Aug 19, 2016; Landover, MD, USA; Washington Redskins general manager Scot McCloughan and head coach Jay Gruden talk before the game between the Washington Redskins and the New York Jets at FedEx Field. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports
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The Washington Redskins were eliminated from the postseason race this past Sunday. They now will go into full offseason mode, and here is a simulation of roster moves they could make.
When the Washington Redskins lost to the New York Giants on Sunday, it did a whole lot more than just end their season. It plunged the team head-first into offseason mode, as they are looking at every aspect of their team. As they evaluate it, they will create a game plan for the offseason before they start to make roster moves in free agency.
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Well, we cannot quite wait that long. Free agency will not get underway until March, and that NFL Draft will not be until after that. So, we decided to simulate what might happen during the entire offseason, from free agency right up through the draft.
To do that, we used a couple Fanspeak simulators. Their Manage The Cap simulator was used for free agency and their On The Clock simulator was used for the draft. After the simulation, the Redskins have some important new players and will look like a different team in 2016. With that said, here is a look at the simulation, as we start with player re-signings.
Jan 1, 2017; Landover, MD, USA; Washington Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins (8) throws the ball as New York Giants defensive end Owa Odighizuwa (58) defends in the second quarter at FedEx Field. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
Re-Signing Free Agents: Kirk Cousins
Obviously, the biggest name on the list for the Redskins in terms of re-signing players is Kirk Cousins. The franchise quarterback contender is coming off of a terrible end to the season, as he was below average in the team’s loss against the New York Giants, but he still put together a great season. Cousins finished the year with 4,917 yards, 29 touchdowns (four rushing), and 12 interceptions. More importantly, he became a leader and really did well to will the team to win in most weeks.
In the simulation, we elected to sign Cousins to a huge contract. Modeled after the Aaron Rodgers deal, Cousins will make a whopping $110 million dollars over five years, for an average annual value (AAV) of $22 million. That would make Cousins tied as fifth highest paid quarterback in the league with Rodgers. The one major difference between the two deals is that Cousins is only guaranteed 35 percent of his deal. Rodgers’ guaranteed percentage came up just short of 50 percent, per Spotrac.
Now, this deal may seem favorable for the Redskins at first, but given the finish to the season, they could be in position to shave a little off the deal. The market rate for quarterbacks is definitely high, but perhaps Cousins will give them a bit of a hometown discount in order to get some guaranteed job security.
Jan 1, 2017; Landover, MD, USA; Washington Redskins wide receiver Pierre Garcon (88) runs with the ball as New York Giants linebacker Devon Kennard (59) attempts the tackle in the fourth quarter at FedEx Field. The Giants won 19-10. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
Re-Signing Free Agents: The Rest Of The Offense
Aside from Cousins, the team does not have a whole lot of offensive free agents at the moment. Notably, they have a few receiving playmakers on the list, as Pierre Garcon, DeSean Jackson, and tight end Vernon Davis will all be set to hit the market.
In reality, the Redskins are only going to keep one of the two receivers. They cannot afford to keep both, as they will be over 30 years old and one will command too much money. That will be Jackson. Jackson is an overrated commodity. Though he has excellent speed, he is not worth another major contract. I would be comfortable having him as a low end No. 1 option, but not at the price he is likely to command.
As a result, Garcon was our top priority after locking up Cousins. Garcon agreed to a significant decrease in salary from his current AAV of 8.5 million. In the simulation, we locked him into a three year deal worth $15 million. This would be the best case scenario for the Redskins, as he could serve as a de facto No. 1 option until Josh Doctson is ready to assume the role. After that, he can play on the outside as a starter or backup until his contract is up. Then, he could retire.
For Davis, we went with a cheaper contract. He signed on a one year, $2.4 million deal in the offseason, so we went with something similar. At age 32, Davis does not have many good years left in the tank. Because of this, we offered him a two year, $4 million deal which he accepted in the simulation. He likely wants job security, as the Redskins were virtually his last chance in the league. In this case, it would be a mutually beneficial deal for both Davis and the team.
