- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 17, 2020

In 2018, Kendall Fuller found out on Twitter that he was traded from the Washington Redskins.

Two years later, the Redskins gave the cornerback the biggest payday of his career.

The Redskins and Fuller agreed to a four-year, $40 million contract late Monday, a move that addresses a major need for Washington. And on Tuesday, the Redskins continued to rebuild to their defense — adding longtime Carolina Panther and former Chargers linebacker Thomas Davis.

Fuller and Davis turned out to be consolation prizes as the news broke Monday the Redskins had aggressively pursued Amari Cooper before he rejoined the Dallas Cowboys on a five-year, $100 million deal.

The Redskins offered “substantially more” to Copper than the Cowboys, ESPN reported. Washington was willing to make the 25-year-old’s salary on par with Atlanta’s Julio Jones, who makes $22 million per season. Cooper, the network added, likely turned down as least $10 million from the Redskins to stay in Dallas.

Wide receiver wasn’t a huge need for Washington after the emergence of Terry McLaurin in 2019, but the Redskins could have used a playmaker to pair with him. Cooper, too, has been a difference-maker since being traded to the Cowboys in 2018, finishing with a career-high 1,189 yards last season.

But by reuniting with Fuller and adding Davis, the Redskins are attempting to shore up a pass defense that ranked 24th in defensive efficiency last season.

Washington knows Fuller well as it drafted him in the third round of the 2016 draft out of Virginia Tech. Fuller blossomed during the first two years of his career — leading Washington to trade the cornerback and a third-round pick to the Kansas City Chiefs for quarterback Alex Smith in 2018.

The Redskins‘ coaching staff is also well familiar with Davis, who spent 14 years in Carolina — eight with coach Ron Rivera. Davis, who turns 37 on Sunday, was released last week by the Chargers. Despite his age, Davis was a relatively productive player for Los Angeles in 2019. He had 112 tackles and played 82% of the team’s defensive snaps.

Davis brings a veteran’s presence, one who knows the Rivera’s defense. This offseason, the Redskins have looked to add at linebacker — agreeing to terms with starter Jon Bostic and former Bears linebacker Kevin Pierre-Louis. Pierre-Louis, 28, also reached an agreement with Washington on Tuesday and should help on special teams.

Fuller, meanwhile, shines mostly in the slot, but he has positional flexibility as well. According to Pro Football Focus, the 25-year-old played 313 of his 498 regular-season snaps in 2019 on the inside, but also took 40 snaps at free safety and another 25 on the outside.

With the Chiefs, Fuller is coming off a Super Bowl-winning season. But the Virginia Tech product had two up-and-down years in Kansas City. After a strong 2018, Fuller missed five games because of a thumb injury and started only four of his 11 games. Fuller’s playing time, though, jumped in the postseason, and the cornerback sealed the Chiefs’ victory in Super Bowl LIV with a late-game interception.

Fuller joins a Redskins secondary that includes Quinton Dunbar and a group of young cornerbacks. If Fuller starts inside, that would leave Washington to start Dunbar and Fabian Moreau on the outside. The team also has Jimmy Moreland and Greg Stroman as reserves.

Earlier on Monday, the Redskins missed out on some of the bigger-name cornerbacks on the market.

James Bradberry, rumored to be an early target for Washington before the buzz quieted in the last week, signed a three-year, $45 million deal with the New York Giants. Former Dallas Cowboys cornerback Byron Jones, meanwhile, became the highest-paid corner in the league when the Miami Dolphins gave him a five-year, $82.5 million deal.

Still, the Redskins were reportedly “pretty fired up” to reunite with Fuller.

Washington has now made five moves since the start of the NFL’s legal tampering window: Bostic (two years, $6.6 million), guard Wes Schweitzer, Pierre-Louis (one year worth up to $3.5 million) and Davis (terms not yet reported).

After their slew of contracts, the Redskins still have holes at tight end, safety, left tackle and wide receiver. The team could also look to add a quarterback to push Dwayne Haskins.

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