Redskins should let Perry Riley hit the market

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Updated: February 5, 2014
Perry Riley

Washington Redskins ILB Perry Riley will be an unrestricted free agent soon. Like any unrestricted free agent, he’s looking for the best deal he can get. Evidently, he thinks he can get a VERY good deal. Riley’s salary demands are high enough that the Redskins have wisely decided to let the open market determine his value.

So what is Riley looking for? Try this on for size.

The inevitable result being this:

The contract Ellerbe got from the Dolphins last year was a terrible deal for the team and I’m sure the Miami front office would love to have a do-over on that one. How undeserving was Ellerbe of that contract? Well, he never looked any good when I saw him so I consulted Pro Football Focus rankings to see if my anecdotal observations synced up with their play-by-play analysis. It did. In fact, PFF ranked Ellerbe 50th out of 55 inside linebackers playing in a 3-4 defense in the NFL. [London Fletcher was dead last at 55, which should surprise nobody who watched all 16 Redskins games last year.] So, where was Perry Riley on this list? Forty-sixth. That’s right, he was raned the 46th-best inside linebacker [out of 55] in the NFL last season. And let me tell you — that’s right.

Riley wasn’t very good in coverage, but he wasn’t horrible — certainly nowhere near as bad as Fletcher was. However, Riley was terrible at stopping the run, far too often taking a bad angle, over-running the play or simply getting caught up in trash and not taking a clean shot at the ball-carrier. The only thing he did reasonably well last year was rush the passer, but as an inside linebacker that’s not a huge part of is job anyway. Opposing quarterbacks had a 115.0 passer rating when throwing at Riley, which was even worse than Fletcher’s 109.8.

In other words, Riley wasn’t very good last year. I’m not sure why the Redskins want Riley back so much, apart from his familiarity with a system he didn’t play very well in last year. To be fair, Riley did play pretty well in 2012, but I have yet to see a decent explanation for why his play fell off so badly in a contract season.

Riley’s ridiculous salary demands are, of course, only an opening negotiating position and not really indicative of what he thought he would get from the Redskins or anyone else. However, the demands are high enough that the Redskins need to prepare to look elsewhere [something they should have been doing anyway] and let the market take Riley down a few pegs. In the meantime, let’s hope Redskins GM Bruce Allen has the phone numbers for the agents for Donald Butler of the Chargers and Daryl Smith of the Ravens.