacement in the 3rd round this year in Jordan Reed and still have Logan Paulsen and Niles Paul in the mix. Davis isn’t worth a big investment or due to their other options a small investment. Use whatever money here on other positional needs.
-Pashos or Trueblood may win the starting job this year, but even if that is the case the Redskins should move on and upgrade this position. It is simply too important a position and the Redskins need to invest a pick or some money into it next year.
-Fletcher is a tough one to let walk, but I think it will be time next year. The Redskins will already be facing a dead money penalty do to his contract voiding, but unlike Morgan they can’t spread it out over multiple years with a new deal. While I’ll be sorry to see Fletcher go, the Redskins need to invest that money into an ILB who will be there going forward.
-Hall has seen his play decline every year since signing his mega contract in 2009. The Redskins released him this year and re-signed him for a one year incentive laden deal. On the cheap it made sense to bring him back this season, but even for a cheap deal next year I think the Redskins should walk away. Hall turns 30 this November, and given his lack of instincts and natural coverage ability, his play will likely continue to decline as he loses some speed. It’s possible he could have another semi-productive season (though the Redskins haven’t seen that in a while), but probably not likely, and not worth the investment by the Redskins.
-Meriweather is coming off a bad injury and was considered a stopgap safety already. He’ll be 30 next year and is a guy with a lot of issues in his past, both on and off the field. The Redskins would be better served using whatever money Meriweather would want on another safety who is either more talented or has a higher upside.