Since taking over the Washington Redskins ownership from the late Jack Kent Cooke in 1999, Daniel Snyder has made a name for himself as an owner who lives and dies by free-agent signings instead of building through the draft.
Perhaps patience isn’t one of Snyder’s strong suits, but he can definitely learn from the New England Patriots owner, Robert Kraft, who’s exceptional when it comes to drafting and signing free-agents that’ll help his team win championships. In his tenure with the Patriots, Kraft has won four Super Bowls and drafted arguably one of the best quarterbacks (Tom Brady) in NFL history.
Snyder, who was a die-hard Redskins fan before purchasing them, has failed over and over again in his pursuit of reaching the glory days where former Hall of Fame Coach Joe Gibbs won three Super Bowls.
On this list are 7 of the best and 8 of the worst free-agent signings Washington Redskins owner Dan Snyder has made during his time in the nation’s capital. Indeed, some of the players on this list played their hearts out before free-agency, so it’s understandable why teams reward them with eye-watering deals.
15. Worst: Adam Archuleta
The former St. Louis Rams safety was one of the most sought after free-agents in 2006 and Dan Snyder forked out a six-year, $30 million deal to make Archuleta the NFL’s highest paid safety at the time.
Archuleta was brought in to help support the run at the strong safety position, something he thrived in while with the Rams. The Redskins had it all figured out with the late Sean Taylor being the ball-hawk at free safety and Archuleta making plays in the box.
Like most of Snyder’s free-agent signings, Archuleta failed to make an impact defending the pass and struggled in run support, which led to his trade to the Chicago bears in 2007 for a sixth round selection.
14. Best: Marcus Washington
Marcus Washington was the 59th overall selection in the second round of the 2000 Draft by the Indianapolis Colts and his impressive display with Indy landed him in Washington in 2004, where he exceeded all the expectations to become one of the NFL’s premier outside linebackers.
He made the Pro Bowl in his first year with Washington and was an alternate in the 2005-06 seasons. Washington was relentless and his motor to get to the quarterback was exactly what the doctor ordered in the capital. He was always a play away from changing a game and giving the Redskins momentum.
13. Worst: Bruce Smith
Bruce Smith is the only player in NFL history to amass 200 career sacks. That should automatically be enough to keep him off of this list, but that’s not the case.
Dan Snyder rewarded the 37-year-old Bruce Smith with a massive contract at the time, worth $25 million over five years. He would join another aging superstar, Deion Sanders, with his mega contract in 2000. Smith, who was emphatically chasing Reggie White’s 198 sacks, had 58 tackles and 10 sacks his first season in Washington. However, he wouldn’t hit double digit sacks again and mostly just played on passing downs. While his numbers weren’t horrific, they definitely didn’t match the contract he had earned and he was mostly just here to try and catch Reggie White.
12. Best: DeAngelo Hall
The Redskins acquired DeAngelo Hall during the 2008 season, after he was released by the Oakland Raiders and he made an instant impact. In his first game with Washington against their fierce rivals, the Dallas Cowboys, Hall intercepted Tony Romo in a huge, game-changing play.
As an unrestricted free-agent in the 2009 offseason, Snyder bestowed Hall a new six-year contract with the Redskins worth $55 million ($23 million guaranteed). The Skins finally had a corner who can cover elite receivers.
Though Hall has made a switch to the safety position to prolong his career, injuries have derailed two of his last three seasons. He tore his career achilles in 2014 and missed 13 games. In 2016, Hall suffered an ACL injury in week 3 against the New York Giants and was ruled out for the rest of the season.
11. Worst: Jeff George
Jeff George was the first overall pick of the 1990 Draft by the Indianapolis Colts, but his inconsistent play made him a journeyman in the NFL.
The Redskins penned George to a four-year contract in 2000 worth $14.8 million to essentially back-up Brad Johnson. One may ask, “what did George do to deserve such a contract?” Well the truth is that the generous owner of the Redskins had just begun giving out long-term contracts to players most teams would pass on.
Johnson would later leave for Tampa, leaving the team with George as the starting quarterback heading into 2001 season. With George failing to gel with head coach Marty Shottenheimer because of scheme issues, he was released after getting clobbered 37-0 against the Green Bay Packers on Monday Night Football.
10. Best: Pierre Garcon
Pierre Garcon is every coach’s dream. He never complains about not getting enough balls thrown his away, fights for every yard and had had no off-field issues. Well done Dan Snyder!
Redskins signed the former Colts on March 13th, 2012 to a five-year deal worth $42.5 million, with $20.5 million guaranteed, and Garcon hasn’t disappointed since.
Though many claimed he was a Peyton Manning “product” and were ready to slam Dan Snyder for another terrible signing, he set a franchise single-season record for the most catches (113) in 2013. Though he hasn’t put up monster numbers since 2013, he’s still been a solid part of the Redskins’ receiving group.
Garcon will be a free-agent after the season and has exceeded the productivity level required of him and is young enough (30) to ask for one last big payday. With rumors circulating the team may possibly split with DeSean Jackson, Garcon chances of staying with Washington seem likely.
9. Worst: Antwaan Randle El
Before signing an absurd seven year, $31.25 million contract with the Redskins in 2006, Antwaan Randle El played in all 16 games, had 35 receptions for 558 yards and 1 touchdown, along with 44 punt returns for 448 yards and 2 touchdowns for Pittsburgh in 2005. Similar to Jeff George, what did Randle El do to warrant a contract of this caliber?
