Last time, we looked at a Do Not Sign list for some of the upper-echelon players in this year’s NFL free agency class. Today, we flip the page and check out less-heralded players who might be good values for the Washington Football Team.
By less-heralded, I mean payers ranked in the bottom half of Pro Football Focus’ list of available free agents. They ranked 152 players. Here are 10 at which Washington should take a long look.
Washington Football Team free agents to sign
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TE Jared Cook (PFF ranking: 79)
Cook is old. He’ll be 34 when the 2021 season kicks off. If you were bringing him in to be your No. 1 tight end, I’d be worried.
But he doesn’t have to be the No. 1 guy in Washington. While Logan Thomas does most of the heavy lifting, Cook can still run downfield and be a dangerous receiving threat. You know – sort of exactly what Vernon Davis continued to do for Washington even when he was past his prime.
CB Mackenzie Alexander (PFF ranking: 81)
In my Do Not Sign piece, I said the upgrade from free agent slot corner Desmond King to incumbent Jimmy Moreland wasn’t big enough to justify King’s likely price tag. But with Alexander, you are getting a similar player at a much more reasonable cost.
Alexander, who has been a steady corner from the slot, would allow Moreland to move around more, either to the outside, or to deep safety, where his ball-hawking skills could shine.
WR Keelan Cole (PFF ranking: 84)
Washington will almost certainly try to add a big-play receiver either through the draft or through a high-priced free agent signing. But they will not stop there. Washington needs multiple weapons at receiver to complement Terry McLaurin.
Of the lower-cost options, I think Cole offers great upside. He could be a very capable second or third option, either coming out of the slot, or in four-wide packages.
OL Matt Feiler (PFF ranking: 93)
I didn’t realize how solid Wes Schweitzer could be when Washington scooped him up last year. Feiler is very similar. A young veteran with a lot of experience, he can play all over your line, as a starter, or as quality depth. Feiler is the exact kind of player Washington had a lot of success with in 2020.
LB Denzel Perryman (PFF ranking: 95)
You could argue that incumbent middle linebacker Jon Bostic is a better overall player than Perryman. And were Washington to take a chance on the former Charger, they would not be getting an every-down player in the mold of Bostic.
But they would be getting something that Bostic could not provide – an early-down run-stuffer in the middle. Platooning Perryman with a mobile coverage linebacker is one way to upgrade a problem spot on the defense without investing a high draft pick.
WR Rashard Higgins (PFF ranking: 101)
Higgins is not a game-breaker, and Washington is in desperate need of more game-breakers on the outside. But Higgins has a longer track record than Cam Sims and would be a good reasonably-priced weapon behind Terry McLaurin and whatever other top-tier option Washington is able to bring in.
RB Jamaal Williams (PFF ranking: 110)
Washington is dangerously thin at running back. Antonio Gibson should remain the main man well into the future, and hopefully, J.D. McKissic will stay healthy. That is a problem for any tough-minded, undersized player, and McKissic has been slowed by injuries in the past. He was not in 2020 and he produced.
But Washington still needs versatility in the backfield. Williams is all about versatility. He can run, catch and block at high levels. Washington may be inclined to look for a bigger short-yardage back to replace Peyton Barber in 2021, but I am a believer in acquiring as many good players as possible. Williams isn’t big. He is just a very good player.
TE Anthony Firkser (PFF ranking: 112) and TE Dan Arnold (PFF ranking: 133)
Their games are not exactly the same, but Washington could view them similarly. Both are primarily pass-catching tight ends that will not contribute much as blockers. But, as with Jared Cook, both could be sneaky complements to Logan Thomas. Arnold can get downfield and his length makes him a solid red-zone option. Two-thirds of Firkser’s catches in 2020 resulted in first-downs.
S Rayshawn Jenkins (PFF ranking: 149)
As with receiver, there are a number of high-profile safeties on the free-agent market right now. And Washington needs help at safety. If they are unable to land a big name like Justin Simmons, Jenkins would be a very reasonable fallback.
A deep safety with the body of an in-the-box safety, Jenkins has been a steady presence in the Chargers secondary since he entered the league in 2017. He has benefited from playing behind the likes of Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram, and would likely be effective backstopping Washington’s similarly gifted front seven.
Bonus: OT Rick Wagner
As I was writing this, I saw that the Green Bay Packers, in a salary-cap move, released veteran tackle Rick Wagner. Give his age (31) and the fact that he has predominantly played on the right side through his career, I do not think Washington will have much interest in Wagner.
But Wagner has been a serviceable starting right tackle for a long time, and can certainly help a team with need at that position. I only mention this to indicate how fluid NFL free agency is as the signing period draws near.
There clearly are bargains to be found. The Washington Football Team did a nice job of identifying such players in 2020. If they are able to repeat that success this year, they will have done a lot to rebuild a roster that has long been stymied by too many over-priced, under-performing names.