The Washington Redskins are entering a new era. They hired two-time Coach of the Year Ron Rivera and gave him the keys to the franchise. Rivera came in with a vision of how he wants to construct the football team, and so far he has added players that fit that vision. Throughout the offseason, Rivera has made comments about the players he wants to add to this football team. “Versatile” and “hungry” are two commonly used adjectives by Rivera when describing players he wants to bring to the roster. Who have the Redskins brought in this free agency, how do they fit Rivera’s vision, and how does it affect their draft plans as they move forward? Is it likely that the Washington Redskins are trading back?
Free Agency Recap
- Brandon Scherff, OG (Franchise Tag): 1-year, $14.8 million
- Kendall Fuller, DB: 4-year, $40 million
- Wes Schweitzer, OG: 3-year $13.5 million
- Jon Bostic, LB: 2-year $5 million
- Thomas Davis, LB: 1-year $3.5 million
- Kevin Pierre-Louis: 1-year $3 million
- JD McKissic, RB: 2-year $3.25 million
- Sean Davis, S: 1-year $5 million
- Cornelius Lucas, OT: 2-year $3.8 million
- Richard Rogers, TE: 1-year $1.05 million
- Peyton Barber, RB: 2-year $3 million
- Nate Orchard, DE: 1-year
- Logan Thomas, TE: 1-year
- Caleb Brantley, DT: 1-year
- Cody Latimer, WR
- Kyle Allen, QB: Traded from CAR for WAS 2020 5th-round draft pick
- Josh Norman, CB: Cut
- Paul Richardson, WR: Cut
- Jordan Reed, TE: Cut
- Montae Nicholson, S: Cut
- Quinton Dunbar, CB: Traded to SEA for unspecified 5th-round pick
- Ereck Flowers, OG: Signed with MIA
The Redskins kicked off the free agency period by freeing up a ton of cap space by releasing overpaid veterans like Josh Norman, Paul Richardson, and Jordan Reed. Those three moves alone nearly doubled the team’s cap space. Their first major move was bringing in former Redskins draft pick and Super Bowl champion with the Kansas City Chiefs, Kendall Fuller.
Fuller was signed to a very team-friendly deal and is a perfect fit for what coach Rivera wants on his team. Fuller is an elite nickel cornerback who can also play out on the boundary and as a safety. His versatility will be invaluable for Rivera and defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio.
Other than Fuller, the Redskins have not signed any high-profile free agents. It was reported that they were heavily in the running for Cowboys receiver Amari Cooper, but Cooper chose to stay in Dallas, and the Redskins have instead filled their roster without the additions of top-end talent.
Boosts to the Redskins offense included a pair of offensive linemen in Schweitzer and Lucas. Schweitzer will likely battle second-year player Wes Martin for the starting left guard spot, while Lucas will likely operate as a swing tackle for the Redskins. However, a strong training camp from Lucas could lead to a battle for either starting tackle spot.
The Redskins also added depth to all skill positions by signing JD McKissic and Peyton Barber to fill out the RB room, Logan Thomas and Richard Rodgers for tight end depth, and Cody Latimer as another talented body in the young receiving room.
They then traded for Kyle Allen to be the backup quarterback and provide some competition for Dwayne Haskins in training camp. While none of these signings are flashy, they are almost all worthy of being on a 53-man roster and will provide quality depth for a long and grueling NFL season, something the Redskins have sorely lacked for years.
On defense, the Redskins started by adding three bodies to their linebacker room. With the transition to the 4-3 defense, the Redskins desperately needed depth and experience at the linebacker spot. They got that when the re-signed Jon Bostic and then added long-time Panther and Ron Rivera favorite Thomas Davis.
They also added Kevin Pierre-Louis, who didn’t get much playing time in Chicago, but impressed when he did. Expect all three to be on the roster next season, and for them each to get playing time.
The Redskins then added former Maryland product Sean Davis at safety. Davis will fill in immediately as a replacement for Montae Nicholson, as they have a similar skill-set, but Davis comes without the off-field distractions Nicholson did. The overhaul of the defense is far from over though, as the Redskins still sorely lack high-end talent on both the second and third levels of the defense.
Remaining Free Agents
There are still holes all along the roster, and it’s unlikely the Redskins find any long-time starters in the rest of the free agency period. However, they could look at some players as stop-gaps until they replace them with younger, more talented players. After trading Quinton Dunbar, the Redskins have a massive need at outside cornerback.
They could look to land someone like Ronald Darby to replace him. They should also look to land another safety, as Davis isn’t a good enough player to be a full-time starter. Someone like Damarious Randall would make a lot of sense because he provides versatility at the position, and would give the Redskins a formidable safety trio. They also have a massive hole at left tackle, thanks to the Trent Williams debacle. Bringing in a veteran like Jason Peters or bringing back Donald Penn would make a lot of sense.
Are the Redskins trading back?
