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Need to Know: What is the Redskins’ free agency game plan?

Mar 9, 2015, 5:30 AM EDT


Here is what you need to know on this Monday, March 9, one day before the Washington Redskins and the rest of the NFL start free agency.

The free agency game plan

We’re a day away from free agency starting in the NFL. In the past, we would have a pretty good idea of how active the Redskins would be. There were usually a few splashy first-day signings, with some big money dropped in the first week of the spending sprees. With occasional exceptions that was how things usually played out with Charley Casserly, the Vinny Cerrato/Dan Snyder combo, Mike Shanahan, and Bruce Allen.

Now there’s a new sheriff in town and nobody knows quite what to expect early in free agency. Or late. Or anywhere in between.

When Scot McCloughan was hired, he promised to take the team in a different direction with an emphasis on the draft. But unlike his mentor, Packers GM Ted Thompson, who generally sits out free agency, McCloughan said that he sees some value in it.

“I honestly think the draft is the lifeline of your organization, but also you’ve got to understand with free agency that’s a tool that you can use and you can use it in a positive manner,” he said at his introductory news conference in January.

Through the years the Redskins haven’t been able to use free agency in a “positive manner”, at least not positive enough to build a consistently successful team. Sure, they have signed some individual players who have worked out but as a team-building strategy free agency has been a massive failure.

What has McCloughan done in free agency in the past? In his first year in charge of the 49ers, the only place he has been where he was truly in charge of both the draft and free agency, he did next to nothing in free agency. Of the 22 main starters in 2005, 20 were either holdovers or ’05 draft picks of the 49ers. WR Johnny Morton came from the Lions and DE Marques Douglas came from the Ravens. Morton was at the tail end of his career. Douglas’ signing is roughly comparable to the Redskins landing Ricky Jean Francois last week.

That was the extent of the 49ers 2005 free agent activity, at least in terms of players who saw major action on the field. They were 2-14 in 2004 and improved to 4-12 in ’05.

While that’s interesting it’s not necessarily informative about what to expect in 2015. Different teams and different years could well lead to different plans. It’s hard to imagine McCloughan signing an aging wide receiver to go with Jean Francois and calling it a day.

They need two starting caliber safeties and they can’t rely on being able to find them in the draft. Market conditions may force them to stay in house for their starter at right tackle but it appears they would least like to add some veteran depth. Cornerback depth is reliant on the health of DeAngelo Hall and, if he stays around, Tracy Porter. Again, they can’t rely on the draft for a nickel corner. They released two defensive linemen, could lose another to free agency and signed one.

So we will see how McCloughan handles it. My feeling is that they will be relatively quiet the first day and maybe into the weekend. Then they will go into action to scoop up some good fits who will have shorter contracts with less guaranteed money than the guys who signed on Saturday.

This will allow McCloughan to build through the draft and not have positions taken up by free agents who have contracts that make them too big to fail.

But that’s just my working theory. Right now very few know what McCloughan’s free agency game plan looks like. We might get a few hints over the course of the next day and a half leading up to the Tuesday 4 p.m. start to free agency. After that we’ll get some hard facts to discuss.


—It’s been 71 days since the Redskins played a game. It will be about 188 days until they play another one.

Days until: Redskins offseason workouts start 42; 2015 NFL Draft 52; Redskins training camp starts 143

If you have any questions about what’s going on at Redskins Park, hit me up in the comments. And I’m always on Twitter @Rich_TandlerCSN.

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In case you missed it

  1. Stephfan - Mar 9, 2015 at 6:03 AM

    I think scott will try and plug a few holes… But rich do you think Sheldon can also play end.. Just think about it if he does. If we (redskins) get the knightly from broncos as nt or end, Sheldon in the middle or end with hacther on the other side. Dominate dline if Sheldon pans out

    • nomaan78 - Mar 9, 2015 at 7:34 AM

      I think

      Knighton as NT
      Paea and Hatcher at DE would be nice.

      Draft Dante Fowler, or Randy Gregory at 5th

      • Phillip Robinson - Mar 9, 2015 at 7:41 AM

        What about our offensive line!

      • Phillip Robinson - Mar 9, 2015 at 7:43 AM

        I vould rather them get victor Beasley!

    • captblood3000 - Mar 9, 2015 at 8:06 AM

      Shelton had the second slowest 40 time of any defensive lineman at the Combine. At defensive end his lack of speed is a liability.

      • tralfaz10 - Mar 9, 2015 at 8:38 AM

        He is Nose Tackle…not defensive end.

      • st4hof - Mar 9, 2015 at 11:38 AM

        Shelton weighing in over 330 ran the 40 in 5.19. By comparison, Knighton ran the 40 in 4.21…. At 320lbs. Safe to say Shelton move fairly quick, for a man of his size.

