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With the start of the regular season just under 3 weeks away this season will prove to be make or break for several key Redskin players. What they do this season will likely determine if they are resigned or if the front office lets them hit free agency in 2017. I’ll go through the players whose contracts are up at the end of this year and give you my thoughts on who should be extended - or not. I’ll go over Exclusive Rights Free Agents separately.
First a quick brush up on the types of free agents.
UFA (Unrestricted Free Agent) - Is free to sign where they want.
RFA (Restricted Free Agent ) - Can come to terms on an extension but is also subject to a tender or qualifying offer. If another team matches the Redskins offer they will get a draft pick as compensation.
ERFA (Exclusive Rights Free Agent) - Can sign a one year contract if offered. Can’t negotiate with other teams.
Crucial Players Up For Extension
Kirk Cousins (UFA)
There isn’t another Redskin with more to prove this year than Kirk Cousins. If he plays even decently the team will likely give him a long term extension. The team and fans will be hoping he picks up where he left off last season and performs like a top quarterback in the NFL. With the demand for even serviceable quarterbacks going through the roof the Redskins will be counting on Kirk Cousins otherwise they’ll be in an unenviable position of looking for a replacement in 2017 and with the draft looking quite bare at the position everyone should be rooting for Cousins to knock it out of the park this year.
Chris Baker (UFA)
Baker, somewhat quietly, is one of the Redskin’s best success stories in recent years. Baker literally worked his way up from the practice squad and improved so much over the last few years that he is without a doubt the Redskins best defensive lineman. Outside of Baker there are some key role players like Ricky Jean-Francois, Stephen Paea, and probably Trent Murphy, so the line needs a bit more juice (talent) but Chris Baker is a cornerstone that the Redskins can’t easily replace.
Nick Sundberg (UFA)
Some might be surprised that I have a long snapper under “Crucial Players” but there is an invaluable comfort knowing there won’t be any special teams snafus because of errant snaps on punts or extra points. Few players have gone about and executed their jobs as consistently and as well as Nick Sundberg and at only 29 years old the Redskins could use his services for a few more years.
Key Players Up For Extension
Pierre Garcon (UFA)
Garcon has yet to get back to his 2013 self but even in his down years he has been a good player. He was the reason we won our first match up against the Eagles with his impressive catch in traffic and with contact. Hampered by up and down QB play over the past few years I’m sure Garcon will be looking to get back to his career year statistics as much as he can. Do I have a preference over Garcon or Jackson? Not really, but I am a fan of keeping one or the other and not both depending on how their respective seasons pan out.
Desean Jackson (UFA)
Jackson is one of the best play makers the Redskins have on offense. It can’t be overstated how valuable it is to have a player that is nearly uncoverable down the field. He is money when tasked with a play action go route. With both receivers in contract years and nearing 30 years old each it should be an interesting decision in the offseason.
Junior Galette (UFA)
Galette has never played a regular season down for the Redskins yet his talent rushing off the edge has been well demonstrated. It would be hard to not resign a talented player like him if presented to do so at a discount. But is he necessary? Preston Smith demonstrated last year he could rush effectively from the OLB position, and he looks to prove it again this year. Could Galette’s time with the Redskins be over before he ever takes a real snap?
Duke Ihenacho (UFA)
Nacho is competing for a starting role at strong safety. He is another player that the Redskins have only seen a little of due to injury. There is a sense though that there is still something there. If Nacho can win the starting job his chances of sticking around improve a lot. If he gets backup duty I wouldn't be surprised if the Redskins look elsewhere next year.
Will Compton (RFA)
Compton no doubt has the passion and smarts to be a starting inside linebacker in the league but this former practice squad still has a doubter in me that he can perform at a high/impact level all season. Compton has a chance to turn some heads this season if he plays at a high level and namely assists in or creates turnovers himself. If he succeeds he could be the Redskins starting ILB for the next 3-4 years.
Chris Thompson (RFA)
Thompson is second in line on the depth chart at the running back position. Though he will probably come in on 3rd down passing situations it would be really nice to see him show some shiftiness, speed, break a few, and score some touchdowns in both the running game and passing game. Matt Jones is the lead dog but Thompson will have crucial reps this season.
Perry Riley (UFA)
Perry Riley could very well be on the outside looking in come the start of the regular season. The veteran linebacker never materialized into what the coaches or fans wanted after the retirement of London Fletcher. With him commanding a salary that worth way more than he’s produced and with younger guys in the mix particular Mason Foster, Martrell Spaight, and even Su’a Cravens he may be a roster casualty before the season begins.
Kendall Reyes (UFA)
Reyes was signed on a prove it deal, I don’t know much about him other than he never materialized into what the Chargers were looking for out of their former second round pick. Reyes has all year to prove it but the Redskins made it to the playoffs without him last year and likely can still do so if he doesn't live up to expectations. If Reyes can turn into that pass rushing threat the coaches think he can be he would be resigned with open arms.
Ziggy Hood (UFA)
Hood looked good in the preseason debut. The veteran was brought in for depth but if he can continue his performance into the regular season he could be a much-needed part of the defensive line rotation. Hood is going on 30 but if he performs well a year or two extension could be coming.
Greg Toler (UFA)
Toler is a welcome FA signing that provides depth and experience at the cornerback position. The Redskins are set at their first 3 CB positions with Josh Norman, Bashaud Breeland, and Kendall Fuller. He’s the type of player you want on your team so that in event of injury or suspension you aren’t giving up much in the way of effectiveness on the field. Toler is already 30 but I can see the Redskins resigning him to another one year deal if things go right this year.
Terence Garvin (UFA)
Garvin likely won't see any defensive snaps if all goes well for the Redskins but he has a chance to make this team and his mark on special teams. The team will look to him to be a core special teams contributor.
Jerrell Powe (UFA)
Powe is about 3rd string on the depth chart at NT behind Kedric Golston and Matt Ioannidis . He’s ok depth but he’s a player you don’t want as a regular contributor on your defensive rotation. If the Redskins can upgrade through FA or the draft I expect them to.
Players That We Won't Miss
Logan Paulsen (UFA)
I just want it to be over. On any other team with a decent set of TE’s Paulsen would be where he belongs. 4th string aka probably cut.
Vernon Davis (UFA)
Davis can help the Redskins this year as a blocker and receiver but he is no where near his 2009 self. I tend to think this year will be his last hurrah.
Silas Redd (RFA)
Suspended and never coming back.
Ty Nsekhe (RFA)
Nsekhe is a monster of a man he just rarely plays like it. At 30 years old the Redskins can probably find a late round option or an option via FA to back up Trent Williams.
Kedric Golston (UFA)
I can’t believe we see his name with the 1st stringers. I think we are in deep crap his Ioannidis can’t come along regardless I think it's time for Golston to hang ‘em up after this year.
Josh LeRibeus (UFA)
I should have created a new header titled “God No” but I didn’t want to be mean. It’s time to move on from this massive disappointment.
Exclusive Rights Free Agents
If these players even make the final 53 (which most of them won’t) I think Ross, Phillips, and Booth are the only one’s worth considering an “extension”. Most are just camp bodies.