No NFL organization has transitioned or ever will transition from one season to the next while staying entirely intact. Not even the perfect Patriots keep every single player, coach and executive from the year before, as free agents must be let go and decision-makers are pushed out of the door for perceived better options.
The 2017 Redskins look much different than the 2016 Redskins, for example, who looked much different than the 2015 Redskins, and so on and so forth. But which of the people that Washington recently allowed to leave will they end up missing the most? Who are the guys that the team could seriously regret not making more of an effort to retain?
Let's rank some of the biggest names.
(Note: This list is solely made up of names that the Redskins chose to not bring back. Sean McVay, for example, was hired away from Washington and therefore isn't found below. Meanwhile, players like Duke Ihenacho and David Bruton, who were not re-signed, won't be listed because the Redskins won't exactly miss them)
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6. Kedric Golston
With Golston no longer around, DeAngelo Hall presently holds the title of longest-tenured Redskin. And while the now-34-year-old Golston is coming off a severe hamstring injury and never was a major producer in terms of stats, his teammates constantly mentioned him as one of the strongest and most-respected figures in D.C., someone they could count on to set an example.
Of course, Washington needed to perform a major overhaul of their defensive line, and getting rid of the aging Golston was something that needed to happen. But dropping a player who had been with the 'Skins for a decade and who knew the Burgundy and Gold as well as anybody could end up having some smaller, unforeseen consequences, particularly off the field.
5. Ricky Jean Francois
Jean Francois had a similar reputation to Golston's — that of a leader on defense. He's only 30, however, meaning he should have much more left to contribute in his future than Golston, and the Redskins knew what they had in him, compared to newer defensive linemen who'll replace him such as Stacy McGee and Terrell McClain.
RJF is far from a stud, yes, but he played in all 32 games with Washington in his two seasons with the franchise and has established himself as a winner in the NFL. There's a decent chance the front office is eventually disappointed with its decision to not keep Jean Francois, who's now in Green Bay, over its recent additions.
4. Chris Baker
Baker is easily the most useful defender that the Redskins didn't re-sign this past offseason. He was open in his desire to stay, and the two sides did have some talks about a return, but ultimately, the Redskins didn't make much of an effort to make one happen. Now, Swaggy is in Tampa Bay.
In many other cities, Baker wouldn't have been the best D-lineman on the roster. But he certainly was while playing in the nation's capital the past few campaigns, and if Jim Tomsula's bunch has a repeat of the issues the unit had in 2016, many will point to the lack of pursuit for Baker as a mistake. He and Jonathan Allen would've formed a pretty nice duo, but now, guys like Allen, Matt Ioannidis and Anthony Lanier must grow up quickly in his absence.
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3. Pierre Garçon
Garçon feels like the type of player that fans and coaches miss pretty soon after they see what life is like without him. He rarely made game-altering catches, but when it came to important third downs, fighting for some extra yards or setting the tone with his intensity, few in the league were more dependable than No. 88.
The 31-year-old is back with Kyle Shanahan in San Francisco, and the reason many aren't too worried about his departure is because of Josh Doctson, who should slide in and fill Garçon's role while hopefully becoming a more dynamic threat. Docston's health and capacity to adapt to the pro game is a large wild card, however, and Garçon was anything but with the Redskins.
2. Scot McCloughan
The only non-player to make this list, but deservedly so. The ex-GM had a hand in crucial moves like the drafting of Brandon Scherff and Jamison Crowder, the signings of Josh Norman, Will Blackmon, Mason Foster and more, and was vital when it came to pushing the organization back into a place where it was relevant.
Yet McCloughan is gone now, after having been fired in March. It could be difficult to truly quantify his loss, since it can't be measured in touchdowns or tackles, but odds are the Redskins will feel it at all levels.
1. DeSean Jackson
The first four ex-Redskins mentioned will likely be missed to some extent, but at least they have pretty clear successors. McCloughan and Jackson, though? Those are two talents that are very rare.
Jackson's speed transformed matchups in a matter of seconds; there'd be weeks where it'd look like the 'Skins had nothing going, and one 60-yard pass later, they'd be on their way to a victory. The attention he attracted also made Jordan Reed, Crowder and others more effective. And Kirk Cousins hasn't known what it's like to be a starter for a full year without Jackson on the outside for most of it.
Terrelle Pryor's had an excellent camp, and Crowder and Doctson are attractive targets, too. Unfortunately, none of them have an all-time skill like Jackson does, and while it would've been tough to match the Bucs' pricey offer for him, the Redskins may realize in a hurry that his ability was worth everything else he came with.
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