Things have reached a crawl on the Redskins’ free agency front. The next major move likely will not come until the draft.
For now, while continuing to monitor any free agent signings that could trickle in, and potential draft prospect evaluations, we examine the moves that have taken place thus far.
We also look ahead at what could still happen between now and the draft.
Thanks, as always, for taking part, and keep those questions coming.
Email them to me at firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line of “Mailbag question,” and we’ll do it all over again next Tuesday.
Please help us to understand how the free agent signings of Terrell McClain and Stacy McGee compensate for the loss of Chris Baker and improve the overall defensive front? McGee has been a rotational player in Oakland and McLain does not appear to be a huge upgrade as an insider pass rusher. Second, D.J. Swearinger has some good skills as a safety but not regarded as strong in coverage. How does Swearinger compliment Su’a Cravens? Does the Redskins brain trust really think they can go another year with a combination of DeAngelo Hall and Will Blackmon at free safety? I was surprised they didn’t go after a true free safety in free agency.
— Rob Shapiro, N. Potomac, Md.
Chris Baker was popular with the fans because of his personality, but Redskins coaches, officials and even some teammates were just lukewarm on him. The team’s talent evaluators and coaches weren’t always happy with Baker’s work ethic, and they felt like he needed to make more of a consistent impact. The Redskins hope that McClain represents an upgrade over Baker, although McClain hadn’t been a full-time starter until last year. McGee is viewed as a strong run-stopper, but his skills as a pass-rusher are debatable. The Redskins believe he can play end and give them an upgrade over Ricky Jean Francois as a pass-rusher. But many people around the NFL think McGee would be better as a nose tackle, taking on double-teams and creating opportunities for teammates. We’ll see how this plays out. Washington hasn’t had good luck at all with free agent defensive signings of late because they’re always trying to find bargain deals.
The safety situation is very interesting. You’re right, the scouting report on Swearinger is that he’s better suited as a strong safety. He can play some free, but he’s better in the box. You never know, though, the Redskins could experiment with him at free safety. They could try Swearinger at free with Cravens at strong, and then shift Cravens out and Swearinger to strong and DeAngelo Hall or Will Blackmon to free on passing downs. The Redskins have high hopes for Cravens, but I think the jury is still very much out on him. His sophomore season at USC, he played a hybrid role of strong safety/outside linebacker and earned all-conference honors. But some within the organization still feel they need to see more of him in coverage on the NFL level before they’re completely comfortable with him as a full-time safety. So, we could see some creative parings initially.
Let’s say Kirk does get traded. At what point would you think it would be the most likely to occur?
- Before draft
- During Draft
- After Draft
— Rob Fox, Lincolnton, N.C.
If the Redskins do decide to trade Kirk Cousins — and at this point, there’s no indication that they plan to — such a move would probably come just before the draft. That’s when a team that’s in need of a quarterback and unsure that they could find a prospect they absolutely love in the draft would be ready to pull the trigger and give up multiple draft picks. Such a deal wouldn’t likely take place during the draft, and after the draft doesn’t make much sense because by that point, Washington has less leverage and teams could just wait to go after Cousins in free agency in 2018.
We spent the last couple of offseasons drooling over the prospect of Junior Galette rushing opposing QBs, only to feel absolutely miserable after his back to back Achilles’ tendon injuries. What is his health and contract status now? Is it a deliberate move by the team to keep his latest comeback effort somewhat under the radar?
— Csaba Szabo, London
The Redskins and Galette are going to give it another shot this year. He will play on a one-year, reworked deal that features a $775,000 base salary and $25,000 roster bonus. At this point, I don’t know that the expectations are very high. It’s hard enough to come back from one Achilles’ tendon tear, let alone two. Galette hasn’t played a down of football since 2014. It remains to be seen if he has the same amount of explosiveness that made him a dominant pass-rusher for the Saints. Galette continues to train in hopes of taking the field with his teammates by the start of training camp, if not sooner.
As a huge Redskins fan since I was 7 years old in 1993, all I know is failure. I can’t help but imagine Josh Doctson blowing out an Achilles’ tendon in camp, Jordan Reed or Jamison Crowder getting overused/injured by week four, Terrelle Pryor getting shut down every game by the opposing top corner, and Kirk Cousins looking REALLY bad very early this season. Hopefully I’m wrong, but if the offense is as horrendous as I fear, what could we get in return for Cousins in a midseason trade? And are there any stud QBs coming out of the draft in 2018 that we end up throwing the season for? (Sorry for being so depressing)
— Mike Garza, San Antonio, Texas
You do indeed imagine worst case scenarios! I don’t think things would get that bad. I know it’s the Redskins, but that’s a bit extreme. If Cousins isn’t playing well midseason, however, I don’t think you can expect much of a trade market. Who wants to take on a $24 million salary for a guy that’s playing terribly? They’d rather wait for the offseason when they could get him for less. USC’s Sam Darnold, Wyoming’s Josh Allen, and UCLA’s Josh Rosen are expected to highlight the 2018 quarterback draft class. But I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Redskins draft a quarterback this year and play him behind Cousins and McCoy this year.
1.) Did the Redskins keep Kirk Olivadotti (not sure about spelling) on the staff?
2.) In your opinion, what is it going to take to get the Redskins all the way back being consistent and competing for Super Bowls?
— Kevin Roberts
Yes, Kirk Olivadotti remains on staff as the inside linebackers coach. He’s well-respected both by ownership, management, Jay Gruden and the players.
Man, it’s going to take a lot for the Redskins to get back to reaching the playoffs consistently, let alone contending for Super Bowls. This defense is not a championship-level unit. They need more aggressive and disruptive defensive linemen, more impactful pass-rushers, game-changing defensive backs. The Redskins probably need greater consistency in the rushing department as well. I think Rob Kelley will continue to grow, and Washington’s line is solid, although the left guard position could possibly use some work. The Redskins also need a long-term solution at quarterback. They have a talented quarterback, but don’t want to pay him what he’s worth, and he’s not budging either, so they probably need to find another guy. Good luck with that. It took all this time to find Kirk Cousins, and they still don’t fully appreciate him. So, unfortunately, this team isn’t anywhere close to Super Bowl ready.
As it stands today assuming the Skins are paying Kirk his franchise tag price … What is the current cap situation? How much is left to spend? Do you think they will renegotiate Hall if he comes back?
— Bryce Beckmann
Right now, all that matters is the top 51 salaries, and so for now, the Redskins have roughly $16.5 million in cap space, and that’s with Cousins’s $24 million already accounted for. The Redskins have yet to make a move on D-Hall’s contract. He’s owed $5.062 million for this season. But it wouldn’t be surprising to see them try to lower his base salary and convert the difference to money that can be earned back through incentives.
The Redskins haven’t won a playoff game in 12 years and just put together their first back-to-back winning seasons (barely) in two decades. The team is a constant source of embarrassment and dysfunction and inexplicable defeat. It’s not as if all of us are going to suddenly stop being fans, but how can we let Dan Snyder know that enough is enough beyond whining on Twitter? What legitimate outlet do Skins fans have to notify this incompetent owner that we can’t take it anymore? I honestly want to know how we can responsibly fight back.
— Brandon Katz
You could try writing letters, you can organize marches and all that. But the only way the fan base is going to get Snyder’s attention is to stop buying tickets and merchandise. Remember that late-2013 game when the Redskins hosted the Chiefs and there were so few fans attending that there wasn’t even the slightest bit of a delay on the roads to the stadium all the way up until kickoff? That’s when Snyder realized he needed to move on from Mike Shanahan. Empty seats in the stadium always get owners’ attention, because really, it’s all about making money.