It looks like Perry Riley blinked in his free-agency stare down with the Redskins.
According to multiple reports, Riley’s agreed to a contract that pays him around $4 million per year. Although we don’t have any of the details yet, it is clear that the deal won’t pay him anything close to the five-year, $35 million deal that Dannell Ellerbe got from the Dolphins a year ago. Riley was believed to be seeking a deal somewhere in that neighborhood.
The Redskins were looking at an annual salary number south of the $5.5 million per year that London Fletcher made during his last two years with the team. After about 48 hours of being able to openly field offers from other teams, Riley decided to stay home.
And that’s probably the best for Riley. He is tuned in to Jim Haslett’s defense and he gets the opportunity this year to be the extension of the coach on the field. Many saw him being a potential bust in free agency with a change of systems.
The Redskins got their key defensive free agents back in Riley, DL Chris Baker, CB DeAngelo Hall, and Brian Orakpo. They still have holes at safety and the second inside linebacker spot and could use an upgrade on the defensive line and they need a nickel back.
And then they have to go about improving a defense that was ranked 18th in terms of yards but 30th in points allowed (a status they earned with some help from awful special teams and turnovers by the offense), 31st in opponent yards per pass attempt and 27th in opponents passer rating.
Assuming that they can get competent NFL players to fill the holes, Haslett will be under tremendous pressure to turn his unit around now that he has his four top free agents back. Haslett has said he will be more aggressive after being shackled by Mike Shanahan for four years.
Riley certainly is not a great player; calling him “very good” might be a stretch for that matter. But his familiarity with the defense will help and the Redskins won’t have to break in two new players at the key position in the wake of London Fletcher’s retirement.
Retaining Riley is not a game changer but the price is right and they are better off with him than without him.