My last article showcased the worst free agents since 2000 for the Washington Redskins. Now it’s time to look at some of the ones the franchise, actually, got right. This list will only include the signings since 2000, so don’t expect to find John Riggins or Dave Butz on the list. Although, they are, honestly, two of the best signings in Redskin history. With that in mind, check out who made the cut.
The Best Free Agents
Rabach left the Baltimore Ravens at the end of the 2004 season. Casey signed with the Washington Redskins before the start of the 2005 season. Becoming one of the best free agents in the past 20 seasons. Rabach, immediately became the starting center for the team, replacing Cory Raymer. Rabach started all 16 games that year. Casey went on to play in and start 95 of a possible 96 games for the Washington Redskins. Even though Rabach signed a three-year, $12.3 million extension in March of 2010, the Redskins released after the 2010 season. Noted for his leadership during his time with the Redskins, lingering shoulder injuries, and a youth movement are what made Rabach expendable.
Free-agent, Desean Jackson, signed with the Washington Redskins on April 2, 2014. Jackson signed a three-year $24 million contract with $16 million guaranteed. Jackson finished the 2014 season with six 100 yard games. That season he complied 56 receptions, totaling a team-high 1,169 yards and six touchdowns. Jackson, also lead the league with 20.9 yards per catch.
However, 2015 was a different season for Jackson. Battling injuries most of the year, Jackson finished the year with 30 catches for a career-low of 528 yards and four touchdowns.
Although 2016 was a better year for Jackson, the production was still lower than his first season with the team. However, Jackson, and teammate Pierre Garcon, each reached 1,000 yards. The first Redskins tandem to achieve this since feat since 1999. Jackson ended the season with 56 receptions for 1,005 yards and four touchdowns. Again, Jackson led the NFL with 17.9 yards per catch.
On March 9, 2017, Jackson signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, ending his career with Washington after 40 games played. Over that time, Jackson accumulated 142 receptions, 2,702 yards, and 14 touchdowns, with an astounding 19 yards per reception.
On March 13, 2012, free agent, Pierre Garcon, signed a five-year $42.5 million contract with the Washington Redskins, with over $20 million guaranteed.
Pierre Garcon was on the receiving end of Robert Griffin III’s first career touchdown pass. Garcon turned a 16-yard catch into an 88-yard score. Because of a foot injury (plantar plate tear). Garcon finished the season with 44 catches for 633 yards and four touchdowns.
The 2013 season saw Pierre break Art Monk’s single-season franchise record of 106 catches. Garcon ended the year with 113 receptions for 1,346 yards. His 184 targets were tops in the NFL for receivers in 2013.
In 2014, Garcon’s numbers were still admirable, but not as stellar. Garcon finished the season with 68 catches for 752 yards and three touchdowns.
2015 saw Pierre step into the wide receiver one role after an injury to Desean Jackson. Pierre’s toughness and a knack for finding the ball helped push the Redskins into the playoffs. Garcon ended the season with 77 receptions for 847 yards and six touchdowns (including postseason).
Pierre Garcon caught his 500 career pass on October 2, 2016. This would be his final season with Washington. Garcon finished 2016 with 79 catches for 1,041 yards and three touchdowns. He would leave the Redskins signing with the San Francisco on March 9, 2017. Garcon ended his career as a Redskin with 376 receptions for 4,549 yards and 21 touchdowns. Definitely one of the tremendous free-agent signings since 2000.
Without a doubt, one of the best, as well as one of the most polarizing free agent signings, DeAngelo Hall, signed with the Washington Redskins on November 8, 2008. Clearly playing for a contract, Hall finished the season with 25 tackles and two interceptions to go along with eight pass deflections in seven games, including four starts.
However, as an unrestricted free agent in the 2009 offseason, Hall agreed to a new six-year $55 million contract with $23 million guaranteed. Despite only starting 12 games in 2009, Hall accumulated four interceptions, one fumble recovery, and 58 total tackles.
