The Redskins need to rebuild their defensive line, but few expected that would mean cutting players already on the squad. Exactly that happened Wednesday when the team released veteran Ricky Jean-François.
News of François' release brings some surprise as the veteran played well in more than 400 snaps last season. Pro Football Focus rated the 30-year-old with a 4.6 overall positive rating and even stronger against the run. Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk first reported the news.
Only in Washington for two seasons, François started eight games for the 'Skins and totalled 31 tackles and 3.5 sacks. By releasing François, the Redskins save $3 million towards the 2017 salary cap, money that maybe could be dedicated to another player.
A strong locker room presence, François was never shy about voicing his opinions. In recent weeks, his Twitter account became a frequent mystery, as it seemed the defensive tackle was questioning the Redskins offseason moves. Then, after the news of Scot McCloughan's firing, François openly criticized the team in a radio interview for the decision, saying the Redskins were headed back to "the drama."
By openly questioning the team, perhaps François opened the door for his release. At the same time, it's possible the Redskins brass saw a defensive tackle set to turn 31 in November and decided to take the cap savings.
Regardless, this leaves the Redskins without their two best defensive linemen from the 2016 season. Chris Baker signed with the Bucs early in free agency, and François will likely sign elsewhere before too long. Washington has brought in new players in Terrell McClain and Stacy McGee, though their track records will not elicit too much excitement from fans.
Impact help on the defensive line remains available in free agency, Johnathan Hankins and Dontari Poe stand out. The Redskins likely had enough room under the cap to work a deal for either player, but François release frees up even more cash.
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