Redskins re-sign Perry Riley hours before free agency begins

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The Washington Redskins announced Tuesday that they have re-signed inside linebacker Perry Riley, keeping a vital part of their defense on the team hours before he was set to become an unrestricted free agent.

Riley, 25, led the Redskins with 115 tackles last season, the last on his four-year rookie contract. The team identified four defensive players as a priority this offseason – Riley, outside linebacker Brian Orakpo, cornerback DeAngelo Hall and defensive end Chris Baker – and when Orakpo was handed the franchise designation early last week, Riley was the last holdout.

The terms of Riley’s contract were not immediately available, but NBC Washington, which first reported the signing, said the linebacker would earn $13 million over three years.

“It feels great to still be a part of Redskin Nation!” Riley wrote on Twitter shortly before 11 a.m.

A fourth-round draft pick out of LSU in 2010, Riley took over as a starter alongside London Fletcher midway through the 2011 season. With Fletcher’s impending retirement – he announced in December that 2013 was to be his last year, and he’s also set to become a free agent – Riley figured to replace Fletcher as the Redskins‘ mike linebacker.

That transition appeared in doubt over the last several weeks, however, with the Redskins and Riley differing on the terms of a potential contract.

With Riley’s return, it seems likely that Keenan Robinson, entering his third season, will take over as the other starting inside linebacker. Robinson, drafted in the fourth round out of Texas in 2012, has torn a pectoral muscle in each of his first two seasons and missed all of 2013 after surgery.

It remains likely that the Redskins, who entered Tuesday’s start to free agency with over $18 million in salary cap space, could also pursue another inside linebacker to compete with Robinson for playing time.

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