With Free Agency set to start next week, now is a good time to look at a free agency plan for the Washington Redskins. It’s tough to come up with an accurate plan given that the Redskins have two players requesting trade demands. For the purpose of this I’m going to assume that the Redskins are trading both Trent Williams and Quinton Dunbar. That creates two major holes on the team, but does free up an additional $16M in cap space (as well as adding some mid-round picks at least).
-Ideally a long term extension gets done. Not only is that likely to free up more room under the cap this season, but it will allow the team to have a better understanding of their spending power going forward. Scherff is an All-Pro caliber guard and exactly what the Redskins need to build around if they are moving on from Trent Williams. Having Scherff in the fold goes a long way to helping the development of Dwayne Haskins.
-This is where the Redskins should focus their money outside of the organization. Jones is an athletic freak and has shown shutdown corner talent. The Cowboys moved him around some, but his best spot is at corner and matching up versus bigger physical receivers. This is a massive contract, but it’s likely what it will take to land him. With Dunbar traded, Norman cut and Moreau struggling the Redskins are desperate at Corner. Even if somehow Dunbar is retained this would be a smart use of resources.
-Much of the focus has been on Hunter Henry (who is now Franchised) or Austin Hooper in free agency, but Eric Ebron deserves a lot of consideration as well. Ebron has gotten a bad wrap in his career, as he’s been relatively productive, but is thought of as an afterthought or bust in a number of circles. He’s a big athletic TE, who has shown he can be a threat in the middle of the field. At only 27 years old and likely coming in a couple million a year cheaper than Hooper, he’s a strong investment for the Redskins.
-The Redskins are said to be looking for a veteran receiver, but this isn’t a great market for them to find one. Both Amari Cooper and A.J. Green are likely to be retained (either re-signed or Franchised), and even if they weren’t I’m not sure the Redskins would make a strong contender to sign them. Other receiver options also don’t make a ton of sense, given their likely price or limited positional role. I see Ron Rivera instead targeting someone who he’s a bit familiar with in Devin Funchess.
Funchess only played one game last season, but he had 107 receptions, 1,389 yards and 12 TDs combined in 2017 and 2018 for the Panthers. He showed that while not a true “number 1” receiver, he could be an effective weapon as a starter or significant contributor. At just 26 years old and possessing the size needed to be a red zone threat he could be a nice bounce-back option this year. If he falters it’s not the end of the world as the Redskins should still add a receiver in this class to go along with young options like Kelvin Harmon, Steven Sims and Trey Quinn. If he does bounce-back and go back to his level of play from 2017-2018, the Redskins will have a solid number 2 option behind Terry McLaurin.
-It’s possible that Flowers has a stronger market, but teams could be wary of him being only a one year wonder. I am guessing Flowers will look to sign a shorter contract now, so he can hit free agency again for a mega deal in a couple of years. While it would be a lot of money to put in their guard position, I think the Redskins have to do it. Flowers played really well last season and if Scherff can stay healthy that would give the Redskins one of the best guard pairings in the league.
-Landon Collins was a welcome addition to the Redskins secondary a year ago, but now they need to find a free safety to pair with him. Von Bell has been a steady safety for the Saints since they drafted him in 2016. He’s not flashy and might not be a Pro Bowl caliber player, but he will week-in-week out give you solid above-average starting play. At just 25 years old he still should have his best football in front of him. He’s played all over the field for the Saints, and can line up in a variety of roles for the Redskins as well. Primarily though he can be their free safety option.
– With the Redskins trading Trent Williams and them likely to take Chase Young with their first round pick, they have to be prepared at left tackle. While they could still look to target one in the 3rd round (or maybe a 2nd from the Williams or Dunbar trades), whomever the Redskins select might not be able to start day one. While they could look to break the bank on a free agent option, I think the more prudent thing would be to sign a guy like Beachum. Beachum has been a steady solid starting tackle since his 2nd year in the league (2013). He’s never ascended to the top tier or two of left tackles, but he’s also never been a real liability either. Is he going to make people forget about Trent Williams? Of course not, but he also won’t put Haskins at risk. Signing him allows the team to have a little leeway to draft and develop a franchise caliber LT either this year or next.
If you add up the projected cap hits it comes to under $60M giving the Redskins plenty of room under the cap. This was intentional as the team could look to use that extra money to add a veteran back-up QB or say re-sign Jon Bostic. The extra cap space also allows this plan to be in place if some of the prices are a bit higher. Remember the draft class will take up a fair amount of cap room, and you always need extra money during the season. Finally if you have carry over money, that’s not a bad thing.
As for the group of players I retained or added, I think this is a solid free agency group. The intention of this plan was to build an offensive system around Dwayne Haskins so he has a chance to develop this season, and I think I accomplished that. Scherff, Flowers and Beachum give the Redskins a fairly known quantity along the offensive line. This should provide Haskins with reasonable protection this season and keep the line as a relative strength. Ebron and Funchess give Haskins a pair of young weapons with upside, but the experience to help out a young QB. Ebron especially can be a solid weapon long term for this team.
Defensively I made only two splashes, but they were sizable. Jones is a true difference maker on defense and is similar to signing Landon Collins a year ago. While losing Dunbar would be tough, replacing him with Jones more than makes up for it. Bell is more of a steady addition, but one that is needed. The Redskins have for too long struggled at FS, and Bell gives them a guy who is young with a solid skill set. More help is needed on defense at linebacker and cornerback, but these two moves help quite a bit.