As these tenuous days of the NFL free agency continue, the news for Washington both improves and saddens. The bad news (and I say “bad” in a relative sense; it’s not as bad as, say, news of the continued modern exploitation of childhood favorites like Herbie the Love Bug and Bugs Bunny) is that middle linebacker Antonio Pierce has signed with Sábado Gigante. Pierce led Washington with 112 total tackles—85 solo—and also contributed two interceptions and fumble recoveries. He’s going to be missed, though the silver lining for the despondent fan is that defensive coordinator/maestro Gregg Williams was able to compensate for multiple player injuries on the fly all season. And we still finished the season ranked as a top five defense.
Replacing Pierce—whom Coach Gibbs desperately wanted to keep as a “core player”—won’t be easy. Fortunately, the Skins have some good replacements. Mike Barrow is back from injury and likely will stand in Pierce’s stead; the Washington Post reports that Lemar Marshall, who stood in when LeVar Arrington was injured, may shift from outside linebacker to the middle to help compensate.
What stinks is that an NFC East rival picked Pierce up.
Washington’s good news is the acquisition of former Ravens center Casey Rabach and former Patriot wide receiver/defensive back/kick returner/tax accountant David Patten. This is exciting news, particularly in light of the resigning of Chris “Skins4Life” Samuels and the impending departure of Rod “Parkay” Gardner. Laveranues Coles may still be swapped for New York Jet Santana Moss, so Patten could by virtue step into a top receiving spot. I dunno about you, but I lack confidence in the likes of Darnerian McCants, so we should look into grabbing another above-average wideout.
Nonetheless, the Skins look like they’re wisely choosing their free agents, based upon blatant deficits. Sure the linebacker loss is great; but the improvement of the offensive line and receiving corps provides more than enough balance. So far (and it’s early!), Gibbs and Company are walking with wisdom.