Where do the Redskins go from here?
With the majority of free agency over, the Redskins have overhauled a good portion of their team. Serious questions remain though as a number of needs weren’t adequately met or addressed at all. Trade interest and draft questions are now at the forefront of the Redskins remaining offseason plan. Additionally could more signings still occur? Below are my thoughts on these Redskins questions and how the rest of their offseason will look.
Quantity over Quality:
– At the start of free agency the Redskins were tied to a number of big name players, and were apparently the runner-up choice to both Amari Cooper and Austin Hooper. Since then the Redskins have mainly stayed on the sidelines signing a number of cheaper players on 1 -3 year deals. The one notable exception was CB Kendall Fuller, who signed a 4 yr $40M dollar contract. Fuller is the only free agent signing who can be pointed at as a player who would start on just about any depth chart in the league. That’s not to say that other signings weren’t positive, Thomas Davis was a smart signing to add some veteran leadership. Cornelius Lucas and Peyton Barber add decent depth to thin position groups. Logan Thomas is a stretch as a starter, but still a clear upgrade to the Redskins league worst TE depth chart.
The rash of small signings shouldn’t be shocking as Ron Rivera and his staff look to overhaul Bruce Allen’s roster. When a new staff comes in you typically see a fairly large roster churn in the first year. Though most of these signings will be back-ups in Washington, they are now Ron Rivera’s back-ups. I think what is surprising though is that the Redskins after missing out on a couple of top tier players, basically avoided wading into the 2nd and 3rd tiers of the market. While at times those 2nd and 3rd tiers can get over priced, a lot of times you can find value there as well. This area of the market hasn’t dried up, so perhaps the Redskins can still land some valuable starting caliber guys. Right now though, this looks like a depth offseason.
Lack of attention to key team needs:
The Redskins entered free agency with major needs at LT, WRx2, TEx2, LBx2, CBx2, FS, and secondary needs at LG, RB, EDGE and back-up QB. After two weeks of free agency, none of their major needs are fixed adequately. The Redskins did a better job with their minor needs as the trade for Kyle Allen and signing a pair of RBs lock up those positions. Wes Schwietzer is a down grade from Ereck Flowers, but between him and Wes Martin they can hopefully be league average. Edge figures to be fixed with Chase Young in the draft, and even in a trade back scenario any 2nd-4th rd player could fill the 3rd EDGE role.
The major needs though are the pressing concern. With Trent Williams likely gone, LT is a massive hole for the Redskins. After missing out on Cooper, the Redskins have avoided the WR market bringing in only Cody Latimer, the former 2nd round pick who was a bust in Denver. He did an adequate job filling in for injured receivers last year with the Giants, but he’s no better than a 4th or 5th receiver. Behind Terry McLaurin the Redskins have little in the way of certainty, and though some young players have flashed expectations should be low.
At tight end the Redskins brought in a pair of players, but neither is an NFL starting TE. Logan Thomas probably peaks as a number 2 TE, and even there that is a drop off from what they have had in recent years in Vernon Davis (when healthy). At linebacker the Redskins had only 2 spots locked up heading into free agency so they needed bodies. Bringing back Bostic, and adding Davis and Kevin Pierre-Louis certainly help, but this is a super thin group. Starting wise the level of production is likely to be pretty poor.
Even before trading Quinton Dunbar you could make the case that the Redskins needed a pair of starting corners. Signing Fuller fixed one of those spots, but with trading Dunbar it still leaves this as a razor thin position. Fabian Moreau has been a major liability the past two seasons and shouldn’t be counted on as a starter. Jimmy Moreland played well for a 7th round rookie, but is not exactly a guy you want in a major role. At free safety Sean Davis is an athletic guy, but he’s struggled thus far in his career. Unless he has a major turn around, the Redskins will continue to have one of the weakest FS’s in the league.
Trading Trent Williams:
– Though this saga continues, it is abundantly clear the Redskins have to find the best deal possible and trade Williams. Yes there are provisions in the new CBA that make it harder for Williams to hold out, but even if he does report it’s likely to be a massive headache. With the potential of phantom injuries and even potential lawsuits if the Redskins try to fight him. Would you also trust your franchise QB to have his blindside protected by a guy this disgruntled? Add in the likely daily media circus, it’s hard to see any positive outcomes by forcing Williams to report.
I’m not suggesting just giving Williams away for a 7th round pick. What I am saying is that any reasonable offer (3rd rd or a pair of 4th rounders) should be enough to swing the deal. In addition to any draft pick compensation, the Redskins would clear $12.5M off the cap, which could go a long way to signing any other free agents, extending players or saving it for next year.
Remaining Free agents:
– As alluded to above there still are some free agent options available, including those that would not only start on this team, but for a number of teams in the league. At offensive tackle and corner especially there are some guys who could be at least decent 1-2 year fill ins until the position can be addressed on a more serious level. Wide receiver, free safety and tight end are more picked over, but there are still a few upgrades out there. If the Redskins trade Trent Williams they will be roughly $40M under the salary cap. A chunk of that will be devoted to the draft and filling out the roster, but they should have a healthy amount still to sign 1-3 bigger named free agents if they want.
– Part of the allure of drafting a player like Chase Young with the 2nd overall pick was that he could be the final piece in elevating a much improved roster back into contention. Ideally the Redskins would have used free agency to fix some of their biggest needs and would be in a position to spend their top pick on a bit of a luxury selection. Now with almost none of the needs addressed on the roster the Redskins have to ask themselves if drafting Chase Young is still the best use of their resources.
It would be one thing if Young was the only elite player in this draft class, but even ignoring the impressive QB class, this draft is stacked at the top. Isaiah Simmons and Jeffrey Okudah are elite players at LB and CB respectively. At offensive tackle both Tristan Wirfs and Jedrick Wills are franchise LT’s, who could replace Trent Williams day 1. Jerry Jeudy, CeeDee Lamb and Henry Ruggs all could be legitimate number one receivers. Those are all players at major positions of need who are in the same category of Young. Also the real question the Redskins are facing is not whether you draft Young vs one of the players mentioned above. Rather it’s drafting Young vs landing one of those players, plus an additional draft picks in the 1st-3rd rounds over the next two years.
Drafting Young is still very much on the table, but if they go that route it’s likely they can only really address one more need via the draft with their 3rd round pick (depending on the Trent Williams trade). Potentially in the early 4th round they could find another player who could contribute, but probably not a guy you could count on to start.
Redskins 2020 outlook:
– It’s still early of course, but it’s hard to see that this team is going to be that much better than the 2019 version. Better coaching from Ron Rivera could help add a win or two, but the talent level is not where the Redskins need it to be if they want to compete in the NFC East. Even projecting out the various draft and remaining free agent scenarios, the Redskins will need a lot to break in their favor. The most important thing for next season though is getting Dwayne Haskins on track for being a franchise QB. If he shows a lot of growth in this area then the Redskins have a lot of hope for 2021 and beyond. If not, they could be back at the drawing board for QB as Rivera would likely look to bring in his own franchise QB option.