With free agency set to begin in March, Redskins.com's Stephen Czarda previews the 2018 NFL free agent class position-by-position. Today's focus is on the outside linebackers.
While Ryan Kerrigan and Preston Smith remain the two most consistent pass rushers for the Washington Redskins, the team’s depth could look different heading into the 2018 season.
As it stands now, Trent Murphy and Junior Galette are both scheduled to become unrestricted free agents when the new league year begins next month.
Murphy, 27, was selected in the second round of the 2014 NFL Draft by the Redskins. In his first two seasons in Washington, Murphy recorded six sacks in 31 contests. After the conclusion of the 2015 season, Murphy was briefly moved to the defensive line before making the switch back to outside linebacker when Galette suffered a torn Achilles.
Despite the weight gain and then subsequent weight loss during training camp, Murphy turned in his best season in 2016, recording career highs in both tackles (47) and sacks (nine). The Stanford product began the season strong, as he recorded six sacks between Weeks 2-7.
However, Murphy suffered a torn ACL in the 2017 preseason opener against the Baltimore Ravens and was placed on Injured Reserve shortly after.
While Murphy was sidelined for the season, Galette finally made his long-awaited Redskins debut after his first two years in Washington were spent on Injured Reserve because of two torn Achilles.
Third amongst the outside linebackers in snaps played (407), Galette recorded 20 tackles with three sacks along with two passes defensed and one fumble forced.
In six healthy seasons, Galette has collected 148 tackles with 34.5 sacks, six passes defensed, six fumbles forced and two safeties.
Chris Carter is also set to become a free agent, although the veteran was almost exclusively used as a core special teamer by the Redskins in 2017.
Depending on which direction the Redskins elect to go, here’s some of the other edge rushers/outside linebackers that could soon be on the open market via Rotoworld.com:
- Nigel Bradham
- Dee Ford
- Anthony Hitchens
- Pernell McPhee
- Connor Barwin
- Junior Galette
- Tahir Whitehead
- Barkevious Mingo
- Jerry Attaochu
- James Harrison
- Erik Walden
- Trent Murphy
- Devon Kennard
- Lamarr Houston
- Dwight Freeney
- Jelani Jenkins
- Justin Durant
McPhee, 29, was released by the Chicago Bears on Monday after spending his last three years with the organization. In his seven NFL seasons (the first four coming with the Baltimore Ravens), McPhee has recorded 31 sacks. In five of those seven seasons, the Mississippi State product has registered at least four sacks.
Barwin, meanwhile, remains an effective player despite recently completing ninth season. The 31-year-old has been a member of the Los Angeles Rams, Philadelphia Eagles and Houston Texans, combining for 55.5 sacks. While his last double-digit sack season (14.5) came in 2014, the Cincinnati product has still recorded 17 sacks over the last three years.
As for Ford, the former first-round pick in the 2014 NFL Draft experienced a breakout season in 2016 as he recorded a career-high 10 sacks. However, Ford appeared in just six games in 2017 – recording two sacks – before being placed on Injured Reserve.
Another player who had his best season to date during the 2016 season was Erik Walden, who recorded 11 sacks for the Indianapolis Colts. Despite that production, Walden has just 26 sacks in his other 10 NFL seasons combined.
Whitehead, meanwhile, has alternated between playing inside linebacker and outside linebacker during his six seasons with the Detroit Lions.