Jay Gruden said that the Redskins may be doing some free agent shopping after the draft. They likely will wait until a couple of weeks after the annual selection meeting, which runs from April 28-30.
“I think there’s a lot of reasons for that,” said Jay Gruden earlier this week at the NFL owners meetings. “You don’t want to go crazy signing a bunch of backs and then draft one and have to cut them anyway. So I think we want to find out exactly where we stand after the draft.”
Gruden was referring to bringing on a free agent running back but he could have been talking about almost any position.
At this point, with the draft just over a month away and offseason workouts starting up in about three weeks, the Redskins are likely to be very cautious about bringing in any free agents. For one thing, as Gruden noted, they don’t know what they will get in the draft. Scot McCloughan said that he wants to turn the eight picks they have into 12.
Let’s do the math. They currently have 73 players on the roster. Let’s say that McCloughan gets his desired dozen draft picks, giving them an 85-man roster. The offseason roster limit is 90 and if they want to sign a dozen or so undrafted free agents they will have to cut some of the players who are on the roster now. They don’t want to create a further logjam by taking a look at some more veteran free agents they may have to let go after a month or so.
There is another reason that patience is a virtue when it comes to signing free agents. Veterans signed in the next month and a half will count in the formula that determined compensatory draft picks. Free agents signed after May 10 are excluded from the calculations. As of right now, they may be in line to get a late-round pick. Signing another team’s player could take that pick away.
If they find a player they believe they need at a price that they think is good, they may not let the comp pick formula get in the way of signing him. But if they are confident that he will still be there on May 10 they could gamble and wait it out.
There’s one more reason to wait to sign players. As time goes by, prices go down. After the draft, players who are still looking for a gig in the fall are often willing to sign for the veteran minimum or something close to it.