The uncertainty of the wage cap and instability at key positions guarantees to make this a difficult activity for Rivera and his remade entrance workplace. This information analyzes the group’s wage cap scenario, in-house free brokers, positions of want and potential exterior targets.
Wage cap scenario
Washington has $54.2 million in wage cap house, fourth-most within the NFL, based on Over the Cap. Releasing quarterback Alex Smith added roughly $15 million. Good cap place is especially essential this yr as a result of the ultimate cap quantity stays unsure because of income misplaced throughout the pandemic and pending tv rights offers.
The cap is predicted to settle close to $180 million, down from $198.2 million the yr earlier than. Consequently, many groups are anticipated to launch stable veterans due to the cap, and there may very well be fewer groups in a position to provide free brokers massive contracts — probably creating extra alternatives for groups like Washington.
Washington’s free brokers
Notable free brokers: QB Alex Smith, G Brandon Scherff, DE Ryan Kerrigan, DT Ryan Anderson, QB Kyle Allen, CB Ronald Darby, RT David Sharpe, WR Cam Sims, Ok Dustin Hopkins, LS Nick Sundberg
Washington preempted free company by releasing quarterback Alex Smith, however the group has but to finalize the futures of its 18 different free brokers (14 of whom shall be unrestricted in March).
It hopes to re-sign Scherff to a long-term deal, but it surely hasn’t dominated out utilizing a second franchise tag to maintain him for no less than 2021. Doing so would price $18 million for one season, versus possibly $15 million a yr on a longer-term contract.
Washington hopes to retain cornerback Ronald Darby, based on folks with data of the scenario. Darby joined the group on a one-year prove-it deal in 2020 and now may very well be a major pay enhance to $9 million or $10 million a yr.
Sort out David Sharpe is one other candidate to probably return, given Washington’s lack of depth on the place, and receiver Cam Sims could also be tendered as a restricted free agent. If he indicators a proposal sheet elsewhere, Washington may match it or let him stroll in alternate for draft capital. A second-round tender is projected to price $3.38 million and proper of first refusal solely roughly $2.1 million, per Over the Cap.
Kyle Allen is the group’s solely unique rights free agent, so he’s anticipated to be again on a one-year take care of an $850,000 wage, except the group opts to re-sign him to an extended contract like it did with Taylor Heinicke.
Ryan Kerrigan and Ryan Anderson will probably be in new uniforms subsequent yr, and Washington doesn’t have any apparent different “cap casualty” candidates, now that Smith has been launched. Jon Bostic may very well be a candidate if Washington seems to be to remake its linebacker corps, however he has a 2021 cap cost of solely $3.57 million.
Free agent targets
Washington’s central roster query remains to be quarterback — because it has been for many of the final twenty years. The free agent choices are restricted, as Dallas appears intent on retaining Dak Prescott with a brand new long-term contract extension or a second franchise tag. Washington has 4 primary choices in free company, although none are supreme or probably long-term options.
One, guess on Jameis Winston, probably the most proficient participant out there, and hope he refined his sport throughout a yr in New Orleans. Two, signal a stopgap veteran like Ryan Fitzpatrick or Tyrod Taylor. Three, signal Cam Newton and hope his regression in New England is reversible. 4, gamble on a displaced starter like Mitchell Trubisky or Jacoby Brissett.
Marcus Mariota, 27, may quickly develop into a free agent. Las Vegas’ backup has reportedly been unwilling to restructure his contract to assist in a commerce. Washington may give Mariota an opportunity to develop into the subsequent Ryan Tannehill, a proficient passer who excelled after restarting his profession in a brand new scenario.
Offering Terry McLaurin and the remainder of the offense assistance is paramount to Washington’s rebuild. The excellent news is it figures to have loads of top-tier choices in free company, with Allen Robinson, Chris Godwin, Kenny Golladay and JuJu Smith-Schuster main the listing. The not-so-good information is that they’ll be dear.
Curtis Samuel could be a barely cheaper improve at a place in sore want of assist. Washington covets gamers with versatility and place flexibility, and Samuel suits the mildew (200 speeding and 851 receiving yards final season) whereas offering nice pace.
Corey Davis is coming off his finest season with the Titans, who declined his fifth-year contract possibility. Davis had 984 yards in 14 video games final yr and boasted one of many league’s lowest drop scores (79.1 p.c) from Professional Soccer Focus, which tasks his worth at $16.25 million a yr.
Logan Thomas broke out and performed like a real No. 1 tight finish final yr, however he additionally accounted for 93 p.c of the group’s snaps. This can be a troublesome customary for any skill-position participant to take care of — and Thomas shall be 30 this season. Washington may additionally lose No. 2 tight finish Jeremy Sprinkle, primarily a blocker, to free company.
Thomas’ emergence means Washington doesn’t should spend massive on the highest tier of free brokers in Hunter Henry, Gerald Everett or Jonnu Smith. The group may complement Thomas with a cheap, versatile veteran (Tyler Eifert, Josh Hill), or a youthful, mid-tier participant (Mo-Alie Cox, Jacob Hollister).
Scherff is prone to return a technique or one other — both on a long-term deal or an $18 million franchise tag — to maintain the proper facet of Washington’s line intact for no less than one other yr. However the left facet is much less clear, notably at sort out.
Taylor Moton, who was drafted within the second spherical by the Panthers when Rivera was head coach and Hurney was their common supervisor, is aware of the system and is reliable however can be anticipated to be franchise-tagged by Carolina. Washington may add a mid-tier veteran sort out, reminiscent of Pittsburgh’s Alejandro Villaneuva, on a short-term deal, or look to his former teammate Matt Feiler, who has performed each sort out and guard for the Steelers. For depth, former Broncos sort out Elijah Wilkinson is one other who is sensible for his versatility.
Rivera was usually vital of his linebacker group final season. The place is ready to return two starters, Bostic and Cole Holcomb, however Bostic turns 30 this spring and may very well be launched. The group figures to search for linebackers who excel in protection, as a result of opponents usually attacked the unit by means of the passing sport final season.
The highest protection linebackers in the marketplace are Matt Milano and Jayon Brown. Milano excelled in Buffalo underneath former Carolina defensive coordinator Sean McDermott and is seen as having the next upside than Brown. Over the Cap tasks every would price about $10 million per yr over three or 4 years.
Washington wants a real free security and a dependable slot nook — an unofficial beginning function since defenses play primarily in subpackages. Late-round gem Kam Curl thrived in aid of Landon Collins (Achilles) final yr, however Collins’s contract seems too unwieldy to even contemplate shifting this yr. Deshazor Everett, who was promoted rather than Troy Apke at free security final yr, has two years left on his deal however no assured cash. And he too is coming off an harm (torn pectoral).
Washington may splurge to attempt to get Marcus Williams or Anthony Harris, however contemplate that Fuller and Collins alone account for greater than $30 million in cap house in 2021.
In response to an individual with data of the scenario, the group is predicted to indicate curiosity in veteran security Tre Boston, who will reportedly be reduce by Carolina and has the pliability to play within the field and at free security. The nook market is skinny this yr, however Troy Hill and Desmond King II provide intrigue within the slot.