WASHINGTON — The press release announcing his signing was all of 29 words long (including the dateline), but new Washington Redskins linebacker Kenny Ladler is worth a second look.
If for no other reason, because he probably finds the frigid temperatures in D.C. to be quite balmy.
That’s because Ladler spent the last two seasons playing in the Canadian Football League, where he was highly productive. In 34 career CFL games, Ladler tallied 156 tackles and forced eight takeaways.
Perhaps more relevantly for the Redskins, he also played special teams and tallied 15 tackles, including 13 in 17 games last season.
So why should this matter to the Redskins?
Futures contracts are put in place so that teams can literally ignore lesser free agents at the start of the new league year, focusing instead on the big names on the market. The future part of the futures contract kicks in automatically at the start of the league year.
If you were not on any team’s active roster in Week 17, you’re eligible to be signed to a future’s contract, which often comes with no signing bonus and no guaranteed money.
Players are paid nominal offseason salaries in order to secure their services for the offseason and training camp. The odds are stacked against them making the final 53-man roster, but if Ladler succeeds in doing so, his special teams service will likely be why.
By the numbers, Ladler is an undersized linebacker who was unlikely to find a role in the NFL without adding weight. Now, with the rise of hybrid players, Ladler has the right mix of size (6-0, 207 pounds) and speed (4.70 seconds in the 40-yard dash) to make an impact on special teams.
It’s worth noting that the CFL playing surface is 34 percent larger than the NFL field, which means that finding success on special teams tackles in Canada should translate well to the American game. But all of this is just conjecture until the team hits the field this Spring.
The Redskins need help on special teams, where the team failed to find a reliable returner and Deshazor Everett led the team with 10 special teams tackles. This is unlikely to be the Redskins’ only move to add tacklers, but it is a low-risk signing.
For now, Ladler is just another player in an army that will swell to 90, each looking to make his mark with the team. This is his second chance at the NFL, after breaking his forearm with the Detroit Lions in 2014.
Now, he hopes to follow in the footsteps of Joe Theismann, Ricky Williams, Cameron Wake, and others who have found success in both leagues.