        • st4hof - Mar 9, 2015 at 11:39 AM

          Meant 5.21***

  2. Stephfan - Mar 9, 2015 at 6:04 AM

    At least I think so

  3. Phillip Robinson - Mar 9, 2015 at 7:10 AM

    I think this team is such a mess that this GM is confused

    • Stephfan - Mar 9, 2015 at 7:13 AM

      Haven’t you ever heard of if you have nothing nice to say don’t say it all

      • Phillip Robinson - Mar 9, 2015 at 7:22 AM

        As you can see a lot of the teams are resigning their players what is this gm waiting on to atleast give us a hint in what he is doing. He is gonna wait to long and loose out in the quality free agents. Mark my works. In the end he is just gonna sign bodies. Not quality!

        • Stephfan - Mar 9, 2015 at 7:31 AM

          So you would rather a move to the world who were gonna sign? Not a smart move sir.. Second he meaning scot doesn’t have to tell us anything…

        • tralfaz10 - Mar 9, 2015 at 8:40 AM

          That is what Chip Kelly is doing. Bodies and no talent.

    • Kendall - Mar 10, 2015 at 5:40 AM

      Chill it haven’t even started yet,defense helps offense we need to play Long draft one OT or free agent Callahan will handle the line

  4. babyteal1 - Mar 9, 2015 at 7:20 AM

    I don’t agree with your assessment based on the Redskins have cap money that they must spend. Filling the roster with a bunch of cast offs after four days doesn’t seem to be the building block to a successful season. Maybe your right but I hope they get some quality players early on…will see.

    • Phillip Robinson - Mar 9, 2015 at 7:25 AM

      I agree the wholes on this team is so obvious so why can t this gm see it. He is gonna wait until all the quality free agents sign and in the end just sign bodies!

      • tralfaz10 - Mar 9, 2015 at 8:43 AM

        Before you add your golden nugget intelligence to this thread, learn the difference between “wholes” and “holes”. Your ignorance is blinding me.

    • cmehustle - Mar 9, 2015 at 9:56 AM

      Im so over the Skins just always throwing money at free agents. How long have you been a fan of this team? You havent had enough of that yet? Crist I hope they just build up through the draft I dont care if it takes three or four years. Please dont sign any big money free agents.

      • babyteal1 - Mar 9, 2015 at 10:43 AM

        No one said to sign Suh but we certainly don’t need a bunch of reserve players from another team. Fan sense 1979.

      • Kendall - Mar 10, 2015 at 6:05 AM

        Yes I feel you on that but there contracts are not guarantee,this is just to make us at least above average.McCloughan well do the draft for years to come.

    • Kendall - Mar 10, 2015 at 6:02 AM

      Yes I feel you on that but there contracts are not guarantee,this is just to make us at least above average.McCloughan well do the draft for years to come.

  5. mr.moneylover - Mar 9, 2015 at 7:21 AM

    I think they gonna sign somebody today…and I hope its pot roast

    • nomaan78 - Mar 9, 2015 at 7:39 AM

      You are wrong already. Can’t sign a FA until Tue at 4pm. Unless they are cut from a team and available.

  6. Phillip Robinson - Mar 9, 2015 at 7:37 AM

    We know who the eagels are singing

    • nomaan78 - Mar 9, 2015 at 7:41 AM

      Lets go offer a better contract to Maxwell and take him from Philly. Philly already lost McCoy and Maclin and Desean last year. Now they have dirty Sanchez back as their starter. LOL

  7. mr.moneylover - Mar 9, 2015 at 7:41 AM

    Theres still good free agents out there…ppl need to just calm down…and redskins normally move slow in free agency they did it last year…they probably working out contracts with players they just keeping it in house and not telling reporters

    • Phillip Robinson - Mar 9, 2015 at 7:44 AM

      Ok if you believe that and if you say so!

      • mr.moneylover - Mar 9, 2015 at 2:24 PM

        Lol…Im just here to tell u …I TOLD YOU SOOO…they sign stephen paea to a 4yr deal

    • chris - Mar 9, 2015 at 6:06 PM

      Is this steve.

