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Redskins and NFL free agency tracker: News, analysis, and rumors

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Redskins and NFL free agency tracker: News, analysis, and rumors

The NFL player acquisition hasn’t officially started yet but deals are already being made. Things started rolling on January 30 when the Redskins traded for quarterback Alex Smith, ending the Kirk Cousins era. Since then players have been changing teams at an accelerating rate, including Michael Bennett, Aquib Talib, Torrey Smith, Jarvis Landry and, well, we’ll find out who else will be wearing new colors in 2018.

This tracker will be updated as events warrant with the latest news on top. Come back and refresh often.

Wednesday, March 14

4:00 p.m. The Redskins have re-signed Brian Quick, who was a lightly-used receiver last year. The signing was announced by Quick’s agent. He became important after the departure of Ryan Grant.

Last year Quick played in 11 game and caught six passes for 76 yards. His most memorable reception came against the Seahawks for an important first down in Seattle territory in the Redskins’ comeback win. 

3:35 p.m. Jaguars beat writer Ryan O’Halloran has reported that Redskins TE Niles Paul has come to a deal with Jacksonville.

Paul was a fifth-round pick of the Redskins in 2011. He converted from wide receiver to tight end the following year and he has played well in a variety of roles including fullback and special teams.

Paul sent out a tweet recently that indicated that he would not be back. The Redskins drafted Jeremy Sprinkle last year and it seemed that the pick spelled the eventual end of Paul’s career in Washington.

2:30 p.m. The Redskins’ have lost another member of the draft class of 2014 as Trent Murphy will be signing with the Bills.

Read out full post on the move here.

1:30 p.m. The Cardinals have announced that they have release defensive back Tyrann Mathieu. The Honey Badger came into the NFL after dealing with off the field issue at LSU and that situation let the Cardinals draft him in the third round. It has turned out to be a great pick for them. He was a first-team All-Pro in 2015. But his 2016 season was cut short with a knee injury. Mathieu played in all 16 games last year but he wasn’t quite the presence he was pre-injury.

Still, Mathieu, who turns 26 in May, will be in demand. He would be a good fit with the Redskins who need his combination of slot corner and safety skills. However, it appears that they will have to get in a long line and have their checkbooks open if they want to land him. 

12:00 p.m. The Giants swung and missed on guard Andrew Norwell. They reset their sights on Patriots left tackle Nate Solder. Large bags of money ot the deal done.

The preliminary numbers on Solder’s contract are eye popping—four years, $62 million. That average annual value of $15.5 million makes him the highest paid tackle in the game by a comfortable margin. Russell Okung and Trent Williams have contracts with an AAV of around $13.2 million. 

10:30 a.m. The Redskins’ draft class of 2014 has lost another member. We learned yesterday that Bashaud Breeland and Ryan Grant will not be back. Today we get the news that Spencer Long, the third-round pick that year, has agreed to join the New York Jets.

Although Long’s departure has long been expected, it leaves a hole at the left guard position. We will see how the Redskins deal with that as the offseason progresses. 

Tuesday, March 13

9:00 p.m. Ryan Grant has agreed to sign with the Ravens. That’s a surprise in and of itself as it was widely believed that Grant would be back with the Redskins. The shocker though was the contract he received with $29 million over four years with $13 million guaranteed and a $10 million signing bonus. Eve though those numbers are preliminary, the Redskins were not about to invest that kind of money in a player who would be their No 4 receiver. 

8:30 p.m. Rob Demovsky of ESPN reports that Mo Wilkerson has signed with the Packers. Wilkerson spend much of today at Redskins Park and he left to consider his options. He apparently opted to go to Green Bay.

The Redskins will continue to seek other defensive line options in free agency including Sheldon Richardson, Dontari Poe, and possibly Bennie Logan. 

6:30 p.m. According to multiple reports, both CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and DE Muhammad Wilkerson have left Redskins Park without signing contracts. By all account the visits went well but both sides will take some time to consider their options.

6:00 p.m. Former Redskins tight end Derek Carrier has agreed to sign with the Raiders. Carrier came to the Redskins in a trade prior to the 2015 season. In a game in Chicago in December, he suffered a devastating knee injury, tearing multiple ligaments including his ACL and MCL. After starting 2016 on the PUP list he was activated and played in a reserve and special teams role. Prior to the start of last season, he was traded to the Rams. 

4:10 p.m. The Redskins lost a home-grown player earlier today when Kirk Cousins headed to the Vikings. They have just lost another one.

Here is NBC Sports Washington’s post on the departure of Bashaud Breeland.

