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Aside from their signing of Kendall Fuller, the Redskins have opted to approach free agency by handing out smaller deals to many players as opposed to huge money to a few pieces.
Washington has added 11 outside guys to their roster in addition to the ex-Chiefs corner. Of those 11, not one inked an agreement that carries an average annual value that tops $4.5 million, and all but one are tied to the team through just this season or next.
Ron Rivera is clearly choosing to bring in all of these low-cost options in order to increase competition all over the depth chart in 2020. That said, he'd no doubt like at least a few of these pickups to perform in a major way and provide sizable returns on the franchise's modest investments, too.
So, who are the new Redskins that seem capable of doing just that? Here's a ranking of the non-Fuller free agent signings on a scale of least likely to most likely to truly contribute in Rivera's debut at the helm.
Rodgers is a 28-year-old who has more trips to injured reserve the last two years (2) than he has catches (1). 58 of his 121 career grabs came in 2015, meaning it has been quite some time since he played his best football.
Pierre-Louis will bring some needed speed to the linebacker group, but he's likely going to be using that speed a lot more on special teams than on defense. As of now, it's hard to envision him getting lots of snaps for Jack Del Rio's unit, and until that changes, his potential impact is restricted.
Redskins supporters are surely stressing that Rivera and the front office have addressed tight end by bringing in Rodgers and Thomas. At least with Thomas, though, there is some hope that he can become more dangerous as he continues to learn the position.
Perhaps longtime assistant and new-to-DC coach Pete Hoener — who's worked with Vernon Davis and Greg Olsen at previous stops — can also help Thomas ascend.
The good news with Latimer is, much like Thomas, he's coming off of his most productive campaign in the NFL. That's promising.
The problem with Latimer is, much like Thomas, he still only finished with very moderate numbers (just 24 catches, 300 yards and two scores).
With Terry McLaurin, Steven Sims, Kelvin Harmon and the possibility of a rookie or two coming at receiver, Latimer will line up as the fourth or fifth wideout at best to start 2020. Something close to a repeat of what he did for the Giants in 2019 is probably a realistic thing to ask for, which would be fine but also far from a breakout.
Schweitzer's a versatile interior lineman who's made 36 starts since 2017. He won't be doing that at right guard or center — Brandon Scherff and Chase Roullier occupy those slots, respectively — but he could give Wes Martin a run for left guard.
Even if he does ultimately beat out Martin, his track record suggests he's just an average starter. However, he's the first player on this list who feels like he could be relied on to be more than merely a depth signing, upping his chances of becoming a factor in the fall.
Lucas allowed just one sack for the Bears while starting eight times this past year, meaning he can be effective. Plus, the Redskins have had a host of injures up front as of late and also currently have no clear solution at left tackle, meaning he could be called upon for meaningful reps.
Schweitzer and Lucas are essentially in the same tier for the sake of this exercise, but because Lucas' path to starting is slightly more open as of now, he lands ahead of his fellow blocker.
Barber's arrival definitely caught the attention of some people. Could it mean that Derrius Guice and/or Bryce Love aren't as on track to be healthy for practices and games as the team would like? That's absolutely possible.
Barber's career 3.6 yards per carry average is far from impressive, but he's a durable running back and someone who has 13 total touchdowns since 2018. Rivera elected to bring him in to what many felt like was a stocked position, so don't be shocked if he has a role come Week 1.
McKissic is ahead of Barber because he's the Redskins top pass-catching running back. Sure, that's a designation Guice or Love could mature in to, but McKissic has already done it in the league, posting two 30-plus catch years since turning pro in 2016.
Now, McKissic isn't a lock for the 53-man roster, but his ability to help with his hands does make him appear more secure than Barber and maybe even Love. New coordinator Scott Turner can get creative with the 26-year-old.
Here is the first free agent who projects to be an immediate starter.
At this point in his career, Davis isn't going to reach a new level. At 37 years old, his best days are certainly well behind him, and Rivera is taking a risk by calling on him.
Still, the linebacker played in all 16 contests for the Chargers in 2019, is the Redskins' most established name there by far and his impact won't just be felt for four quarters every weekend. Expect Davis to make the Burgundy and Gold better, and do so in some ways you won't even get to really see.
The other new Davis will have to prove he's healthy again after a shoulder injury derailed his last go-round with the Steelers. As long as he is, there's plenty to like about his skill set.
Davis ran a 4.46 40-yard dash at the 2016 Combine; that kind of speed suggests he could be a nice complement to Landon Collins. He's also just 26 and could be now entering his prime.