  8. Mikey Hughz - Mar 9, 2015 at 8:50 AM

    Do people not understand that you don’t win games in March? Scot will build this team how it needs to be built. Free agency hasn’t even started yet and right now the only players that are agreeing to sign are all being over paid, so I like this approach. He might sign some guys to some hefty contracts but the players he signs will be YOUNG and under 30..
    We have a good amount of cap space but we also have a lot of holes, this team will take a few years to rebuild(through the draft and with young fa signins). The list of (young) players I would like him to sign : R.Moore FS, Wisniewski C, J.Johnson SS, J.Sheard OLB, Iupati OG, Knighton/D.Williams NT, Thurmond CB, V.Green TE resign-J.Jenkins DE
    I think we will trade down a couple of times through out the draft and/or trade a player or two that doesn’t fit into Scot’s plans. Predictions that we will end up with about 10 picks total- 1,2,3,3,4,4,5,6,7,7
    1= Cooper/White/Parker WR
    2= E.Harold/Dupree OLB
    3=A.Marper C/G/T 3= S.Anthony ILB
    4=R.Darby CB 4=D.Johnson/A.Abdullah RB
    5=K.Drummond FS
    6= S.Mason OL
    7= D.Lott DL 7= B.Bridge QB

  9. hcicron - Mar 9, 2015 at 8:53 AM

    How about instead of continuously saying “what about oline” as if we are only allowed to sign one or two FAs, you let us know who you would sign? I’m Not disagreeing at all about the oline but free agency hasen’t even started yet and yor bashing the GM. Ridiculous

    • hcicron - Mar 9, 2015 at 8:56 AM

      Obviously that’s supposed to be your not yor.

  10. hcicron - Mar 9, 2015 at 9:00 AM

    Rich, every year about this time fans go nuts about who we should/shouldn’t sign. Then, as in the case of Jarius Byrd last year, fail to own up to their suggestions that flopped for other teams. Could you make a post where fans can put all of there draft/FA picks so that this time next year we could see just how good a job they would have done?

    • Mikey Hughz - Mar 9, 2015 at 9:35 AM

      @hcicron -That’s why some fans suggest that the Redskins sign these players bc they would be a good fit for THE REDSKINS, if they flop/flopped for another team then that’s the other teams problem bc maybe that said player wasn’t a good “fit” for their team…

      • hcicron - Mar 9, 2015 at 11:17 AM

        @Mickey, My comment was not directed at you rather Philip who on every post whines about how terrible our gm is for not revamping the online prior to the start of FA. I too enjoy looking at possible FAs I would like the team to sign. However every year it’s the same thing. Fans knock the team for not doing what they would do but never admit when they’re wrong. To say well they would’ve been a good fit for us even tho the bombed elsewhere is a cop out. What exactly would have made Byrd, for example, a better fit for us than the saints?

        • Mikey Hughz - Mar 9, 2015 at 2:36 PM

          @hcicron- I honestly don’t know if Byrd would have been a better fit here(Bc our defense was horrible). The guys I mentioned above are just guys I feel would be food fits this year, but I’m just a fan and may not know anything lol. As far as people who say our GM sucks bc he hasn’t signed anyone” “where are the OL” Are very annoying, free agency hasn’t even started and they are already whining. More than likely we won’t know who we are going to sign until they are actually signed

    • Rich Tandler - Mar 9, 2015 at 12:28 PM

      That’s what the comments are for. They’ll still be here in a year.

      > > >

  11. barrymoyer - Mar 9, 2015 at 9:43 AM

    Sorry I decided to read comments…now I remember why I stopped coming here.

  12. kenlinkins - Mar 9, 2015 at 11:31 AM

    Let’s remember that Free Agents are only part of a GM’s plan. So far the GM has made good moves by letting some of the higher priced low product older guys go (Cap Cuts), he has signed a few lower end guys for camp to see if any can step up and make the 53 man roster as Special team guys or back ups, he as only signed a few of the Redskins own Free agents and none to any long term high cost contracts. While I am sure that the new GM made a few offers over the weekend IMO none were even a 1/3 of the size we are hearing about for Suh! There is not a guy out there that he can sign that will get the Redskins to the play-offs in 2015. The Redskins still have a big question mark at QB and are not going to draft one in 2015 or sign a free agent other then a 3rd arm for camp. Until we see have the Redskins have at the QB position making a big move on a Free Agent is not smart. Add to that the questions all over the defense and special teams, it would seem to me that slow and easy is the best way forward and wait for the draft. After that, plus Mini camp, OTA’s, training Camp and 2 preseason games, the new GM will have a much better read on what is a good deal now and what can wait. I would be disappointed to hear that the new GM has cut a major deal this early in the process! Play the waiting game!

    • bowlregard - Mar 9, 2015 at 11:39 AM

      They could pick a QB in a later round in the draft.

  13. mac7163 - Mar 9, 2015 at 11:39 AM

    Not impressed with how free agency is going so far . Haven’t heard of the Skins making a strong play for any players that can really help in turning the team in the right direction . It seems like they are all signing elsewhere .

    • bowlregard - Mar 9, 2015 at 11:40 AM

      But they are also being way overpaid, many of them. I like that the Skins are not overpaying. When some of these cap rich teams have shot their wad, then maybe the Skins can move in and sign someone for a reasonable price.