4:00 p.m. In case you had not noticed, the Ted Thompson era is over in Green Bay. The Packers have signed a big-name free agent.

Tight end Jimmy Graham has agreed to terms with the Packers. He’s not the All-Pro caliber player he once was but he still gives Aaron Rodgers a big, quality target, especially in the red zone.

In possibly related news, the Packers are going to release wide receiver Jordy Nelson.

2:30 p.m. The Cardinals were on the fringes of the Kirk Cousins chase but they apparently have lost out to the Vikings. Arizona quickly moved on to Plan B, as in Bradford. According to multiple reports the former Rams, Eagles, and, most recently, Vikings quarterback has worked out a deal to join the Cardinals.

Perhaps not all Redskins fans are happy with the acquisition of Alex Smith but they should be happy that their team does not have to chase through the pile of Plan B quarterbacks. 

1:35 p.m. The Redskins made their first free agent acquisition as former Seahawks wide receiver Paul Richardson is set to sign with Washington. The preliminary numbers of the deal, as reported by Mike Garafolo of NFL Media, are five years, $40 million with $20 million guaranteed. Those numbers are very similar to what the free agent deal that Pierre Garçon signed in 2012.

Here's our post with more details on Richardson from NBC Sports Washington. 

11:15 a.m. Kirk Cousins’ first visit will be with the team that has long been the favorite to sign him.

Cousins will visit the Vikings’ new facility tomorrow or Thursday. Ian Rapoport of NFL Media said that the Vikings’ offer for Cousins in on the table and it’s three years, $28 million per year with all of it guaranteed.

His report emphasized that the deal is not final. But if the offer is firm it’s hard to see him bypassing a team that seems to be ready to compete for a Super Bowl now—if the right quarterback is in place. 

10:00 a.m. Summing up a flurry of activity in the past half hour:

—In the least surprising news of the day, Drew Brees will remain with the Saints on a two-year, $50 million deal. The Vikings will not be able to use him as leverage to try go get Kirk Cousins.

—There was talk of the Redskins making a run at Chiefs receiver Albert Wilson to give Alex Smith a familiar target. That won’t be happening as he is planning on signing with the Dolphins for $24 million over three years per the preliminary reports.

—The defensive tackle market got a little thinner as the Bills scooped up former Panthers DT Star Lotulelei on a five-year contract. 

8:30 a.m. A linebacker who could have been a Redskins alternative should Zach Brown leave as a free agent is off the board.

Cowboys linebacker Anthony Hitchens has signed with the Chief, getting a deal that preliminary reports say averages $9 million per year.

This signing could be helpful for the Redskins in one way as it will help set a price for Hitchens. He and Brown are roughly comparable players. Hitchens is three years younger. Brown had a lot more tackles (84 solo, 127 combined) than Hitchens (55, 84) but that is partially scheme related as the inside linebackers in a 3-4 scheme are supposed to make more tackles than linebacker in a 4-3. In any case, Brown likely is looking for a deal somewhere in the neighborhood of what Hitchens will get from the Chiefs. 

8:00 a.m. I never really thought that the Redskins were in on Robinson. I thought the same of Rams receiver Sammy Watkins. He is going to the Chiefs for what the early report says is a lot of money. 

7:00 a.m. All-Pro guard Andrew Norwell is going to get paid. But in contrast to expectations, he will not be getting paid by the Giants.

The former Panther is signing with the Jacksonville Jaguars. Preliminary numbers have him signing a five-year deal worth just over $13 million per year with $30 million fully guaranteed (but, all together now—wait for the details).

No matter what the details, this deal raises the bar for a new contract for Brandon Scherff. The Redskins guard has not yet been named All-Pro but he has two Pro Bowls on his resume and it’s hard to see him getting much less than Norwell got. Scherff is entering the fourth year of his rookie contract with the team able to activate a fifth-year option. Since he has completed three years of his first contract he is eligible for an extension right now. 

6:00 a.m. The Redskins will get a visit from a player who made one of the most devastating plays against them in recent team history.

Cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, who intercepted a Kirk Cousins pass in Week 17 of the 2016 season to clinch a loss that eliminated the Redskins from the playoffs, was cut by the Giants over the weekend. NBC Sports Washington has confirmed that his first free agent visit will be to Ashburn today.

Rodgers-Cromartie will turn 32 next month and he has had a solid 10-year career with the Cardinals, Eagles, Broncos, and Giants. Last year he played in 15 games with six starts. He did not get an interception after picking off six in 2016.

