Lorenzo Alexander departs as Redskins remain on sidelines in free agency

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The Washington Redskins remained bystanders in the free-agent market Wednesday while another team raided their cabinet. Pro Bowler Lorenzo Alexander signed with the Arizona Cardinals, a departure that amplifies the Redskins‘ transition on special teams.

It was another blow from the Redskins‘ lack of salary cap space. Players and teams around the league reached agreements throughout the day, while representatives for free agents echoed a frustrated refrain: The Redskins don’t have enough money to seriously pursue their clients.

Current players shared the sentiment. Linebacker London Fletcher on Wednesday evening addressed a tweet to the NFL and the players’ union that read: “would it be a salary cap violation for the @Redskins to sign free agents with Monopoly money? #cappenalty#thanks4nothing.”

Washington entered the day with only $600,000 in cap space, according to a Washington Post report. Such a small amount remained after three veterans took pay cuts since Monday. Strong safety Brandon Meriweather saved the Redskins $1.25 million on Tuesday; his restructure was not publicized until Wednesday.

Alexander after the season expressed his desire to re-sign with the Redskins and said he would as long as the team made a competitive offer.

Coach Mike Shanahan on Monday shared that viewpoint from the other side of the bargaining table.

“You always want to sign your players, and Lorenzo has been a big part of this organization,” Shanahan said. “I hope we can compete with people financially, but at the same time, he’s got to do what’s best for him and his family.”

That ultimately meant leaving. Alexander signed a three-year deal with Arizona; the financial terms were not available by Wednesday evening.

Alexander did not return phone messages.

Washington loses one of the NFL’s best special teams tacklers and one of its top locker room leaders. His exit throws Washington’s special teams into greater flux following the departure of longtime special teams coordinator Danny Smith earlier this offseason.

Alexander’s 21 special teams tackles, according to Stats LLC, led the NFL last season. The sixth-year linebacker also had 32 defensive tackles, according to coaches’ review, 2.5 sacks and a fumble recovery.

He was the Redskins‘ special teams captain for each of the past three seasons. He earned the respect of teammates by ascending to those heights after signing with the Redskins‘ practice squad in 2006 as an undrafted free agent. He came up as a defensive lineman and occasionally played offensive line early in his career.

Alexander, who turns 30 in May, transitioned to linebacker in the Redskins‘ 3-4 scheme. As an inside linebacker, he played in sub packages and goal line situations last season.

The Redskins continue to wait for bargains as markets set for different positions.

Right tackle remains unsettled and a position of need. Washington signed veteran Tony Pashos to a one-year, veteran-minimum contract Monday but continues to consider options.

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