Washington Redskins Offensive Free Agents: Will Or Won’t Re-Sign
The Washington Redskins have a few free agents on the offensive side of the ball. Of the group, who will the team look to re-sign?
Coming into the 2017 offseason, the Washington Redskins are looking to rebuild their roster to ensure that they have a chance to compete for a spot in the postseason. After missing out on the playoffs this past year, the team is going to be heavily evaluating their roster. They will have some decisions to make on a good deal of free agents.
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On the offensive side of the ball, they have some big names hitting the market. Three starters, a spot starter, and a key depth guy will be hitting the market in the offseason. The team really needs to make sure they do their due diligence and figure out which guys are long term fits with their roster.
With that in mind, I will also be evaluating whether or not the team will elect to bring each player back. Here is a look at whether or not the Redskins will or will not re-sign their offensive free agents.
5. C John Sullivan
One of the more underrated acquisitions by the Redskins during the 2016 seasons was the signing of John Sullivan. The team needed some help at the center position in wake of an injury to Kory Lichtensteiger, and they turned to one of the more reliable free agents on the market to help shore up their depth.
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While Spencer Long started at center for almost the entire season, there is no question that having Sullivan really improved the Redskins team. When Long missed a game with a concussion, Sullivan stepped in and was able to fill in very well at spot. He was at least Long’s equal, and he was absolutely an upgrade over Lichtensteiger who had performed poorly in the first couple of weeks.
The question with Sullivan is, will he elect to return to the Redskins? He is starting to get old, but there are some teams that could definitely benefit from starting him at the center position. He will probably get some offers from teams to serve as a starter, and he could take one of them up on the offer.
The real question would be whether he wants a chance to win a title or not. If Sullivan wants to win, then he could sign with a playoff team in the role of a depth center, like what he did this season in Washington. However, Sullivan could also believe that the Redskins may be ready to compete with some upgrades. Still, he seems unlikely to return to the team for the 2017 season.
Prediction: Won’t Re-Sign
4. TE Vernon Davis
In 2016, Vernon Davis had his best season since his Pro Bowl year with the San Francisco 49ers back in 2013. Davis served as the No. 2 tight end for the Redskins and became one of Kirk Cousins’ favorite targets. Davis offered great insurance to the injury prone Jordan Reed, and really was a difference maker for the team.
In 14 starts, Davis managed to catch 44 balls for 583 yards and also recorded two touchdowns. He was able to work the middle of the field and looked to have his speed and explosiveness back after being devoid of it for multiple years. Coming to Washington rejuvenated him and perhaps working with the talented tight ends coach, Wes Phillips, helped him on that front.
Coming into the offseason, there are some questions left with Davis. He is a 32-year-old with an extensive playing career, so many are wondering how much he has left in the tank. Frankly, he had looked washed up prior to this season, so some are questioning whether or not it was sort of his last gasp in efforts to get another contract. Even if it was, it worked and he should land a deal somewhere.
It seems like the Redskins are going to be interested in bringing back Davis to serve as their primary backup. He played a key role on offense and the duo could probably agree on a short term, team friendly deal. Perhaps a 2 year, $4 million deal would suit both sides well. Regardless, Davis seems to be too good of a fit in Washington to leave.
Prediction: Will Re-Sign
3. WR Pierre Garcon
Pierre Garcon is coming off of what was one of the best seasons of his career. For just the second time during his nine seasons in the league, Garcon broke the 1,000 yard mark and developed into the top option for Kirk Cousins. As the season progressed, Garcon’s consistency became a weapon and that allowed him to take over the No. 1 receiver job.
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Garcon possesses excellent route running abilities and can also use his physicality to disrupt defensive backs. He does not have the same speed that he used to, but he still is able to get separation using his excellent route running skills. He could continue to perform well into the latter stages of his career, but there are still some questions about him.
The first big concern is that Garcon is over 30 years old, so he could begin to decline in the near future. Receivers can often play later into their careers, provided that they are not speed based players, but Garcon may command too much money for what he is worth. He made $8.5 million this past season, and likely will not make as much this year. A $6 million deal seems more reasonable, as he should be trading potential money for guarantees and extra years at this point in his career.
That said, Garcon may not be willing to do that. He could price himself out of the Redskins market and that may cause him to leave. Still, I think that the team will give it their best effort to re-sign the quality veteran. However, if he still wants a salary in the $8 million range, he should be sent packing. For now, I would say that Garcon is more likely to return to the team.
Prediction: Will Re-Sign
2. WR DeSean Jackson
It has long been reported that DeSean Jackson would be likely to leave the Redskins in free agency. He is going to be looking for a lucrative contract, and the Redskins will probably not want to pony up the money to pay the veteran receiver. During the 2016 season, I caught wind of these rumors and acknowledged that it would make sense for the sides to part ways in this piece:
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According to Bleacher Report’s Jason Cole, a source indicated that there was a “50-50 chance” that the Redskins would end up keeping Jackson after the season. This stems from the belief that Jackson is injury prone, and that case is strong. As the video points out, Jackson has only played a full season twice in his NFL career. That has never happened since he joined the Redskins.
The Redskins have another free agent receiver this offseason, and that is going to be Pierre Garcon. Garcon may end up being a better fit for the team for a couple of reasons. First of all, he will likely be cheaper. Garcon is a good possession receiver, but he does not offer too much aside from that. For that reason, teams will be less likely to overpay for him.
The second reason that Garcon would be a better fit is because he would be more able to take a backseat if needed. As he regresses, he should be able to be a quality depth player and allow the younger receivers to make an impact.
I stand by what I said during the season. Jackson is not looking to be a long term fit for the roster. Though he had a really strong season, he will decline in the near future and is not worth a big time financial risk. For this reason, I think he will walk in 2017.
Prediction: Won’t Re-Sign
1. QB Kirk Cousins
This will be one of the most important questions to answer in the history of the Redskins franchise. Do they trust Kirk Cousins to be their franchise quarterback for the future? On paper, he certainly looks to be a pretty strong candidate.
Over the past couple of seasons, Cousins has completed 68 percent of his passes for 9,083 yards, 54 touchdowns, and 23 interceptions. He has posted a 17-14-1 record while leading the Redskins to the postseason once in two chances. He did have a chance to get the team there a couple of times in 2016, but he could not get the job done. Still, his solid numbers in addition to the fact that he has been a good leader for the team leads many to believe that he is worth the risk.
The major concern, as always, is money. Cousins is not going to be taking any sort of hometown discount to remain with the Redskins. This is sensible given that the any sort of big-time discount would make his contract non-comparable to the other potentially elite quarterbacks in the league. Also, this may be the only chance in Cousins’ career that he can get a chance to sign a hugely lucrative deal, so he has to capitalize on it.
At the end of the day, I think a 5 year, $110 million deal in the mold of Aaron Rodgers’ pact with the Green Bay Packers makes a lot of sense. That would give Cousins the 20-plus million per year that he wants, while the Redskins could protect themselves at least a little bit in case Cousins’ late season struggles turn out to be problematic. I ultimately think that the two sides would get a deal done solely because of how important the quarterback position has become at the NFL level.