The Washington Redskins showed one thing during the first week of NFL free agency: They're not seeking a quick fix under first-year coach Ron Rivera. Rather, the consistent message from the organization has been building it right rather than fast.
That's why, so far, free agency has produced mostly low-level signings -- and major yawns from the fan base. The Redskins have re-signed two players, tagged guard Brandon Scherff and signed eight others. Scherff's franchise tag number is $15.03 million, but only one other player -- defensive back Kendall Fuller -- will make at least $10 million.
The moves have revealed the strategy under Rivera.
Rolling with QB Dwayne Haskins: Multiple sources have said the Redskins would not be interested in Cam Newton once the Carolina Panthers cut him, or Jameis Winston. Although Rivera drafted and coached Newton in Carolina, the Redskins know if they sign him, he would be coming here to start. And they don't want to put Haskins in a position where he has no shot to compete for the job. They also like how he finished last season -- a combined total QBR of 73.0 over his final two starts -- and want to give him a chance to develop. Washington still needs to add another quarterback, with Alex Smith an unknown. There's always a chance they select quarterback Tua Tagovailoa with the No. 2 overall pick in the draft next month. But, there's likely a greater chance they select defensive end Chase Young or maybe trade the pick.
Still seeking weapons: The Redskins pursued but failed to sign receiver Amari Cooper, who ultimately received a deal worth $20 million per year from Dallas. Washington entered the offseason wanting another proven receiver opposite Terry McLaurin. That hasn't changed. But the way to do it might.
They can always trade for a wideout or draft one -- the Los Angeles Rams' Brandin Cooks is available, but it's uncertain if the Redskins would want him. Washington could always draft a receiver, but the Redskins lack a second-round pick, so it might be difficult in the third round to add a likely starter. And if spring workouts are canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic, it would make it tougher for rookie receivers to make an impact.
The Redskins, who have more than $30 million remaining on the cap, also need to add more help at tight end, where only Logan Thomas has been added. They also signed third-down back J.D. McKissic. But they want -- and need -- to surround Haskins with more talent. Running backs Derrius Guice and Bryce Love, both coming off knee injuries, would provide a boost if healthy.
Building depth: Washington has been among the teams hardest hit by injuries over the past three seasons, so its depth has repeatedly been tested. The Redskins added depth without creating contract risks, allowing for future flexibility. The most expensive outside free agent -- Fuller -- can play any cornerback spot and some safety.
Too often in the past, even when the Redskins tried to be more prudent, they'd spend big money on players who did not in turn give them big-money performance. For example, Josh Norman's play, while solid at times, did not reach the level of him being the NFL's highest-paid cornerback. It's one reason Washington stayed away from big-name free agents this offseason. Too often in their eyes, the players' value didn't match the contract. Of the 11 transactions this offseason, it's possible four or five end up starting.
Eyeing the draft: In 2017, without adequate offensive line depth, the Redskins turned to rookie free agents who weren't ready. It wasn't ideal. That's why they sought help in free agency this year, signing two offensive linemen who provide depth (Cornelius Lucas and Wes Schweitzer).
If they hadn't done so, the Redskins would have felt compelled to draft one -- perhaps in the middle rounds. Their focus now can be selecting a player they want, not one viewed as a need. There isn't a position Washington would not address in the draft, even if it signed someone at the spot last week. The Redskins prefer to build through the draft and complement the roster via free agency.
Veteran voice: Linebacker Thomas Davis, 37, was once a standout under Rivera in Carolina. With Washington, he's almost at the end of a solid career. The Redskins have a young team and could have as many as seven defensive starters 26-years-old or younger. They need Davis to provide leadership and serve as a messenger for Rivera's system. But they will also need him to make plays.
Left tackle Trent Williams and cornerback Quinton Dunbar both want out; both are under contract for 2020. The Minnesota Vikings, Cleveland Browns, Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Los Angeles Chargers all make sense for Williams, and there's a chance others are involved. The Redskins would like a second-round pick -- or a starter -- but also know they might have to be flexible. The first step remains Williams agreeing to financial terms with a team.
Dunbar's situation will be trickier; he also wants a new contract, but is not a seven-time Pro Bowler like Williams. Dunbar has played well when healthy -- he has length and speed -- but has missed a combined 14 games the past two seasons because of injuries. The Redskins have been willing to field calls about him since free agency began.