Mike Shanahan stayed true to form early in the 2012 offseason. Last season, he signed mid-twenty players who fit his system; think Barry Cofield and Stephen Bowen. If anything, Washington surprised by not signing the biggest free agent names available, starting with...
WR Vincent Jackson (29) - Jackson has been the receiver of the Redskins dreams for at least three seasons. It's a surprise that he is not at Redskins part Tuesday morning in the first year he was finally free to leave San Diego. Tampa Bay signed him to a five year, $55 million contract. Was Jackson's asking price too much, or his age too high? If price was the issue, did the NFL's salary cap sanction alter Washington's plan?
Jackson was a star in Norv Turner's downfield offense. Don't overlook the adjustment factor to transition to the West Coast offense. Jackson is the big (6-5) target you think you want to see in the WCO. He's a big target you want for any offense.
WR Marques Colston (29) - Colston is a better wide out than Jackson, although TE Jimmy Graham eclipsed him on the Saints' offense. But Colston's 2011 stats (80 Rec, 1,143 yards, 8 TDs) were close to the sweet spot for No. 1 wide receivers. The Saints were always the favorites to re-sign Colston.
Why bring up Jackson and Colston? Because they are the definition of playmakers who are free agents.
WR Pierre Garcon (26) - The Redskins hope this former Colt receiver is the younger, cheaper version of Vincent Jackson. Former Colts president Bill Polian thinks Garcon is a great pick-up for Washington and a good fit for the West Coast Offense. Garcon "is not afraid to go over the middle," according to Polian.
Garcon has to grow into a No. 1 receiver for Mike Shanahan. He's been a role-player in the Peyton Manning offense until now. "Role player" seems a dismissive term, like "game manager" for quarterbacks. Role players are the core players all teams. At least 25 starting quarterbacks are game managers. The Redskins are looking for playmakers. Shanahan is placing his bet on Garcon's growth to playmaker. And it is a big bet, five years, $42.5 million with $20.5 million guaranteed.
Garcon will be a $9 million cap cost in 2013 (guaranteed) whether he is released before then or not. '13 roster decision is about the future— Greg Trippiedi (@GTrippiedi) March 14, 2012
WR Josh Morgan (26) - Morgan has a career 131 Rec, 1,764 yards and 9 TDs in 49 appearances for San Francisco. Brandon Lloyd in 45 games with the 'Niners caught 105 passes for 1,510 yards and 13 TDs. Lloyd is a cautionary tale not to get caught up in free agent signings. Talent travels with a player. Performance does not necessarily follow.
At 6-1, Morgan does not have Vincent Jackson's size, but he may have Donte Stallworth's number. Lloyd, by the way, is 6-0. Morgan is a DC native and Virginia Tech Hokie. He has a built-in following in Washington that won't hurt jersey sales. However, he is a developing talent whose big payoff might not come for a season or two. He is the right age for that sort of thing.
Josh Morgan cap #s: 2012: $2.9 million, 2013: $4.9 million, 2014: $3.3 million in deadcap. ~= 11 million— Greg Trippiedi (@GTrippiedi) March 14, 2012
WR Eddie Royal (26) - The Redskins got Royal to the gate, but couldn't get him in the door. Royal was one of the first free agents to visit the Park and news that he was signed circulated early on the Redskins Twitterverse. Then Royal's agent started getting calls.
The Redskins reportedly offered a two-year, $12 million deal, appropriate for the role Royal would likely play in Washington — a role-playing slot receiver and younger version of Santana Moss. Royal was the Bronco's No. 3 receiver in 2010 when he was eclipsed by Brandon Lloyd and Jabar Gaffney (Remember him?). The two sides are still talking and the Redskins hope to sign him. However, the delay is worrisome.
Royal is from the area and a Hokie. Like Morgan, he would be a local favorite.
DE Adam Carriker (28) - The Redskins re-signed Carriker, one of Mike Shanahan's first free agent recruits in 2010. Carriker had a better year in 2010 than 2011, but is a key role player (that word again) on the defense. It is good to see the Redskins take care of one of their own with a four-year, $20 million contract with $7 million guaranteed.
Adam Carriker's 2012 cap number: $1.45 million.That's guaranteed.The deal is essentially a 2 year/$7.4 million contract. Team friendly.— Greg Trippiedi (@GTrippiedi) March 14, 2012
Carriker, Morgan, and Garcon cost the Redskins just under $9 mil of their $17 million from the beginning of the day. More than $8 mil left.— Greg Trippiedi (@GTrippiedi) March 14, 2012
LB London Fletcher (37) - Fletcher among players is the face of the Redskins and the free agent veteran fans most want back. I haven't read the words "offer on the table," but the highly regarded Fletcher must have an idea of the income to expect from the team. Now he's testing the market. He has earned that. The league's lack of respect for the man may play in Washington's favor. No one loves Fletcher more than the Redskins do and that may be reflected in competing offers.
Two scenarios haunt me. One is that LB-hungry Philadelphia snaps him up to stabilize its young linebacker corps. The other is that Fletcher rejoins Gregg Williams with the Rams. If that's the case, Fletcher may be waiting to see what the NFL does to Williams for Bountygate, which gives Bruce Allen more time to work something.