Let the games begin! With the sport landscape largely dormant amidst the fear of Corona Virus, many fans are left lonely, bored, and without much to do.
After all, this weekend should have been the conclusion of NCAA Men’s Basketball tournaments, and one of my favorite days of the year, Selection Sunday (Yeah, that was yesterday).
But the NFL knows how to capitalize off of eager fans looking for any glimpse of competition, or in other words, semblance of professional sports.
Therefore, the “show must go on” in the eyes of Commissioner Roger Goodell, and the NFL’s new year begins today. March 16 kicks of the “legal tampering period” in which teams create handshake deals with NFL free agents. This window lasts until Wednesday, March 18th, in which the league officially begins at 4pm EST. That’s when big names drops and free agents are signed as soon as 4:01pm.
Today, we are going to deep dive into the free agent market and view players who may pique the interest of the ‘Skins. Hopefully they are on the phones as we speak, reaching out to the names below.
Before I specifically identify names, I want to share my perspective on where the Redskins stand heading into the open market. I think the team’s biggest needs go as follows:
- Playmaker on Offense
- Tackle or Back-Up QB
You might be thinking, “what a cop out with the play-maker” designation as priority one.
To be fair, I think tight end is by far the worst position on the team and needs to be addressed immediately. But in terms of Free Agency, the objective is to insulate Dwayne Haskins with talent and you can do that in a myriad of ways.
I also think that Redskins fans should be realistic in what will transpire this free agency. It’s important to approach free agency with the perspective of I would like this free agent “OR” that free agent, as opposed to “AND.” As you will see, although we appear to have an excess cap space on paper, it dries up rather quickly.
Free Agent Targets:
Let’s start off with the basics. At the time you are reading this, the Redskins have: 42,179,937 in available cap space according to overthecap.com. A large portion of this was swallowed up by Brandon Scherff’s franchise designation of roughly 15 million dollars. So what was once an excess of shopping money is now roughly cut by a third, due to retaining the team’s valuable guard.
Now it’s time to spend wisely. Here are some intriguing players on the free agent market:
(All numbers projected by spotrac.com’s market value estimates)
Let’s work our way backward. Considering the Redskins have 42M dollars to spend, and plenty of holes to fill, they must pick and choose how they allot their funds. Let’s also consider that 5M dollars should be set aside for rookie contracts, and mid-season signings. Now we’re at an even 37 million to shop.
Time to Budget
Considering the free-agent big board above, it was time to make a decision. Would I go “big” and net one free or two free agents to fill the gaps? Or should I take a more conservative approach to fill holes. Below you will find a mixed-budget shopping approach to free agency.
To begin, the Redskins must solidify their offensive line. Ereck Flowers was a solid contributor, and honestly a pleasant surprise. Many had written him off as a draft bust and one that would be out of the league. He did a good job filling in at left guard during his first year at the position. Let’s continue to invest in our players and re-sign him at 9M/year. (37M – 9M = 28M remaining)
2. Austin Hooper
As mentioned above, Dwayne Haskins needs players to ease his transition to the NFL. Although Austin Hooper is not as dynamic as George Kittle or Travis Kelce, he’s a zone buster who would be an easy target monster for a second-year QB. Haskins will enjoy the reliability of knowing where his TE will be at all times. Redskins ink Hooper at 11 M. (28M – 11M = 17M remaining)
3. Kenyan Drake
Speaking of playmakers, Kenyan Drake is dynamic player who could fill the role that Chris Thompson left. At age 26, he still has several years of being a reliable three-down back. Regardless of where he fits in with Adrian Peterson and Derrius Guice, Drake will provide a safety net in a do-it-all approach for our offense. He’s a worthy acquisition (17M-5M = 12M remaining)
4. Kendall Fuller
Many Redskins fans were devastated when Kendall Fuller was shipped away in the Alex Smith trade (Shoot, Fuller himself was surprised as seen in his tweets of disbelief). But the transition to Kansas City wasn’t as easy one for Fuller. He was mismanaged for years as they placed him outside on the boundary, inside on the slot, and eventually as a safety. Fuller returns home to the DMV and provides a versatile tool for Jack Del Rio. Ideally as the starting slot corner. (12M – 6M = 6M remaining)
5. Karl Joseph
Finally, the Redskins need to address the safety position. Landon Collins is entrenched as the starting strong safety, but his running mate, Montae Nicholson has proved unreliable. Whether it has been miscommunication, off the field issues, or injuries, Nicholson hasn’t been there for the team. Enter Karl Joseph. A first round pick out of West Virginia, this hard hitter has yet to find his niche in Oakland/Las Vegas. He has the physical tools to change the game, but just needs some guidance to point him in the right direction. At 6M/year he may be a worthy investment. He’s 26 year old with a lot of upside. At best he’s a dynamic addition. At worst he’s added depth. (6M – 6M = 0 remaining for spending)
**Bonus** Devin Funchess
If the Redskins renegotiate Ryan Kerrigan’s deal or somehow find a trade partner for Trent Williams, the team will have additional funds to allocate to wide receiver. Don’t be surprised if Ron Riviera dials up his old friend Devin Funchess who is an unrestricted free agent and only 25 years old. The big-bodied receiver may provide a veteran presence that Rivera is looking for in the receiving room. He would also be familiar with the playbook from his time in Carolina. (8m/year)
Although it would be fantastic to snag a big name player such as Amari Cooper or Byron Jones, it may not be prudent considering what they would cost. Cooper is projected to net 20M/year, while Jones is expected to garner about 17M/year.
Hence, the approach I took above is calculated spending to add talent, but continue to the youth movement push. None of the players I added surpass 27 years old, and they would offer depth to positions of need. Six players would be added prior to the draft, and the only remaining wholes would be back-up quarterback and tackle. Essentially the Redskins could approach the draft with a true BPA approach.
The Redskins would also have five million dollars to roll over into the 2020-21 season. Allowing them to sign their drafted players and any gaps to be filled mid-season.
What do you think? Feel free to comment below or tweet me at @Gcarmi21.