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The 5 O’Clock Club: Reflections on NFL Free Agent Frenzy - Day 2

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It’s 5 o’clock somewhere…

NFL: Seattle Seahawks at Jacksonville Jaguars Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

The 5 o’clock club aims to provide a forum for reader-driven discussion at a time of day when there isn’t much NFL news being published. Feel free to introduce topics that interest you in the comments below.

So, Day 2 of free agent frenzy has gone in the books, and it did, indeed, feel frenetic — especially early on, and especially in the quarterback & wide receiver market.

Running backs

It didn’t seem as if there was going to be any news about any veteran free agent running backs signing or re-signing with teams yesterday. Jonathan Stewart, a pretty good back formerly of the Carolina Panthers committed to the Giants, then, late in the evening there was a report that Dion Lewis had agreed to terms with the Titans. It truly does feel as though the free agent running back market is thin this season — especially when compared with the talent that will be available in the draft.

Quarterbacks

It seemed as if, once Denver opted out of the Kirk Cousins sweepstakes, the other contenders started to panic and raced to get a veteran quarterback signed before the well ran dry. That said, I heard one commenter on NFL Network say that it felt like only the Vikings didn’t still need to get a young quarterback in the draft.

It felt like the Cardinals fans were the most disappointed of the QB Sweepstakes teams, ending up with Sam Bradford. Seems like his deal is just one year, with a second-year option built in (whether that structure is literal or simply practical). The teams that signed Bradford, Keenum, Bridgewater and the rest all feel like they’re trying to simply bridge to a young guy who is yet-to-be-determined. I wonder if this is how Teddy Bridgewater saw his career playing out prior to his injury? Meanwhile, after winning a grievance that got him into free agency, A.J. McCarron found himself without a date to the prom by late evening on Tuesday.

The Vikings seemed to be negotiating against themselves by the end of the day on Tuesday. They’ve given Cousins, apparently, everything he demanded, and I wonder if they really needed to. Still, they have their quarterback of the future 3-year starter in place.

Wide receiver

The Kansas City GM (Brett Veach), after getting off to a good start on free agency in January & February, lost his mind on Tuesday when he gave Sammy Watkins a $16m per year contract that seemed to set off a ‘run’ on wide receivers, with Allen getting paid within an hour or so after the Watkins deal was announced. Redskin fans nervously twiddled their thumbs, waiting to see if Washington was going to overpay for a receiver, or simply get left out of the veteran free agent wide receiver market.

Apparently, Paul Richardson’s agent wasn’t keeping an eye on his Twitter feed, as the soon-to-be-former Seattle receiver signed with the Redskins for half the annual pay that Watkins got. A big sigh of relief from Redskins fans (and probably Jay Gruden) as the team got the outside speed that it said it needed.

The most surprising news of the day (to me) was the Packers’ decision to cut Jordy Nelson. I confess that I didn’t see that one coming.

The Redskin balance sheet

On Tuesday, the inevitable loss of Cousins became just a little clearer as it became obvious that the Vikings were the only team really still in the race.

The signing of Richardson ticked one “need” box.

The next real bit of Redskin free agent news was Bashaud Breeland’s decision to sign with the Panthers on a 3-year, $24m deal which pays him about as expected, at $8m per year. The Redskins could have afforded to keep him at that price, but there are signs that Breeland wanted to leave (he went home to South Carolina) and that the Redskins, perhaps, weren’t unhappy to see him go. There’s a bit of ambivalence among Redskin fans, but what is clear is that the team is counting on Fabian Moreau to step up and perform in 2018.

Reports came out after dinner time that Ryan Grant had agreed to terms with the Ravens. I think most people had taken for granted that Ryan Gruden would re-sign with the ‘Skins, so it was a bit surprising, but after he hadn’t re-signed prior to Monday, and especially after the Richardson deal, it wasn’t a shock to see Grant jump ship. Losing the #4 receiver on the roster won’t be a devastating blow to the team, as there are some young players waiting in the wings, as well as the chance to draft a receiver in April.

