A breakdown of the first week of free agency for the Washington Redskins:
Most significant signing: Receiver Terrelle Pryor. He was unexpected because the Redskins did not anticipate pursuing him. Yet the market for Pryor did not develop as many thought, so he became a bargain. It’s possible that another signing, such as safety D.J. Swearinger, stays here longer, since he’s on a three-year deal and his game has started to mature. But Pryor surpassed 1,000 yards in his first full season as a receiver and could replace some of the big plays lost when Pierre Garcon and DeSean Jackson left via free agency, at a fraction of the price, no less (a $6 million cap hit). Pryor is an excellent athlete, but still raw as a receiver. Therefore, his game should continue to improve. He also gives Washington some insurance if Josh Doctson hasn’t fully recovered from his Achilles issues or if he takes time to adapt to the NFL.
Most significant loss: Garcon, with Jackson a stitch behind. Jackson, though a home-run hitter, was not an all-around player; it’s just that what he could do, he still did very well (scare defenses). He was the one the Redskins tried a little harder to keep. But Garcon was the one who offered toughness and consistency, two traits any team desires. At one point, the organization was split on which one they should try to keep (Garcon wasn’t offered a deal to return). But Garcon was an excellent target for quarterback Kirk Cousins; he could trust Garcon's route-running on every play and he ran a greater variety of routes.
Player they should have signed: Defensive lineman Bennie Logan. The problem, though, is that he ultimately received a deal from Kansas City worth nearly $8 million for one season. The Redskins did sign two defensive tackles in Stacy McGee and Terrell McClain to long-term deals, but they could have used what Logan offered: a legitimate run-stuffer. They can still add more line help in the draft, but Logan would have given them a proven player in an area in which they're lacking. That would have taken up half of their salary-cap space.
What’s next: More attempts to find good bargains. It likely was the strategy even before Scot McCloughan was fired as general manager, considering the free-agent board was set a few weeks before his departure. It also was more in line with his philosophy. But the Redskins still want more help along the defensive line and will seek help at linebacker, whether inside or as a pass-rusher. Among the linemen still available: New York Giants tackle Johnathan Hankins. At one point, the Redskins appeared to have interest in him, but have not been connected to him lately. Linebacker Jelani Jenkins could be one to watch later. He can run and could be shifted inside. San Francisco’s Gerald Hodges also remains free.
Overall grade: C. All four players are still in their primes. Pryor turns 28 in June, but is still a developing receiver. McClain turns 29 in June; he’s not an impact player but is coming off a solid season. Swearinger turns 26 in September and McGee turned 27 in January. Only Pryor will count more than $3.7 million against the cap this season (and the Redskins can get out of any of the other three deals with a post-June 1 designation in 2018). It’s hard to say how much the Redskins have improved, however. They lost two productive receivers and signed one. They can still have a productive passing game, but there are questions. Swearinger helps defensively. They signed two defensive linemen and lost one (Chris Baker). They liked Baker only to a point, thanks to what they viewed as inconsistent effort. If the two newcomers are more consistent, that’s a win. Each has improved, but both have something to prove and the low-level line signings haven't worked out the past two years so there's natural wondering. They also re-signed Ziggy Hood and released Ricky Jean Francois. It's possible this class looks real strong in two years; it's possible only one of the four remains. Re-signing Vernon Davis was smart, but being unable to strike a long-term deal, so far, with Cousins, leaves them in a tough place. Trade him if there’s no hope of a deal (they say they don’t want to trade) or have him play another year on the tag and possibly lose him after the season.