By: Joe Pohoryles
Piggybacking off of yesterday’s post about Austin Hooper and Ereck Flowers, I will continue to break down the Redskins’ signings (and missed chances), as there is not much else to cover in the sports’ world these days.
Since yesterday’s post, the Redskins have been a bit busier, but maybe not as much as fans were hoping/anticipating. The biggest impact move so far has brought back a familiar face. After being traded two years ago to the Kansas City Chiefs in exchange for quarterback Alex Smith, Kendall Fuller returns to DC with a four-year/$40 million deal.
Fuller made the game-sealing interception in the Super Bowl in February, and now cashes in with the team that drafted him. The Maryland native started just four games in 2019, playing in 11 total. He has not reached the same level of play as his final season with the Redskins in 2017, where he was the second-highest rated cornerback in the league according to Pro Football Focus.
With this signing, the team is hoping he can return to that level as one of the best slot corners in football. With the status of breakout corner Quinton Dunbar up in the air, the Redskins need to shore up a secondary headlined by safety Landon Collins. Dunbar requested to be traded or released on Feb. 10, so he may be shipped out soon.
Two free agent defensive backs that many fans felt would have been excellent additions/replacements are now off the market. Former Panthers corner James Bradberry signed with the New York Giants for a three-year/$45 million deal, and safety Tre Boston re-signed in Carolina for three years with an $18 million contract. Both played under Ron Rivera in Carolina, but neither will be reuniting with him in Washington.
Bradberry had three interceptions last season, and has been a fixture in Carolina’s secondary since his rookie year, which coincidentally came right after Josh Norman signed his five-year/$75 million deal in Washington. Bradberry even took Norman’s No. 24. He’s started every game that he’s played in his career, which is 60 out of a possible 64. He’s been as consistent as they come, and at just 26 years old, would have been a prime option.
But now he’s with a division rival. Maybe it’s telling that his former coach did not make any real move to sign him (at least based on what has been reported), but he certainly would have made a great addition. $15 million per year is an iffy price tag, but with “just” $32 million guaranteed, it probably would have been feasible. Doesn’t matter now.
Boston would have been an intriguing partner with Collins at safety, and his $6 million average annual value is a bargain, but Carolina kept their man. With these two no longer available, there are not many suitable options remaining in the secondary.
Xavier Rhodes and Desmond Trufant were both released recently in cap casualty moves by their respective teams, but with Fuller already signed to a decent-sized deal, it’s unlikely the Redskins would put up the money necessary. The team needs solid production from guys in their prime, which would rule out older, more expensive options like Chris Harris Jr. and Aqib Talib.
Ha Ha Clinton-Dix spent half a season with the Redskins in 2018 before joining the Chicago Bears last season, and could be a decent re-addition at the right price. Bashaud Breeland has also been mentioned as a guy who could make a homecoming. Neither are top-caliber, but plenty of mid-level options beyond these two are out there, and the Redskins should look to add one or two to solidify the secondary.
The Redskins did add depth elsewhere, signing guard Wes Schweitzer to a three-year/$13.5 million deal. The former Falcons guard may compete with Wes Martin for the starting left guard spot that Flowers left behind, but will more likely serve as a reserve guard who can fill in at center.
The Redskins also brought in some help to the linebacking core. They signed Kevin Pierre-Louis for one year on a $3.45 million deal. After spending his first three seasons with the Seattle Seahawks, Pierre-Louis has now bounced to his fourth team in the past four seasons. He will be nothing more than a depth player.
More notably, the team brought in 36-year-old former All-Pro linebacker Thomas Davis (terms TBA). Davis spent many years playing under Rivera in Carolina, and was a major leader on the defensive unit. He and Luke Kuechly spearheaded the defense of the 15-1 Panthers that made a Super Bowl run in 2015. After 13 seasons in Carolina, Davis spent last season with the Los Angeles Chargers, where he made 112 combined tackles, his most since 2013 (123). The man can still play, but he should play an even bigger role in the locker room. A Walter Payton Man of the Year, Davis will help Rivera establish the culture in DC. This is a move fans should be excited about.
There’s much more that needs to be done. The team still lacks a competent tight end, and the offensive line could use some more reinforcement. Really, any part of the team could be improved, so let’s hope there are some bigger impact moves in store.
(Cover Photo Credit: Jose Carlos Fajardo/Bay Area News Group)