The Redskins are in need at cornerback after the departure of Kendall Fuller in the Alex Smith trade and the likely loss of Bashaud Breeland in free agency. Rodgers-Cromartie could serve as a bridge while 2017 draft picks Fabian Moreau and Joshua Holsey, both of whom played very sparingly on defense as rookies, get their feet under them.  

It will be a busy day at the facility with Muhammad Wilkerson and former Cowboys defensive end Benson Mayowa joining Rodgers-Cromartie as visitors to Redskins Park.

5:30 a.m. Per various reports, Case Keenum intends to sign with the Broncos as soon as free agency starts tomorrow. That is just interesting and really relevant to the Redskins

However, the news that former Jaguars receiver Allen Robinson is going to sign with the Bears does have ripple effects that reach Ashburn. The Redskin are in need at wide receiver and they were widely thought to be in contention for Robinson. But they were long shots all along and it’s not much of a surprise that he will not be joining Washington.

Monday, March 12

6:40 p.m. Per Dave Lombardi of The Athletic, 10 teams have expressed interest in Redskins outside linebacker Trent Murphy. One of those teams is the cap-rich 49ers.

The Redskins have extended a contract offer for Murphy. The agent is now in the process of comparing the Redskins’ offer to what other teams might want to pay. How serious the interest of those 10 other teams is remains to be seen. It should be noted that this information likely came from the agent, who has an interest in making sure that there appears to be a very robust market for his client. 

5:00 p.m. RB Mack Brown was a fan favorite while he was in Washington. He was waived during the season as the team shuffled its roster due to injuries and the Vikings claimed him. Brown will be back with the Vikings as they have signed him as an exclusive-rights free agent.

4:50 p.m. The Vikings have contacted Drew Brees about moving up north to finish up his career. The longtime Saints QB will become a free agent on Wednesday at 4 p.m. if he doesn’t agree to a deal by then. While both the team and Brees have said all along that the quarterback is going to stay in New Orleans the deal isn’t done.

Perhaps the Vikings are truly interested in signing Brees. But it’s also possible that they are trying to show Kirk Cousins that they do have other options to upgrade at quarterback. It’s a leverage game. Still, I’m not going to be 100 percent sure Brees remains a Saint until he signs on the line in New Orleans. 

3:45 p.m. This tweet from Rapoport is interesting but there really isn’t enough detail in it to warrant any kind of in-depth analysis or even a comment. I’ll just put it here and save the extended look at what it means for later this week when the contract is filed, and we get all of the details.

3:00 p.m. Post: The Redskins put a second-round tender on Ty Nsekhe 

1:00 p.m. The Raiders are going to release cornerback Sean Smith. He has been a solid player in his nine years in the league with the Dolphins, Chiefs, and Raiders. Before you get to thinking that the Redskins could use a cornerback, be advised that he has been sentenced to serve a year in jail due to an assault conviction. 

10:30 a.m. The Dolphins will release defensive lineman Ndamukong Suh as early as today, per Jeff Darlington of ESPN. The move will cost Miami $22 million in dead cap.

It’s hard to see him being on the Redskins’ radar even though he is healthy and still is a solid contributor in a position of need. He is 31 and will command a significant salary. The Redskins likely will want to go younger and cheaper to build their line. 

10:15 a.m. Post: The Redskins re-sign K Dustin Hopkins 

9:15 a.m. It looks like Kirk Cousins will get offered a short-term contract with most of the money guaranteed. At least that’s what Ian Rapoport of NFL Media is reporting.

One of Cousins’ complaints about NFL contracts is that they tend to tie a player to a team for much longer than the team is obligated to pay the player. A three-year deal that is fully guaranteed or nearly fully guaranteed would solve that problem for Cousins. And such a deal would give him a chance to hit the open market again in three years at age 33.

Rapoport also said that Cousins will visit at least one, maybe two teams before deciding. That runs counter to an ESPN report which says that Cousins will not go on any visits. We will see how it shakes out. 

6 a.m. Post: The Redskins have made an offer to Trent Murphy.

Sunday, March 11

4:00 p.m. ‘Tis the season for cryptic player tweets. A short time ago, Redskins outside linebacker Trent Murphy, who is slated to be an unrestricted free agent, tweeted the following:

One certainly could interpret this as Murphy saying that he is returning to the Redskins. Or perhaps that he got some good medical news involving his knee. His 2017 season ended before it started when he suffered a torn ACL in the preseason opener.

Both Murphy and Junior Galette will be free agents and the Redskins would like to bring back at least one of them for depth. Murphy had a career year with nine sacks in 2016. 

