The Washington Redskins’ 2016 offseason looked like a solid one – until we got to the end of the season. And then it was clear that not enough help came from their moves, or lack of moves.
That’s why my ESPN colleague Mike Sando, with some insight from people around the league and clearly in hindsight, dropped the Redskins '2016 offseason grade from a B-plus to a C-plus. The grade Washington would give itself is this: 8-7-1. That’s how the Redskins finished, and it wasn’t good enough to make the postseason.
The initial grade was compiled with the help of ESPN NFL Insiders such as Louis Riddick, Bill Polian and Mark Dominik. I was fine with the grade Washington received in the spring and felt the Redskins did a solid job. I’m OK with it now because they clearly didn’t do enough to help the defense, especially along the front. It’s not as if I thought the Redskins were going to be a great team -- I picked 9-7 for a reason -- but I thought they’d get more from safety David Bruton. He played poorly, as did another free-agent signing, Kendall Reyes.
I know Josh Norman was expensive, but at least he can play. As Sando notes, the Redskins made smart moves in signing tight end Vernon Davis and end Ziggy Hood. Both helped, though Hood was played out of position at nose tackle by necessity.
The Redskins didn’t do a good job finding a nose tackle, believing Kedric Golston could handle the position. In a draft deep with defensive linemen, they waited until the fifth round to select one. It could be that this season or next the view of that draft class changes – every class needs time, and this class wasn’t really selected for immediate impact.
The Redskins entered last offseason needing help along the line and at safety in particular. They’ll head into free agency in two months eyeing the same positions for help.
If they lose receivers Pierre Garcon and DeSean Jackson to free agency, and rookie Josh Doctson stays healthy, then that pick looks dramatically different. (By the way, it’s not a slam dunk both are leaving; I know there are issues with both players on both sides. I also know the team recognizes what both players add. The question will be to what extent financially, and if it’s enough to convince either wideout to stay.)
As Sando points out, too, they were unable to resolve Kirk Cousins’ contract issue, needing to use the franchise tag. I’m not going to change my thinking: I was OK with their gamble last year, knowing it might cost them a few million but understanding they wanted to see more. However, it's not as if any of the players they let leave did any damage elsewhere, so a lot of decisions were good.
But the end result is that while there was some good, there’s clearly more work ahead, especially on defense. That’s why they still need quite a bit defensively and ended up firing coordinator Joe Barry. If last offseason indeed had been a B-plus, the Redskins would still be playing.