Depending on how much football you consume, I can’t promise that title will ring true for every reader. But the aim of the following list is to discuss free agents — not named Eric Decker or Michael Vick — who could fill a void for the Redskins in Washington.
For the first time in years, the Redskins have some money to spend this offseason, even after slapping Brian Orakpo with the nearly $12 million franchise tag.
While discussing the big names in free agency are exciting, peeling back the Deckers, Vicks, Byrds and Talibs to find the lesser-known, more affordable talent can be just as fun.
** All posted ages are player’s ages at the start of the 2014 season **
Andre Roberts, WR, 26
The supporting cast surrounding Robert Griffin III is in need of a boost, and Andre Roberts is a name to consider at slot receiver.
With more than 100 catches and 1,200 yards over the past two seasons, Roberts has proved his route-running ability and the necessary quickness to earn yards after the catch.
Tiquan Underwood, WR, 27
At 6’1″, Tiquan Underwood provides some height, and his speed is enough to get past a secondary. He’s certainly not a starter, but a guy with some potential as a big-play wideout.
Nothing fancy. Not a necessity. But a decent receiver whose ability to stretch the field would seem more valuable than Joshua Morgan’s blocking.
Ed Dickson, TE, 27
Perhaps not the best of hands, but Ed Dickson is an athletic tight end with good size (6’4″, 255 lbs) and underrated blocking ability.
For whatever reason, I’m still holding on to his 2011 season, in which Dickson caught 54 balls for 528 yards and five touchdowns. Maybe there’s something there.
Kenny Britt, WR, 25
Perhaps a bigger name, but often forgotten. Kenny Britt is a former 2009 first-round pick turned flop, and the 6’3″, 223-pound receiver is looking for a new home this offseason.
Britt’s size and natural athleticism are clearly attractive assets — and really, that’s what’s keeping him alive as a football player. But the red flags regarding his attitude, work ethic and durability are enough to keep teams away.
Andrew Quarless, TE, 25
At 6’4″, 255 pounds, Andrew Quarless has the look of a Gruden-preferred tight end. When Packers starter Jermichael Finley went down with a vicious neck injury last season, Quarless stepped up to the tune of 32 catches, 312 yards and two scores.
Although Quarless was an unfamiliar name before last season, the market for his services will surprise some people. His age implies potential and he has three years experience in a potent offense.
Evan Dietrich-Smith, C, 28
The interior of the Redskins offensive line last season was putrid. Evan Dietrich-Smith is a guy who Aaron Rodgers is currently vouching for and would like to have back in Green Bay.
Sign me up.
Brian De La Puente, C, 29
Another center possibility from a potent offense, Brian De La Puente isn’t likely to return to New Orleans next season. If the Redskins don’t like the idea of moving left guard Kory Lichtensteiger to his more natural center position, they can go out and pitch some cash to De La Puente.
Jon Asamoah, OG, 26
Between Geoff Schwartz and Jon Asamoah, it’s likely one of them is playing guard somewhere other than Kansas City next season. Although Schwartz isn’t out of the equation, he’s the one who played better down the stretch last year. If Asamoah hits the market, the 6’4″, 305-pounder has the athleticism, size and age to fit the assumed mold of what the Redskins are looking for.
Arthur Jones, DE, 28
Extremely powerful and coming off four seasons with one of the more respected defenses in the league in Baltimore, Arthur Jones is one of this year’s top free agents, albeit at an unstylish position.
While I like Jones and know he’d fit in Washington, his price tag will likely rise as he shops himself. If it gets too high (it will), the Redskins can look elsewhere.
Matt Shaughnessy, OLB, 28
After playing his first four seasons in Oakland, Matt Shaughnessy changed from a defensive end to an edge-player after signing a one-year deal with Arizona last season.
Perhaps a possible Shaughnessy situation makes more sense without Brian Orakpo receiving the franchise tag, but since when can you have too many pass rushers?
Shaughnesy is a 6’5″, 260-pound force on the outside who can get after the passer and effectively set the edge against the run.
Taylor Mays, S/LB, 26
After spending his last three years in Cincinnati, Taylor Mays is a guy Jay Gruden should be familiar with.
Mays was originally drafted in the second round by the 49ers in 2010, not having ever lived up to his draft hype. However, during his time with the Bengals, Mays showed effort on special teams, saw time at his natural safety position and even played some nickel linebacker last season before missing the remainder of the season with a shoulder injury.
Even if it’s only on a project basis, Mays makes sense. The Redskins are thin at safety, they have no linebacker who can cover, their special teams were abysmal last season and Mays shouldn’t command much money given his production and injury concerns.
At the very least, the Redskins gain a willing contributor on teams.
Vance Walker, DE, 27
Vance Walker wouldn’t start in Washington, but he could serve as a key piece of the defensive line rotation. After playing his first four seasons in Atlanta, Walker joined the Raiders on a one-year deal and showed well against the run, while also racking four sacks in 2013.
There’s no question the Redskins front-seven needs help, and depth along the defensive line is no exception.
Antonio Smith, DE, 32
Don’t call him old. Not just yet. Despite turning 33 a quarter through the season, Antonio Smith still has some nasty in him to play the end spot and get after the quarterback.
Ideally, we’re talking Smith on a team-friendly deal for situational football.
Willie Young, OLB, 28
A 6’4″, 251-pound pass rusher, Willie Young is coming off a season in which he played 16 games, posting 47 tackles and three sacks.
Depending on what the Redskins do with Rob Jackson, Young is a low-cost alternative to add to the roster.
Tarell Brown, CB, 29
After seven years in San Francisco, it appears the 49ers and Tarell Brown will go their separate ways this offseason.
Because of his age, Brown’s market price will be interesting to watch. If it’s reasonable, the Redskins shouldn’t waste anytime hitting the phones. Brown is a solid veteran corner who would address an area of need and hopefully bring a little attitude with him to Washington.
Mike Mitchell, S, 27
The Redskins safety position is weeeaaaak. While big names like Jairus Byrd and T.J. Ward are fun to talk about, a guy like Mike Mitchell may carry for value in Washington.
Mitchell demonstrated his playmaking ability last season on a one-year deal in Carolina, racking up four sacks, four interceptions and two forced fumbles. Considering he’ll demand far less coin than either Byrd or Ward, the Redskins should strongly consider.
Captain Munnerlyn, CB, 26
To me, Captain Munnerlyn isn’t a no-name guy. But because the cornerback market is ruled by names like Aqib Talib and Alterraun Verner, Munnerlyn makes the list.
For what the Redskins lack at the cornerback position, Munnerlyn would fill the void perfectly. He’s a gritty, tough, undersized slot corner with speed and instincts. Let’s hope he’s somewhere near the top of the Redskins’ list.