Many were somewhat surprised last year when Redskins general manager Scot McCloughan hit the free agent market rather heavily in 2015. After saying in his introductory press conference that he was going to rebuild the team through the draft, McCloughan signed five free agents, all on the defensive side of the ball. None of them could be defined as a big-splash type of acquisition but he did spend some money. The free agent contracts totaled $69 million and ranged from one to four years.
Perhaps McCloughan would have been better off staying out of the free agent market. The team didn’t get a whole lot of bang for its buck. Here are the five free agents ranked by the value the team got for its money:
DE Ricky Jean Francois—3 years, $9 million: The former 49er and Colt played about 37 percent of the defensive snaps (427/1157) and he always seemed to provide a spark when he was in the lineup. He had two sacks and 17 tackles and provided solid leadership as a playoff race veteran (his teams were in the playoffs in each of the last four years).
NT Terrance Knighton—1 year, $4.5 million: Although he was nominally the starter, he played fewer snaps (408) than did Jean Francois. Pot Roast did provide a run-clogging presence in the middle and he is the first true nose tackle the Redskins have had since they started running the 3-4 in 2010.
S Jeron Johnson—2 years, $2.5 million: He was supposed to be a starting safety but he was beaten out in training camp by Duke Ihenacho. The fact that Trenton Robinson, not Johnson, came in at safety when Ihenacho went out for the year with a wrist injury in the season opener meant that Johnson had fallen to third string. He played 195 snaps and, according to Pro Football Focus, teams were six for six when throwing into his coverage.
DL Stephen Paea—4 years, $21 million: He played 221 snaps and he was mostly invisible. Paea did record 2.5 sacks but he did little else to justify his contract. His season ended when he was placed on injured reserve with a toe injury in Week 14.
CB Chris Culliver—4 years, $32 million: Perhaps it’s unfair to put him on the bottom of this list since he missed eight games due to injuries and those are something that a player can’t control. But even in the seven games in which he played he had no interceptions, no fumbles forced or recovered, and just one pass defensed. That’s not much of a partial season for that kind of money.
It should be noted that it takes more than one season to judge a free agent contract. Any of the four players who are under contract for 2016 (Knighton is not but he could return) could rebound and live up to their deals. But so far none of the free agents are providing much value for the money spent.