- Like every self-respecting Washington Redskins fan, I am somewhat easily whipped into a lather over headline-grabbing free agent signings by the burgundy and gold. Landon Collins absolutely checked that box for me, as it did for many of you out there. He is a young talent at a position of need, and despite the eye-popping nature of the total dollars involved, his contract is extremely reasonable. For $35 million of cap space, the Redskins get one of the top safeties in the league for three seasons before he turns 30 (I understand that leaves some dead cap money in the event this deal does, in fact, terminate after three years, but it is also true the deal could be restructured at that point). The signing weakens a divisional opponent and last but certainly not least, we get a guy who loves one of our own like we do. As I said on the podcast three weeks ago, being able to land Collins was kind of like Sean Taylor making a play from the grave. All these years later, he is still a factor on the NFL landscape, and it says here that the safety the Redskins just got is going to be a major difference-maker on the field. If so, add it to Sean’s highlight reel, because Landon could have gone just about anywhere he wanted—he chose Sean.
- You’ll notice the lack of Super Bowl plans being made by the lot of us after the big safety signing. (Either we’re getting smarter or we just prefer watching the big game at home.) The Redskins have plenty of holes to fill, and honestly, they’re the kind of holes that can’t be left empty if winning is at all in our plans. Wide receiver and edge rusher are the kinds of skill positions that champions depend on and the Redskins are light in both spots. Before we break down how those holes could be filled, I would ask you where you rank our OL needs in this context. Do you think finding a guard to play next to Trent Williams is more pressing than adding a pass-catching weapon or finding someone to pressure the quarterback?
- According to Spotrac, the only positions on the defensive side of the ball with a higher average salary cap hit than edge rusher are the two safety positions (defensive end is about even). The safety position boasts a far more even distribution of salaries, with the top seven guys ranging between $10 million and $17 million and the next 25 guys or so all making somewhere between $4 million and $9 million per season. At edge, there are 30 players making at least $10 million per year, with the top 15 or so all making more than $14 million per year. The market is telling me that a) the Redskins were in the right making safety a top priority and investing appropriately; and b) the team likely can’t afford to procure a top edge rusher on the open market. The guy the Redskins draft at #15 overall is likely going to get approximately $14.5 million in his first contract, spread out over four seasons, with a fifth-year team option. We’re talking about cap hits ranging from $2.5 million to $4 million per year, depending on how they spread it out. Assuming for a moment that one of the top edge prospects falls to the Redskins in that spot, it seems to me that the Redskins have no choice but to draft that player. The market has forced us out of the game when it comes to adding preeminent free agent talent at that spot. The middle of the first round is the perfect place to find players that can actually outplay their contract value. (Quarterbacks and offensive tackles are really the only other players that are getting paid more than edge rushers these days—on average.)
- Wide receivers are also breaking the bank, but not like top edge rushers. Still, the value of top-flight pass-catching talent has done nothing but increase in recent years. The Redskins are surely disappointed with Josh Doctson—any team would have wanted more from a first round wideout—but his cap hit in the final year of his rookie deal is just over $3 million, which means it is still incredibly possible that with a halfway decent 2019 campaign, Doc could actually deliver some much-needed value. Paul Richardson will hopefully return healthy, and Trey Quinn is going to be asked to start in the slot after Jamison Crowder left town to suit up for the Jets. You can argue we have a starting wide receiver corps, but if we are being honest, the Redskins are going to need to give Case Keenum and Colt McCoy more help than that. I think one could make the same argument I made above about drafting a wide receiver in the first round instead of an edge rusher, despite the somewhat sour taste of Doctson’s career thus far, but I am sticking to my guns. I am unimpressed with the wide receiver class in this draft, which is really just me saying that there isn’t anyone that I would race to the podium to draft at #15 if he was available. I would gladly grab two wide receivers somewhere between the second and fifth rounds, and it would seem the team has little choice but to try and unearth two gems somewhere in that range. That said, I would be pretty shocked if the Redskins don’t sign a veteran free agent wide receiver between now and training camp. That leads to my next question for you: of the current wide receivers on the market, and including anyone you think could be a post-6/1 cut, who would you most want to see added to the Redskins stable of receivers?
- You may have noticed that I put Chris Thompson at the top of this week’s Sixpack. I would like to try and spend at least a few pixels each week spotlighting a player that I am genuinely excited to see play in 2019, and who I think could be a great value to a team with serious salary cap problems. In 2019, Thompson will be playing on the last year of his current deal, with a cap hit of just about $4 million. First and foremost, I love the idea of a 28-year old running back in a contract year. You don’t want to be locked up contractually with a running back going into his 30’s, because of how old that is in running back years. You do want to have a guy playing for possibly his last NFL contract, and CT25 is a player in this league who must be thinking that he has some things to prove this season. Jay Gruden is going to find ways to get him the ball, and given the short bench of receivers, it stands to reason he is going to catch a lot of balls. The issue for Chris has been injuries throughout his career, but if he is able to stay healthy this season, he is the kind of talent that can win games for the Redskins. He is that good, and he is that kind of a difference-maker. Assuming for a moment that Derrius Guice and Adrian Peterson are going to lock down a healthy amount of touches for Washington, CT25 could stay fresh well into the season, allowing him to deliver well over the $4 million he is due.
- We’ll spend tomorrow night’s show doing something bracket-related, because, you know...’tis the season. I thought I might solicit some ideas for what to bracketologize this year. We have done players, coaches and games before. I think we also did all-time plays. My preference would be to keep it positive (as opposed to all-time worst signings, or something else painful to spend a show on). You can watch the Official Redskins podcast of Hogs Haven every week right here. We go live on Tuesday nights on our YouTube channel—we apologize for ditching the Facebook Live show, but we felt YouTube was more friendly to folks who might not be on Facebook. It’s a free subscription, and you can get notifications for when we go live. We have some cool Redskins guests lined up in the coming weeks, so join us for a half hour each week!
With the first major wave of free agency in the rearview mirror, the Redskins look to maximize the value of their remaining salary cap space because...well...they still have major holes to fill.