The NFL free agency period is set to officially kick off at 4pm on March 17th, but teams can start negotiating with players on March 15th. The Washington Football team is expected to be active this year in free agency. Let's take a look at the offensive areas that need to be addressed this off season, and some possible names that may fill those voids:
To say the Washington Football Team's need for a quarterback is obvious would be an understatement. They currently have two quarterbacks on the roster that are expected to compete for the starting role in Kyle Allen and Taylor Heinicke, but neither seems to be the long-term answer. It's expected that they may look to address the position via draft, and/or possible free agency. There are some names available, but I'm not so sure how excited Washington fans are about them. A name that is continually thrown around is Cam Newton because of his previous success and experience playing under Ron Rivera. Another name that is being discussed by prognosticators is Ryan Fitzpatrick. The player that intrigues me the most in free agency at quarterback is Jameis Winston of the New Orleans Saints. Winston has had an opportunity to learn under head coach Sean Payton and has had the ability to mature even more as a leader. Winston has virtually had a year off to refocus and fine tune some of the loose ends in his games that should help cut down on the mental mistakes going forward in his career. Some may love him, and some may hate him, but this kid is in his prime and is a born leader according to the coaches who have coached him, and players that have played with him; something this offense desperately needs with the departure of Alex Smith. He doesn't need to throw for 5,000 yards and 30 touchdowns like he did in 2019; he just needs to NOT throw 30 interceptions like he did in 2019. Some close to the Jameis Winston situation believe that he is most likely to return to New Orleans in 2021, which would make sense for him as well.
Other possibilities: Tyrod Taylor (Chargers), Jacoby Brissett (Colts), Andy Dalton (Cowboys), Mitchell Tribisky (Bears)
There is Terry McLaurin, and then there is everybody else in regards to the Washington Football Team wide receiver core. Individual players not named McLaurin showed flashes in moments, but no one was consistent. Washington struggled to find that compliment to McLaurin and will desperately need to help him out, and whoever the quarterback is by upgrading via free agency, and possibly through the draft as well. One of my favorites entering free agency is Curtis Samuel formerly of the Carolina Panthers. Samuel is the swiss army knife type player that Ron Rivera loves, and he can be moved around the field. Will Fuller of the Houston Texans is an interesting talent. He missed the end of the 2020 season due to a PED suspension that will carry over into the first game of the 2021 season. That said, Fuller has proven that he is one of the best in the league at running past people and outrunning coverages. He and McLaurin on opposite sides of the field could be dangerous for opposing defenses, but Fuller will most certainly be looking for a big pay day. Juju Smith-Schuster of the Pittsburgh Steelers is another swiss army knife type player. He runs good routes, can line up anywhere on the field, and isn't afraid to do the dirty work like blocking on the edge, or being a decoy. Smith-Schuster could be an option for Washington if they choose to address receiver via free agency.
Other possibilities: T.Y. Hilton (Colts), Kenny Golladay (Lions), Marvin Jones (Lions), Chris Goodwin (Tampa Bay), Antonio Brown (Tampa Bay)
The Washington offensive line received a lot of criticism at times last year. They suffered a myriad of injuries, and they had to do a lot of personnel shuffling. At the top of the list of priorities should be to sign Brandon Scherff to a long-term deal. Scherff was an All-Pro last season and has now earned the right to be paid like one of the best guards in football. Last year, Washington drafted offensive tackle Saadiq Charles in the 4th round to be the starting left tackle going into the 2020 season. Charles literally played one snap before he was injured and out for the season. He is a forgotten piece in the offensive line puzzle but could be a huge asset if he returns to full strength in 2021. That said, Washington has to find more depth. Guard Wes Schweitzer looks to have been a solid pick up in the 2020 free agency pool, but they will need to find another solid interior linemen that can play guard and/or center. There are possible names that may be quality bang for your buck players, but linemen are scarce in this year's free agent market. The draft may be Washington's best option, but don't rule out a trade of some sorts for a veteran with playing experience. Washington will also have to find out if they really believe they can go into 2021 with Cornelius Lucas as their starting left tackle, or will they make a run for a possible reunion with Trent Williams...albeit it is probably highly unlikely. Trent is the best left tackle on the free agency board, so if they don't get him, they may want to look more so at the draft to get the left tackle of their future to build with.
Other Possibilities: Alejandro Villanueva (Pittsburgh)
Logan Thomas was a pleasant surprise for Washington last season. Washington was lucky in that Thomas stayed healthy for the majority of the season. There are some free agent options at tight end, but they definitely should be exploring finding a compliment to Thomas whether it be via free agency or the draft. The Chargers’ Hunter Henry is most likely the best tight end available, but Washington will have to pay an excessive amount for a position they are just looking for a formidable compliment to Thomas. They may find that and more in Jonnu Smith, who fits exactly what Washington needs. He can catch the football in the opened field and is an exceptional redzone threat with 8 touchdowns last season. The problem for Washington is he will have the opportunity to most likely be a starter elsewhere, so he will receive starter dollars they won't necessarily want to pay him. Another option could be to sign Gerald Everett to a 1 or 2 year deal. Everett has proven to be a weapon in the passing game in short yardage situations, but looks to be able to do much more. He is still fairly young at 27, and his best years could be ahead of him.
Other possibilities: Dan Arnold (Cardinals)
It's rare you will ever hear me say Washington doesn't need help somewhere, but if any position on the team met that standard, it would be running back. Washington drafted Antonio Gibson last season, signed JD McKissic and Peyton Barber, and still have Bryce Love who is yet to take an in-game snap for Washington after two seasons on IR. They may look to draft a back that is more explosive and that returns kicks, but there is no reason to go out and spend money in free agency unless it is someone they bring in to compete for a backup job.
Other possibilities: Kenyon Drake (Cardinals), Duke Johnson (Houston), Marlon Mack (Colts)
Offensively, Washington can definitely use some upgrades from top to bottom. The question is how much does Coach Rivera believe in who he already has. March 17th, we will all find out as these names are going to fall off the free agent list fast. It will be interesting to see who if anybody they throw money at. Something tells me Ron is going to be relying heavily on the draft though after all the success he had last year with the rookies that came in. He will spend some money, but I'm sure every dime will be calculated. Stay tuned. As you were...
Photo Credit: Elijah Walter Griffin Sr/Washington Football Team