With the departure of Jason Taylor and the 29-year-old Evans, who turns 30 in September, the only other defensive ends on the roster are Andre Carter (29), Chris Wilson (26), Rob Jackson (23), and Alex Buzbee (23) -- which isn't exactly the best group in the league.
Even if Philip Daniels (36) returns for cheap after missing the entire 2008 season with a torn ACL, the Redskins will still need help at defensive end. Unfortunately, the Redskins have only four draft picks and significant needs to address on the offensive line and linebacking corps, so picking more than one defensive lineman doesn't seem likely, barring a trade to move back and pick up more draft picks (if there's enough cap space by then).
And that's exactly why the move to let Evans walk doesn't make much sense. It's great that the Redskins have such a dominant force on the line now in Albert Haynesworth, but not only would it have cost very little to re-sign Evans, but he already knows the defensive system. Evans can also shift to defensive tackle on occasion. He's pretty versatile, which is important for a team with little depth at the position. And it's not like Evans was blocking the development of younger players behind him; Jackson couldn't stay healthy, Wilson is more of a third-down sack specialist, and Buzbee is a practice squad player.
It appears as if the Redskins are going to need to sign at least one defensive end via free agency. That's fine, but it probably won't be as cheap as it would have been to simply give Evans a one- or two-year deal. But the team apparently wanted to go in another direction.
Again, that's fine; the loss of Evans isn't season-crippling or a huge deal. But the decision just seems a bit odd.
By the way, Evans wasn't really happy that the Redskins didn't even make him an offer:
"I knew when we played in San Francisco (the final game of the 2008 regular season) that that was going to be my last game for the Redskins," Evans said. "You see how they operate in free agency, and I'm not the kind of guy they value. Guys like me, Ryan Clark, Antonio Pierce, guys who start at the bottom and work their way up, they don't keep those guys around. So, I never, never thought I would be coming back to Washington.
"I'm not that sexy defensive end. I'm not bringing that Jason Taylor appeal. But I still made the sacks and tackles. At the end of the day, though, everything happens for a reason and I'm excited for the opportunity to go to San Francisco and compete for a starting job and show them what I can do."
Anyway, good luck in San Francisco.