In agreeing to a one-year contract with the Redskins, Davis is banking on himself to bounce back and show the NFL he can be a viable defender. He's got the ability to do so.
The two Davises are the safer choices for the top of this list, yet in terms of a ceiling, Darby may just have the highest. The major question with him is: will he be able to even try and reach it?
The former Eagles corner has been sidelined for 20 games since 2017 because of injuries. He's a liability when it comes to health and there's no arguing about it.
Here's the flip side, though: When he's able to suit up, he can blanket opposing receivers and break up lots of passes. Those are traits the Redskins badly need.
No one should be surprised if Darby joins the likes of Jordan Reed and Paul Richardson and Chris Thompson — players who were often missed — and makes this pick look really dumb. But don't be shocked, too, if his $4 million deal eventually looks like a steal, because he has serious talent. He just needs to be right to use it.
MORE REDSKINS NEWS
Pete Hailey is rewatching Amazon's All Or Nothing, a behind-the-scenes look at the 2018 Panthers, to learn about Ron Rivera and other key people who are now a part of the Redskins. Here's his review of episode seven, "Vicious Cycle."
When Ron Rivera and the Redskins signed Thomas Davis earlier this month, they no doubt did it in part because they believe he can help their defense. While some doubt how much of a difference Davis will be able to make — he did just turn 37, after all — he still is easily the team's most established linebacker and did play all 16 games for the Chargers in 2019.
The signing, however, isn't just for what the veteran can do for three hours on the field every weekend, and that's a crucial part of his acquisition that some of its skeptics are missing. And in episode seven of Amazon's Panthers-focused edition of All Or Nothing, Redskins fans get the chance to see what Davis can provide outside of game day.
In this chapter of the series, Carolina is hurting. They're in the middle of a losing streak that's costing them their postseason spot, and the defense's decline is the biggest reason for that.
So, during a midweek meeting for that side of the ball, Rivera steps in and tries to send the group a message.
"No accountability," the coach says. "That’s something that’s missing on this defensive unit that used to happen. Used to happen a lot more than it is now."
"What did I always used to tell you about defense, Thomas?" he then asks his longtime stalwart. "It’s hard! The hardest thing to do in the NFL is play defense and they’re making it harder on you guys now. So the only way you can get better is to accept that it’s hard and then work at being comfortable when you’re un-(expletive)-comfortable."
"If you don’t accept that opportunity, if you don’t take advantage of that opportunity, then shame on you," Rivera finishes before walking out of the room.
At that point, the guys prepare to leave. That's when Davis stands up and addresses them, too.
"Listen, man, why does it even take that?" he says. "Why does it even take that? Why does the (expletive) head coach gotta come stand up in our (expletive) defensive meeting room? It’s pretty obvious, man, that some of us just don’t (expletive) get it. You don’t understand."
"We’re sitting comfortable in these (expletive) seats right now," Davis continues. "But if (expletive) keeps going like this on this side of the ball, this (expletive) room’s going to look totally different. If you’re a competitor and it means something to you, this (expletive) should hurt you to your core. Let’s approach this (expletive) like we’re supposed to."
Every NFL coach has to make statements like Rivera made multiple times a season. Inevitably, a few of those statements won't quite hit like others, which is why having a player who is on the same page and who can deliver them as well is incredibly beneficial.
That's precisely what Davis did there for Rivera. That's also precisely why bringing Davis in was a priority for Rivera.
Washington's new leader imported a coordinator, position coaches, a trainer and a cap analyst from Carolina, citing how vital it was for him to be surrounded by people he's comfortable with and who understand his values.
While the Scott Turners and Pete Hoeners and Ryan Vermillions will no doubt make Rivera's transition easier, they could've only helped the players so much in their own transition to Rivera. That's where Davis will now fit in and be so key.
At times, that'll look like it did in All Or Nothing, where he echoes the coach's words. It can go the other way, too, where he'll able to communicate something from those on the roster to the man in charge of it. Overall, it should lead to a more cohesive operation.
Yes, it'll be on Davis to contribute with his on-field performance. That's what matters most in the NFL, like any other sport. But just know that his presence will impact the Redskins in lots of other ways in 2020 — and that impact could last far longer than his individual tenure with the organization.
Links to past reviews:
Episode 1: Rivera doesn't flinch after adversity hits
Episode 2: Rivera shows his feelings on distractions
Episode 3: Special teams truly mean something to Ron
Episode 4: Young Redskins will have a chance in 2020
Episode 5: Rivera goes off, and you'll want to see it
Episode 6: Watch this example of the coach's integrity