The Washington Redskins’ 2004 season has come to a close, with the team finishing at an abysmal mark of 6-10. With the off-season fast approaching, the Redskins will begin to take a look at their free agents to determine which of them should be retained and at what cost. This article is the first in a three part series that will explain the types of free agency, and give the reader a brief overview of the players on the Redskin roster who are eligible for free agency in the off-season.
The most prevalent type of free agent in today’s NFL is the unrestricted free agent. To qualify for unrestricted free agency, the player must have at least 4 accrued seasons in a salary-capped year (or 5 in a non-salary cap season). An accrued season is by definition, any season in which a player is on full-salary status for at least 6 games.
This type of free agent is free to sign a contract with any team he so chooses. If he remains unsigned after June 1, his previous team may offer him a 10% raise over his previous salary, at which time he becomes an exclusive rights free agent.
The Redskins currently have 8 unrestricted free agents.
Affectionately known as “the Red Snapper”, Albright has been one of the most consistent long snappers in the NFL. He is known for his accuracy as well as his blocking and tackling ability.
Albright was signed away from the Buffalo Bills in 2000 and has been a special teams mainstay ever since. Since his first game as a Redskin in 2001, he has not missed a single game.
Ray Brown has been a pleasant surprise this season. Brown is the only active Redskin to have played for Coaches Gibbs and Bugel in the first tenure here in Washington. He has been a steady force in relief of the injured Jon Jansen, and may even be retained for depth next season; it would be his 20th.
Brown was signed this preseason to a one-year deal when Jansen ruptured his Achilles’ tendon, ending his season. Brown spent the last two seasons with the Detroit Lions, after a six-year stint with the San Francisco 49ers.
After spending the first few weeks on the inactive list, Cartwright was promoted to the active special teams squad, where he excelled in kick and punt coverage. Last year, Rock played well as a full back and tailback when given the opportunity. Coming into this season, Cartwright lost weight in order to try out for tailback, given the lack of fullbacks in the singleback offense.
The Washington Redskins drafted the Kansas State product in the 7th round of the 2002 draft.
Doering was brought in this November to bolster the depth at safety, due to multiple injuries in the Washington secondary. Doering is known for his speed, versatility and toughness, and is known as an above-average special-teamer.
Doering played in Indianapolis for 3 seasons before being released prior to the 2004 season. He was subsequently signed by the New York Giants, but did not make their final roster.
“Koz”, as he is known to teammates, signed with the Washington Redskins to provide leadership and experience at the tight end and H-back positions. While the starting job at H-back went to rookie Chris Cooley, Kozlowski made contributions to the team every time he took the field. Kozlowski is known for his football intelligence and his excellent hands.
Coach Gibbs was familiar with Kozlowski from their time spent together with the Atlanta Falcons. That familiarity led to the signing of the tight end prior to this season.
Salave’a came out of nowhere this season to become one of the integral parts of the Redskins’ number 3 defense. Salave’a started 10 of his 13 games played this season, and was a major cog in the team’s run defense.
After being drafted in 1998 by the Tennessee Titans’ and then defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, Salave’a consistently improved, his finest season coming in 2000. In 2002, Salave’a was released by the Titans and spent a year out of the league, before catching on in San Diego last season.
Mike Sellers is known for his combination of size and speed. He is one of the most versatile players on the roster. He is a force to be reckoned with on special teams. He is an excellent blocker who also has good hands coming out of the backfield.
The Redskins originally signed Sellers in 1998 as an undrafted rookie free agent. He left in 2001 to sign with the Cleveland Browns. After leaving the Browns, Sellers played two seasons for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers of the CFL, before returning to the Redskins this off-season.
James Thrash is another former Redskin who returned to the team this season. Thrash is not only a talented clutch receiver, but he is one of the best special teams players in the NFL. He can return punts or kicks, and has demonstrated a penchant for downing punts inside the opponent’s five-yard line.
Originally signed as a rookie free agent by the Philadelphia Eagles, the Redskins signed him after the Eagles released him prior to the 1997 season. Thrash quickly grew into a legitimate receiving threat as a direct result of his excellent work ethic and dedication to the game. That growth and reputation led him to a big contract with the Philadelphia Eagles in 2001. After three years in Philadelphia, the team traded an undisclosed draft pick to the Eagles for Thrash in March of 2004.
Up Next: An overview of the Washington Redskins 2005 Restricted Free Agent class.