While the offseason has another month to go, it’s safe to say that offseason personnel and coaching moves are pretty much over. There might be a minor trade or a waiver wire pickup here or there but the cake is mostly baked.
So before training camp starts, let’s take a look back at the five biggest moves of the offseason. We’ll count them down in order of how important they were. Earlier, we looked at the hiring of Raheem Morris and the roster decisions made at the start of free agency. Here we look at the signings of wide receivers Pierre Garçon and Josh Morgan.
NFL free agency started at 4:00 Eastern time on March 13. Well before 5:00, former Colts wide receiver Pierre Garçon announced on his Facebook page and Twitter feed that he was a Washington Redskin.
That news of one lightning-quick negotiation barely had time to sink in before there were multiple reports that the Redskins had signed receiver Josh Morgan away from the 49ers. Those reports were soon confirmed.
The Redskins almost had a third wideout in the fold but negotiations with Eddie Royal, an area product and a draft pick of Mike Shanahan’s in Denver, fell through. He eventually signed with the Chargers.
The timing left no question as to what the Redskins’ priority was in free agency. Neither did the money the two new receivers got. Garçon’s deal pays him $42.5 million over five years with $20.5 million guaranteed. Morgan’s deal has some voidable years and it boils down to $12 million over two years with $7.5 million guaranteed.
The Redskins had already moved to upgrade the quarterback position by trading away two first-round picks and a second to be able to swap picks with the Rams, putting themselves in position to draft Robert Griffin III second overall (a move that will be dissected later in this series). Clearly, they decided that they needed better weapons for their rookie quarterback.
The wide receiver corps, a sore spot that the team has been trying to fix ever since The Posse broke up in the early 1990’s, had already been transformed since Shanahan came to town in 2010. Only Santana Moss remains from the group of receivers that played for Jim Zorn in 2009.
The rebuilding effort has yet to bear fruit. Joey Galloway, who was 38 at the time, and veteran Roydell Williams played a substantial number of snaps in 2010. Leonard Hankerson was starting to be productive last year before his season was cut short with a hip injury. Jabar Gaffney, acquired in a post-lockout trade, led the team in receiving in 2011 but the coaches were not satisfied with his playmaking ability. It looked like they had a real find when Anthony Armstrong averaged almost 20 yards on 44 receptions in 2010 but he crashed back to earth last year with just seven catches.
They drafted Hankerson, Aldrick Robinson, and Niles Paul last year. Robinson has a shot at making it this year after spending most of 2011 on the practice squad and Paul has been moved to tight end.
The transformation continues with the additions of Garçon and Morgan. So far, the changes have just been akin to rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. Shanahan hopes that Garçon and Morgan, along with RG3, can get the ship sailing in the right direction.