The Washington Redskins seem to be gearing up for a big run in free agency which starts Wednesday at 4 PM ET, as the NFL’s new league year officially begins.
Happy New Year! Love, Bruce and the boys!
The Redskins have signed a few of their own free agents back already before the floodgates officially open, inking placekicker Dustin Hopkins on Monday. In addition, they’ve already secured the services of Deshazor Everett, Quinton Dunbar
and Mason Foster.
Per John Keim of ESPN, Trent Murphy remains their top priority
among free agents that have been with the Redskins.
Washington has not brought back Bashaud Breeland, Zach Brown, Junior Galette, Niles Paul, Spencer Long, Shawn Lauvao, Terrelle Pryor, Brian Quick and Ryan Grant as of Tuesday morning.
Now let’s look at who they might and should target in free agency on the offensive side of the ball first. The belief is that this will be where the Redskins spend more money than on the defensive side.
Let’s not waste a lot of time here. The Redskins acquired Alex Smith via trade earlier this off-season and can make it official on Wednesday. This position will not be addressed via free agency in any way that I can see.
The Redskins likely will add a body here. It very well could be a “banger” as Jay Gruden mentioned at the scouting combine.
As to who it could be? LeGarrette Blount has won back-to-back Super Bowl championships with the Patriots and the Eagles. He remains a mostly short yardage weapon, something the Redskins have struggled miserably with over the last few years.
Washington is awful on first down rushing attempts but ranked second in the NFC and sixth in the NFL in rushing yard average on second down, at 4.78 yards per attempt.
They simply must get better in a big area (first-down runs) and the short yardage area overall.
Per ProFootballReference.com (PFR)
, Washington averaged only 3.16 yards per first-down rushing attempt, worst in the NFL. That’s on 248 rushing plays and they only had 17 new first downs.
The Lions were second-worst in this area at 3.26 and surprisingly, the Chargers and Steelers were next at 3.43 per attempt.
The Redskins have been terrible in this area under Jay Gruden. In the 64 regular season games that Gruden has been the head coach, the Redskins have averaged only 3.56 yards per first-down rushing attempt. That’s on 961 first-down rushing plays per PFR.
Over the last four years, the Redskins are the third-worst rushing unit on first down in the NFL on a cumulative basis. While they are averaging 3.56 per attempt, the Chargers are at 3.54 and the Lions are at 3.50. The NFL league wide average on first-down is 4.07 per attempt.
The other area of concern (at least in my eyes) is when the Redskins absolutely need to run the ball in short-yardage, critical-down situations – they are inconsistent.
Under Jay Gruden, per PFR, the Redskins have only converted 69.8% of the time on third-down and one rushing attempts. They’ve averaged 2.40 yards per attempt in that down-and-distance.
On third-and-two or less rushing situations under Jay Gruden, Washington has only converted 65.9% of the time on 82 attempts. They’ve averaged 2.73 per rush. That’s a cumulative ranking of only 22
in the NFL during the last four years. The league’s best over that span? Philadelphia at 77.1%. Dallas is 71.1% while the Giants are much worse at 62.9%, but nobody would confuse them with a good rushing team.
On fourth-and-two or less rushing situations under Jay Gruden, the Redskins have converted 61.5% of the time only 13 attempts. The league average over that span is a 67% first-down conversion rate, per PFR.
I could go on and on but simply the Redskins need to be better in these spots and Blount would represent a significant attempt at getting better in these areas. Blount is a post-season force and still averaged 4.4 yards per attempt for the Eagles on 173 carries. He’s 31 but is a “banger” and a rotation piece who can help significantly in the red zone.
Is Blount the ideal fit? Yes and no. If the Redskins were truly committed to building around their running game, I would say go younger and more expensive. If they are looking for a “banger” and to not spend a lot of money, while providing something that has been sorely lacking – Blount should check all the boxes.
Everybody wants the Redskins to spend huge on the market. My guess is that they bring in two players essentially for the price of one, which probably puts them out of the Allen Robinson and Sammy Watkins price point. Watkins is reportedly heading to Kansas City to pair with Tyreek Hill and Patrick Mahomes.
We broke down with video what
Robinson would potentially bring to Washington
, but he is reportedly heading to Chicago, per Adam Schefter of ESPN.
We also did
a video review of Chiefs wide receiver Albert Wilson
, who is reportedly ticketed for Miami per Ian Rapoport of NFL Network. Wilson was not thought to be high on the Redskins radar but probably should have been, considering that Pryor, Quick and Grant are all free agents and Jamison Crowder is coming off a less than great year plus is a year away from free agency.
rumored to be very interested in Seattle speed threat, Paul Richardson
, per John Keim of ESPN. He’s going to have a bunch of interest and will likely cost more than Bruce Allen is willing to pay.
Donte Moncrief from Indianapolis
should also be considered in the mix.
Taylor Gabriel from the Atlanta Falcons will end up in Washington
along with the team re-upping with Ryan Grant. I also wouldn’t rule out Terrelle Pryor either. He was injured early on last year and was a huge disappointment, but for a very low prove-it-to-me type of deal, I could see Pryor returning, even though I am pretty sure Pryor’s fans in the building are very limited.
This is strictly a guess and I want to make it clear, I am likely going to be wrong.
The Redskins do not need a offensive tackle unless Ty Nsekhe leaves via restricted free agency. He was offered a second-round tender by the Redskins on Monday.
As for the guard position, it looks like the Redskins are prepared to let both Spencer Long and Shawn Lauvao walk in free agency, which nobody will have an issue with.
There’s no way Washington is going to spend the money it would take on the top guard in free agency, Andrew Norwell of the Carolina Panthers. He's reportedly ticketed for the Jacksonville Jaguars, per Schefter.
The player that the Redskins should target from a cost, versatility and production standpoint is Zach Fulton of the Chiefs. He’s 26, can play both guard and center and is statistically coming off a good year, per ProFootballFocus.com.
Fulton played 846 snaps in 2017, with 634 at center and 212 at a combination at both guard spots
, because the Chiefs had a season ending injury to their starting center.
The Redskins should only consider bringing in a great blocker at this position and that will be difficult to find.
Chris Russell has covered the Washington Redskins for eight seasons for multiple media outlets and was a part of the Redskins Radio Network broadcast team for five years. He covers the Redskins, Washington Valor and Baltimore Brigade for Monumental Sports Network (www.DCHotRead.com). Listen to Chris on Washington D.C.'s # 1 sports radio station, 106.7 The FAN