Cutting Brown and McGee on Wednesday saved just over $8 million in salary-cap space to use in free agency. And the Redskins are already at work on spending that money.
Washington agreed to an $84 million, six-year deal with former New York Giants safety Landon Collins and announced the completion of the trade to acquire quarterback Case Keenum from the Denver Broncos. Adding Collins gives the Redskins another playmaker in the secondary if they keep cornerback Josh Norman for a fourth season.
Greg Manusky will be back as defensive coordinator; Redskins executives met with potential replacements after the season ended. Moves this week show team President Bruce Allen and the front office believe changes in personnel — not coaching — will be enough to improve a defense that ranked 17th in the NFL and struggled after a strong start.
Brown’s departure by trade or release was hardly surprising after he saw “the writing on the wall” from losing his starting job in December. Brown, 29, had two seasons left on a $21 million, three-year contract he signed with Washington last spring.
McGee was a salary-cap casualty at a position Washington has plenty of young depth in Jonathan Allen, Daron Payne, Matt Ioannidis and Tim Settle. An injury limited McGee, 29, to eight games last season.
Safety has been a revolving door for the Redskins in recent years, and they could turn over both starters at the position from the start of last season. They released D.J. Swearinger late in 2018 after repeated criticism of the coaching staff, and Montae Nicholson’s future is uncertain after he was arrested and charged with assault and battery in December.
In addition to signing Collins to a rich, long-term contract, Washington could bring back safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix after acquiring him from Green Bay at the trade deadline for a fourth-round pick.
The changes aren’t restricted to defense. Keenum is expected to compete with Colt McCoy, the only healthy QB on the roster with Alex Smith expected to miss all of 2019 with a broken right leg.
“We all feel great about Colt without a doubt, but he’s had his injury history as well, and we anticipate a competitive camp with those two guys,” coach Jay Gruden said. “And if we add a third guy via the draft or somewhere else, we’ll roll the ball out there and let them play, but I feel good about Colt and Case’s skill set. They are very similar, so it’ll be easy to draw up plays for those two guys.”