Both moves, which save a combined $8 million, were long expected.
The Redskins entered the free-agency period with approximately $17 million in available cap space. They traded for quarterback Case Keenum and agreed to sign safety Landon Collins, deals that will occupy a combined $7.5 million in cap space this season. But if the Redskins want to add more players, and have enough for draft picks, they needed to free more room. The moves weren't just about the salary cap, but each one does bring financial relief.
Brown would make flashy plays, but Washington wanted more consistency, both as a run-stopper and in coverage. Though he played with an oblique injury last year, he was relegated to a backup role for the final four games more for those issues than because he was hurt. After his benching, Brown said he could see the "writing on the wall" with his time in Washington.
Brown, a second-round pick by Tennessee in 2012, made the Pro Bowl in 2016, his only season with Buffalo. The Redskins, wanting to improve their defensive speed, signed Brown the following offseason to a one-year deal. He finished with a team-best 127 tackles, despite missing three games. He was leading the NFL in tackles when he got hurt in Week 14.
They re-signed him last offseason to a three-year year deal worth up to $24 million, though the decision was not viewed as a unanimous one throughout the organization. The Oakland Raiders also had expressed interest in Brown last offseason. His release saves $5.75 million in cap space.
Brown also was made expendable when the Redskins claimed Reuben Foster in November. Foster and Brown play the same inside linebacker position in the Redskins' base 3-4 front. Neither one is considered a playcaller, so they would not be an ideal pairing.
McGee's release, which frees $2.275 million in space, wasn't a surprise considering the depth along Washington's defensive front. In the past two years the team has added key starters Jonathan Allen and Daron Payne to pair with Matt Ioannidis. They also drafted Tim Settle in the fifth round last season and liked his progress. McGee, who signed with Washington two years ago, would be stuck behind a younger, cheaper core. He missed the first eight games last season after undergoing groin surgery in the spring.