With free agency hype building up, the Washington Football Team has some real tough decisions to make. They can make real strides as an organization this offseason by bringing in some key players in free agency. They will be willing spenders, but unlike previous front office regimes in DC, they will also be smart, calculated spenders. They are linked to a lot of free agents on the market, here are the guys I think they will be linked to.
There are two guys that are going to be back next season without a single doubt: All-Pro LG Brandon Scherff and CB Ronald Darby. Scherff is one of the best guards, let alone offensive linemen in all of football, and there is absolutely no way Washington lets him walk away in free agency. According to spotrac.com, the market value for Scherff is around $12.7M, which is a lowball offer from what I believe he will make. Scherff made $15M in 2020 while under the franchise tag, so there is no way he is going to take a lot less money than the franchise tag would offer.
Ronald Darby only made $3M on a one year “prove it” deal after coming off an ACL injury in 2018 and a rocky 2019 campaign with the Philadelphia Eagles. He proved to be one of the best signings for Washington last offseason, and there is a mutual interest in reunion of the Maryland native and the WFT. Playing all 16 games for the first time in his career, there still remains questions on his ability to stay healthy and produce week in and week out. They signed Kendall Fuller to a $10M on average deal last season, so I can see the team offering him a 3 year deal for about $7-9M on average, with an out after the second year. He as let it be known that he wants to return to Washington and I fully expect him to be back.
Last season, Washington offered Amari Cooper a 5 year deal worth about $110M. They did not offer any other free agents big money, but the lack of talent at the WR position is the second biggest question on this team outside of QB. Allen Robinson, Corey Davis, Curtis Samuel, Chris Godwin, Kenny Golladay and Marvin Jones Jr. are the names that I expect Washington to look into signing, with Robinson and Samuel being at the top of the list. Robinson is expect to make about $20M a season, and Washington will be in in the running for him. Many people around the league view stud WR Terry McLaurin as a very, very high level WR2, and adding someone like Robinson would take this offense to the next level. If they were willing to make Amari Cooper the highest paid WR in the NFL last free agency, they will definitely be at the top of the charts for Allen Robinson, with Curtis Samuel being the potential consolation prize (with his obvious ties to Ron Rivera and Marty Hurney).
Since the start of the Trent Williams saga back in 2019, Washington has thrown guys like Gerron Christian, Donald Penn and Cornelius Lucas out at LT. They need to address this, whether in the draft or FA. If they go the free agency route, the two guys they can potentially look at are Alejandro Villanueva from the Pittsburgh Steelers or Russell Okung from the Carolina Panthers (of course). Both turning age 33 during the 2021 season, each tackle respectively have built a nice career for themselves, but I don’t know if Washington will truly give up a lot of cash to guys on the back 9 of their careers, even if they are at a position of need.
I have mentioned before that a long shot option would be reuniting themselves with Trent Williams, and I cannot imagine that as a realistic option anymore, if at any point. Williams has moved on, and so has Washington.
In their continues search for QB-X, Washington has already re-signed Taylor Heinicke to a new deal that guarantees him to count for $1.5M towards the cap, and are expected to also re-sign Kyle Allen to a similar deal. I can guarantee Alex Smith will not be back on this roster with his current contract, and quite frankly I don’t believe he will be back on this roster at all. His Comeback POTY was something for the memory books, but it’s time to Washington to move on. They can save about $15M by cutting him before June 1st, so expect that at some point.
The only QBs I can see them taking a true look currently on the free agent market are Tyrod Taylor and Andy Dalton, and they’d both be place holders while they continue to search for their franchise QB. They’ve been linked to Marcus Mariota, but he’s currently a member of the Las Vegas Raiders, and they’re looking to trade him. Mariota could be a cap casualty with his has $10M base salary for next season, and the Raiders almost certainly don’t want to pay a backup that much money.
A miracle Dak Prescott signing isn’t happening, unless Dallas has a failure of all-time failures in contract negotiations. Dallas will not let him hit the open market, evening coming off his injury.
72 receptions, 670 yards and 6 TDs, Thomas became one of the biggest surprises of the 2020 season. But here’s the downside, the rest of the TEs on the roster combined for 3 catches (6 targets) for 18 yards. Not saying they need to have a 2011 New England Patriots level production, but they need to sure up that TE room.
Depending on what the Eagles do with Zach Ertz, he would most certainly be on the radar for Washington. He’s only 30 years old, was one of the top TEs in 2018 and 2019, plus incentive to play his former twice a season is something he might consider as motivation.
At only 26 years, Hunter Henry could be in play in the LA Chargers decide to not re-sign him, or even franchise tag him. He tore his ACL in 2018 and missed the entire regular season, but appeared in 14 plays in the divisional round playoff game in that same season. He is expected to make about $10-11M on his new contract, and that price might be too steep for Washington. Depending on how they spend their money elsewhere this offseason, this is a dark horse option.
It’s no secret Washington is looking to upgrade their Inside Linebacker position. Cole Holcomb, Kevin Pierre-Louis and Jon Bostic are good complementary pieces, but not guys that will be the anchor of your defense. Washington has struggled to stop the run, and adding an ILB that can also play key in pass coverage can take this defense to the next level. KJ Wright and Lavonte David are names that can be floated out around that could fit the mold of guys needed in Washington. The pass rush and the good DBs play a part in a good pass defense, but the lack of a great tackler on the inside is an issue that must be addressed.
Don’t expect them to go after Aaron Jones. They like the duo they have in Antonio Gibson and JD McKissic, and adding a high priced RB would make zero sense. Depth pieces is what I expect Washington to bring in, guys how add what the other two backs do not.
Safety and defensive linemen are not something I expect any big spending to come from. Ryan Kerrigan is almost certainly out, and they already have a bunch of young guys like Chase Young and company up front, so adding depth at a fraction of the cost is key. With Landon Collins coming off a severe injury and his contract situation mixed with the rise of Kam Curl, don’t expect any Anthony Harris or Justin Simmons conversation till the earliest 2022.