The Washington Redskins have signed former Chicago Bears linebacker Pernell McPhee, the team announced Monday. Terms of the contract were not disclosed.
McPhee spent the past three seasons in Chicago, tallying 14 sacks (six in 2015 and four the past two years), and posted his highest single-season sack total (7.5) while with the Baltimore Ravens in 2014.
All eyes were on McPhee as the Redskins patiently waited to add more bodies to the linebacker room. The organization brought the former Chicago Bear in last week and made an offer, but he did not sign and the 6-foot-2, 274-pounder then went to visit the Atlanta Falcons.
Washington needed linebacker depth after losing Trent Murphy and moving on from Junior Galette. Murphy signed a three-year, $21 million deal with the Buffalo Bills to end his three-year stint with Washington after being selected in the second round of the 2014 draft. The team has told Galette it is going in another direction, according to Doug Williams, senior vice president of player personnel.
Injuries were an issue for McPhee during his three years in Chicago and likely contributed to his release from the team despite having two years remaining on a five-year deal that was worth nearly $40 million.
The seven-year veteran had arthroscopic surgery on his right knee before the 2017 season and was placed on injured reserve with a shoulder injury for the final two games of the year. He had two arthroscopic surgeries on the same right knee with the Ravens in 2012.
McPhee also had microfracture surgery on the left knee after the 2015 season that placed him on the physically unable to perform list to start 2016.
Washington still has starters Ryan Kerrigan and Preston Smith on the outside, but things were getting thin after those two. Its 2017 second-round pick Ryan Anderson had 15 tackles as a rookie out of Alabama and should get more playing time.
The Redskins’ approach had allowed a large portion of the free agent class to sign elsewhere. NFL.com created a list of the top 101 free agents before the new league year began, and there were just four linebackers on the list that remained unsigned: McPhee, NaVorro Bowman, Jerrell Freeman and Derrick Johnson.
Williams said at the NFL combine that the team wouldn’t spend big irresponsibly. The goal was to fill holes via free agency and draft the best player available in April.
Coach Jay Gruden said Tuesday the team isn’t being cheap, it’s being selective.
“We’re doing what we think is right to better our football team,” he said. “And sometimes quantity isn’t always the answer.”
The team seems poised to take a running back in the second- or third-round area from a deep class at the position. It could go with a defensive lineman, such as Washington’s Vita Vea, or Florida State safety Derwin James in the first round.
The team is still waiting for a decision from defensive tackle Johnathan Hankins, and that would play factor in the team’s interest in a first-round defensive lineman.
The Redskins haven’t splurged this offseason. Quarterback Alex Smith got a four-year, $94 million extension after being traded from the Chiefs. Wide receiver Paul Richardson received a five-year deal worth $40 million with $20 million guaranteed after leaving the Seahawks. Former Cowboys cornerback Orlando Scandrick signed a two-year deal worth up to $10 million.
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