With the Super Bowl almost two weeks away, this week will be the first time we haven’t had an NFL game since early August. No, the Pro Bowl doesn’t count.
We decided to take the free time to look ahead and preview some intriguing options that could help put some team into the big game next season.
Let’s highlight a few under-the-radar options for the Washington Redskins in free agency.
A few weeks ago, we wrote about three premier free agents options that would constitute as big splash moves.
The trio of cornerback James Bradberry, free safety Justin Simmons and inside linebacker Cory Littleton will likely land deals that will put them among the highest-paid players at their positions.
With ample cap space and the ability to shed even more salary through cuts and trades, the Redskins will likely have the ability to sign one of those players to a major deal.
That being said, it may make a lot more sense to distribute that money with a few mid-tier signings instead of going all-in on a marquee pick up.
Here are three free-agent options for Washington that won’t require them to break the bank but would still add a productive, starting-caliber player.
Eric Ebron, 26, Tight End
Eric Ebron has had a roller-coaster ride of a career since being drafted 10th overall by the Detroit Lions in 2014.
After battling injuries and inconsistency for his first few years, Ebron broke out in 2018.
He set career-highs with 750 receiving yards and 13 receiving touchdowns in his first season with the Indianapolis Colts, as well as earn his first Pro Bowl invitation.
2019 did not go as well for Ebron. Andrew Luck’s retirement hurt the outlook for all of Indy’s pass-catchers but in addition to losing his QB, Ebron was only healthy enough to suit up for a career-low 11 games.
There are more than a few concerns here but at only 26-years-old, Ebron’s most productive days could still be ahead of him. He’s shown what he can do when it’s going right and that is a very unique skill set that some team will take a chance on.
The question for Washington is if it’s worth trying to replace the oft-injured Jordan Reed with another tight end that struggles to stay on the field.
More importantly, how much would it cost for the Redskins to sign Ebron and is he worth a multi-year commitment? According to Spotrac, the former North Carolina Tar Heel will fetch a deal in the neighborhood of four-years, $29.9 million.
Under those terms, Ebron’s annual average of $7.4 million would put him above guys like Cameron Brate and Jack Doyle, unspectacular starting options. It is also considerably less than top-tier players like Zach Ertz ($8.5M) and Travis Kelce ($9.4M) average per season.
With a shallow pool of starting options in free agency and the Redskins lack of second-round pick in this upcoming draft, Washington may be forced to roll the dice somewhere to fill this massive hole in their offense.
Betting that Ebron can recapture that 2018 magic and continue to realize the potential many saw in him coming out of college doesn’t seem like the worst option.
Mackensie Alexander, 26, Cornerback
Mackensie Alexander’s stats won’t wow you.
He has two career interceptions and has only started 10 games in his four seasons as a pro.
What he would give a team like the Redskins is their first long-term solution at the nickel cornerback, an issue that has plagued them for a decade.
The nickel corner primarily covers wide receivers and tight ends lined up in the slot. Alexander is considered one of the best players in the league at this position.
Outside of a stellar 2017 campaign from Kendall Fuller, who was shipped off to Kansas City after that season, the Redskins have not been able to find a good fit in this role and other teams have noticed. Opposing offenses exploited this weakness in Washington’s defensive secondary weekly and were often successful in doing so.
Although they’re not usually a part of the starting defensive formation (which would explain the lack of starts for Alexander), nickel corners are on the field for a large chunk of a game and with how pass-happy the NFL has become, their importance can’t be overstated.
Alexander has been a part of a talented Vikings defense the last few years but he possesses the skillset to suggest he’s not just a product of that system.
Watch him on Youtube. You’ll see good closing speed that helps him excel if he’s playing in zone coverage. You’ll also see how effective he is in man-to-man coverage because of his ability to anticipate routes and be aggressive to the football.
What would a deal for Alexander look like? Going back to Spotrac, a market contract would fall around three-years, $25.2 million.
An annual average of $8.4M would put Alexander at a rate just below Baltimore’s Tavon Young, who is the highest-paid nickel corner in the NFL.
That price may seem steep but considering the Redskins’ defense ranked dead last in the NFL in third-down conversion percentage, the investment could be worth it.
Danny Trevathan, 29, Inside Linebacker
Next on the list is someone who new Redskins defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio is very familiar with.
Linebacker Danny Trevathan became a starter under Del Rio for the Denver Broncos in 2013, his sophomore season in the league.
Despite being in and out of the lineup due to injuries, Trevathan was an integral part of the Broncos defense. Most notably, he’ll be remembered leading the team with eight tackles and a fumble recovery that helped Denver beat the Carolina Panthers in Super Bowl 50.
Trevathan signed a four-year, $28 million deal with the Chicago Bears in 2016 but once again struggled to stay on the field that season, only playing in a total of nine games because of a ruptured patellar tendon.
He bounced back the following year and graded in the top ten of all linebackers in pass coverage during the 2017 and 2018 seasons, according to Pro Football Focus.
After a strong start to 2019, bad luck struck again for the 29-year-old when he sustained a season-ending hyperextended elbow injury while tackling Lions’ quarterback Jeff Driskel.
What would a deal with Trevathan cost the Redskins? Considering his injury history and age, a two or three-year contract at $6 million per year average could get the job done.
A healthy Trevathan would not only help the Redskins defense improve on their league-worst third-down conversion percentage, but he’d give Del Rio a player that can help the team install a brand new defensive system.
MORE REDSKINS LINKS
- Ben Standig tells Kevin Sheehan about his latest NFL Mock Draft
- Chad Forbes: The Redskins Will Be One Of The More Active Teams In NFL Free Agency
- Al Galdi: Good News That Revealed Bad News On Redskins LB Reuben Foster