Due in part to the salary-cap penalties imposed on them by the NFL a year ago, the Washington Redskins aren't likely to be signing any big-name players this year in free agency. But perspective is important. The Redskins went 10-6 and won the NFC East in 2012. Much of the work they do will be to simply keep that team together.
To that end, a businesslike but important day, as the Redskins have reached three-year contract agreements with two of their own restricted free agents -- fullback Darrel Young and tight end Logan Paulsen. Per Rich Campbell:
Paulsen’s contract is worth up to $7 million with incentives and escalators. It includes a $1.1 million signing bonus, and the third year could void depending on Paulsen’s playing time, according to a report by the National Football Post.
Young’s deal could be worth up to $6.2 million, and it includes a $1 million signing bonus, according a person who requested anonymity because the Redskins did not publicize the signing.
Paulsen filled in well as the Redskins' starting tight end in 2012 following the season-ending Achilles injury to Fred Davis. He's not as dynamic a receiver or downfield playmaker as Davis is, and his signing does not mean they won't still try to bring back Davis, who's an unrestricted free agent. But Paulsen is an important piece as a blocker with familiarity in the offense.
Young, I think, is an even bigger deal. He graded out as the fifth-best fullback in the league in 2012 according to Pro Football Focus' grades -- eighth-best as a blocker, third-best as a runner -- and was a critical element of the league's leading rushing attack. Washington's zone-blocking running game requires a strong, effective fullback with intricate knowledge of the blocking schemes. And while Young earns attention on the rare occasion on which he picks up a first down or scores a touchdown, his value is as an every-down blocker. The Redskins' ability to retain him should count as a major win for them early in what could still be a challenging offseason.
It appears as though both players took a little bit less than market value to stay, which I think says something about where the Redskins are as a franchise. Washington could have tendered either player and made sure to hold onto them, but signing them long-term will reduce their 2013 cap numbers and help the Redskins navigate around the cap penalty. The fact that Paulsen and Young were willing to help out indicates that they're happy where they are, playing for a defending division champion with Robert Griffin III at quarterback.
UPDATE (10:17 pm): As the day went along, the Redskins also reached deals with a couple of their unrestricted free agents, indicating that their offseason plan is finally in full swing and perhaps that they've given up hope of recouping some of the salary cap money. CSNWashington.com reported that the team agreed to a one-year deal linebacker Rob Jackson, who played very well after the Brian Orakpo injury in 2012. And left guard Kory Lichtensteiger tweeted Saturday night that he had agreed to terms on a new deal. Jackson offers good depth in case they lose unrestricted linebacker Lorenzo Alexander, and Lichtensteiger is a key piece of the offensive line that was so important to that aforementioned league-best rushing attack.