Scot McCloughan just made one of the biggest free agent acquisitions in the league this year and one of the biggest in Redskins team history. But he wants to make sure that everyone knows that he still views acquiring free agents as a supplement to building through the draft, not vice versa.
“Like I always say, free agency is a tool you use,” the Redskins general manager told reporters at Redskins Park. “It’s something a lot of teams use more than others. I’m not a big proponent of it. I think you saw we signed a lot of our own guys back, signed a couple on the street.”
Indeed, much of the free agent activity this offseason has been centered around retaining players who already were on the roster. They re-signed eight players who were part of the 2015 team including Kirk Cousins, who got the team’s franchise tag.
But it hasn’t been all about home grown players. Norman is the sixth free agent from outside of the organization signed by the Redskins since March. All but Norman signed very modest contracts, with safety Davis Bruton getting the biggest contract with a deal paying him $9.1 million over three years.
But McCloughan just saw the sudden entry of Norman into the free agent market as too good an opportunity to pass up.
“It’s one of those things where this kid’s coming off an All-Pro season, he’s 28 and he matches all the characteristics we look for in a football player,” said McCloughan. “So it’s something you delve into. I wish I got him when he was 22, but that’s not the case. But still, I feel he’s in the prime of his career.”
McCloughan certainly hopes so. They are paying him $36.5 million fully guaranteed over the next two years. If they don’t get prime-season production out of him for that kind of money it will be a major disappointment.
McCloughan is not focused on that right now. His attention has turned to the draft, which starts Thursday night in Chicago. In the long term, what happens there will have greater impact than did the signing of Norman.
“We’re going to build through the draft no matter what,” he said.
That’s a process that can get an occasional boost from the acquisition of a player like Norman.