7 Best Free Agent Acquisitions in Washington Redskins History

Matthew Brown@mlb923Correspondent IJanuary 23, 2014

7 Best Free Agent Acquisitions in Washington Redskins History

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    With a new head coach in Jay Gruden and a projected $33 million in cap room, according to Spotrac, the Washington Redskins are likely to make some noise in free agency after a two-year hiatus. The prospect of throwing money at players is either exciting or elicits a groan from those who have seen some terrible signings in the past.

    But rejoice, because all is not lost and contrary to recent history, there have been some excellent free agent finds in the illustrious Redskins' offseasons.

    Though the 2014 offseason figures to be busy for Washington's front office, here is a look at some of the free agent hits of the past.

Honorable Mention: Troy Vincent, DB (2006)

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    Why does Troy Vincent, who was a member of the Washington Redskins for all of eight games in 2006, get an honorable mention?

    In his first week with the team, Dallas week no less, Vincent blocked a late-game field goal, the live ball was recovered and taken into Cowboys territory as time expired.

    Sean Taylor had his facemask yanked by Kyle Kosier, which netted the 'Skins a single play with time expired. Nick Novak nailed a 47-yard field goal to put Washington up 22-19 for the win.

    The "Hand of God" game, as it is affectionately known, doesn't happen without Vincent.

Honorable Mention: Lorenzo Alexander, OMG (2007-2012)

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    If not for the cap penalties levied against the Redskins over the last two seasons, Lorenzo Alexander would still be part of the team.

    Alexander was an undrafted free agent in 2005, he spent his first season on the Carolina Panthers practice squad then bounced to the Baltimore Ravens practice squad for a cup of coffee in 2006 before landing in Washington later that year.

    He debuted in 2007 and earned the nickname One-Man Gang for his versatility, appearing at offensive tackle, tight end, fullback, defensive tackle, defensive end, linebacker and special teams.

    In sporadic playing time on defense, Alexander notched eight career sacks with the Redskins, but he made his impact on special teams. He made plays on the field and became a leader in the locker room.

    In his final season with the Redskins, Alexander made the Pro Bowl as a special teams contributor. His value on special teams is evident in the horrendous showing Washington's special teams had in its first season without him.

7. DeAngelo Hall, CB (2009-Current)

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    As frustrating as his mouth and on-field lapses can be, DeAngelo Hall has been a great pickup for the Redskins. Washington's defense has been nothing to write home about for most of Hall's tenure, but he has set himself apart as an asset and as the top cornerback on the roster.

    He was considered one of the best ball-hawking corners in the NFL, and he earned a seven-year $70 million contract from the Oakland Raiders, who proceeded to release him after just eight games due to unimpressive play.

    Hall landed in Washington for the rest of the 2008 season, and he earned a sizable six-year, $55 million contract and solidified the cornerback position for the Redskins.

    With the Redskins, Hall has forced 29 total turnovers, 23 interceptions and six fumbles, and he has scored five defensive touchdowns, including a career-high three during the 2013 season.

    He earned a Pro Bowl nod in 2010, primarily for the four interceptions he grabbed in one game against the Chicago Bears, tying the all-time record.

6. Brad Johnson, QB (1999-2000)

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    Brad Johnson spent all of two seasons with the Washington Redskins, with his best season coming in 1999. He led the Redskins to a division title and a playoff berth while throwing 24 touchdowns to 13 interceptions, proving a capable game manager for the offense.

    While Stephen Davis rumbled for 1,405 yards and 17 touchdowns, Johnson was the veteran hand to guide the 'Skins offense.

    He tailed off in 2000, throwing 11 touchdowns to 15 interceptions in 12 appearances. Following the 8-8 finish to the season, Johnson signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and won a Super Bowl in 2002, while the Redskins were stuck with the likes of Tony Banks, Jeff George, Kent Graham, Shane Matthews, Danny Wuerffel and Patrick Ramsey.

    However brief his time with the Redskins was, Johnson was a great pickup at the right time and might have had a longer tenure if not for the fickle nature of Dan Snyder, who had acquired the team before the 1999 season and refused to exercise patience in firing Norv Turner in the middle of the 2000 season.

    One could argue that Johnson was the last credible quarterback the Redskins had before drafting Robert Griffin III in 2012.