In Pittsburgh, Randle El was a role player that never managed 50 receptions in a season. It was hoped that Randle El would be the second fiddle to Santana Moss with the contract he signed, but he never caught more than 60 passes or even came close to a 1,000 receiving yards during his four years in Washington.
8. Best: Casey Rabach
Casey Rabach made an immediate impact as soon as he landed in the nation’s capital by starting all 16 games at center, helping the team to a 10-6 record and helped pave the way for Clinton Portis, who rushed 1,516 yards that season.
In his six seasons in Washington, Rabach played 95 of 96 games, starting all of them, which is an incredible feat in the NFL, considering all the hits and injuries you endure throughout the season. The center position isn’t the most glamorous position in the NFL, but it’s pivotal and Rabach was one of the best in the league while with Washington.
7. Worst: Deion Sanders
Who gives a 33-year-old declining cornerback, who was recently released by the Dallas Cowboys, a seven-year, $55 million contract? As ridiculous as that may sound, Snyder made it happened by bringing Deion “Prime Time” Sanders to the Redskins in 2000.
Yes, he was a future Hall of Famer, there’s no denying that, but there was a reason why Jerry Jones let him walk. Sanders was on the back end of his career and couldn’t cover elite receivers, nor be the game changer that earned the nickname Prime Time.
While with the Redskins, Deion registered four interceptions and retired unexpectedly following his first season with the team.
6. Best: Andre Carter
Andre Carter established himself with the San Francisco 49ers, recording 32 sacks in 69 games, before moving to Washington.
In 2006, Andre Carter signed a six-year, $30 million contract to add a pass rushing threat to the team, something the team had been lacking. Though Carter had a down year in first first year, in terms of sack production (6), he bounced back the following year and registered 10.5 sacks to lead team into the playoffs. He topped the ten sack mark in 2009 again, with 11, his best season as a Redskin.
Carter was released on March 1st, 2011 and later signed with the New England Patriots. He erupted that year with 10 sacks in 14 games, including a franchise record for the most sacks in a single game with four against the New York Jets.
5. Worst: Jeremiah Trotter
In his first stint with the Philadelphia Eagles, Jeremiah Trotter was an All Pro linebacker and produced 361 tackles, five interceptions, nine sacks and four forced fumbles.
After both sides failed to agree on a contract, Trotter became a free-agent, which alerted Dan Snyder and co. The Redskins signed Trotter to a seven-year deal worth $36 million on April 19th, 2002. But the hard hitting linebacker never lived up to his massive contract and was released following his second season with Washington. Trotter accumulated over 200 tackles and 1.5 sacks in his time in Washington.
The Eagles gave Trotter another shot in 2004 and he took full advantage by turning Jim Johnson’s defense into one of NFL’s best. He also earned Pro Bowl nods in 2004 and 2005, adding insult to injury for Redskin fans.
4. Best: DeSean Jackson
The most productive pure deep threat in NFL history is none other than DeSean Jackson. Since entering the league in 2008, Jackson has tortured opposing defensive backs with his electrifying speed.
After six years in Philadelphia, which included three Pro Bowls and the famous “Miracle at the New Meadowlands” where Jackson returned a 65 yards punt for a touchdown with score tied at 31-31 and 14 seconds remaining, Washington inked Jackson to four year contract woth $24 million, following his release on March 28th, 2014. That year, Jackson caught 56 passes for 1,169 and six touchdowns.
Jackson remains a big part of Jay Gruden’s potent offense that’s lighting up the NFL. But will the speedster Jackson stay beyond this season with free-agency looming? Regardless of what Snyder and the front office decides to do, Jackson has fulfilled his role as a deep threat and quite frankly both parties need each other.
3. Worst: Micheal Barrow
Micheal Barrow led the NFC in tackles (150 tackles) in 2003 while he was with the New York Giants and the Washington Redskins granted another aging star a six-year, $11.6 million contract as a free-agent in 2004.
Barrow never played a down in Washington because of acute tendinitis in his left knee, which forced him to miss all of the 2004 season. Redskins then cut the 35-year-old to be able to sign first round picks Jason Campbell and Carlos Rogers.
Following the departure of starting middle linebacker Antonio Pierce to the Giants, it was believed Barrow would have another crack at starting for the Redskins, but but team moved on with younger options in Lemar Marshall and Warrick Holdman.
2. Best: London Fletcher
London Fletcher is without a doubt one of best free-agent signings Dan Snyder has made since buying the team in 1999.
The tackling machine began his career as an undrafted free-agent with the St. Louis Rams in 1998 and started for the team when they defeated the Tennessee Titans in Super Bowl XXXIV.
After a stellar five seasons with the Buffalo Bills, Fletcher signed a five-year, $25 million contract for Washington as a free agent in 2007 and made his mark by becoming the team’s captain. His streak of having played 256 consecutive games, starting 215 of them, is an NFL record for a linebacker.
1. Worst: Albert Haynewsworth
Has there ever been a bigger bust in free agency than Albert Haynesworth? Seriously, what did he do to justify a whopping seven-year, $100 million contract for a then-record $41 million guaranteed? It sounds pathetic until you remember the owner that gave him this contract.
Prior to the 2008 season, Haynesworth recorded 24 sacks in seven seasons with the Titans. He would get a large chunk of those numbers with free-agency looming after the 2008 season, where had 8.5 sacks, followed by a big payday.
Haynesworth time in Washington was full of laziness. He never got into a football shape, which diminished his production to four sacks his first year with the Redskins and 2.5 after that. He was traded to the New England Patriots on July 28th, 2011, in hopes of restarting his career, but was unable to do. Haynesworth was placed on waivers on November 8th, 2011.