The Washington Redskins had a relatively quiet free agency period, but perhaps their least notorious signing could bring them the greatest impact.
There wasn’t a whole lot of buzz when the Washington Redskins signed former Bears defensive end Pernell McPhee to a one-year, $1.8 million contract on March 26.
By that time, the Redskins had already acquired wide receiver Paul Richardson and cornerback Orlando Scandrick.
Richardson, coming off a season in which he logged over 700 yards and six touchdowns on 44 receptions in Seattle, was widely regarded as the team’s premier signing, with his speed and his big play ability generating an $8 million annual allowance from the Redskins.
While Richardson attracted the positive excitement of the free agency period, Orlando Scandrick fell victim to the other side of the double-edged sword, being brushed aside as a waste.
The backlash to Scandrick’s signing was swift, and the praise for Richardson’s acquisition came almost as fast, but lost in the commotion was the value stolen in the signing of Pernell McPhee.
McPhee isn’t a world beater, but he provides depth to an area of the team that is in dire need of such a thing, and he’s also a very good run defender off of the edge, something the Redskins haven’t dependably had for a long time.
McPhee earned a lucrative contract from the Chicago Bears back in 2015, after finishing the 2014 season with 7.5 sacks, four pass deflections, and a forced fumble.
He never quite built on those results with the Bears, totaling 14.0 sacks in three years, but he earned a reputation as a solid run defender on the edge, and in a defense with a multitude of mouths to feed on the edge, combined with recurring injury issues, he never got a surplus of snaps to make an impact.
In Washington, McPhee isn’t being asked to be the team’s premier edge defender. He’s depth, and he’s very good depth.
With Ryan Kerrigan and Preston Smith already penciled in as the team’s starters, McPhee, a bulky trench warrior with experience, strength, and technical prowess, can come in and help them rest, while giving the Redskins some security.
Behind McPhee, the team’s only edge rushers are underwhelming second-rounder Ryan Anderson and Alex McCalister. Anderson has a similar physical profile to McPhee, so McPhee’s presence could help develop Anderson as a 3-4 edge rusher. But for now, until then, McPhee is the only one standing between safety and sorrow. He’s a quality player. And he might be one of the Redskins’ most important acquisitions.