The Washington Redskins haven’t done a whole lot in free agency thus far, at least when it comes to signing players from other teams. In the past, those early free-agent signings haven’t always led to a lot of success – and a lot of the players haven’t made the impact hoped for when landed.
Thus far, Washington has only signed Kendall Reyes to a one-year deal; the Redskins have re-signed corner Will Blackmon, tight end Logan Paulsen, quarterback Colt McCoy, safety Duke Ihenacho and defensive end Kedric Golston. Most, if not all, would be backups – if they make the roster. They also signed punter Tress Way to a five-year extension and they'll likely re-sign Junior Galette at some point.
But the early signings in past free agency periods haven't helped them build a consistent winner. By the way, this isn't meant to say all free agency is bad. It's not. And the Redskins do need more help (I am surprised at how little they've done), but there's a ways to go and it is to show how the early signings don't always help. Here’s a look at the impact of their early signings of the past five free-agent periods:
Impact: This was an unusual one because all the players were signed right before -- or during -- camp, thanks to the end of the lockout. So none had a chance to work with the team throughout the offseason. All four started for at least three seasons with Washington. Cofield and Bowen worked well together, but injuries eventually limited them after several seasons (Bowen had knee issues that bothered him a couple of years). The Redskins clearly wanted to improve their defense after finishing 31st in total yards the previous year. It worked. In 2011, they were 13th in total yards (but 21st in points, same as a year earlier).
Impact: Garcon has caught 297 passes with 18 touchdowns in four seasons with Washington. Here’s how well it’s worked: He’s entering the fifth year of his contract without needing to have it restructured (or him having to be released). Morgan caught 48 passes his first season here, but showed little explosiveness or ability after the catch. He lost his starting job early the next season and was cut before the 2014 season. Williams was signed as a backup and pressed into duty when Jackson was suspended. Meriweather started for three seasons, with some injuries and suspensions in there, but was inconsistent.
Signed: Tackles Jeremy Trueblood and Tony Pashos, corner E.J. Biggers, linebacker Darryl Tapp.
Impact: None. There was no quality signing among this group. This was a direct result of the Redskins’ $36 million cap penalty as they couldn’t really afford any high-priced signings. Their hope rested on quarterback Robert Griffin III’s recovery and they believed the team would keep improving after a playoff run in 2012. They were wrong. You can make comparisons to this offseason, though the Redskins' hope now lies in the development of a quarterback not coming off a knee injury. But they also had a combined 21 draft picks in 2011-12 that they hoped would develop; few did and it cost them for subsequent seasons.
Impact: Minimal minus Jackson. He became available after the Eagles cut him following the start of free agency. His impact has been strong. The past two offseasons the Redskins have added players who were released in Jackson and Galette. The latter was hurt last season so he made no impact. If/when he’s re-signed and if he stays healthy, you’ll see the impact. But both are why teams say free agency is not about the first week, it’s about the entire offseason. Lauvao was inconsistent his first season, but was off to a strong start in 2015. He’s had multiple surgeries on both feet since his injury -- and it makes you wonder about his future performance. Roberts was bad his first season and beaten out by Jamison Crowder for the No. 1 slot job. Hatcher was solid when healthy, but the knees were an issue and impacted his play.
Impact: Not what was anticipated. One positive impact was in changing the culture of the locker room, so from that standpoint it was good. But Paea lost his starting job to Chris Baker (perhaps Paea starts this season; based on their current group, that’s what you would expect and he was good in 2014 with Chicago so there's time for him). Jean Francois is a key reserve in the nickel package. Culliver had little impact last season because of injuries that they hope don’t affect him this year. When healthy, he's good, but the health is a concern. Knighton wasn’t re-signed; he was OK at times and played better late but failed to provide the help they wanted. Johnson was cut earlier this month.