What The Team Accomplished So Far:
In Day One, the team focused primarily on adding offensive weapons at the receiver position. The Redskins locked up two quality weapons, as Kyle and Mike Shanahan continue to makeover the roster with the pieces they want.
Now the emphasis in the market seems to have shifted to the defensive side of the ball with the signing of Pro Bowl safety Brandon Meriweather.
Whether it’s playing up close to the line as a run enforcer, or playing centerfield against the pass, Meriweather classified himself as a playmaker, and his numbers support it. He was brought in with the opportunity to rebuild his young career after a disappointing 2011 that saw him cut and used incorrectly by the Chicago Bears.
In Jim Haslett’s defense, he should be given the freedom and opportunity to make the plays that made him a top safety in the NFL in 2009 and ’10.
Although not as great, the team still has a need at safety, and could address it through free agency or the draft. At last check, LaRon Landry is still a free agent, but his health is an obvious concern, having only played in 17 of the last 32 games.
The team may also choose to address the issue internally, and go with a combination of DeJon Gomes and Reed Doughty. Given the injuries at the position last year, expect at least one more face to be added to the mix at some point.
My Fair Warning Comes To Fruition:
As I noted in yesterday’s recap piece, the Redskins’ website and associated social media platforms only report on official dealings (when pen is put to paper). News is official, and nothing is official until it’s signed by all parties and approved by the league.
The poster child for this point is new San Diego Chargers’ wide receiver Eddie Royal. In the opening hours of free agency, the team was rumored to be in on Garçon (true), Josh Morgan (true), and Royal at the receiver position.
While the team may have been interested in Royal, nothing was ever consummated, and the reports and rumors that he had signed were simply not true. I’m not calling anyone for journalistic integrity, but if there’s no factual backing, it’s not news.
So just remember the next time you hear an Eddie Royal to the Redskins rumor. There may be elements to a rumor that end up being true, but you can count on Redskins.com, Blog, Twitter and Facebook being accurate and official.
Which Redskins Are Left Unclaimed:
Another day of free agency passed, and none of the newest Redskins big free agents have signed on anywhere. From the former Redskins free agent file, we had reports of Chris Horton signing with the Giants after sitting out the 2011 season. Former Redskins special teamer Rock Cartwright also reportedly agreed to a deal with the 49ers, continuing his long career as a specialist.
Now for the updated Pro Football Focus rankings of the Redskins players currently in free agency. Each player took a jump up the list of 75 available free agents after players in front of them were signed yesterday. Lots of big fish still on the board:
18. London Fletcher, LB
So it’s unlikely that Fletcher makes a move to anywhere but Washington, but if you’re looking for an excellent linebacker on a short term deal then why not make him an offer he can’t refuse. Not every free agent move needs to be with the future in mind.
With four linebackers ranked ahead of him on the list, the market still hasn’t been set for Fletcher’s next contract. On the obvious upside is his leadership and NFL-leading 211 tackles last season, on top of a phenomenal career. The only downside is his age, and it’s a big one. Fletcher is going to bide his time on this one, and so are the Redskins, so don’t panic yet about the Redskins patriarch. When the market unfolds, he could still be anchoring the Redskins defense.
28. Laron Landry, S
Maybe the biggest question mark in free agency. Talent would see him in the Top 10, but has a huge red flag regarding his health. Will avoiding surgery prove the smart long term move?
37. O.J. Atogwe
A safety with good range, Atogwe was wasted a bit being used in the box on 21.7% of all his defensive snaps in 2011. He becomes the top safety on the market.
With the aforementioned signing of Meriweather to start at either safety position, the Redskins are presumably out of the market on at least one of these players. Injuries played a devastating role on last year’s record, and the Redskins seem determined to exorcise those demons in 2012.
Gauging from Meriweather’s comments yesterday, the hiring of defensive backs coach Raheem Morris appears to be paying dividends in free agency already.
I encourage you to look over the rest of the list and see what’s left in free agency. By my count, none of the Redskins on the 2011 squad have signed with any other teams yet. If and when they do, we’ll let you know.
Remember that free agency happens like the draft: different teams target different positions, and when a run is made on one position, the big dominoes fall fast. There is always a second, third and fourth tier to free agency, and the market will play out over time.
If there’s someone you have an eye on, be sure to share it in the comment section below.