Although it remains unclear how active the Redskins will be when free agency opens next Tuesday due to their sticky salary cap situation, it’s possible the team will manage to make a few prudent signings. Over the next week, reporter Tarik El-Bashir will take a look some affordable options that could make sense in Washington.
Name/current team: Leodis McKelvin/Bills
Position: Cornerback/return specialist
2012 salary/cap hit: $1,518,750/2,684,584
Stats: 13 games, 21 tackles, 1 interception; returned two punts for touchdowns
Scouting report: After a season in which the Redskins yielded the third most passing yards, second most passing touchdowns and benched their starting punt and kick returner, its possible Mike Shanahan and Co. will be in the market for an upgrade capable of addressing both needs.
McKelvin has not quite lived up to his first round draft status as a cornerback, but he’s shown flashes on defense and has developed into one of the NFL’s top returners. In addition to playing mostly slot cornerback for the Bills last season, McKelvin averaged 18.7 yards on punt returns and took two punts the distance. He also averaged an impressive 28.3 yards on 18 kickoff returns.
The speedy 27-year-old played only 354 snaps on defense last season and finished his fifth pro campaign on injured reserve with a groin muscle pull, leading some in Buffalo to wonder whether he’s played his final game in a Bills’ jersey.
In Washington, cornerback Cedric Griffin is set to become a free agent and returner Brandon Banks’ future is tenuous. The Redskins could turn to second-year corner Richard Crawford, draft a corner or pursue a versatile, low-risk option like McKelvin. The path the team takes could be determined by their ability (or inability) to free up money by restructuring several current veterans' contracts.
Bills General Manager Buddy Nix recently said that he hopes to retain McKelvin, a player the team considers to be a potential starter. Buffalo also has enough cap room (about $15 million) to resign him it so chooses, but the Redskins could make a competitive bid by back-loading the offer.