<
>

Washington Redskins' 2020 NFL free-agent signings: Kendall Fuller back where he started

play
Why the Redskins were conservative in free agency (1:01)

John Keim explains why the Redskins opted to be conservative in the free agency pool, citing a focus on building through the draft. (1:01)

NFL free agency is off and running, and we're keeping track of every major signing, trade and release of the 2020 offseason, with analysis from our NFL Nation reporters and grades from Bill Barnwell. The new league year began Wednesday, which means free-agent signings can be made official after that. The first round of the 2020 NFL draft begins April 23.

Here's a breakdown of every 2020 NFL free-agent signing by the Washington Redskins, and how each will impact the upcoming season:


Richard Rodgers, tight end

What it means: The Redskins continue to bargain shop as they look for value. They have added two players at tight end, with Logan Thomas having signed earlier. Perhaps they've improved their depth but they still lack a proven target at the position. Rodgers missed most of the last two years with various injuries. He does have 121 career receptions, but only 13 since 2016.

What's the risk: That the Redskins don't adequately address the position. Because it's another low-cost signing, there's no real risk to bringing in Rodgers. The risk comes if they don't add someone of more substance to help quarterback Dwayne Haskins. Rodgers has to be viewed as someone who could be a bonus if he stays healthy. But even if he doe, they need to add another talented target.


Peyton Barber, running back

What it means: The Redskins wanted more security at the position with numerous questions on the roster. Adrian Peterson is 35 while Derrius Guice and Bryce Love have knee issues. Guice has had three knee injuries in two seasons, after having knee problems at LSU. They need backs who are available; Barber has played all 16 games for three consecutive seasons. The Redskins want a physical run game and Barber, adept at running between the tackles, fits that mold.

What's the risk: It's another small deal by Washington so the risk is minimal. The bigger risk would be entering camp with two of your top four backs coming off major knee issues. The Redskins needed quality depth and durable players. So the risk isn't anything financially -- his deal is worth $3.5 million. But the risk comes if they want to rely on him and he's not capable. Then all you have is a low-priced unproductive backup.


Cornelius Lucas, offensive tackle

The Redskins agreed to two-year contract with former Bears offensive tackle Cornelius Lucas.

What it means: Depth. The Redskins do not have a swing tackle they could rely on as Geron Christian has not developed the way they hoped after picking him in the third round of the 2018 draft. Lucas at least has some experience with 16 career starts -- eight of them last year as a fill-in at right tackle. He played some left tackle early in his career. At 6-foot-8, Lucas has good size, which also means length -- a big plus in protection.

What's the risk: He's with his fifth franchise, so he's really a journeyman tackle. As long as the Redskins can find a left tackle, once they trade Trent Williams, and Lucas is just a backup then he's in a good role for himself. This has become a broken record during free agency, but there's not a big investment, and he'll be a backup so the risk remains low.


Nate Orchard, defensive end

The Redskins and Orchard have agreed to a one-year deal.

What it means: The Redskins want to have as much pass-rush depth as possible and Orchard would be a situational pass-rusher in a hybrid linebacker/end role. But it's a one-year deal so he has to be viewed as a fringe roster player -- a chance to make the roster, but good camp depth if nothing else. He played in five games for Washington but had his best game against Ron Rivera's Panthers with a sack and a fumble recovery and key tackles.

What's the risk: There is none. It's a one-year deal and he may or may not make the final roster. There was some thought Orchard was best suited for a 3-4 as an outside linebacker and the Redskins have switched to a 4-3. But in a nickel package he can rush as an end.


Kendall Fuller, cornerback

Two years after trading him to Kansas City as part of a deal for quarterback Alex Smith, the Redskins reached an agreement with the veteran cornerback to return on a four-year deal, sources confirmed to ESPN.

What it means: The Redskins are reunited with a corner they reluctantly traded for quarterback Smith two years ago. He is what new coach Ron Rivera wants: A smart, tough cornerback who fits the desired culture because of his approach. Fuller didn't excel with the Chiefs this past season, but the Redskins love what he offers: He can play outside and in a free safety role when coverage dictates.

What's the risk: The risk came in passing on the top cornerbacks, notably Byron Jones and James Bradberry, both of whom signed elsewhere. The Redskins were not in on Bradberry and, though they liked Jones, the price point took them out of the running. They need Fuller to play like he did in his second season with Washington in 2017, when he became a standout nickel. If Fuller plays as he did last season, the Redskins will still have corner issues. But he's still a favorite in the building with those who remain from the past regime. And they didn't pay him like a top corner, but rather one who should provide help at a lower cost.

Brandon Scherff, guard

The Redskins, on Saturday, placed the franchise tag on Scherff.

Projected franchise tag salary: $15.03 million

Seasons: Five

Career highlights: Scherff has made the Pro Bowl three times, including in 2019 despite missing the final five games.

