Football Team

5 free agents with ties to Chris Polian, Washington's new exec

Football Team

There's yet another new nameplate needed at the Washington Football Team's Ashburn headquarters, thanks to the organization recently hiring Chris Polian as its new director of pro personnel.

So, now that Polian's involved, which free agents might he soon advocate for when the market opens in March? Here are five players he has ties to due to his lengthy run in Jacksonville.

Keelan Cole

Cole was picked up by the Jaguars as an undrafted receiver in 2017 and overlapped with Polian until the executive's departure in 2019. The key word in that last sentence is "receiver," a position that the Burgundy and Gold surely is looking to bolster.

Now, Cole likely isn't going to be the peanut butter to Terry McLaurin's jelly; that distinction belongs to more established targets like Allen Robinson or Chris Godwin. However, he did have 42 grabs for 748 yards and three scores as a rookie and is coming off a campaign where he posted 55 receptions for 642 yards and five touchdowns. He also logged a 91-yard six-pointer on a punt return in 2020.

So, the guy could certainly help Washington's offense as a third option. He hasn't missed a contest as a pro and will turn 28 this April.

Dede Westbrook

Cole isn't the only outside threat that Polian will be familiar with when free agency begins; Westbrook joined Jacksonville the same year that Cole did.

Now, the issue with Westbrook is that he's on a downward trend compared to Cole, who's got some momentum to his career. The fourth-round selection out of Oklahoma tore his ACL in Week 7 of last season and recorded one measly catch. 

 

Yet Westbrook hauled in 66 balls in each of the two years before that for a combined eight end zone trips, and he, too, can be useful as a punt returner. 

Signing him wouldn't be Washington's sole way of addressing wideout, but he could be worth taking a low-risk shot on.

AJ Bouye

Bouye was just let go by the Broncos, and his situation is a bit complicated. Before getting to that, it's necessary to point out that Polian is in part credited with bringing the corner to the Jags on a major contract in 2017 to pair him with Jalen Ramsey.

OK, now for the complicated stuff.

Bouye was a stud in his first go-round with Jacksonville during their run to the AFC Championship, earning a Pro Bowl nod and notching six interceptions. He fell off from there, though, and was dealt to Denver last March.

Bouye then busted up his shoulder in Week 1 for the Broncos, and his run in the AFC West concluded with a six-game suspension for performance-enhancing drugs, a ban that still has two games left for him to serve.

While Ron Darby has expressed an interest in returning to Washington, there's no guarantee he actually will. Therefore, Bouye, who'll be 30 by the opener, could be someone on the team's radar — but only if they're fine with waiting out his suspension and trust he can stay healthy once it ends.

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Cam Robinson

Washington could go a few directions at left tackle: They could roll with their in-house linemen, such as Cornelius Lucas and Saahdiq Charles, they could spend major cash like PFF believes they will, or they could settle in somewhere in between.

Robinson represents the third route, but he would require a fairly hefty contract that would put him much closer to door two than door one; Spotrac projects him inking a four-year agreement with an average annual value of $11.3 million.

The Alabama product, who was a second-round pick in 2017, has a few warts, most notably a torn ACL that caused him to miss almost all of 2018 and some lingering inconsistencies in pass protection. 

Still, he's not even 26 and, if the Jaguars let him walk, he'd be a tantalizing project for Washington OL coach John Matsko.

James O'Shaughnessy 

O'Shaughnessy is the least glamorous name on this list, but not every signing can be a blockbuster.

The tight end landed in Florida in — get this! — 2017, just like the four players above, and since then, he's put together four-consecutive seasons with at least 20 receptions but no more than 38.

 

The veteran would in no way compete with Logan Thomas for the top job at the position, though he does have more appeal than, say, Jeremy Sprinkle.