Dan Snyder finally admitted to the world that he needed help when he signed new general manager Scot McCloughan to run the Redskins' football operations. Unlike Bruce Allen and Vinny Cerrato before him, McCloughan is no puppet or cap wizard, he is a bona fide talent evaluator - and a good one at that. The question is: what, or more appropriately, who is the talent that McCloughan is going to bring to Washington?
We know that McCloughan likes to build through the draft, but when you consider that the number of holes on the Washington roster far exceeds the team's number of 2015 draft picks it becomes clear that he will have to bring in at least some outside talent. The Redskins are also expected to have about a dozen of their own players hit the free agent market this spring, and I don't see many names on the list that I expect them to bring back.
I'm not advocating for McCloughan to continue Redskin tradition of winning offseason championships (and winning off the field) by going on a free agent bonanza - I want the team to build through the draft as much as anyone - but I understand that this may not be completely achievable right off the bat.
This got me thinking about which free agents the new GM might target in the upcoming offseason. The most obvious answer is that he will look to bring in players that he either drafted or signed in San Francisco or Seattle; as most NFL types do, he will likely want to sign some of "his guys". So with that in mind I decided to look to see which of his former players might be available this offseason. Scot McCloughan prefers to acquire talent via the draft, so he will likely have the most affinity for players that he's drafted. Let's start there.
About 70 of the players that McCloughan has drafted are still active, and 23 of them will be free agents in March. You'll find all of these soon-to-be free agents along with their 2015 season ages in the table below. Some of the more notable names have been bolded. The list is sorted by the order in which the players were drafted.
Players from the 49ers' 2010 and the Seahawks' 2014 classes have also been included. McCloughan was not technically part of the organizations at the times of those drafts, but he likely had major input on the selections of the players in them, as he left the teams just weeks before the draft in both instances. This is about who he has associations with anyways, not who he gets credit for drafting.
|Drafted 2015 FA||Position||Current Team||Age on 9/1/15|
|Ray McDonald||DE||Free Agent||31|
|Kyle Williams||WR||Free Agent||27|
|Greg Scruggs (RFA)||DE||Seahawks||25|
|Ryan Seymour (EFRA)||OL||Browns||25|
The names that stand out the most to me here are: Michael Crabtree, Mike Iupati, Walter Thurmond and Byron Maxwell. The Redskins could look to sign Crabtree to something of a team-friendly deal after a down year in San Francisco. This would allow them to part ways with Pierre Garcon and his bloated contract. Mike Iupati would be an excellent addition to the offensive line; especially if Jay Gruden wanted to move towards more of a power blocking scheme like he's used in the past. Walter Thurmond and Byron Maxwell were both members of the 2014 Super Bowl winning Seahawks and part of the team's legion of boom secondary. Both players would be huge upgrades to a Redskins' secondary that is probably the worst in the league.
Other Free Agents
Scot McCloughan didn't just draft players in San Francisco and Seattle though; he acquired them by a number of different means. Here's a list of 2015 free agents that played on McCloughan led teams, but that he did not draft. The way in which they were acquired by McCloughan is also included. The table is sorted by 2015 age, as many of of these players will be on the wrong side of the 30 at the start of next season.
|Other 2015 FA||Position||Current Team||How McCloughan Acquired||Age on 9/1/15|
|Jermaine Kearse (RFA)||WR||Seahawks||UDFA||25|
|O’Brien Schofield||OLB||Seahawks||Free Agent||28|
|Justin Forsett||RB||Ravens||Free Agent||29|
|Ricardo Lockette (EFRA)||WR||Seahawks||UDFA||29|
|Tyler Poumbus||T||Redskins||Traded For||30|
|Alan Branch||DT||Patriots||Free Agent||30|
|Tavaris Jackson||QB||Seahawks||Free Agent||32|
|Leon Washington||RB||Titans||Traded For||33|
|Chris Spencer||C||Titans||Already on Team||33|
|Brandon Llyod||WR||49ers||Already on Team||34|
|Mike Adams||S||Colts||Already on Team||34|
|Shaun Hill||QB||Rams||Free Agent||35|
Not quite as much to see here. Jermaine Kearse would add some much-need size to the Redskins' miniature receiving corps, but as a restricted free agent he could be hard to pry away from a Seahawks team that is also thin at the receiver position. Justin Forsett is a 29-year old running back that will likely be re-signed by Baltimore, and it's my belief that much of his success this year was rooted in a dominant Raven's offensive line. The fact that McCloughan traded for Tyler Polumbus in Seattle makes you wonder if he'll want to re-sign Polumbus to cheap stop-gap type of deal. Well, at least until he looks at Polumbus' 2014 tape and stats.
