The 2022 Free Agency period is slowly approaching on the NFL calendar, and Washington has 21 pending free agents heading into the off-season. With another sub .500 season in the books, it may not be desirable to talk about the talent on the roster and approaching free agency. It’s much more pleasant to talk about trading for the big quarterback, wide receiver, or linebacker than it is talking about which players on the roster that Washington should extend. Key players facing free agency include Brandon Scherff, J.D. McKissic, and Bobby McCain. Washington will not be able to retain everyone, so which of the 21 players should be a priority for them? Who can Washington afford to let go? Let’s take a look into it.
Re-sign K Joey Slye
Slye (25) did not miss a field goal with Washington, going 12 for 12 in six games played, nine of ten on extra points, with the one extra point attempt being blocked. There were a lot of disagreements surrounding the decision to cut Dustin Hopkins, and the move seemed shaky at first with the team’s initial decision to go with Chris Blewitt. However, with Slye taking advantage of the opportunity Washington gave him, he should be in Washington for the foreseeable future.
Re-sign DB, Bobby McCain
The truth behind McCain’s (28) 2021 season is simple; he was not the awful defender that people suggest that he was. Further, due to McCain’s versatility in the secondary to fill in at free safety and as a nickel corner, he is as valuable as a free agent can get for a secondary that needs to communicate and work together in early parts of the season. McCain will be best served filling in as a starting safety or in a reserve role behind a high-potential draft prospect.
Re-sign RB J.D. McKissic
McKissic (28), in terms of skillset, is Washington’s most complete running back. He has good vision, physicality, acceleration, pass protection, catching, and route running. Unfortunately, McKissic is not utilized as much as he should be; however, if Washington wants to stay afloat at the position and not hunt for a “McKissic clone,” re-sign McKissic.
Re-sign WR/Specialist DeAndre Carter
Carter (28) was a complete surprise to most people following the team. Carter had the third-most snaps of Washington’s receivers in 2021, and hauled in 24 catches for 296 yards and three touchdowns. However, Carter’s primary value to Washington wasn’t his offensive production; it was his special team contributions. Carter had 16 punt returns for 134 yards and 36 kickoff returns for 904 yards and a touchdown, earning him a bid for the Pro Bowl as an alternate. Washington will finally have stability with a return specialist if they can re-sign him.
Re-sign TE Ricky Seals-Jones
Seals-Jones (26) ended his 2021 campaign on injured reserve; however, his production showed plenty of promise in how he projects in Washington’s offense moving forward. First, he proved himself useful in the passing game, catching 30 passes for 271 yards and two touchdowns in 13 games played. The numbers in a season hit with multiple games missed due to injury show that Seals-Jones can contribute to an offense as a solid second-string tight end. More importantly, Seals-Jones can be essential in the absence of Logan Thomas, who will miss the off-season and some portions of 2022 recovering from a torn ACL.
Re-sign DB Troy Apke
With 17 games played on the season and zero defensive snaps, Washington held to their word on the value Apke (26) brought to the team. I won’t waste your time defending Apke either, so let me get straight to the point. Rivera said on plenty of occasions heading into the season how much of a special teams ace Apke is for Washington, keep your ace, pay him accordingly.
Re-sign C Tyler Larsen
Washington’s pleasant surprise of the season was their offensive line and the minimum dropoff in production once the injury bug started to hit this particular unit. Larsen (30) is a depth piece that would be beneficial to re-sign due to his knowledge of the offense and his experience filling in at the drop of a hat.
What about Cam Sims, Adam Humphries, Brandon Scherff, and others?
Receiver Cam Sims excelled in his role as Terry McLaurin’s number two in 2020, which should have encouraged coaches to trust him more moving forward, and continue to give him opportunities in 2021. However, his production dropped significantly because his snap count decreased. Sims is a talented big-play receiver who can thrive as a team number three or four option, but it is clear that Washington did not want him in that role. Washington should re-sign Sims, but the team will be comfortable letting him walk.
Receiver Adam Humphries was a solid piece of Washington’s offense. Humphries proved reliable at the slot position and a crucial part of Washington’s third-down offense. Heading into his age 29 season, Humphries showed that he is productive, can stay healthy, and will be an attractive piece to an under-the-radar offense.
Guard Brandon Scherff has turned down multiple contract extension offers to this point, so there should be no reason for Washington to go higher than their means for a guard whose agent has shown zero willingness to play ball with the team (which is perfectly fine).
Defensive Tackle Tim Settle should stay in Washington; however, the 24-year old was a snap count victim. Daron Payne had 812 defensive snaps, Jonathan Allen had 741, Matt Ioannidis had 583, and Tim Settle had 204. As an interior lineman, Settle combined for seven sacks between 2019 and 2020 but had zero in 2021. This dropoff is not for lack of talent, and Settle likely recognizes that and will be looking for a better situation in free agency.
Offensive Tackle Cornelius Lucas was an adequate reserve lineman for Washington; however, the pressure he surrendered against better competition created the conversation that Washington could live without Lucas as a reserve lineman. Expect Washington to look in free agency for another veteran swing tackle who can back up Samuel Cosmi and Charles Leno.