2010 was a better season for Hall. Following a record-tying, four-interception game against Jay Cutler and the Chicago Bears, the Pro Football Hall of Fame requested Hall’s game jersey. Along with this historic feat, Hall was also named the MVP of the 2011 Pro Bowl, which included six tackles, an interception, and a fumble return for a touchdown. In addition to those accomplishments, Hall finished 2010 with six interception, two fumble recovers, and 95 total tackles.
Ultimately, this was Hall’s best year with Washington. DeAngelo played ten years for the Washington Redskins and is still around the team and vocal to this day. Definitely, a love me or hate me type player, Hall has as many fans as he does detractors, but you can never question his ability. Hall complied 23 interceptions over 106 games for the Redskins, including 510 tackles. Once a co-captain, DeAngelo Hall still bleeds burgundy and gold.
The best free agent to sign in the past 20 years, London Fletcher signed with Washington on March 2, 2007, to a five-year $25 million contract. Fletcher retired a Redskin but not before racking up some impressive numbers and accolades.
At age 32, Fletcher entered the 2007 season as the Redskins starting middle linebacker. Three interceptions and 129 total tackles later, it was obvious, London Fletcher was still in his prime.
Assigned defensive co-captain in 2008, Fletcher would remain in that role until he retired. Also, the Redskins nominated Fletcher as their Walter Payton Man of the Year Award representative. Unquestionably a force on the defensive side of the ball, Fletcher finished the 2008 season with 133 total tackles. 2009 saw Fletcher add 142 total tackles to his resume and making the 2010 Pro Bowl.
For the 2010 season, the Redskins switched to a 3-4 defense, causing Fletcher to move from middle linebacker to the left inside linebacker. Because of this move, Fletcher received his second Pro Bowl nod. Fletcher recorded one interception, 11 pass defenses, three forced fumbles, three fumble recoveries, 2.5 sacks, and 136 total tackles. An awe-inspiring season.
London Fletcher led the entire league in tackles for the 2011 season, while adding 1.5 sacks, two interceptions, and eight pass break-ups. In addition to making the Pro Bowl, as an alternate, Fletcher won the Bart Star award. The award is given to the player that best exemplifies outstanding character and leadership in the home, on the field, and in the community. Fletcher was also named the Redskins defensive player of the year.
Fletcher re-signed a two-year contract worth $10.75 million with $5,25 million guaranteed on April 13, 2012. During this season, at the age of 37, Fletcher became one of three active players, at the time, with 20 interceptions and 30 sacks. Fletcher ended the season with a career-high five interceptions, three sacks, and 139 total tackles. Along with these milestones, Fletcher made his fourth straight Pro Bowl.
2013 would be Fletcher’s last year as a Redskin. On December 18, 2013, London announced that he was “99 percent” sure he was going to retire. The 2013 season saw Fletcher start his 208th consecutive game on November 7, tying, then subsequently, extending the record of consecutive starts by a linebacker. Fletcher played in 256 consecutive games and started in 215 straight. Still the record for linebackers.
Best Free Agents: Overall
Because of this, and many other reasons, London Fletcher is the best free agent the Redskins have signed in the past 20 years. Fletcher was inducted in the Redskins Ring of Fame in 2019.
There have been other good returns in free agency. Nick Sundberg has played in 136 games for Washington, since signing in 2010.
Shawn Springs played five years for the Redskins, playing 64 games and collecting 12 interceptions, seven sacks, and 250 total tackles.
Andre Carter was with Washington for five years, mainly as a defensive end. Carter played in 80 games (67 starts) and recorded eight forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries, 11 pass breakups, 34 sacks, and 253 total tackles. Also, collecting a rare safety.
Vernon Davis played four years with Washington, retiring after the 2019 season. Davis caught 122 passes for 1,721 yards and eight touchdowns.
All these players were good signings and played hard. That is all you can ask from a player coming from a different team. They all bought into being a Redskin and wore the burgundy and gold with pride. Although there were plenty of lean years, these guys were professional and ballers. It was a privilege to have seen them play, and they will always be a Redskin to me. Hopefully, the next batch of free-agent signings will add talent and depth to the core of guys we already have. Here’s hoping they buy in also. Without a doubt, I’m excited for free agency and next season. HTTR!
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