The Washington Redskins rolled out the red carpet for the introduction of Landon Collins with owner Daniel Snyder, President Bruce Allen, Coach Jay Gruden and an auditorium full of others there to welcome the $84 million man, who teared up describing Snyder’s gift of a signed, game-worn Sean Taylor jersey. The pomp and circumstance of Thursday’s ceremony, however, only briefly overshadowed the fact that the organization still has plenty of work to do.
“We’ve still got time,” senior vice president of player personnel Doug Williams said. “Free agency is not over until it’s over. They’ve got post-June cuts, they’ve got a whole lot of things out there. And then you’ve got the draft. You’ve just got to wait and see what falls your way or guys you like and you want to make a push at them. That’s what you do.”
Safety was one of the biggest needs and Collins helps fill that, but another will likely be added through free agency or the draft. Williams would like another starting-quality player to compete with Montae Nicholson, Deshazor Everett and Troy Apke for the other spot. The team signed veteran cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie on Friday and he may have the versatility to play some safety, but another addition remains likely, particularly after Ha Ha Clinton-Dix signed with the Chicago Bears on Thursday.
The team isn’t done at quarterback either, despite the trade for Case Keenum. Both Williams and Gruden said taking a quarterback early in next month’s draft remains a possibility. Keenum and Colt McCoy are the only two quarterbacks currently under contract and neither are thought to be the long-term answer at the position regardless of whether Alex Smith eventually returns from a broken leg. Heisman Trophy winner Kyler Murray and Ohio State’s Dwayne Haskins are the top two quarterback prospects that seem to be no-brainers if available at No. 15 overall, but they’re unlikely to still be on the board. That would leave a decision to be made about the next tier: Missouri’s Drew Lock, Duke’s Daniel Jones, North Carolina State’s Ryan Finley, West Virginia’s Will Grier, Northwestern’s Clayton Thorson and others, depending on where they line up on the draft board. Williams left open the possibility of trading up or down.
“There’s some good, young, talented guys that if you have a chance to get one, they’re hard to find,” Gruden said. “If you really feel good about one, you’ll have to take him. Because that is the position. You can talk about all this other stuff, but that’s the position that’ll take you to the promise land.”
Those two needs have received upgrades, but there are still holes at guard, receiver, edge rusher and linebacker that could be filled in a variety of ways, including a trade.
Washington found itself in a similar situation last year with left guard Shawn Lauvao headed toward free agency. The team wasn’t active in the market and ended up re-signing Lauvao, which didn’t work out. Injuries continued to be an issue and he only played five games. A rash of injuries saw the Redskins go through three sets of guards and they weren’t properly prepared to lose both Lauvao, which was predictable, and Pro Bowler Brandon Scherff. This guard market wasn’t particularly strong this offseason, but there is optimism about the draft class that includes North Carolina State’s Garrett Bradbury, Boston College’s Chris Lindstrom, Mississippi State’s Elgton Jenkins, Texas A&M’s Erik McCoy and Ohio State’s Michael Jordan.
The Redskins already needed another receiver and that was before Jamison Crowder signed a three-year, $28.5 million deal with the New York Jets. That leaves a hole in the slot that could be filled by 2018 seventh-round pick Trey Quinn, but that’s asking a lot for someone with just three games of experience, even though the franchise is optimistic about his future. Former first-round pick Josh Doctson has been underwhelming and last offseason’s free agent prize of Paul Richardson played through injuries before landing on injured reserve in need of shoulder surgery. Free agents such as Randall Cobb, Chris Hogan and Kelvin Benjamin remain available and the draft is an option. The Redskins have been connected to Oklahoma speedster Marquise Brown in mock drafts while Ole Miss’ D.K. Metcalf, Ohio State’s Parris Campbell and Arizona State’s N’Keal Harry are all early-round receiver options.
Ryan Anderson is next in line to start on the edge opposite Ryan Kerrigan after Preston Smith signed a four-year, $52 million deal with the Green Bay Packers. The 6-foot-2, 253-pounder with two career sacks was selected in the second round of the 2017 draft in anticipation of this moment. Veterans such as the oft-injured Ziggy Ansah and Clay Matthews are still on the market, but the team would rather go younger and healthier. This is a strong draft for edge rushers and Washington could take one at No. 15 or later. Mississippi State’s Montez Sweat was believed to be a mid-to-late first rounder, but a spectacular showing at the combine may have pushed him into the top 10.
The Redskins believe they have their inside linebacker tandem of the future on the roster right now — Shaun Dion Hamilton and Reuben Foster — but depth is needed. Hamilton was a rookie in 2018 and supplanted Zach Brown in the starting lineup down the stretch, and Brown was released this week. Foster is still being investigated by the league for a possible violation of the personal conduct policy after being arrested for a domestic assault charge that has been dropped. Some kind of suspension is likely, so a Hamilton-Mason Foster pairing could start off the season, but the organization is enamored with Reuben Foster and he is thought to be the future of the position. With Brown gone and Foster unavailable at the moment, the Redskins should add bodies.
The legal negotiation period between teams and free agents began last Monday and signings have slowed, but the Redskins are far from done tinkering with the roster.