- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 9, 2016

As early as late January, general manager Scot McCloughan said that he did not anticipate the Washington Redskins to spend heavily in free agency.

“I think we’ll have a little bit of money, but it’s going to be similar [to 2015],” McCloughan said, speaking at the Senior Bowl. “We’re not going to be big players. You know, I don’t believe in that. I think we, like I said, we just need to add legit football guys that understand it’s about the Redskins and it’s not about themselves.”

The Redskins made sweeping cuts on Monday to free up $29.5 million in cap space, but McCloughan remained true to his approach as the free agent signing period began at 4 p.m. on Wednesday.

Washington moved to retain three of its players before they were scheduled to become unrestricted free agents by signing quarterback Colt McCoy, inside linebacker Mason Foster and nose tackle Kedric Golston, but it was a quiet day otherwise.

Around the league, teams dished out money for top-tier free agents. The New York Giants signed defensive end Olivier Vernon to a five-year, $85 million contract with $52.5 million guaranteed, according to multiple reports. They also signed cornerback Janoris Jenkins to a five-year, $62.5 million contract, defensive tackle Damon Harrison and retained defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul. The Houston Texans shad perhaps the most surprising move of the day after they signed former Broncos quarterback Brock Osweiler to a four-year, $72 million contract.

Of course, there is still plenty of time for the Redskins to add via free agency, though they were comfortable waiting out the big spending that took place on Wednesday.

With Kirk Cousins already in place to return as the starter for next season, the Redskins secured their backup by signing McCoy.

McCoy’s contract is for three years, though it can be voided by the team to two, according to a person familiar with the situation. It gives McCoy, who has played on one-year deals in the last two seasons, security in a system he is familiar with. McCoy signed for $795,000 in 2014 and returned last season for $1.5 million. He served as the backup to Cousins while Robert Griffin III was the third-string quarterback.

The Redskins gave Cousins the franchise tag and he signed the one-year contract offer, worth $19.95 million, last week. The team also released Griffin on Monday to clear $16.2 million in cap space, a move that was anticipated since Cousins was named the starter last August.

Foster joined the Redskins on Sept. 29 after he was cut by the Chicago Bears at the end of the preseason. The veteran started the final five games of the season while Perry Riley was sidelined with a broken foot. Foster recorded 37 tackles and forced a fumble.

Golston, the longest-tenured player on the Redskins‘ roster, is returning for his 11th season. The 32-year-old nose tackle recorded 10 tackles in 15 games while playing 18.8 percent of the team’s defensive snaps.

Washington cut veteran defensive end Jason Hatcher on Monday and informed nose tackle Terrance Knighton they would be moving on from the run-stuffer, leaving a void on the defensive line. The Redskins are expected to bolster the defensive line through the draft, which has a number of top-tier prospects at those positions, but Golston provides the team with an influential veteran presence, especially after the departure of Hatcher and Knighton.

The team also announced the signing of strong safety Duke Ihenacho. On Monday, the Redskins extended a one-year tender to the strong safety, who was a restricted free agent. Ihenacho broke his wrist in the season opener after winning the starting job in the preseason. In 2014, he broke his foot in Week 3 and was also placed on injured reserve.

According to the NFLPA, the Redskins began the 2016 season with $21.6 million in cap room. In addition to releasing Griffin and Hatcher, the Redskins also parted ways with free safety Dashon Goldson and strong safety Jeron Johnson on Monday.

At the NFL combine, coach Jay Gruden indicated that the team was going to let inside linebacker Keenan Robinson test the free agency market — and the Redskins did just that. As of Wednesday’s deadline, outside linebacker Junior Galette, cornerback Will Blackmon, running back Alfred Morris, tight end Logan Paulsen, fullback Darrel Young, center Josh LeRibeus, defensive end Frank Kearse, running back Pierre Thomas, tight end Alex Smith and cornerback Cary Williams all became free agents.

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