Aug 11, 2016; Atlanta, GA, USA; Washington Redskins strong safety DeAngelo Hall (23) in action against the Atlanta Falcons in the first quarter at the Georgia Dome. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports
Re-Signing Free Agents: Defense
On defense, there was a bit more work to do. We zoned in on a few free agents, but also focused on restructuring a deal with one of the franchise’s mainstays.
DeAngelo Hall is a 33 year old coming off of yet another injury. He is not worth the $4.25 million left on his deal, but he has expressed a willingness to restructure his contract, per CSN Mid-Atlantic’s Rich Tandler. We agreed on a 1 year, $1 million deal as a sort of “prove it” option for Hall. He can get another year with the team, but if things do not work out, it will not be a financial burden for the team.
After that, we shifted our focus to the defensive line. Chris Baker is set to be a free agent, and given his solid play, he is due for a pay raise. In the past three years, Baker has made $3 million per year. We doubled that to $6 million per year over four years to retain the team’s top defensive lineman. It may not have been the best value, but retaining Baker was an absolute necessity. He is one of the only talented players on the defensive front and at age 29, he should still have a few quality seasons left in the tank.
The other defensive lineman that was set to hit the market was Ziggy Hood. A former reserve/future contract signee, Hood was due for a slight raise and could possibly start again for the team. We agreed on a three year, $7.5 million deal in the simulation to ensure that the team would not lose the versatile lineman. He could end up being the starter across from Baker in 2017, if the team can find a quality nose tackle.
The final defensive player we re-signed was special teams ace Terence Garvin. The linebacker was given $3 million over three years to provide depth for the team and be a core special teamer. It was a solid deal and will make the Skins’ special teams unit strong.
Dec 24, 2016; Chicago, IL, USA; Washington Redskins wide receiver DeSean Jackson (11) in action during the game against the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field. The Redskins defeat the Bears 41-21. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
During the simulation, we were also forced to cut ties with some of the free agents and other members of the roster that we no longer needed. DeSean Jackson was the most notable name to depart, but there were some other players as well.
On the offensive line, we cut ties with Kory Lichtensteiger and Shawn Lauvao. Both were starters at the beginning of the season. Lichtensteiger put together some poor performances to start the season and has not seen action since returning from Injured Reserve. His time with the team is up. Lauvao was the weak link on the offensive front, and releasing him saved some cap room. He will be upgraded in either the draft or free agency.
On defense, we chose not to re-sign either Duke Ihenacho or Greg Toler. Ihenacho has been a decent, do-it-all backup, but with Hall returning and Su’a Cravens converting, there may not be room for Ihenacho on the roster. Especially since Deshazor Everett has some potential as a backup. Toler has been a mediocre backup this year, and may end up retiring. Even if he does not, he simply does not have enough speed left to be effective.
Finally, Junior Galette was not re-signed while Derek Carrier was released. Galette simply is not needed thanks to the emergence of Trent Murphy. The team can add a player in the draft to provide solid depth. Meanwhile, Carrier is the fourth tight end when Niles Paul is healthy, so parting ways with him made a lot of sense.
Nov 22, 2015; San Diego, CA, USA; Kansas City Chiefs nose tackle Dontari Poe (92) reacts after scoring a touchdown during the first half of the game against the San Diego Chargers at Qualcomm Stadium. Kansas City won 33-3. Mandatory Credit: Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports
Free Agency: Two Big Contracts
In free agency, we went in with two major goals. Find a nose tackle on the market and complete the offensive line. With a hole at left guard, interior linemen were on the radar.
Our initial targets at nose tackle were Bennie Logan and Dontari Poe, but Logan re-signed with the Philadelphia Eagles in the simulation. Poe, however, hit the market and we focused our efforts on him.
At the end of the day, we agreed to a monster contract with Poe. He got $50 million over five years, but only 35 percent of it was guaranteed. From an organizational standpoint, it makes sense to spend a lot on a proven nose tackle. Adding a stellar one would immediately upgrade the defense and allow the team to focus on improving the back seven in the draft. It may look like a bit of an overpayment, but it could be worth it to get the two time Pro Bowler.
