While the 2020 season for the Washington Football Team was tumultuous, they are set to kick off their Wild Card game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Saturday. With all eyes on the game ahead, the future is fast approaching as several key contributors will become free agents for Washington once the 2021 free agency period rolls around.
Washington has one main offensive player set to become a free agent in 2021
On offense, the biggest name for Washington is their guard, Brandon Scherff. Once a top-five overall pick in the 2015 draft, Scherff (29) has spent his entire career with the franchise. After his rookie contract expired, the team franchised the four-time Pro Bowler. Scherff played the 2020 season on a one-year, $15.03 million contract.
Brandon Scherff bet on himself and most likely won big. He was named a First-Team All-Pro for 2020 and became the first for the franchise to win the honor since 1996. Scherff played on 857 of the team’s snaps in 13 starts. He only had two penalties all year long and gave up just three sacks. Given the shuffling at QB and other positions, this was a fantastic season.
What is the current projection on Scherff’s potential market value?
When Scherff hits the free agent market once the season is over, according to Spotrac, he could bring an estimated market value of around $11 million per year on a four-year contract. It would also fit in line with the extension Washington just gave center Chase Roullier — a four-year contract worth $40.5 million.
Washington has an estimated $42.6 million in cap space for 2021, and given the success this season and the need for a secure offensive line, it’s likely they try to bring Scherff back.
Washington does not have many difference-makers set to become free agents in 2021 on offense
At running back, the only name is Lamar Miller. The 29-year-old was signed off the Bears’ practice squad on December 16, but he has yet to appear for Washington. He was a healthy scratch for their Week 17 game, and I would be surprised to see them bring him back for 2021.
Wide receivers Robert Foster, Cam Sims, and Dontrelle Inman, and tight end Jeremy Sprinkle, round out the offensive skill group that will become free agents.
Since joining the team, Foster has been active for four games and appeared in three. His impact has been limited, catching two passes on six targets for 37 yards.
Cam Sims was fourth on the team in targets with 48. He caught 32 passes for 477 yards and one touchdown. Washington’s WR group, outside of Terry McLaurin, needs a lot of work. Sims wouldn’t require a large contract but sits on the fringe if the team would want to bring him back.
Sprinkle was a non-factor for Washington and likely won’t be brought back one free agency hits. He caught one pass in 2020 and has 33 receptions in his four-year career.
Washington will have to make some hard decisions in free agency
Leading the list on defense is long-time Washington LB Ryan Kerrigan. He is on this list more for the bridge between production and nostalgia. Kerrigan was the first-round draft pick of Washington back in 2011. He has been one of the most consistent players for the team during his career. Even if he is now seen as a rotational player rather than a critical component. What he is, though, is the most beloved player on this team by the fans and franchise.
He doesn’t start any longer, but he is still productive when this former Purdue standout is on the field. The additions of Montez Sweat and Chase Young in recent drafts have allowed them to take snaps off Kerrigan and extend his career by doing so. Culture-wise, which Ron Rivera preaches, Ryan Kerrigan checks every box. Business-wise, I’m not entirely sure.
Thomas Davis is another guy who is likely gone after this season if he doesn’t choose to hang the cleats up himself. Now 38, Davis came to Washington to reunite with his former coach for one last ride. Playing in just seven games, Davis recorded only six tackles.
Ryan Anderson, 26, was drafted by Washington in the second round of the 2017 NFL Draft out of Alabama. He signed a four-year, $5.32 million deal that included a $2.01 million signing bonus. After a slow start to his career in Washington, he improved in 2018 and 2019. However, switching to a 4-3 defense, he became more of an afterthought, appearing in nine games. I would expect Washington to let Anderson hit free agency once it opens in 2021.
Washington could try to bring back CB Ronald Darby when 2021 free agency opens
Darby signed a one-year contract after the opening of free agency earlier this year. The former Philadelphia Eagles CB struggled in the first few games but turned it around for the rest of the season.
Injuries have been his most significant issue. He was solid over his first four seasons, the first two spent in Buffalo and the latter two with Philadelphia, but he only played 17 of 32 possible regular season games for the Eagles from 2017-18.
2020 has been a bit of a revelation for Darby as he played in all 16 games, a first for his career. He is not the greatest in coverage, but in open space, his tackling skills will likely lead a few teams to reach out. Washington could attempt to bring back the 27-year-old on a modest three to four-year contract rather than lose him during the 2021 free agency shuffle.
Other Washington defensive players who will become free agents in 2021
- ILB Reuben Foster, 27
- CB Danny Johnson, 25
- OLB Mychal Kendricks, 30
- CB Fabian Moreau, 27
- OLB Jared Norris, 28
- OLD Kevin Pierre-Louis, 29