So that covers just about all of the McCloughan free agents that we know of, but that's the thing, we don't know the full list yet because there will be players on every team that are cut prior to the start of the new league year. Most of these guys will be let go because of large 2015 cap numbers that don't match up to their production on the field. Scot McCloughan's former players are no different; a number of them are in danger of becoming cap causalities in the coming months.
I could've listed the names of every player with a big contract that has ever been on a Scot McCloughan team, but that wouldn't make much sense because many of them likely will not be cut this offseason; instead I only included players under contract that will be 28 or older and that would save their respective teams three million or more dollars in cap savings if they were released (I did cheat by $10K on David Hawthorne though). The table is sorted by cap savings.
|Release Candidates||Position||Current Team||How McCloughan Acquired||Age on 9/1/15||2015 Cap Number||2015 Cap Savings|
|Marshawn Lynch||RB||Seahawks||Traded For||29||$8,500,000||$7,000,000|
|Brandon Mebane||DT||Seahawks||Already on Team||30||$5,700,000||$5,500,000|
|Brandon Browner||CB||Patriots||Free Agent||31||$5,500,000||$5,500,000|
|Chris Clemons||DE/OLB||Jaguars||Traded For||33||$4,500,000||$4,500,000|
|Justin Smith||DE||49ers||Free Agent||35||$6,436,668||$4,250,000|
|Red Bryant||DE||Jaguars||Already on Team||31||$4,250,000||$4,250,000|
|Ahmad Brooks||OLB||49ers||Free Agent||31||$9,648,750||$4,102,500|
|Clinton McDonald||DT||Buccaneers||Traded For||28||$3,250,000||$3,250,000|
|Jason Jones||DE||Lions||Free Agent||29||$3,983,334||$3,150,000|
|Zach Miller||TE||Seahawks||Free Agent||29||$4,000,000||$3,000,000|
|Tony McDaniel||DL||Seahawks||Free Agent||30||$3,625,000||$3,000,000|
|David Hawthorne||ILB||Saints||Already on Team||30||$6,010,000||$2,990,000|
As you can see, there are a lot of big names there. Unfortunately, the vast majority of them will either be 29 or over 30. I wouldn't mind seeing the Redskins sign any of the three 28-year old players listed (Ricky Jean-Francois, Alex Boone, and Clinton McDonald), but they are probably the least likely of this bunch to be cut. Perhaps, McCloughan could lure DMV natives Vernon Davis and Ahmad Brooks to come home on the cheap. Bringing in Brandon Browner or Dashon Goldson to bolster the secondary might also make sense if they could be signed to cap-friendly deals. I'd take those secondary stop gaps over the ones we have right now any day.
In my opinion, if McCloughan is going to bring in any of his former players it should the ones that helped to form Seattle's legion of boom. Adding either Byron Maxwell, Walter Thurmond or Brandon Browner would inject a great deal of talent into a secondary that is largely bereft of it outside of Bashaud Breeland. 49ers Mike Iupati and Michael Crabtree would also be nice options, but might they might carry bigger price tags than any of the aforementioned cornerbacks.
Top FA Options
||Position||Current Team||2015 Age||
FA or Release Candidate
|Byron Maxwell||CB||Seahawks||27||Free Agent|
|Walter Thurmond||CB||Giants||28||Free Agent|
|Tarell Brown||CB||Raiders||30||Free Agent|
|Taylor Mays||S||Bengals||27||Free Agent|
|Michael Crabtree||WR||49ers||27||Free Agent|
|James Carpenter||G||Seahawks||26||Free Agent|
|Ahmad Brooks||OLB||49ers||31||Release Candidate
|Vernon Davis||TE||49ers||31||Release Candidate
|Ricky Jean-Francois||DT||Colts||28||Release Candidate
|Dashon Goldson||S||Buccaneers||30||Release Candidate
|Zach Miller||TE||Seahawks||29||Release Candidate
Looking ahead to determine which players the new Redskins GM might sign was an interesting exercise. If Scot McCloughan is going to sign many free agents this offseason, then there is a better-than-average chance that some of these same players will be suiting up for the burgundy and gold next season. However, like I said before, McCloughan only likes to supplement his team's roster through free agency, not to build them with it. That means he might not sign any of these players, and that this research may have been all for naught. But you know what? I'd be just fine with that.
**All free agent and salary cap data is derived from OverTheCap.com**