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Redskins’ focus in free agency needs to be on their own players

Redskins’ focus in free agency needs to be on their own players

Two weeks from today, the Redskins and the rest of the NFL will start free agency. We are running a series on CSNwashington.com taking a position-by-position look at which players the Redskins might be interested in signing. It started yesterday with the safety position.

Even though new GM Scot McCloughan is committed to building through the draft, the organization will need to sign some free agents from other teams; there are simply too many holes to fill with draft picks.

But the Redskins should spend a minimal amount of their cap space, which currently stands at around $16.1 million but could grow to well over $20 million with some contract terminations and renegotiations, on free agents from other teams.

Instead, the focus should be on signing their own players, the ones they drafted and developed. If you want to know why the Redskins have struggled for so long, get ready for a sobering fact.

Since 1984, a span of 31 drafts, the Redskins have taken 20 players in the first round. Only two of them, 2000 first-round picks LaVar Arrington and Chris Samuels, have signed second contracts with the Redskins. Some, like Brian Orakpo, have stayed on the franchise tag. Carlos Rogers, the team’s top pick in 2005, was kept around another year as a restricted free agent. But for the most part the Redskins’ first rounders have moved on when their rookie contracts were up if not sooner.

How can a team sustain any sort of success if it can’t hold on to its top talent? Or, in some cases, when their first-round picks just aren’t worth keeping?

The team has four first-round picks up for new contracts in the next calendar year. Orakpo will be a free agent on March 10. There is a legitimate case to be made for letting him walk, although the Redskins should at least ask for a chance to examine the best offer that Orakpo gets on the open market before making a final decision.

Next year, Trent Williams, Ryan Kerrigan, and Robert Griffin III all are set to be free agents. The team should work with Williams’ and Kerrigan’s agents to get them locked up for the long term before the 2015 season starts. The little-used term “Redskin for life” needs to be applied to both of them.

Griffin is a different case. The team can decide to activate an option clause in Griffin’s contract that would lock him up for 2016 for a salary of about $16 million. That does not seem likely to happen. The best course of action would be for the Redskins and Griffin’s camp to hammer out a two- or three-year deal with some guaranteed mone and some incentives. Such a deal would give the player some degree of security while giving the team some options to move on if Griffin continues to struggle.

The Redskins’ draft pick retention problem extends beyond the first round. The last second-rounder to sign a second contract was Fred Davis, who came back on a one-year deal after being franchise tagged after his rookie deal ran out. You have to go back to the second-round pick in 2002, backup running back Ladell Betts, to find a second rounder who signed a multi-year extension. The last second-round starter to sign a multi-year extension was 1999 second-round pick Jon Jansen.

How about the third round? Chris Cooley, picked in 2004, is the only player drafted in that round to sign an extension during the free agency era.

Next year is a big year when it comes to free agents. In addition to Williams, Griffin, and Kerrigan, other players slated to be unrestricted free agents are Keenan Robinson, Alfred Morris, and Darrel Young. Instead of shopping for stars from other teams as they have done for so many years, the Redskins need to hone in on targets closer to home.

At some point, a team has to start taking care of its own. For far, far too long the Redskins have either failed to do that or have drafted players that just weren’t worth hanging on to. Both issues need to be corrected if the team is ever going to move forward.

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Quinton Dunbar will not be prosecuted in South Florida armed robbery case

Quinton Dunbar will not be prosecuted in South Florida armed robbery case

Quinton Dunbar and the Seahawks are feeling a little bit better about things heading into the weekend.

On Friday, the Broward State's Attorney Office announced that it won't prosecute the corner for the South Florida armed robbery he was originally implicated in a few months ago. 

Dunbary's lawyer explained his client won't face any charges because of insufficient evidence.

Giants defensive back DeAndre Baker, meanwhile, is being charged with four counts of robbery with a firearm. Both players remain on the NFL's Commisioner's Exempt List.

While Dunbar could still face punishment from the league, this should close the matter legally for him. That has to be a relief, too, considering how eventful his life has been since mid-May.

The news that Dunbar had allegedly been involved in the robbery at a Florida house party broke just after his introduction to the Seattle media, which was an unfortunate look.

Then, his now-former attorney was accused of bribing witnesses, so the 28-year-old moved on to new representation.

The Washington Football Team traded Dunbar to Seattle for a fifth-round choice earlier this offseason. Now, the NFC West power can finally start proceeding with him in their plans.

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Current Packers and ex-Washington LB Preston Smith unnecessarily jabs at FedExField crowd

Current Packers and ex-Washington LB Preston Smith unnecessarily jabs at FedExField crowd

Playing in front of no fans due to the coronavirus pandemic will feel unusual for many NFL players this fall. But for Green Bay Packers pass rusher Preston Smith, it's not a new feeling at all.

"My first four years in the league, there weren't that many fans in the stands anyway," Smith said to local Green Bay media on Friday. "Might be kind of normal again."

Smith, of course, spent the first four seasons of his NFL career with the Washington Football Team. And over that span, Washington made the playoffs just once with zero victories in the month of January.

So, it makes plenty of sense why Washington fans wouldn't want to waste their money to watch a game at FedEx Field, anyway. 

While FedExField is one of the largest stadiums in the NFL, the Landover, Md. complex is usually filled with just as many rowdy Eagles and Cowboys fans when those NFC East foes visit as it is supporters of the Burgundy and Gold. If someone wanted to rename the stadium Lincoln Financial Field South, I'm sure there would be many residents in the Philadelphia area in favor. Enough of them show up every year. 

But we're also talking about Washington here, not to Los Angeles Chargers. Despite loss after loss after loss, many Washington fans braved bad weather and traded the comfort of watching their favorite team on TV for the mediocre fan experience of FedEx Field during Smith's time in D.C.

And it's not like Smith gave local football fans many reasons to come watch them play, either.

Smith had an up-and-down tenure in Washington. The pass rusher showed tremendous promise as a rookie, registering eight sacks as Washington made the playoffs. He even produced a safety in a playoff game against the Packers. But over the next three years, Smith's play was inconsistent, and Washington let him walk in free agency last offseason.

In typical Washington fashion, Smith broke out with his new team, the Packers, finishing with a career-high 12 sacks a season ago alongside fellow pass rusher Za'Darius Smith.

In Green Bay, Smith plays in front of some of the best fans in the entire league. So, when the pass rusher takes the field at Lambeau Field this fall without anyone in attendance, it's natural for him to feel a little weird about it.

However, it's also easy to show up when your team is good every single year. Smith should probably have a little more sympathy for Washington Football Team fans and be thankful for the ones who did show up. 

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