I have no idea, and neither does anyone else. However, the way the Redskins have addressed the offseason thus far, I think it’s safe to say that a trade back is being heavily considered by Rivera and Vice President of Player Personnel Kyle Smith. Fellow PFN analyst A.J. Schulte mentioned the Redskins in his article listing five teams likely to trade down.
Despite having a myriad of cap space, the Redskins chose to approach the offseason with a more controlled approach. Instead of throwing big-money contracts at players like Austin Hooper and Byron Jones like fans wanted, they chose to build the team from the ground up, finding players that fit what they wanted both on the field and in the locker room.
They added quality depth all over the roster and didn’t overspend on a single free agent. They brought out the checkbooks when they needed to (Fuller), and even swung for the fences a few times (Cooper). So why does the free agency period make me believe the Redskins will trade back?
Despite adding quality depth, the Redskins likely lost more starters than they added. Trent Williams has made it undeniably clear he wants to be traded, Donald Penn has not been re-signed, Ereck Flowers left to Miami, Reed was cut, Vernon Davis retired, and Dunbar was traded. So there are still holes on the roster.
Now, not all those holes need to be filled through the draft. As I mentioned earlier, the left guard hole left by Flowers will likely be filled by either Martin or Schweitzer. The major holes are left tackle, tight end, and cornerback. Linebacker and safety are also needs, but there are enough talented bodies to go into 2020 with what they have if they must. Looking at the three major needs, two of them are two of the most important positions in football besides quarterback.
The need for a shutdown outside cornerback and the franchise left tackle are massive, as there is no one on the roster that comes anywhere close to filling those needs. What makes matters worse, is that there is no longer anybody available via free agency that fits the bill. So the Redskins must look to the NFL Draft, or find a stop-gap via free agency as they go into the 2020 season.
If the Redskins do decide to trade back, it won’t be an easy decision. Chase Young is an elite prospect at a position of extreme value. However, the need for an edge rusher is not very high given the current state of the roster. To go with that, Young isn’t the only elite prospect in the class. As I mentioned earlier, the Redskins have a major need at cornerback and left tackle.
This class happens to have an elite cornerback prospect in Jeffrey Okudah, who is my highest-graded cornerback ever, and my second overall ranked prospect. It’s also an extremely deep tackle class, with four offensive tackles getting a first-round grade from me. So what would a Redskins trade back look like, and who could they realistically take with their selections?
Redskins Trade Back Scenarios
With this scenario, the Redskins would likely be netting the fifth overall pick and the 18th overall pick, in addition to the 39th overall pick. The Dolphins would be looking to move up, and secure the quarterback of their choosing.
With the Redskins moving back to five, it means that Young falls into the Lions’ lap, and that selection is a no-brainer. Then the Giants will likely select an offensive tackle, based on everything we’ve heard from Dave Gettleman and Joe Judge, though Clemson’s Isaiah Simmons can’t be counted out here.
That would leave the Redskins with an obvious choice at number five with Okudah. The Redskins then still have the 18th, 39th, and 66th picks to address some of the other major needs. With the way free agency went, there’s a very real chance that one of the top four offensive tackles are still on the board at #18, and the Redskins would be able to fill their two biggest needs with extremely talented players on the first day of the 2020 NFL Draft.
Using the PFN Mock Draft Simulator, I went through the rest of the first three rounds to see what a class with these picks could actually look like for the Redskins.
- 5: Jeffrey Okudah, CB, Ohio State
- 18: Andrew Thomas, OT, Georgia
- 39: Antoine Winfield Jr., Saf, Minnesota
- 66: Cole Kmet, TE, Notre Dame
In this draft, the Redskins address arguably their four biggest needs, adding excellent young talent to every position. All four selections are likely immediate starters, with Okudah and Thomas having legitimate All-Pro/Pro-Bowl potential.
Los Angeles Chargers
This is the only other way I see the Redskins moving down. The Chargers would need to decide that they want to leapfrog Miami, and move up to secure their franchise quarterback, whomever they may think it is. The Chargers don’t have the same draft capital the Dolphins do, so they would likely be more inclined to package their 2021 draft picks.
I believe this could secretly be a smart move for the Redskins, as the odds of the Chargers picking higher than 18th overall in 2021 are very high. With that thought process, the Chargers’ 2021 first-round pick may be more valuable than the second Dolphins’ pick in 2020. This would set up the Redskins to take Okudah at six, and then give them a first-round pick next year that, with some luck, could be top-10 or better.
Nobody, not even the Redskins, know what they’ll be doing come draft night. If they decide that Young is too good of a prospect to pass up on, then so be it. However, with the way they’ve approached free agency this season, nobody should be surprised, or upset, if they decide to move back and gain some extra draft capital. The Redskins shouldn’t trade back just for the sake of trading back, but if someone calls with a strong offer, like the two previously listed, I’d expect the Redskins to swing the deal.