WASHINGTON — The Washington Redskins opened free agency not with the familiar Dan Snyder splash but instead with a few noteworthy ripples, keeping a couple of key players while adding an offensive lineman, a special teams standout and a No. 2 receiver.
No Jairus Byrd or Aqib Talib landing via the team’s owner private plane within hours of the official start of the NFL’s annual open market. While there still could a blockbuster to come, the brain trust of general manager Bruce Allen and new coach Jay Gruden began by spreading the salary cap money around to plug as many holes as possible after a 3-13 season.
Inside linebacker Perry Riley and receiver Santana Moss were re-signed with just hours to go before they were set to become free agents. Receiver Andre Roberts, guard Shawn Lauvao and linebacker Adam Hayward agreed to terms and are expected to sign their deals once they’ve completed their physicals, according to people familiar with their deals who spoke on condition of anonymity because the contracts had not yet been signed. Cornerback Corey Graham and defensive end Antonio Smith were scheduled for visits to Redskins Park.
More: NFL Free Agency Tracker
Riley was the Redskins’ leading tackler from last season, and his return gives Washington a measure of stability in the heart of the defense. With longtime captain London Fletcher planning to retire, the Redskins faced the daunting task of replacing both inside linebackers in their 3-4 scheme had Riley signed elsewhere.
Riley’s deal is worth about $13 million over three years, including approximately $4.25 million in guaranteed money, according to a person familiar with the contract who spoke on condition of anonymity because the Redskins did not publicly release the financial details.
A 2010 fourth-round pick who has started 40 consecutive games, Riley became the third Redskins defensive player to re-sign rather than test unrestricted free agency. Cornerback DeAngelo Hall and defensive lineman Chris Baker also have new deals, and outside linebacker Brian Orakpo is all but certain to return after receiving the franchise player tag last week. Gruden also opted to retain defensive coordinator Jim Haslett.
Also coming back is Moss, who turns 35 in June and signed a one-year deal. He had 42 catches for 452 yards in 2013 as the team’s No. 3 receiver and has accepted without complaint his reduced role over the last two seasons. He recently passed 10,000 yards receiving for his career, and 2014 will be his 10th season with the Redskins.
While Moss will be back as the No. 3 wideout and Pierre Garcon as No. 1, Roberts is set to fill the No. 2 role being vacated by Joshua Morgan, who is now a free agent. Roberts, who has played four seasons with the Arizona Cardinals, had 43 receptions for 471 yards and two touchdowns last year. His best season was 2011, when he had 64 catches for 759 yards and five touchdowns.
A person familiar with Roberts’ deal said it has a base value of $16 million over four years with $8 million guaranteed, including a $4 million signing bonus, and that the deal could be worth up to $17.35 million with incentives. The person said Roberts is scheduled to take his physical Wednesday and then sign his deal. The person spoke to the AP because the terms of the deal had not been announced.
Lauvao represents the first move in Gruden’s plan to upgrade an offensive line in charge of protecting franchise quarterback Robert Griffin III. A third-round draft pick in 2010, he has played four seasons with the Cleveland Browns, mostly at right guard. Chris Chester has been the Redskins’ right guard for three seasons, and Lauvao’s arrival could lead to a shuffling of a unit that allowed 43 sacks last year.
Lauvao’s deal is worth $17 million over four years, according to ESPN.
The Redskins’ kick and coverage units were among the worst in recent NFL history last year, so Hayward was a natural target after his work on special teams over seven seasons with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He agreed to a three-year contract, according to a person familiar with the deal, and he is expected to sign Wednesday.
Graham and Smith will have to be courted in person before they agree to a deal, with both set to visit the Redskins’ practice facility. Graham, who has played the last two seasons with the Baltimore Ravens, could compete with second-year player David Amerson for the starting cornerback position opposite Hall. Smith, who had five of his 41½ career sacks last year with the Houston Texans, would fill another need.
While they’ve been one of the NFL’s most active free agency teams in 15 years under Snyder, the Redskins were quiet the last two seasons because of a $36 million salary cap penalty imposed by the NFL for the way the contracts were restructured during the 2010 uncapped year.
Now they have money, but they have lots to do. Even if they sign Graham and Smith, they would still need a pair of starting safeties, a linebacker to replace Fletcher and probably a right tackle.
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