Unless something happened late on Tuesday evening or overnight, the balance sheet right now feels fairly favorable for Washington. In particular, the team is poised (at the moment) to get a couple of compensatory picks in the 2019 draft, which would be nice. Of course, there’s that whole “lost the franchise quarterback thing”....

Possible Redskin free agent acquisitions

First, not losing a bunch of Redskin free agents that the team might want to retain is probably a good thing. Some of them may eventually find that the market for their services isn’t what they had hoped for. Perhaps guys like Zach Brown, Trent Murphy, and Junior Galette will decide that their best option is to stay in DC.

One player that I had personally been hoping to see in burgundy & gold this season was Aaron Colvin. He signed with the Texans.

As far at other team’s players who visited the Redskins, the two names that seemed to be featured on Twitter on Tuesday were two players from New York: Mo Wilkerson formerly of the Jets, and Domonique Rogers-Cromartie from the Giants. Both are said to have had extended visits to Ashburn, and both seemed to be pondering the possibility of signing a deal with the Redskins.

Mo Wilkerson, according to an evening Tweet or two, has decided to sign with the Packers, meaning that the Redskins still have a big need for DL run stuffing linemen. Perhaps the Redskins will be waiting to see if Miami cuts Suh sometime this afternoon. There’s also Dontari Poe to consider, but there are likely to be options available in the draft if the ‘Skins don’t reinforce the defensive line in free agency. My favorite free agent option available at this point would be DaQuan Jones from the Titans. Here’s what I wrote about Jones this past week:

Da’quan Jones is still young at age 26 and should provide an immediate upgrade to Terrell McClain, and help create the defensive line that the Redskins need to build. Jones would represent a significant financial commitment to the DL, but he would fill a position of need, and with a 4-year contract, would fit nicely into the succession plan for Washington’s DL position.

NFL.com has him at #34 on the list of top-100 free agents:

A favorite sleeper on this list, Jones has position versatility and the ability to take on multiple blockers. He’s remained under the radar because he does so much dirty work.

Both Wilkerson and DRC are older veterans who have some red flags attached, but both are known as being talented at their positions. I doubt there will be overwhelming disappointment among Redskins fans that we missed out on Wilkerson, or if the team fails to sign DR-C. The one other thing they have in common is that they were both cut from their 2017 teams, meaning that if either were to be signed, they wouldn’t count against the Redskins in the Compensatory picks pool, which seems relevant for the first time in many years. In other words, signing these players instead of players who qualify as CFAs (Compensatory Free Agents) could have the added advantage of protecting two 2019 draft picks that could be awarded if guys like Brown, Galette, Long & Murphy get decent contracts with teams other than the Redskins.

For the moment, OverTheCap has the Redskins with 3rd & 5th round compensatory picks, but that will change with every CFA signed to or lost from the ‘Skins:

Poll

Grade the Redskins’ first two days of Free Agent Frenzy

This poll is closed

  • 10%
    A
    (55 votes)
  • 44%
    B
    (225 votes)
  • 28%
    C
    (146 votes)
  • 9%
    D
    (48 votes)
  • 5%
    F
    (30 votes)
504 votes total Vote Now

Poll

Which 2017 Redskin player do you think is most likely to re-sign with the team?

This poll is closed

  • 35%
    Zach Brown
    (172 votes)
  • 39%
    Trent Murphy
    (193 votes)
  • 22%
    Junior Galette
    (110 votes)
  • 2%
    Spencer Long
    (14 votes)
489 votes total Vote Now

Poll

How much do you care about the possibility of the Redskins coming out of free agency with Compensatory Picks?

This poll is closed

  • 32%
    I think it’s important and should be part of free agent evaluation
    (152 votes)
  • 59%
    Nice to have, but shouldn’t influence free agent decisions
    (274 votes)
  • 7%
    don’t give a f#(% about compensatory picks
    (37 votes)
463 votes total Vote Now