Why he was tagged: Scherff rejected a deal during the season worth a reported $13 million per year, though it's uncertain how it was structured. But coach Ron Rivera considers Scherff part of the core and the Redskins want to keep negotiating with Scherff on a long-term deal. Because of his injury history -- he has missed a combined 13 games the past two seasons and hasn't played a full season since 2016 -- the Redskins can offer Scherff security. The Redskins already might need to find a new left tackle and possibly a left guard, so they don't want to create another hole. There's security in it for them, too.

What he brings: Consistency. Scherff has never made an All-Pro team -- many have said he has that potential -- but he is an excellent guard. He can block with power inside and also play in space, whether as a puller or on screens. That's where he can separate himself from other guards. The Redskins don't have to worry about how he prepares or studies. He's a no-nonsense player. The risk, though, is whether his injuries from the past two years -- a torn pectoral in 2018 and elbow/shoulder injuries last season -- will hinder his play in the future.

Jon Bostic, linebacker

The Redskins will re-sign the veteran linebacker, a source told ESPN's Field Yates, to a two-year deal with a base value of $5 million and $1.75 million guaranteed. It's an expected move after the team had checked out other players at the position.

What it means: Bostic started all 16 games for the first time in his career this past season and was a steady player against the run. He's certainly not a dynamic player, but he's a smart one who made an impact on some of the young players because of his study habits and scouting reports. He'll play in the middle of Washington's new 4-3 front -- behind what should be a strong defensive line.

What's the risk: Bostic is not a playmaker, with no forced fumbles and only two interceptions in his career. He didn't fare well when he played in Indianapolis' 4-3 front in 2017. He's smart, but the Redskins are the fifth team he's played for and only the second that brought him back for another year. They have Shaun Dion Hamilton in the middle as well, but might want to consider adding more depth later in the draft and perhaps trying to develop another option.


Wes Schweitzer, guard

Schweitzer comes from the Falcons, signing for three years and $13.5 million.

What it means: After losing Ereck Flowers to Miami in free agency, the Redskins needed more depth and a potential starter inside. They had hoped to keep Flowers, but the price got too steep. With Schweitzer, the Redskins signed someone who can play guard or center and who has started 36 games in four years. It's far from a lock Schweitzer starts; he's viewed as someone who will compete for a starting job, but would provide interior depth because he can also play center. He's considered smart and versatile.

What's the risk: There really isn't a whole lot unless they need him to start and he struggles. That's what happened in Atlanta. He was benched in 2018, but regained his job because of injuries. The Falcons then sought other alternatives. The Redskins have needed quality interior depth so they need him to provide consistent play. But they also have second-year Wes Martin who can start at left guard, Brandon Scherff at right guard and veteran Chase Roullier at center. So Schweitzer might not play unless there's an injury anyway. Some of this will depend on how his contract is structured; his deal is worth up to $13.5 million but more details need to be learned.


Thomas Davis, linebacker

Davis announced on his Instagram account that he is joining the Redskins, a move that reunites the veteran linebacker with Washington coach Ron Rivera.

What it means: The Redskins are trying to establish a certain culture under Rivera, which this signing highlights. Davis spent 13 years in Carolina, playing eight years under Rivera. He was a standout weakside linebacker for the Panthers, and the Redskins have a need at that position. They still don't know when Reuben Foster will be available as he recovers from a torn ACL and nerve damage in his foot. Also, Davis is considered an excellent leader and he'll also be back in a system more to his liking.

What's the risk: Davis turns 37 Sunday and the Chargers released him for a reason. As he adjusted to a new defense, he seemed a step slow at times, even though he led the team in tackles. However, reuniting with Rivera and playing in a system more to his liking should help. Davis battled through injuries to play all 16 games, but that's always a worry at this stage. And the other worry is if, at 37, he no longer can play as fast. That could leave Washington devoid of playmakers at linebacker.

Kevin Pierre-Louis, linebacker

The Redskins agreed to a one-year deal with the former Chicago Bears outside linebacker.

What it means: The Redskins landed a player who will bolster their special teams. They consider him a standout in that area -- as he was while playing for Chicago. He can also compete for a starting job at one of the outside linebacker spots, but most likely he'll provide depth and special teams play. The Redskins remain a young team, so if they're going to compete at all this season, they must focus strongly on all areas. That means special teams.

What's the risk: It's a one-year deal and the risk becomes if they count on him winning a starting job. Based on the contract, that doesn't seem likely. He's now playing with his fifth franchise since entering the NFL in 2014 with Seattle as a fourth-round draft pick. He's only started four games in his career, though three came last year in Chicago. So if he's starting, then something probably went wrong.


Sean Davis, safety

The Redskins agreed to a one-year deal worth up to $5 million with the former Pittsburgh Steelers safety, his agent Drew Rosenhaus told ESPN's Adam Schefter.

