ASHBURN, Va. -- The Washington Redskins haven’t tried to rebuild their roster through free agency. They have tried to fortify it that way, of course -- but the misses have added up after Wednesday’s moves.
Offseason free-agent signings are just one way to build a roster; the Redskins’ offense is now largely homegrown (for a change) while the defense remains patched together. They’ve added contributors such as kicker Dustin Hopkins and defensive starters Will Blackmon and Mason Foster (in 2015) and Cullen Jenkins (this year).
The position players all were supposed to provide depth, but have been pushed into starting roles. The Redskins hope safety Donte Whitner, signed Wednesday, will contribute as well.
Meanwhile, the 2014 and ’15 drafts have helped. It’s too early to fully gauge the ’16 class, though to date only linebacker Su'a Cravens has been a consistent contributor.
But after the release of Kendall Reyes and David Bruton Jr. being placed on injured reserve Wednesday (both offseason signings), let’s take a look at the last two free-agent classes under general manager Scot McCloughan:
End Ricky Jean Francois: Signed to be part of the line rotation and a help in their nickel pass rush as a tackle. He’s better in a one-gap defense, which the Redskins now play, rather than a two-gap. Jean Francois has been a good addition in the locker room and is a fine reserve.
Corner Chris Culliver: Tore his ACL on Thanksgiving Day and was released after the Redskins signed Josh Norman. Never provided an impact, even before his injury, as previous knee issues caused problems. He’s now on Miami’s physically unable to perform list.
End Stephen Paea: Signed to a multi-year deal for approximately $5 million per year, which is starter money. They hoped he would provide quickness and muscle at tackle in their nickel defense, and at end in their base. He lost his job by Week 5. Then he was released by Washington this summer after lackluster play. He’s now in Cleveland.
Nose tackle Terrance Knighton: The Redskins gave him a one-year deal with incentives so this was a no-harm, no-foul signing. He did not provide the impact they wanted -- they did not like that he weighed around 400 pounds. Knighton signed with New England in the offseason, with a brief flirtation with the Redskins before doing so, and was cut. He remains unsigned.
Safety Jeron Johnson: He only received a two-year deal so it’s not as if he was a high-profile signing. But he was supposed to provide depth and help special teams; he had a good reputation for both in Seattle. But he was passed by too many players here on the depth chart and was cut in the offseason. He remains unsigned.
Linebacker Junior Galette: He was signed to a lower one-year deal after getting released by New Orleans. But two torn Achilles in two years -- both occurring before either season had started -- has left the Redskins playing the what-if game.
Safety Dashon Goldson: The Redskins traded for him, but they cut him after one season. Goldson was a strong leader, but not a long-term answer at safety -- and he was going to cost $8 million vs. the cap.
End Kendall Reyes: They only gave him a one-year deal with $1 million guaranteed, which suggests lower expectations. But they certainly anticipated he’d be part of the rotation. Reyes rarely made any plays, in practice or games, that made you take notice. He was cut Wednesday.
Corner Josh Norman: It’s always debatable who the best corner is in the NFL. It’s not as if every one of them is asked to do the same thing. That said, Norman deserves to be in the discussion and, thus far, has been a good addition. He doesn’t shy from any task, he works hard, and while he draws plenty of attention he also makes big plays on the field. He hasn’t been perfect and he has flaws as a corner, but he has been good.
Safety David Bruton: He signed a three-year deal worth up to $9 million. Bruton was said to be a strong leader (won’t argue that, though Dashon Goldson was probably a stronger one) and coming off a good season. But he missed way too many tackles and wasn’t much help in coverage. That’s a bad daily double. He suffered a concussion Sunday and was placed on injured reserve Wednesday. They have no idea how much time he would have missed with the concussion, but they clearly believed it wasn’t worth the wait.
Tight end Vernon Davis: Has been a help. He has only seven receptions for 79 yards, but he can catch and block so his presence allows for more diversity in two- and three-tight-end sets.
Defensive lineman Ziggy Hood: He was signed in early February, without any fanfare. But that was to be expected considering injuries cost him his job in Jacksonville and he was cut by the Jaguars and later Chicago. But Hood stood out in camp and earned a starting job. He would be much better used at end than nose tackle, but the Redskins do not have a true nose so that’s where he’s playing. It’s not Hood’s fault this area wasn’t addressed.
Corner Greg Toler: Another low-profile signing of a veteran. The Redskins wanted him for depth and that’s what he provides. Nothing wrong with this one.