      • mac7163 - Mar 9, 2015 at 12:00 PM

        I have no problem with them not overpaying. I’m just a long time Skins fan like many of you want a turnaround after many years of inconsistencies . We have a chance to right the ship through free agency and a soild draft .

    • st4hof - Mar 9, 2015 at 11:58 AM

      Wow, it’s almost like Washington has… CHANGED… I for one am happy Washington isn’t being splashy this year in free agency. Just because Washington isn’t making headlines does not mean they aren’t doing any work in FA. (officially hasn’t started yet) There are plenty of guys they can bring in that don’t need to be overpaid to get them here. Like Washington was really going after Suh, Maxwell, Gore or who ever else “signed” already. Let McC do he’s job.

      • mac7163 - Mar 9, 2015 at 2:56 PM

        I think Scot Mc is doing his job . And I’m glad they are not trying to overpay or make the headlines . All the articles I read state the Redskins are Serious about this player . Just wondering how serious they are and has any progress been made.

  14. deepball1 - Mar 9, 2015 at 12:06 PM

    some of these comments are a hoot. No the Skins are not going to bid on MAXWELL. No they are not drafting a wide receiver with pick 5. No they are not drafting Shelton and sticking him at Defensive END. Oh my God some of you have some bizarre ideas…..VINNIE…is that YOU?

    Sounds like Pot Roast or Dan Williams will be a Redskin this week and then the number 5 pick will be used on an outside linebacker like Shane Ray or Gregory or Beasley. I can live with that. Its a sound plan.

    Other indications are the Skins may bring in Parnell from Dallas for RT as there is Callahan influence there..
    And I would look for a member of the Giants secondary to join the Skins, Perry Fewell may push for that.

    Thank God for Scott M running things. and thank God for Chip Kelly….the Destroyer. (of the Eagles)

    • deepball1 - Mar 9, 2015 at 12:15 PM

      scratch the Skins bringing in Parnell as the Jags have apparently overpaid him with SIX MILLION PER YEAR. Thats a little too rich for a decent but not great player. Thanks but no thanks and once again….Thank God for Scott M because Vinnie would have layed out about 10 million/year to outbid everybody. lol

      • pdxskin - Mar 9, 2015 at 12:42 PM

        Well said, deepball1…and yes, I suspect that “Phillip Robinson” may actually be an online pseudonym for everyone’s favorite fan-boy, Danny Snyder! ;-)

  15. deepball1 - Mar 9, 2015 at 1:41 PM

    Redskins bringing in Paea from Chicago? Scott M states BIG MAN WINS and then he goes after 6 ft 300 pound lineman?/?? WOW…..I don’t know what to make of that. Is Scott confused….or…..what is going on. Are they going to a 4-3 defense???/ Will Paea be used as a rotating D.E in the 3-4 and then they sign a real Nose tackle???

    This is a really strange signing for what the Skins say they want to do. Maybe they are not confused but I am.

    • ET - Mar 9, 2015 at 2:04 PM

      I’m confused about this one now, but not gonna panic. It’s early yet.

      If we don’t land a competent veteran safety in FA, I might panic. But there are still some good options out there.

    • Mikey Hughz - Mar 9, 2015 at 2:43 PM

      @deepball 1- if you’re referring to me when you talk about not taking a wide receiver at #5, you may want to read it again. I suggested we trade down then take a WR, and that’s with signing the Free Agents I suggested.If a WR is the best player on the board I have no doubt we will take him..preferably with a trade down or even at #5!

  16. wvredskins - Mar 9, 2015 at 2:59 PM

    Paea was the 11th best defensive tackle last year in football. He might not have the size that SM wants but you cant argue over the productivity. We need depth at that position. I like the approach so far. The only thing now is we need some Safeties! In a BAD way!

    • st4hof - Mar 9, 2015 at 5:43 PM

      He was very good applying pressure yes, but what were he’s ranks vs the run? Thought so… Average sign, hopefully along the lines of what RJF signed for or we overpaid. Another guy to put in rotation and situational pass rush. Like the idea of having many bodies to keep the D line fresh. Paea is an upgrade over Bowen and Cofield, just wonder if we paid to much… Find out tomorrow I guess.

  17. Phillip Robinson - Mar 9, 2015 at 9:03 PM

    Our new gm suck he has no pull!

    • Stephfan - Mar 9, 2015 at 9:26 PM

      How do you know he sucks? Just be use he isn’t going out here and getting high price free agents? He is trying to fill the many holes that this team has. You are about the worst fan in the history of sports if you can’t see that. I bet you liked what vinny and Bruce has done? Look you either need to hop on board with the team or find yourselfs a new one.. Because this constant bashing is sad Archives

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