Redskins.com’s Stephen Czarda answers YOUR questions submitted on Twitter about the Redskins' roster and more as the team prepares for free agency and the 2018 offseason period.
While the NFL’s focus is currently focused on the Super Bowl this week, after Sunday’s game complete attention league-wide will turn to free agency and Washington has a quite a few players set to hit the open market as it currently stands.
While the Redskins re-signed their first player last week in veteran linebacker Mason Foster, the team reportedly has 17 other players that are scheduled to become unrestricted free agents.
The NFL will release the entire list of free agents at a later date.
Among them are quarterback Trent Williams, guard Shawn Lauvao, center Spencer Long, linebacker Zach Brown and cornerback Bashaud Breeland.
Cousins, of course, is closing in on free agency for a third consecutive offseason after completing his rookie contract after the 2015 season. Over the last two years, though, the Michigan State product has played under the franchise tag.
The Redskins could either place another franchise tag on Cousins or give him the transition tag, but the 29-year-old certainly wants a long-term deal in place for the upcoming season. If that’s in Washington, Cousins wants to be the leader of a team that is winning on a consistent basis.
“I want this brand, this organization to be associated with winning and when people around the league and our fans that support this league think about this organization, I want them to think of winners,” Cousins said last month.
Regardless of if Cousins returns or not, Redskins head coach Jay Gruden has said multiple times now that he wants to build up both sides of the roster. That means having backup plans should players they want ultimately sign with other teams.
“There’s no guarantee that they’re going to sign here anyway, so we still have to have Plan A, Plan B, Plan C, Plan D,” Gruden said earlier this month. “That’s something that we have to do as an organization and be diligent and study it and make sure we’re ready to go no matter what happens.”
Cousins isn’t the only former Redskins draft pick that could hit the open market, as Long and Breeland along with two fellow 2014 selections in wide receiver Ryan Grant and linebacker Trent Murphy are soon completing their rookie deals.
While the Redskins signed cornerback Quinton Dunbar to a multi-year extension earlier this month, Gruden said that the team could still return Breeland.
In his first four seasons, Breeland has totaled 270 tackles with 60 passes defensed, eight interceptions and seven fumbles forced.
As for Grant, Gruden said the Redskins are “going to try and do everything we can to get him back.”
While Grant was mostly filled a reserve role during his first three seasons, he easily set personal bests in receptions (45), receiving yards (573) and receiving touchdowns (four) during the 2017 season.
Brown is among the former free agent signings the Redskins have made that are on expiring contracts.
After signing with Washington this past April, Brown led the NFL in tackles for most of the season before being sidelined for the final three games of the year. The former Pro Bowler still finished the year with 127 tackles, ninth most in the league.
“I was impressed,” Gruden said. “I think what we thought we were getting we got, and we got a very athletic guy that can run sideline to sideline and make some plays. He got hurt there a little bit at the end of the season unfortunately for him, but he had a solid year. He’s a guy that it’s hard to replace his type of speed.”
Another linebacker to keep an eye on will be Junior Galette, who played the entirety of the 2017 season after missing the previous two seasons with separate Achilles tears. Galette appeared on 407 defensive snaps in a rotational role behind Ryan Kerrigan and Preston Smith, but is hoping to receive more playing time next season.
Whether that’s in Washington remains to be seen.
“I just want to play,” Galette said at the end of the season. “I love it here, I’m thankful for the opportunity and I know the type of player I’m capable of and I’m still a top-tier player in the league. I just want to play.”
Fellow linebackers Will Compton and Chris Carter, wide receivers Terrelle Pryor Sr. and Brian Quick, tight end Niles Paul, kicker Dustin Hopkins, defensive lineman Phil Taylor Sr., safety DeAngelo Hall and offensive lineman Tony Bergstrom are also reportedly set to become unrestricted free agents.