In a week that saw the Washington Redskins dismiss their general manager, it would be entirely reasonable for the fan base to expect chaos. Especially if the general manager's dismissal came on the same day the NFL's free agency period opened.
Yet, despite that exact scenario, chaos is not the current course at Redskins Park. In fact, the Burgundy and Gold is off to quite a strong start in the new league year.
By noon on Thursday, the situation for the 'Skins seemed dire. Reports showed that the team would lose two 1,000 yard receivers in DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garçon as well as their best defensive lineman in Chris Baker. Couple that with the unraveling of McCloughan's role amid talk of alcohol abuse and a power struggle with team president Bruce Allen.
At that moment, it seemed hope was lost for the Redskins.
48 hours later, flip that script.
On the first day of free agency, Washington added defensive line help in Terrell McClain of the Cowboys and Stacy McGee from Oakland. Neither player is a star, but both can be productive. The Redskins needed increased depth on their D-line in 2017, and the team's first two moves of the new league year went directly towards that effort. Injuries have caused McClain and McGee to miss games, and there's little the 'Skins can do about that, but both are relatively young and capable.
From there, the franchise added their first potential impact player in D.J. Swearinger.
A second-round pick in 2013, Swearinger has a reputation of a big hitter and playmaker in the back of the secondary. Last year, playing in Arizona, Swearinger recorded three interceptions to go with eight passes defensed, two sacks and 64 tackles.
Paired with Su'a Cravens in the back of the secondary, the Redskins might lack high-end speed, but they will have two players committed to the safety position. Last year, the team trotted out a career special teamer in David Bruton paired with a converted corner in DeAngelo Hall at the two safety spots. That plan didn't work. Further, both young players are difference makers - athletic and gifted. That duo immediately makes the Redskins better in 2017 than they were in 2016, and Swearinger's signing is the first time the Washington brass has truly invested at safety in many years.
If you're scoring at home, the first three free agent signings directly responded to areas of need for the club. If the team was playing baseball, McGee and McClain got on base, then Swearinger moved all the runners over. The bases were now loaded.
And then came the home run.
Washington agreed to a one-year deal with Terrelle Pryor, a receiver from the Browns. As big as the loss of Jackson and Garçon is, offsetting that with Pryor provides the Redskins offense with a bigger, more athletic option.
At 6-foot-6 and 240 lbs., Pryor is one of the biggest receivers in the league. Last season, he caught 77 balls for more than 1,000 yards. Making those stats more impressive, the Browns collection of quarterbacks in the 2016 season was abysmal. Pryor was Cleveland's best option offensively, and defenses knew it.
Want to go another step? Pryor remains raw as a wideout. He could get better, and maybe, much better. A quarterback in college and his first two years in the NFL, Pryor only made the full-time switch to receiver in 2015.
In Washington, Pryor will be part of an offense that features an emerging star in slot man Jamison Crowder, arguably the best pass catching tight end in the NFL in Jordan Reed, a veteran with plenty left in Vernon Davis, and, perhaps, the emergence of 2016 first-round draft pick Josh Doctson.
More importantly, Kirk Cousins signed his franchise tag. The quarterback is under contract for 2017, and though a trade certainly remains an option, on paper, the Redskins offense is again stacked.
What Washington still needs to accomplish in free agency: An impact player on the defensive line. Swearinger is an impact guy in the secondary. Pryor is an impact guy at wideout. McClain and McGee, however, are not.
The Redskins truly need to address a gaping hole at the nose tackle position. A hole that has largely existed since the team moved to the 3-4 scheme in 2010.
Bennie Logan, formerly of the Eagles, is set to visit the franchise's Ashburn offices. Logan could be the guy the team needs.
A third-round pick in 2013 out of LSU, Logan has size (6-foot-2, 310 lbs.) and played his best football at the nose in the 3-4 scheme.
None of this changes the sloppy way the team handled McCloughan. And none of this changes that Cousins could walk away next season without the club getting any compensation. Those two factors are real, and detrimental.
Still, Washington deserves commendation for a strong start to free agency. Bruce Allen has the team operating at a high level, executing well, and without offering massive contracts.
It's wild to suggest, but on paper in early March, the 2017 Redskins might be better than the 2016 Redskins.
The offense will look very different, but the increased size could help solve some of the team's red zone woes that plagued the team throughout last season.
The defense has already improved at the back end, and added help at the front end.
If Logan signs, and there is good reason to think he will, that will be three new, young defensive lineman to work with new defensive line coach Jim Tomsula. Losing Baker hurts, but the moves being made could offset that loss.
McClain. McGee. Pryor. Swearinger. And maybe Logan. Reports of the sky falling in Ashburn might have been premature.
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