11:15 a.m. The Giants have released veteran cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, a move that will save them $6.5 million on their salary cap. The team tried to keep him around at a reduced salary but DRC said no dice. It will be interesting to see what he makes on the open market. The Redskins could use a cornerback but they like will look for one who is younger (DRC turns 32 next month) and cheaper. 

But the Redskins, particularly Kirk Cousins, and fans will not forget Rodgers-Cromartie anytime soon. His interception of a Cousins pass late in the Giants' Week 17 game in Washington sealed a loss that knocked the Redskins out of the playoffs. 

10:40 a.m. Post: The devil is in the contract details

7:30 a.m. The Redskins are going to bring in former Cowboys DE Benson Mayowa for a visit this week according to John Keim of ESPN. At 6-3, 265 he likely would play as an outside linebacker in Washington. Playing about 40 percent of the snaps in Dallas he had six sacks in 2016 but only one last year. Presumably he is a low-cost option for depth if Trent Murphy and Junior Galette both depart. 

Saturday, March 10

8:00 p.m. That didn’t take long. After having dinner with Kyle Shanahan last night and spending today visiting the 49ers, Richard Sherman is signing a three-year deal with San Francisco, per Adam Schefter. This means that he will face the Seahawks twice a year. Sherman is no longer one of the league’s premier cornerbacks but assuming he gets healthy he still has a lot left in the tank. 

4:50 p.m. It’s not a surprise but Seahawks receiver Paul Richardson has tweeted that he is done in Seattle. Richardson is reportedly a free agent target of the Redskins. He has the speed they are looking for at the receiver spot opposite Josh Doctson. The 6-0 Richardson will turn 26 next month and he is coming off a career-best year with 44 receptions for 703 yards (16.0 yards/receptions) and six touchdowns. 

4:35 p.m. Per Mike Florio, the Redskins still are trying to deal Su’a Cravens and they are waiting for someone to meet their asking price. Full post here

3:15 p.m. A few thoughts on Wilkerson. He plays a position of obvious and perpetual need and when he was on his game he was very, very good (two-time second team All-Pro). It seems that he fell prey to an issue that hits many free agents, the loss of motivation after getting a big contract. Perhaps Jim Tomsula can get the best out of him.

The Redskins will be Wilkerson’s fourth team visit after he went to Green Bay, New Orleans, and Kansas City. While Wilkerson, 28, will not be looking to make the $16.75 million he was going to make with the Jets, his services won’t come cheap given the apparent interest in him. 

2:30 p.m. The Redskins will get their first high-profile visitor of the offseason. Former Jets defensive tackle Mo Wilkerson will visit the Redskins per Jason La Canfora of CBS.

The 6-4, 305-lb. Wilkerson was a first-round pick of the Jets in 2011. He has played all seven seasons for New York, starting 101 games and compiling 44.5 sacks. His career high in sacks came when he had 12 in 2015 when he made his only Pro Bowl.

He signed a five-year, $86 million contract extension after that Pro Bowl year but his play and attitude have declined since then. He would have been due $16.75 million in salary this year but the Jets decided to cut him instead.

10:45 a.m. Josina Anderson of ESPN is reporting what has been common knowledge around these parts for a while—that Redskins cornerback Bashaud Breeland will test the free agent market. While there was some thought that the Redskins might make a run at keeping Breeland after they traded away Kendall Fuller in the Alex Smith trade, the former fourth-round pick’s departure has seemed inevitable ever since the Redskins gave a big contract to Josh Norman. It’s tough to work two high-priced corners under the salary cap.

7:30 a.m. Former Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman isn’t wasting any time. He was waived on Friday and that night he was seen having dinner with 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan. According to Adam Schefter, the 49ers will meet with Sherman today and determine how his ruptured Achilles tendon is healing. If everything is satisfactory they may then start to negotiate a contract. The fact that San Francisco will play the Seahawks twice has to be a major motivator for Sherman.

Friday, March 9

8 p.m. The Browns traded away quarterback DeShone Kizer and five drafter picks and got back WR Jarvis Landry, QB Tyrod Taylor, and CB Damarious Randall and two picks. A lot of fans and analysts apparently confused a lot of activity with improvement. If the Browns do improve in 2018—and building on their zero-win season won’t be hard—it will be because of what they do with the $81 million in cap space they have (minus the cap numbers of the players they traded for) and with their draft capital. They got out of their dealing yesterday still holding four of the top 34 picks in the draft including two of the top four.

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page and follow him on Twitter @TandlerNBCS.