On the offensive line, we looked at a few options including Ronald Leary of the Cowboys, and Packers linemen T.J. Lang and J.C. Tretter. We decided to target Lang to start at left guard instead of Lauvao, and were able to land his services.
Lang ended up signing a four year, $32 million deal that was 50 percent guaranteed. There was some stiff competition on the guard market, so we had to up our offer. Lang is still just 30, so he should have at least two solid seasons left in the tank. He has been a terrific pass blocker this year and should continue that and help out Cousins immensely.
Dec 1, 2016; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Stefon Diggs (14) catches a pass in the third quarter against the Dallas Cowboys defensive back Brandon Carr (39) at U.S. Bank Stadium. The Dallas Cowboys beat the Minnesota Vikings 17-15. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports
Free Agency: Three Smaller Deals
After landing two bigger deals, we focused on a few more value guys. The first was a high upside young player who could end up being a starter for the defense.
Gerald Hodges, a linebacker who currently plays for the 49ers, agreed to a three year deal worth $18 million with the team. Hodges has been a strong player over four years with the Vikings and the Niners, and he has some starting experience under his belt. The Redskins have a huge need at linebacker, and Hodges could be the top backup to Will Compton and Mason Foster, or could take over for one of them. Either way, he is an upgrade over Martrell Spaight.
Following that signing, we went bargain hunting for some secondary help. Our first target was a veteran safety that could be used as a stopgap while the team develops some younger talent that they will get in the draft. In that search, we came up with Mike Adams.
Adams has been a Pro Bowl safety in two of the last three seasons playing with the Colts. Though he is going to turn 36 in the offseason, the Redskins could still pursue him. He will come cheap and can provide some high caliber play. In the end, he agreed to a two year deal with an AAV of $3 million. The deal was only 40 percent guaranteed and will not impede the team’s long term flexibility.
The final signing made was a huge one. We were able to lure Brandon Carr away from the Dallas Cowboys on a one year, $5 million deal. Carr has always been a solid No. 2 corner, and would be an excellent fit across from Josh Norman. He will be 31 in the offseason and may not be able to land a long term, lucrative contract. With this deal, the Redskins would rob the Cowboys of a contributor all while improving their own team.
Dec 30, 2016; Miami Gardens, FL, USA; Florida State Seminoles running back Dalvin Cook (4) runs the ball in the first quarter against the Michigan Wolverines at Hard Rock Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Logan Bowles-USA TODAY Sports
NFL Draft: Day 1 (Round 1)
In the first round, the Redskins would like to address one of their major needs. Even after free agency, they need help on the defensive line, at safety, at running back, and at linebacker. In the draft simulation, there were no quality defensive linemen available and the top safeties were also off the board. As a result, we were forced to choose between running back Dalvin Cook and linebacker Zach Cunningham.
In the end, we ended up choosing Cook. The Redskins really need a running back who can carry the load. Cook has put together a terrific career for the Florida State Seminoles, and he has put up some huge numbers.
Over his career, he has averaged a whopping 6.5 yards per carry. In the last two years, he has totaled 3,465 yards and a ridiculous 40 touchdowns (38 rushing, 2 receiving). He is definitely built like a workhorse for the next level, and he has game-breaking speed. Cook also put together a stellar performance in the Orange Bowl that should help his stock a bit.
For the Redskins, Cook would push Rob Kelley into a backup role that would better suit the strong, physical back. Cook is just too good of a value to pass up with the 17th pick, and he would probably be the choice if on the board.
Oct 29, 2016; Columbus, OH, USA; Northwestern Wildcats fullback Garrett Dickerson (9) is tackled by Ohio State Buckeyes linebacker Raekwon McMillan (5) at Ohio Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Greg Bartram-USA TODAY Sports
NFL Draft: Day 2 (Rounds 2-3)
On Day 2 of the draft, we decided to focus on improving the Redskins defense. In the second round, Ohio State linebacker Raekwon McMillan was one of the top players on the board, so he was selected to be the top backup. In a New Year’s Six preview, our own Jacob Camenker had this to say on the linebacker.
