The Washington football team currently has 64 players under contract (not counting those signed with the practice team). To date, 27 of those 64 are expected to become free agents at the end of the 2021 season. The roster, which looked so promising just a few months ago, clearly remains a work in progress.
So, as we tweak our thumbs over this week off, let’s take a look at these 27 impending free agents and find out what the Washington football team should be doing about them.
MUST RE-SIGN – Nothing
I’ll take the half-full glass here. There isn’t a single player out of the 27 that the Washington football team needs to break the bank. It is a good fiscal position. (The half-empty view would indicate that it also demonstrates a general lack of talent.)
SHOULD RE-SIGN – Leno, Jr., McKissic, Settle, Carter
Charles Leno, Jr. was not a dynamite player. He has simply been what he has been throughout his career – a decent professional left tackle. He should have several more years of solid play and he seems to fit the profile of the tall athletic man that the current regime favors. That, and the difficulty of securing a quality left tackle, make it a priority.
There was never any doubt about JD McKissic’s effectiveness as a wide receiver outside the backfield. Just his ability to stay healthy. So far he’s done it in Washington, and he’s a valuable part of Scott Turner’s offense.
Tim Settle is caught in a stalemate during a defensive tackle. It will arouse the interest of other teams. If the Washington football team decides to make re-signing Daron Payne a priority, then they certainly can’t afford Settle. I think they will negotiate with Payne, but not break the budget for him. This means that Settle becomes very important to them. Can he hold on and play at a high level if asked to take on a larger load? We will find out.
I would have liked to keep DeAndre Carter on the sole basis of his ability to come back. Having a professional turner there – and not just a generic speedster – has been one of the few bright spots for the team in 2021. His potential as a wide receiver only adds to his value.
AT THE RIGHT PRICE – Cornelius Lucas, Cam Sims, Bobby McCain, Kyle Allen
They are guys on the right of way, but you need to know your cap and not go over it.
Lucas is a very good swing tackle. Problem is, he wants to start, so I don’t think Washington will be able to re-sign him. It was evident in 2020 that he was better than day one starter Geron Christian, Jr, and this was confirmed after Christian’s injury. But he was demoted again when Leno was signed. He just doesn’t fit the athletic tackle profile the team seems to want. I think it would be a fabulous assurance if a deal could be made.
The receiving body was supposed to be much better this season with the additions of Samuel, Humphries and Brown. So far we haven’t seen him on the pitch. That’s why The Sims stay in the game. He’s not as fast as Denver’s Tim Patrick, a player he otherwise looks like, but he’s proven he can be productive.
I can already hear some of you screaming at the inclusion of McCain. I’ll just say this. Bobby McCain can play both free safety and corner slots, and until the first half of 2021 he has done both quite well. The Washington football team’s defensive backfield has been a train wreck in 2021 and I’m not convinced it’s just the players’ fault. Unless you’re convinced Darrick Forrest is ready to start, McCain can help get you going.
I already had my say on Kyle Allen. The Washington football team is in desperate need of a starting quarterback. Allen isn’t that guy. But he is an above average save. It has value.
WOULD BE NICE TO KEEP – Darryl Roberts, Torry McTyer, Adam Humphries, Tyler Larsen, Jared Norris, Jordan Kunaszyk, Danny Johnson
These seven players can offer anything to the team, but only at minimum contract levels.
Both Roberts and McTyer were seen as cornerback depth improvements, and both were injured before they had much chance to show anything. You still need wedges, so assuming full recovery they might have a role.
Humphries has shown little so far, but he’s been a decent slot receiver, and given the team’s lack of productivity at receiver in general, you can’t necessarily throw guys like that. The caveat here is that if you envision Dax Milne or DeAndre Carter becoming your primary slots player – which is very possible – then Humphries goes into a different category, which you’ll see below.
Larsen is a solid veteran save center. Chase Roullier has been an ironman for the Washington football team, but his injury in the Denver game shows how fleeting it can be. Larsen seems perfectly suited for this role.
Norris and Kunaszyk are both special teams from Carolina. Neither got many shots in defense, and given the team’s shortage of linebackers, this suggests neither will ever do. Norris seems slightly ahead of Kunaszyk, but he’s injured right now and Kunaszyk isn’t. I think you can keep one or the other. Keeping both in 2022 would be an admission that you still haven’t sorted out your linebacker issues.
Danny Johnson is just a pro. He can come back, he can shoot, he can be an emergency corner. He certainly won’t be a major reason for success or failure, but he’s the kind of guy you’re happy to have with you.
STOPPING PROGRESS – Ricky Seals-Jones
RSJ is a good tight end who catches the passes. He’ll have a league spot in 2022. But if it’s in Washington, that means young players John Bates and Sammis Reyes won’t be as far along as we all hope. Bill Parcells called the vets like that “progress plugs” because they stood in the way of the young people you needed to develop. RSJ is a good player, but he has to go to allow Bates and Reyes to sink or swim.
Besides – this is the category that Adam Humphries moves into if you think Milne or Carter is ready to be your primary slot receiver.
QUESTION POINTS – Dylan Cantrell, Jalen Jelks, David Steinmetz, Jace Sternberger, Corn Elder
We just don’t know enough about these players. Some, like Sternberger and Elder, are young veterans who we’ve seen playing limited roles for other teams. Others, like Cantrell and Jelks, have been around for a while without the chance to play. The book came out on all of them.
SHOULD BE GO – Ryan fitzpatrick, Jon Bostic, Troy Apke, David Mayo, Chris Blewitt
Fitz was always likely to be one and done. I guess he could have a miraculous second-half resurgence, but at his age I don’t think that’s likely. Washington must find its quarterback this offseason. If it’s a rookie, they can let Kyle Allen or Taylor Heinicke start the start of the 2022 season until the rookie is ready. If it’s a veteran free agent or a commercial acquisition, it starts immediately, with Allen or Heinicke to back it up. Either way, there is no role for Fitz.
I’m not as depressed about Bostic as some seem to be. He’s a good player who would have been better if the Washington football team had stayed at a 3-4 base, which they played in 2019 when he first arrived. But age, injuries and lack of production have now regained it.
Apke probably should have disappeared after 2020. He’s a good special teammate, but how many of you would rather have Jimmy Moreland back instead of Apke? I think I see each hand go up.
Mayo should have been a role player on that defense, playing indoors on downhills. The fact that he didn’t make a place for himself, given the shortcomings of the linebackers, speaks volumes.
In the first draft of this essay, I had Blewitt in the Question mark category. It was before the Denver game. Three blocked kicks in his first two games mean he will likely be gone before this article is published.
WILL BE GONE – Brandon scherff
I guess stranger things have happened. Scherff’s injury history could depress his market much more than he anticipated. But I can’t believe a team won’t throw in a lot of money on a consistent Pro Bowler, and Washington won’t match them. I doubt it matters even if they did. If Brandon Scherff wanted to stay here, a deal would have already been made.
These are the 27. None of them – not even the first four – is as important as the question of the quarterback. It’s priority one and two this offseason. Priority three is to negotiate an extension for Terry McClaurin. Priority Four – a similar expansion for Cole Holcomb. Determining what to do with Payne and Ereck Flowers is on par with the priority free agent re-signatures mentioned above.
So maybe the decisions about these 27 players don’t seem so important. As we all know, you won’t touch all of your list moves. But you have to hit them more than you miss. Getting most decisions right or wrong regarding the 27 looming free agents in 2022 will have a major impact on the Washington football team over the next several years.