Top available defensive backs for Redskins to target in free agency

The Fan News Desk
February 19, 2020 - 1:39 pm

With a lot of moving parts in the secondary, the Redskins will be looking to add talent in free agency. 

Josh Norman is gone, Quinton Dunbar is unhappy, and the supplementary pieces the Redskins have in place struggled mightily in 2019. 

Pro Football Focus was enamored with Dunbar's play in 2019, ranking him second among all cornerbacks in the NFL through the final week of the regular season with a grade of 87.6. 

Outside of Dunbar, no other corner in D.C. fared well on their 0-100 scale, grading every facet of a player's game (Aaron Colvin: 57.0, Jimmy Moreland: 56.7, Danny Johnson: 53.2, Fabian Moreau: 52.7, Norman: 45.6). 

Landon Collins recorded the third-most tackles among NFL defensive backs in his first season in D.C. (117 combined tackles in 2019) and is locked in at strong safety for the foreseeable future.

Montae Nicholson hasn't shown he is the long-term answer at free safety and Troy Apke has recorded 27 total tackles since the Redskins drafted him in the fourth round of the 2018 NFL Draft.

The Redskins need an influx of talent in the secondary in 2020, and they can find reliable contributors in free agency. 

2020 Unrestricted Free Agent Defensive Backs: 

**All figures according to Spotrac.com**

Chris Harris Jr., 31, CB, Broncos

2019 AAV: $12.05 million

Calculated Market Value For Next Contract: 3 years, $33.2 million  | AAV: $11 million

Chris Harris Jr. is one of the marquee names on the free agent market and is expected to gauge interest from the league after spending his entire career in Denver thus far. 

"I think everybody deserves to see what they're worth, and I deserve it at this point," Harris said in an interview Monday. "I think I worked my tail off for nine years, I gave the city every ounce of effort that I could give and, shoot, it's time to see what everybody else thinks about me."

In nine seasons with the Broncos, Harris has been named First Team All-Pro (2016) and to four Pro Bowls (2014, 2015, 2016, and 2018).

While it's unclear if they would spend that much on a corner, Washington would be a nice landing spot for Harris, where he'd be reunited with Jack Del Rio, his former defensive coordinator in Denver (2012-14).

Trae Waynes, 28, CB, Vikings

2019 Salary: $9.06 million (5th-year option)

Calculated Market Value For Next Contract: 3 years, $25.2 million  | AAV: $8.4 million

Trae Waynes will most likely hit the open market after spending his first five NFL seasons with the Vikings. While the team would surely like to bring him back, it will be difficult to do being $12.3 million over the salary cap. Waynes should look to resurrect his career elsewhere.

Byron Jones, 27, CB, Cowboys

2019 AAV: $2.15 million

Calculated Market Value For Next Contract: 5 years, $70.9 million  | AAV: $14.1 million

Byron Jones is expected to be the highest-paid free agent cornerback on the market. Jones has thrived since being moved back to his natural position at corner prior to the 2018 season. He was named to his first Pro Bowl, while receiving a grade of 83.1 from PFF, the highest of his career. While the Cowboys will look to bring him back, they have a multitude of other positions to fill that could leave Jones as the odd-man out.

James Bradberry, 27, CB, Panthers

2019 AAV: $990k

Bradberry has shown an interest in reuniting with his former coach in D.C., telling the Redskins Talk podcast in Miami ahead of Super Bowl LIV he "would love to play for Coach Rivera again." Over four seasons in Charlotte, Bradberry has been nothing, if not durable, missing only three games. The 26-year-old fared well in coverage in 2019, only allowing one touchdown all season.

Kendall Fuller, 25, CB, Chiefs

2019 AAV: $780K

The Redskins could look to bring back D.C. native Kendall Fuller (Good Counsel, Virginia Tech) after sending him to Kansas City in the 2018 trade that brought Alex Smith to the nation's capital. Fuller excelled in the slot for the burgundy and gold in 2017, when PFF ranked him second in coverage with a 91.2 rating and a passer rating against grade of 55.0, league-best among corners. After recording the game-sealing INT in Super Bowl LIV earlier this month, Fuller would be welcomed back in Washington with open arms.

Malcolm Jenkins, 32, S, Eagles

2019 AAV: $8.75 million

Malcolm Jenkins hasn't missed a game for the Eagles in six seasons, but could be on the move if the team doesn't work out a new contract with him before the 2020 NFL season. According to Reuben Frank of NBC Sports Philadelphia, Jenkins is looking for a new deal "in the $14 million range." Jenkins told reporters on Jan. 6 he wants his contract situation addressed. 

“I won’t be back on the same deal,” Jenkins said. “That won’t happen.”

With one year left on his deal, Jenkins has made clear he doesn't intend to return to the Eagles without a new contract. Staring down a potential holdout scenario could compel Philly to take decisive action, which could ultimately springboard a trade or Jenkins' release.

Tre Boston, 28, S, Panthers

2019 AAV: $2.12 million

Tre Boston is another former Panther who could be interested in reuniting with Ron Rivera. Originally drafted by Carolina in 2014, Boston returned for his second stint with the Panthers in 2019 after spending two seasons out west with the Chargers (2017) and Cardinals (2018). Boston played every defensive snap for the Panthers last season, proving to be a valuable member of their defense en route to earning a 76.4 grade for the season from PFF.

Justin Simmons, 25, S, Broncos

2019 AAV: $767K

Calculated Market Value For Next Contract: 5 years, $72.1 million  | AAV: $14.4 million

Justin Simmons was named Second Team All-Pro in 2019 for the first time in his four-year career with the Broncos and will most likely be the team's No. 1 offseason priority. If the two parties cannot agree to a deal, the franchise tag could be in play to avoid letting Simmons hit the open market.

2020 Redskins Salary Cap: $54.1 million, according to Spotrac.

Cap Savings if the following players are released:

Ryan Kerrigan: $11.7 million added to cap

Jordan Reed: $8.5 million added to cap

 

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