ASHBURN — The Redskins waived two veterans on Tuesday hours ahead of the NFL deadline to reach 75 players and are expected to come to an injury settlement with another. They are now at 77 players with two cuts left to go.
Inside linebacker Perry Riley
A mainstay since 2010, Riley started every game of the 2011, 2012 and 2013 seasons and 14 more in 2014. Not bad for a fourth round pick. But Riley broke his right foot late last season and was supplanted by Mason Foster, whose obvious chemistry with Mike linebacker Will Compton gave him the lead for a starting gig this summer.
Riley had a second procedure on his foot in February and was in a walking boot throughout OTAs and minicamp. He began the preseason on the physical unable to perform (PUP) list, was quickly activated and earned some snaps with the starters. But for the most part Riley was relegated to a secondary role.
“It’s what goes into every decision when we release anybody,” Washington coach Jay Gruden said. “It takes a lot of thought and a lot of times now when you have the depth that we feel like we have, it’s not so much about the player that we release, it’s about the players that we kept.”
In the end, Riley was really a man caught in the middle. He made a lot of money for a reserve ($5.049 million salary-cap hit in 2016). He isn’t a special-teams player like Terrance Garvin or Carlos Fields. And Mason had held him off for the starting role. The Redskins aren’t in a cap crunch, but the move does save the, $4 million. Riley’s “dead money” is just $1.049 million.
And so one of the longest-tenured Redskins players, at age 28, is suddenly cast adrift. It was a spot Foster found himself in last summer. He signed a contract with the Chicago Bears and was cut before the season. Foster landed in Washington later in September and eventually carved himself a bigger role when Riley went down. For a veteran, being cut can feel like the end of your career.
“It may feel like it. You may feel a little crazy for a little while,” Foster said. “But football’s what you’ve been doing since you was a little kid. You could always play football. You just got to work harder and bounce back. Perry is a great player. Everybody knows he’s a great player. So he’ll get a chance somewhere else and he’ll make the most of it.”
This was a free-agent move that just didn’t work out. Signed by GM Scot McCloughan in 2015 after a six-sack season with the Chicago Bears, Paea was expected to contribute to a revamped defensive line. It didn’t happen. He finished with 1.5 sacks, never flashed consistently and his season ended with a sprained toe in December.
Paea was signed to a four-year, $21 million contract so the move has some financial consequences. He was guaranteed $7.85 million. Washington saves $3.412 million against the salary cap, but will carry $1.250 million in dead money in 2015.
Last year, Paea was part of the most stable unit on the team. The Redskins used just seven defensive linemen. Now four of them are gone (Jason Hatcher, Frank Kearse, Paea and Terrance Knighton).
“It’s tough because you build up relationships with these men, their families, and one thing that’s lost in that is you don’t want to lose that just because they’re no longer on the team,” defensive tackle Kedric Golston said. “Both those guys still have a ton of football left in them. They’re great guys and you wish nothing but the best for them. My message is always: just because you’re not on the team anymore, we can continue to keep in touch and keep a relationship that we’ve built over the years.”
A wide receiver from the University of Richmond, who showed well early in OTAs, but hurt his knee and need arthroscopic surgery. Diggs began training camp on the PUP list, was quickly activated on Aug. 2, but by Aug. 7 had to leave practice with pain in the same knee. He never returned to the practice field.
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