Washington abruptly dumped veteran defensive lineman Ricky Jean-Francois on Wednesday. The move immediately triggered suspicion that Jean-Francois has paid the price for being candid about his recent criticisms of the team.
Per a source with knowledge of the situation, Jean-Francois was surprised by the move. Indeed, he started every game for Washington last year, and he performed well.
Via Mike Jones of the Washington Post, the move had nothing to do with clearing cap space for a potential run at free-agent defensive linemen Jonathan Hankins or Dontari Poe.
Apart from some recent tweets that seemed to be generally critical of the team’s free-agent losses, Jean-Francois expressed doubt about the team during a recent visit with Sean Salisbury on SB Nation Radio.
“It seems like we’re getting back to the norm, we’re getting back to the dysfunctional, we’re getting back to the drama,” Jean-Francois said last Thursday, before the team fired G.M. Scot McCloughan. “It just feels like at no given time we’ve never had that period where we were just comfortable with everything and everything was just running smooth. . . . Everything is changed and it’s like, why? We let go of DeSean Jackson, one of the most explosive receivers in the NFL. We let go of Pierre Garςon — only had one drop last year. You let Chris Baker go, Chris Baker was one great pass rusher for us. . . .
“At the end of the day, it’s business. But it’s not the business that you want to see each and every other day at work when everything is going hectic and you just don’t know what’s going on, who’s making calls. Who’s what. It’s like as soon as you open the front of the newspaper you just see drama. And it feels like just at no given point we haven’t had that grace period that’s just, ‘All right, let’s not have drama. Let’s everything be happy, joyful. Let’s say we’re gonna make a run for the playoffs, Super Bowl, whatever.’ But it’s seems like that’s not the case, or it’s not the case at this moment.”
Jean-Francois also complained about the failure of the team to give quarterback Kirk Cousins a long-term deal, pointing to his success over the last two years and the team’s failure to reward him. Likewise, Jean-Francois expressed support for McCloughan.
“OK, I don’t understand why a guy like this didn’t go to the Combine,” Jean-Francois said. “This guy should have been there. This guy’s not making those free-agent moves. He’s not making those decisions that you know Scot McCloughan is known for making. All I gotta say at the end of the day is check his resume because he has some Super Bowl rings.”
Asked whether the situation was bad enough to get Jean-Francois to want out, he said that wasn’t the case.
“I’d love to be playing for the Redskins,” Jean-Francois said. “It’s just right now it’s hectic. I know every organization in the NFL goes through this at least one time during the span of their franchise.”
For Washington, it seems like hectic has indeed been the rule, with calm the exception. And it feels like it’s going to take a while for things to calm down again.
The good news for one of the other 31 teams is that the current leadership is sufficiently thin-skinned to dump a valuable player who opted for honesty. So while the drama may not be leaving D.C., Jean-Francois is at least leaving the drama.