Being a Washington Redskins fan is not an easy thing to do. This is especially true if you are under 30 years old. There was a time that the Redskins were one of the premier franchises in the entire NFL, winning three Super Bowls and five NFC Championships from 1972 to 1991. All of that came under the ownership of Jack Kent Cooke, who would pass away in 1997. With the team up for sale, it was Dan Snyder that became the owner in 1999.
Since then, the Redskins have been notorious for finishing toward the bottom of the NFC while making huge splashes in free agency that fail miserably. It has turned around in the past few years, but this century has been plagued by bad front office decisions. It hasn’t been all bad, though, as there have been some great Redskins players in that time, too.
Let’s take a look at the players that have played for the Redskins since 2000 and highlight the best and worst. To make the list, a majority of their Redskins careers had to have taken place in the 2000 season or later. You’ll learn from this list that the best Redskins players have mostly been homegrown talent, while the worst have been expensive free agents. Here are the eight best and seven worst Redskins since 2000, which actually doesn’t include names like Santana Moss, Kirk Cousins (yet), DeSean Jackson or Brian Orakpo.
15 Best - Ryan Kerrigan
Our list begins with current team captain and defensive mainstay Ryan Kerrigan. If you recall, the Redskins actually traded down in the first round of the 2011 NFL Draft with the Jaguars. While the Redskins were still able to get Kerrigan, the Jags really wanted Blaine Gabbert. Thankfully, it has worked out for Washington as Kerrigan has been selected to two Pro Bowls in his first six seasons in the league.
14 Worst - Deion Sanders
For more than a decade, Deion Sanders had been torturing the Redskins and their fans as a member of the Falcons, 49ers and, of course, the Cowboys. After being released by the Cowboys following the 1999 season, the Redskins went after Sanders in their big free agent splash of early 2000. Sanders would sign on with the Redskins for seven years and $56 million, which is still a huge amount today.
13 Best - Clinton Portis
After being a second round pick out of Miami back in 2002, some thought that Clinton Portis could have been a system running back after his time in Denver. After two seasons, Portis had more than 3,000 yards and 29 rushing touchdowns. The Redskins decided that he would be just as good in Washington, as they traded away Champ Bailey and a second round pick for the running back.
12 Worst - Jeff George
Here is a rule of thumb that Redskins fans know by now. If the team drafts a player in the early part of the first round, he’s likely going to be solid. If another team drafts that player and the Redskins eventually acquire him...it’s not going to turn out well. Case in point; Jeff George, who was drafted first overall by the Colts way back in 1990. After spending time in Indianapolis, Atlanta, Oakland and Minnesota, he signed with the Redskins in 2000.
11 Best - LaVar Arrington
Back in 2000, the Redskins were able to secure the second and third overall picks in the draft and hit home runs with both of them. The first one up is LaVar Arrington, the Penn State linebacker that was selected second overall. Arrington proved to be an all-around player for his first four seasons, collecting 20.5 sacks and only missing two games. He would also add three interceptions during that time.
10 Worst - Donovan McNabb
Just like Deion Sanders, Redskins fans were tired of Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb brutalizing the team for years. After being in Philadelphia for 11 seasons where he finished with a record of 92-49-1, he would join the Redskins in the 2010 season. Redskins fans were excited on that Easter Sunday in 2010 when it was revealed McNabb would be coming to Washington in exchange for a second round pick and a fourth round pick.
9 Best - London Fletcher
As a member of the Rams for four years and then the Bills for another five, linebacker London Fletcher never reached a single Pro Bowl. That would change when he arrived in Washington and became the undoubtedly leader of the defense. Fletcher played for seven seasons with the Redskins, making four straight Pro Bowls from 2009 to 2012. Fletcher was also durable, not missing a single start in that time.
8 Worst - Malcolm Kelly
Redskins fans were a bit excited during the 2008 NFL Draft as they traded traded out of the first round to acquire some second round picks. All in all, the Redskins had three picks in the second round of that draft, and two of them make the worst list. With the 51st overall pick and their final one of the round, the Redskins selected Malcolm Kelly, the wide receiver out of Oklahoma.
7 Best - Trent Williams
One of just two Redskins on the list that are still on the active roster (Kerrigan being the other), “The Silverback” Trent Williams has been one of the best draft successes the Redskins have had in the past 10 years when he was scooped up with the fourth overall pick out of Oklahoma in 2010. Williams has had some problems with off-the-field issues, but he has still been able to start in just about every game.
6 Worst - Devin Thomas
In that famous 2008 second round of the NFL Draft, the Redskins used their first pick on Devin Thomas out of Michigan State, being the 34th overall player drafted. Thomas turned out to be the worst of the three as he couldn’t use injuries as an excuse like Malcolm Kelly. The only player that offered a glimmer of value for the Redskins with their three picks was tight end Fred Davis, who was still a bit of a bust.
5 Best - Sean Taylor
There are always a lot of feelings when you bring up Sean Taylor to not only Redskins fans, but NFL fans all over. Taylor was selected fifth overall out of Miami in 2004, and had a huge impact during his rookie season with four interceptions and 76 total tackles. Taylor quickly established himself as one of the best and hardest hitting safeties that the NFL had seen in years, and he gravitated to the ball like a magnet.
4 Worst - Adam Archuleta
Another example of things going wrong for the Redskins when they offer too much money to someone else’s first round draft pick is Adam Archuleta (Pictured Right). Archuleta had been the 20th overall selection by the Rams back in 2001, and put up some solid seasons during his five years in St. Louis. Before the 2006 season, the Redskins backed up the money truck to give Archuleta a six year deal worth $30 million.
3 Best - Champ Bailey
Earlier we highlighted Clinton Portis, now we see the other side of the blockbuster trade between the two with Champ Bailey. Bailey was regarded as the best cornerback of the 1999 NFL Draft, and the Redskins were fortunate enough to have him slip all the way to seventh. That’s because quarterbacks and running backs were being taken off the board, with busts like Tim Couch and Akili Smith being taken first.
2 Worst - Albert Haynesworth
Before even opening this page, you had to have known that Albert Haynesworth was the worst player for the Redskins not only since 2000, but probably ever. The 15th overall pick by the Titans back in 2001, Haynesworth had some solid seasons in Tennessee. Then, in 2007 and 2008, Haynesworth became an All-Pro that would finish with a combined 14.5 sacks over those two years.
1 Best - Chris Samuels
As this list has shown you, the Redskins have had some good luck when it comes to draft picks in the top 10, linebackers and offensive tackles. After taking LaVar Arrington with the second pick in 2000, they selected Alabama tackle Chris Samuels with the third overall pick. While Samuels didn’t make a huge splash away from the field and wasn’t all that talked about, he was one of the best offensive linemen for 10 seasons.
Samuels only missed three games during the first eight seasons of his career before injuries mounted starting in 2008. Samuels was rewarded for his skill and durability with six Pro Bowl selections and an All-Pro nod in 2001. While you might know names like Trent Williams and Tyron Smith now, Samuels was at an elite level for very long time. People just didn’t know that much about him.
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