Coming off a 2020 NFL season where they captured the NFC East, the Washington Football Team addressed a few key areas during free agency. Let’s take a look at Washington’s player acquisitions and who they added to their roster this offseason.
Who has the Washington Football Team signed in free agency?
While the rest of the NFC East was busy making moves, the Washington Football Team went so far as to add a little magic to their team.
Washington signed Ryan Fitzpatrick as the likely Week 1 starter
The world is a better place when Ryan Fitzpatrick is playing in the NFL. It was clear that Miami was going all-in on Tua Tagovailoa, which left Fitzpatrick without a team. Nevertheless, despite being a bit long in the beard, Washington signed the 16-year veteran to a one-year, $10 million contract.
Throughout his lengthy career, Fitzpatrick has had his trials and tribulations. He has appeared in 165 games with 146 starts. Fitzpatrick has completed 3,069 of 5,054 attempts (60.7%) for 34,977 yards, throwing 223 touchdowns and 169 interceptions. He is also the only player in NFL history to throw a touchdown pass with eight teams.
While Fitzpatrick’s addition during free agency does help Washington in the short-term, it does not push them out of the running for a rookie QB when the NFL Draft comes along. However, it is unlikely any of the top five will be around when they come on the clock—a drawback of having a decent season.
Curtis Samuel playmaking ability will pair perfectly with the Washington Football Team
One of several big-name WRs on the market, the Washington Football Team worked out a deal with former Panthers WR Curtis Samuel, reuniting him with his former coach Ron Rivera. The two sides agreed to a three-year, $34.5 million deal during the opening days of free agency.
The interesting part of this move is deciphering how Rivera will implement him. During his first three years (all under Rivera), Samuel was in the slot for over 60% of his snaps. His best season was in 2019, where he caught 54 passes for 627 yards and 6 touchdowns.
Fast forward one season, and head coach Matt Rhule and offensive coordinator Joe Brady got creative and finally took advantage of the versatile skill set Samuel brings. Samuel had his long-awaited breakout in 2020 when he again moved into the slot for the majority of snaps. He set career-highs in receptions (77) and yards (851) on 97 targets with 3 touchdowns. His 79.4% catch percentage was also a career-best.
Carolina also utilized him in the rushing game, with a career-best season of 41 rushes for 200 yards and 2 touchdowns. With Terry McLaurin as the explosive deep threat in Washington, Samuel is the perfect complementary receiver and is one of the best free-agency additions so long as Rivera utilizes him correctly.
Washington added to an already impressive defense
Just as quickly as Ronald Darby was gone, Washington pilfered their new CB from the Cincinnati Bengals.
Washington signed CB William Jackson III to a three-year, $42.5 million contract. The 2016 first-round pick has spent the last four years with the Cincinnati organization, where he started 48 games. He has 3 career interceptions (1 TD return) to go along with 41 passes defensed and 150 total tackles.
Linebacker will be a position of need for the Washington Football Team, but they did make an addition during free agency in David Mayo. A 2015 NFL Draft pick, Mayo agreed to a two-year, $2.5 million contract to come to Washington.
For the last two seasons, Mayo has played with the New York Giants. His best season came in 2019, starting 13 games and recording 82 tackles (5 for a loss), 2 sacks, and 2 passes defensed. Unfortunately, he could not capitalize on the momentum last season due to a torn meniscus suffered before Week 1.
Adam Humphries and Lamar Miller also joined Washington during free agency
Adam Humphries is the more intriguing signing as he has traditionally been a slot receiver. This is interesting, seeing as Samuel would be the presumptive stalwart in that role on offense.
After leaving Tampa Bay in 2018, Humphries was not much of a factor in Tennessee’s passing game. Playing alongside A.J. Brown and Corey Davis, Humphries combined for 60 receptions on 82 targets for 602 yards and 4 touchdowns in 19 games. The Washington Football Team needed receiver help, and on a one-year deal, he is a low-risk signing.
Lamar Miller is a depth signing, and barring some crazy circumstances, he likely will not factor into the offense. Miller was claimed off Chicago’s practice squad late in the season and was never active for games. Antonio Gibson, J.D. McKissic, and Peyton Barber will work the backfield. There is also Bryce Love, who might one day actually see the field if his knee allows him.
The Washington Football Team took care of some of their own players in free agency
While bringing in new talent was the focus, Washington managed to re-sign some of their own free agents.
Brandon Scherff was the top priority of the offseason
Still without a long-term contract, Washington placed the franchise tag on RG Brandon Scherff for the second straight season. Scherff will receive $18.03 million in the 2021 season — a 20% increase over last season. It is worth noting the Washington Football Team can sign him to a long-term deal up until July 15.
Scherff, who turned 29 in December, became the first Washington player to be named first-team All-Pro since punter Matt Turk in 1996. Injuries have been an issue for Scherff (he hasn’t played in all 16 games since 2016) and has missed a combined 18 games the past four years. He ended up on injured reserve in 2017 and 2018.
Kickers are people, too
Washington re-signed kicker Dustin Hopkins to a one-year veteran-qualifying contract worth $2.4 million, including $1.88 million fully guaranteed. Hopkins has made 151 FGs on 180 attempts (83.9%) over his six seasons in Washington. He has made 169 out of 178 extra-point attempts (94.9%).
Washington Football Team retained their backup QBs during free agency
Washington Football Team locked up quarterback Taylor Heinicke to a two-year, $4.75 million deal that includes $1.5 million guaranteed with a $1 million signing bonus.
To say Heinicke’s body of work is small would be an understatement. However, his 306-yard performance vs. Tom Brady and the Super Bowl Champions during the Wild Card game made him an instant cult legend in the DMV. Who knows what could have happened if not for his injury?
Brandon Allen is also back after Washington tendered him as an exclusive rights free agent. Allen stepped in for Dwayne Haskins in the middle of the season. He appeared in four games before going out with a season-ending injury, completing 60 of 87 passes for 610 yards, 4 touchdowns, and just 1 interception.
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