Though McMillan’s tackle numbers are down in 2016, he has 87 this year compared to 119 last year, he has done more in other areas. He has showed active hands when tackling players, and recorded his first two forced fumbles during the 2016 campaign. His active hands have also showed up in pass defense, as he has improved his coverage skills since playing as a freshman.
However, his coverage skills are still a big question mark for the NFL. He may not have the ability to cover players at the next level, as he lacks discipline when following receivers and tight ends. He has the speed to have decent coverage skills, but he just is too often caught out of position.
In the third round, LSU’s Davon Godchaux was on the board, and that addressed the need for youth on the defensive line. In 2016, Godchaux had 5.5 sacks and was highly productive in the tackling department, notching 58 stops. He could be a productive player as a 3-4 end, as he has nice quickness and can push back linemen.
The only concern with Godchaux is some off the field issues he had in the past. WalterFootball.com reports that he was suspended due to “charges of domestic abuse battery and child endangerment” though the charges were later dropped. Those issues could cause Godchaux to slide if they end up being serious.
Sep 29, 2016; Lubbock, TX, USA; Texas Tech Red Raiders quarterback Patrick Mahomes (5) is tackled by Kansas Jayhawks safety Fish Smithson (9) in the second half at Jones AT&T Stadium. Texas Tech defeated Kansas 55-19. Mandatory Credit: Michael C. Johnson-USA TODAY Sports
NFL Draft: Day 3 (Round 4-7)
The final day of the draft was spent taking some high upside players. In the fourth round, we addressed some needs in the secondary, taking Damontae Kazee from San Diego State and Fish Smithson of Kansas.
Kazee has been an absolute ball hawk for San Diego for the past two years. He has recorded 15 picks combined over the last two seasons, and he should be a solid developmental backup for the team. As for Smithson, he has been a strong tackler that has some ball skills. He could end up developing into a really solid safety, and he is the type of prospect that Scot McCloughan will love. A hard worker with great numbers and a great attitude.
With the final four picks, more high upside guys were grabbed. Stacy Coley, a speed receiver from Miami, was selected in the fifth round. He could be the team’s fifth receiver and will have a chance to replace Jackson as a situational speed player.
In the sixth round, Arkansas tight end Jeremy Sprinkle was selected with our first selection. He has a decent skill set, but could fall a little bit after being suspended for shop lifting at the Belk Bowl. Tanzel Smart, a defensive tackle, was taken with the team’s second pick in the round. Smart has some solid pass rushing skills and could be an impact player. Both players are practice squad candidates.
With our final selection, a seventh rounder, we took receiver Ricky Seals-Jones. The Texas A&M wide receiver has a nice frame and had a big bowl game, but he is nothing special. Washington would take him as a potential red zone weapon and would probably try to stash him on the practice squad.
Aug 11, 2016; Atlanta, GA, USA; Washington Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins (8) on the sidelines against the Atlanta Falcons in the fourth quarter at the Georgia Dome. The Falcons defeated the Redskins 23-17. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports
So, that final selection would just about wrap up the Redskins offseason. Of course, they would make some more roster moves prior to the regular season, but that would be as training camp starts and as injuries occur.
To recap, the major signees for the Redskins in this simulation were Dontari Poe and T.J. Lang. Both will be upgrades on the respective lines, while some other free agents will plug in the other holes.
Kirk Cousins ends up back with the Redskins on one of the more expensive quarterback deals in the league. He put together a terrific couple of seasons, and definitely seems like the franchise guy. Pierre Garcon will return to the team as well, while DeSean Jackson will be gone.
In the draft, the major get would be Dalvin Cook. He will take most of the carries and could really impact the running game. He has the potential to develop into one of the better running backs in the league.
At the end of the day, this is all just for fun. All the Redskins have to do this season is focus on improving. They will do that, and some of these moves could be possibilities for the team.