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Need to Know: Redskins likely to return at least 16 of their 22 starters from last year

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Need to Know: Redskins likely to return at least 16 of their 22 starters from last year

Here is what you need to know on this Friday, March 23, 34 days before the NFL draft.  

Stability at the top of the depth chart

A Redskins defense that ranked 27th in total defense and was dead last against the run is likely to return nine or 10 of the players who were the primary starters in 2017. The Washington defense, which was 16th overall and 27th running the ball, will certainly return seven starters and could have eight the same as last year.

I’m sure that this will alarm many Redskins fans, but it shouldn’t. Before getting into that, let’s look at the changes.

On defense, the nine starters who are assured of returning are DE Stacy McGee, DL Jonathan Allen, OLB Preston Smith, OLB Ryan Kerrigan, ILB Zach Brown, ILB Mason Foster, CB Josh Norman, S Montae Nicholson, and S D.J. Swearinger.

As of right now, a tenth returning starter has to be penciled in at nose tackle. Yes, if the season started today it would be Ziggy Hood at nose tackle again. More on that in a minute.

The only starting spot that is certain to turn over is the cornerback opposite Norman. Even though Bashaud Breeland’s contract agreement with the Panthers fell through due to a failed physical, he is much more likely to land on another NFL team than he is to return to the Redskins.

It is impossible to think that the Redskins will not do something to address the nose tackle position, whether it’s in the draft or in free agency. Then again, it’s impossible to believe they have run the 3-4 defense since 2010 without coming up with a long-term solution at the nose.

On offense, the seven starters certain to return are WR Josh Doctson, WR Jamison Crowder, OT Trent Williams, C Chase Roullier, RG Brandon Scherff, RT Morgan Moses, and TE Jordan Reed. RB Samaje Perine could be an eighth returning starter depending on if the Redskins take a running back early in the draft.

The new starters will be QB Alex Smith, WR Paul Richardson, and someone at left guard.

Having between 16 and 18 returning starters from a team that went 7-9 in 2017 may not be enough turnover for some fans. That’s not a completely unreasonable point of view. However, there is such thing as having too much churn in your starting lineup and some stability for the Redskins may be a good thing this year.

They had five new starters on defense last year and a new defensive coordinator. They also had a new coordinator on offense along with two new wide receivers and, by midseason, changes in the starters at running back and center. This is not counting all of the on-the-fly changes that had to be made due to injuries.

Continuing to make changes in the starting lineup is not always a recipe for success. Sometimes you just need to pick a group of players and, to the extent that you can in the free agency-salary cap world of the NFL, stick with them. Sure, you have to address weakness like nose tackle and possibly running back and fill holes created by free agency departures. However, it is often better to give a player time to acclimate to a system and, especially with a rookie, time to learn the fine points of the game.

Tearing things down and starting over again after a mediocre season is a recipe for, well, more mediocre seasons.

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page and follow him on Twitter @TandlerNBCS.

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In response to a tweet about this article that said that the Redskins led the league in losing important players in injuries:


Days until:

—Offseason workouts begin (4/16) 25
—Training camp starts (approx. 7/26) 127
—2018 NFL season starts (9/9) 171

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Terrelle Pryor reportedly closing in on deal with new team

Terrelle Pryor reportedly closing in on deal with new team

Former Washington Redskin Terrelle Pryor may have found a new home after a tumultuous season in Washington.

The 28-year-old wide receiver appears to be on the way to the New York Jets for the 2018 season according to Ian Rappaport.

Last season, Pryor only played in nine games for Washington and was sent to injured reserve after Week 11. His season ended with ankle surgery and it closed the book on a short stint in the nation’s capital.

In his nine games, he never got on the same page with former Redskins’ quarterback Kirk Cousins. Targeted only 37 times, the six-year veteran only had 20 receptions for 240 yards and a single touchdown.

This is coming after a 1,000-yard season on the dismal Cleveland Browns team that went 1-15 in 2016. As a free-agent, he signed with Washington on a ‘prove-it’ deal for one-year, eight million last off-season. He was expected to a significant amount of touches alongside Josh Doctson.


With so much anticipation it was easy to say that Pryor’s lone season in Washington was a disappointment.

If he does sign with the Jets, Pryor joins a New York franchise that is still continuing to rebuild. They currently own the No. 3 overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft and are in search of a quarterback.  A year ago they finished 5-11 under third-year head coach Todd Bowles.

Transitioned to wide receiver in Cleveland, Pryor was drafted into the league as a quarterback.  He spent three seasons in Oakland (2011-13) all as a quarterback making 10 starts. In Cleveland (2015-16) he made the transition to wide receiver before going to Washington in 2017.