Muhammad Wilkerson, Allen Robinson among free agents to watch for Redskins
Even though the Washington Redskins will have $31 million in salary cap space, they won’t necessarily swing for the fences when the negotiating window for free agency opens Monday.
History has shown the Redskins are willing to tackle the market in different ways. In January, Redskins coach Jay Gruden revealed Washington went after defensive lineman Calais Campbell last season, but settled for linemen Stacy McGee and Terrell McClain.
They do, however, have the money and the track record to be aggressive. In 2016, the Redskins opened up their checkbook to land cornerback Josh Norman with a five-year, $75 million deal.
Splashy signings, like Norman’s, have certainly been common under Dan Snyder.
So what will the Redskins do this year? That will be decided in the coming days, but they have their options from the marquee names to the unheralded.
Here’s a look at the Redskins’ needs and some of the names, both big and small, available.
Splashy: Muhammad Wilkerson
Unheralded: Benson Mayowa
Both players are set to visit the Redskins this week, according to multiple reports. Wilkerson, 28, looked like a star during his first four years in the league with the New York Jets. After the 2015 season, Wilkerson signed a five-year, $86 million extension. But his production plummeted and he was inactive the last three games of the season for routinely showing up late to meetings. Fed up, the Jets cut him in February.
Still, Wilkerson remains an intriguing option for the Redskins, who are looking to upgrade their defensive line. The former 2011 first-round pick has shown he’s capable of playing multiple spots along the line. Besides the Redskins, Wilkerson is reportedly drawing interest from the Kansas City Chiefs, the Green Bay Packers and the New Orleans Saints. Wilkerson is free to sign at any time since he was released.
Mayowa, meanwhile, could be the latest Dallas Cowboys player to join the Redskins. While Mayowa played defensive end in Dallas, ESPN reported the Redskins are eyeing him to play outside linebacker in their 3-4 scheme. The Redskins will need additional depth at pass rusher if Trent Murphy and Junior Galette, both free agents, leave.
Splashy: Allen Robinson
Unheralded: Donte Moncrief
Robinson could be this year’s Alshon Jeffery a top wide receiver who takes a one-year contract to restore his value. The former Jaguars receiver was an elite wideout before tearing his ACL last September. While an ACL injury isn’t the dagger it used to be, teams still might be cautious enough to only offer Robinson a prove-it deal.
When healthy, Robinson was electric on the field. He was more than a deep threat and put up 1,400 yards and 14 touchdowns with Blake Bortles as his quarterback. That should speak for itself.
Moncrief, on the other hand, will also be looking to restore his value. The 24-year-old has dealt with injuries the last two seasons, and put up pedestrian numbers. Moncrief caught only 23 receptions for 391 yards in 12 games last season. It would be easy to attribute that to Andrew Luck’s absence, but he only had 307 yards in nine games in 2016 when Luck was on the field.
The Redskins need a starter opposite Josh Doctson. Ryan Grant is a free agent, and Jamison Crowder is better suited for the slot. Moncrief has an element the core is missing: speed.
Seattle’s Paul Richardson would be another splashy-type signing, and he should draw interest given his ability to stretch the field.
Splashy: Dontari Poe, Sheldon Richardson and Star Lotulelei
Unheralded: Bennie Logan
Let’s lump Poe, Richardson and Lotulelei in together. All three would be significant upgrades for the Redskins at defensive tackle, providing an anchor in the middle to help their porous run defense.
Poe settled for a one-year, $8 million contract with the Atlanta Falcons last offseason, and did a good job of rebuilding his stock. Richardson and Lotulelei are both listed in ESPN’s top 10 free agents. Seattle traded wideout Jermaine Kearse and a second-round pick for Richardson at the trade deadline, and would reportedly like to keep him. Lotulelei, 28, played in a 4-3 scheme with the Carolina Panthers, but was seen as being versatile out of college.
All three are expected to be costly.
The market for Logan could come cheaper. Logan and the Redskins have had discussions in the past the defensive tackle visited the Redskins last offseason. Logan is coming off a one-year deal with the Chiefs. He’s also familiar with the NFC East, having spent four seasons with the Philadelphia Eagles.
If the Redskins strikeout finding a defensive tackle, they could look to draft one. Washington’s Vita Vea and Alabama’s Da’Ron Payne are among the top players at the position for this year’s draft.
Elsewhere, the Redskins could look to add another running back, cornerback, inside linebacker, safety and guard. Except running back and safety, the Redskins have notable free agents of their own like linebacker Zach Brown and cornerback Bashaud Breeland at the positions.
The Redskins will look to upgrade running back after averaging just 3.6 yards per carry in 2017. And the team will need to add a safety if Su’a Cravens doesn’t return. Washington is reportedly eyeing a third-round pick for Cravens, but teams haven’t met the asking price.