5. Shawn Springs, CB (2004-2008)

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    His tenure may be marred by injuries, but Shawn Springs was a strong presence on the Redskins defense helmed by then defensive coordinator Gregg Williams. Thought to be nearing the end of his career by the time he signed with Washington in 2004, Springs had a brief resurgence as a Redskin.

    In his first season with the team, Springs finished with six sacks and five interceptions, leading the team in both categories.

    During his tenure with the Redskins, Springs was a veteran hand on an aggressive defense that battled some inconsistency year to year, but it finished as a top-10 unit in four of his five seasons with the team.

    Considering he was thought to be over-the-hill at 29 years of age, Springs was a great signing for the Redskins.

4. Mike Sellers, FB (2006-2011)

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    Another undrafted free agent, Mike Sellers had a three-year stint in the CFL before signing with the Redskins in 1998. He lasted three seasons, failed to catch on with the Cleveland Browns in 2001 and spent 2002 and 2003 in the CFL.

    In 2004, Sellers returned to the Washington Redskins and wasted little time in establishing himself as a punishing force on the field.

    The 2005 season may be his best statistical season, Sellers scored eight total touchdowns that year, but his highlights often featured violent collisions such as the one delivered to hard-hitting safety Kenoy Kennedy of the Detroit Lions in a Week 5 matchup during the 2007 season.

    Sellers played both tight end and fullback and as the latter, helped pave the way for Clinton Portis, who had four 1,000-yard rushing seasons with Sellers at fullback. He earned himself a Pro Bowl nod in 2008 where Portis rushed for 1,487 yards and nine touchdowns.

    Not bad for an undrafted journeyman out of Walla Walla Community College in Washington.

3. Ken Harvey, OLB (1994-1998)

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    The Redskins went through a bit of a roller coaster stretch after Joe Gibbs retired the first time following the 1992 season. In 1994, however, they acquired linebacker Ken Harvey, formerly of the Phoenix Cardinals, and he made an immediate impact on Washington's defense.

    In his first season in Washington, Harvey finished second in the NFL with a career-high 13.5 sacks.

    Harvey had already established himself as a fearsome rush linebacker by the time he showed up in Washington, but the 41.5 sacks he had during his time with the Redskins showed he wasn't going to rest on his laurels.

    For a team who has had such bad luck with free agents over the last 15 years, Harvey's presence in the Redskins' Ring of Fame is proof that they weren't all bad for Washington.

2. John Riggins, RB (1976-1979, 1981-1985)

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    Associated Press

    John Riggins, Riggo, The Diesel. Personality aside, there was nothing flashy about Riggins on the field, but he got the job done. He finished his career with 11,352 rushing yards and 116 total touchdowns, 7,452 of those yards and 85 of those touchdowns tallied as a member of the Redskins.

    Riggins arrived in Washington in 1976, rushed for over 1,000 yards in 1978 and 1979, requested his contract be restructured and upon the team's refusal, sat out the 1980 season.

    He returned in 1981, noting, "I'm bored, I'm broke, and I'm back."

    Though productive with the New York Jets, Riggins owes his Hall of Fame induction to Joe Gibbs.

    A power running back in every sense of the word, Riggins was a staple of the smashmouth offense Gibbs ran in Washington. He led the league in touchdowns in 1983 with 24, while also amassing 375 carries, second only to Eric Dickerson.

    Let us not forget the now iconic Super Bowl XVII run, where he broke out of a Don McNeal tackle and took it 43 yards for a touchdown that put the Redskins up 20-17 in the fourth quarter.

1. London Fletcher, LB (2007-2013)

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    If you love football, you love London Fletcher. Playing at one of the most violent positions in the NFL, Fletcher managed to start in 221 consecutive games, while appearing in 265 consecutive games, good enough for fourth and tied for sixth in NFL history respectively.

    He joined the Redskins in 2007, having already established himself as one of the premier linebackers in the NFL with stints in St. Louis and Buffalo, and he wasted little time making his mark on the field and in the locker room.

    Fletcher spent seven of his 16 seasons in Washington, making all four of his Pro Bowl appearances as a Redskin, and he quietly played on par with future Hall of Famer Ray Lewis, who redefined the middle linebacker position in the NFL.

    The rock in the middle of the Redskins defense, Fletcher retired following the 2013 season and is all but guaranteed to end up in Canton when his name comes up.