What it means: The Redskins want more options in the back end next to strong safety Landon Collins. They have Montae Nicholson, but he has not been reliable, whether from injuries or off-field situations. They also have Troy Apke, but he's been more productive on special teams, as has been Deshazor Everett. It's a chance for Davis to resurrect his career after missing almost all of last season with an injury. He does offer versatility having played some corner and strong safety for Pittsburgh as well.

What's the risk: He's coming off a shoulder injury that limited him to one game last season. He did start 40 games in his first three years combined, with 15 at free safety in 2018. But after his injury the Steelers traded for Minkah Fitzpatrick, making Davis expendable. In his one season at free safety, Davis wasn't a playmaker (only one interception) and has only one forced fumble. But the risk comes if they pencil him in as the starter and he doesn't provide a whole lot. However, based on his contract, a starting role can't be assumed.


J.D. McKissic, running back

The Redskins signed McKissic, who played last season with Detroit after three years with Seattle, to a one-year deal.

What it means: Goodbye to Chris Thompson. The Redskins' veteran third-down back knew his time here was done, but this move cements it as McKissic is viewed as a third-down back. The Redskins also have Bryce Love and Derrius Guice behind Adrian Peterson. If healthy, Love could see time as a third-down back. McKissic was adept at picking up the blitz in Detroit and did catch 34 passes. It's possible the Redskins will add more here, whether in free agency or the draft.

What's the risk: McKissic can catch the ball, but he's not a dynamic back, especially if he has to start games. The Redskins loved Thompson, but his durability became too big an issue. They need McKissic (or Love) to provide the sort of sizzle Thompson did when healthy. But because it's not a huge deal, there's not much risk -- as has been the case with most of the Redskins' signings.


Logan Thomas, tight end

The Redskins have agreed to a deal with the converted quarterback.

What it means: The Redskins are thin at tight end and needed bodies. They won't be, and shouldn't be, done looking for players at this spot whether in free agency or the draft. They only had Jeremy Sprinkle. Thomas switched from quarterback to tight end following his second season in 2015. He caught a career-high 16 passes last season -- and had a touchdown catch vs. Washington -- and averaged 10.8 yards per catch. He's smart and athletic.

What's the risk: Like with a lot of the other Redskins signings, there isn't much risk considering he's not getting a big check. But the risk comes if the Redskins don't do a lot more at the position. They need to add more help here if they want legitimate production from this position and real help for quarterback Dwayne Haskins. Thomas will be more of a receiver as his blocking wasn't considered a strength. He can be physical blocking on the move, but remains a work in progress.


Caleb Brantley, defensive tackle

The Redskins are bringing back Brantley.

What it means: Depth. The Redskins picked up Brantley in September 2018, but he missed almost 15 games last season with an ankle injury. He's stuck behind Jonathan Allen, Matt Ioannidis, Daron Payne and Tim Settle on the depth chart. With Washington going to a 4-3 defensive scheme, it will be hard for Brantley to get snaps. But, the Redskins do like him as a pass-rusher, so if and when he plays, it's likely it will be in their sub packages.

What's the risk: None. The front office knows Brantley and what he can do, and they view him as solid depth. As long as he's healthy, and needed for depth purposes, Brantley can help.


Cody Latimer, wide receiver

The Redskins signed former New York Giants wide receiver Cody Latimer.

What it means: Depth. The Redskins have wanted more weapons around Dwayne Haskins, but this won't end that quest. Latimer was a second-round pick in 2014, but his career-high in receptions is 24 -- set last season. He finished with 300 yards and two touchdowns. He's big and strong, so he'd give the Redskins another physical receiver, a role second-year Kelvin Harmon also could play. He can also return kickoffs, having handled those duties for the Giants a year ago.

What's the risk: He follows in the long line of low-risk signings by the Redskins this season. The risk, once more, occurs if they continue to not upgrade this spot. The Redskins entered the offseason wanting to find more help for Haskins and another receiver opposite Terry McLaurin. Latimer is the first receiver signed so the risk would be if this quest ends. It won't. Or, at least, it can't.


Ronald Darby, cornerback

Washington reached a one-year deal with the former Philadelphia defensive back.

What it means: Darby provides the Redskins with another option at defensive back, something they definitely needed. They signed Kendall Fuller and also have other players such as Fabian Moreau and Jimmy Moreland to compete after parting ways with Josh Norman and Quinton Dunbar. As of now, Fuller would be the most likely starter, so the more options they have the better. It also means they don't really know what they'll have. Darby's athleticism and speed will help.

What's the risk: Because it's a low-cost signing, there's not much risk. But the risk will be relying on someone who has missed a combined 20 games the past three years because of injuries. That's a major issue for a team coming off a horrid injury stretch the past couple years. Darby's instincts and ball skills were questioned in Philadelphia. For the price, Darby is a worthy gamble, but the risk would be relying on him to be healthy and productive. Washington needs to keep seeking help at corner.