2012 NFL Free Agents: 6 Players the Washington Redskins Must Target in Offseason
Much of the talk thus far has centered around the Redskins using every tactic in the book to draft Heisman winner Robert Griffin III. While this is important and maybe even vital for the Redskins to accomplish, enough can't be said about striking it big in free agency.
Now late February, the emphasis on getting started on giving the Redskins' roster a facelift is vital. Football is, after all, a year-long sport.
With so much on the line going into the 2012 season and more than $40 million in cap space to boot, here are six free agents the Redskins need to make the effort to sign in the offseason.
Ben Grubbs, Baltimore Ravens, Guard
The Redskins' offensive line woes were well documented in 2011.
With Trent Williams' well-publicized suspension and Kory Lichtensteiger's ACL injury—just to name a couple—there was not much to celebrate about Mike Shanahan's historically effective zone-blocking scheme.
Just up the beltway, Ben Grubbs helped anchor the left side of the Ravens O-line and did a pretty good job of it. Good enough, in fact, that many wonder if the Ravens will give Grubbs leave to explore the waters of free agency.
The Ravens, however, have to decide where to place their franchise tag. Odds are, it'll be stamped on Ray Rice's name and that could be good for the Redskins as it would likely free up Grubbs to sign with another team.
Fortunately for Grubbs, he wouldn't have to look far to find a new home.
Grubbs could provide a huge boost to an offensive line that was one of the Redskins' biggest problem areas in 2011.
Michael Griffin, Tennesse Titans, Saftey
Slim-pickins' would be an operative term to describe this year's safety free-agent market. This is especially worrisome for the Redskins when you consider the uncertain future of LaRon Landry in DC.
However, there is one option in Tennessee safety Michael Griffin. The former Texas Longhorn recorded 75 tackles and two interceptions in 2011 and is probably the best safety available on the market going into 2012.
While Landry could decide to sign off on a new contract with the Redskins, I think the air in DC is filled with anticipation that he will decide to venture elsewhere. Griffin would provide a fresh face and fresh energy to a Redskins secondary that gave up too many big plays in 2011.
Stevie Johnson, Buffalo Bills, Wide Receiver
Wide receiver may be the position one the Redskins depth chart with the most left to be desired.
Santana Moss is noticeably dropping off and is not the big-play threat that he used to be. Jabar Gaffney stepped in and played well enough last season but he's not a home-run threat, rather a big possession target. The further you look down the Redskins' depth chart the more concerning the 'Skins' situation at receiver gets.
Stevie Johnson could provide whoever is under center for the Redskins in 2012 with a big-play target.
His 76 receptions and 1,004 yards in 2011 earned him a few appearances on ESPN highlight reels and his energy on the field was palpable, even if at times it got Johnson in hot water.
With other receivers like Dwayne Bowe hitting the market, the Bills could be open to letting Johnson take his antics, along with his talents, to another locale. DC could very well be the place. Johnson could provide the Redskins with the veritable deep threat they so need.
Brandon Carr, Kansas City Chiefs, Cornerback
There's not much to love about the Redskins' defensive secondary.
DeAngelo Hall was so adept to giving up big plays last year that he said the Redskins should cut him. I'm all about being self-deprecating at times, but that's taking it to another level.
Hall, by the way, is the only big name the Redskins currently feature at corner. Josh Wilson is young and might develop into a good defender but there's a long way to go before anyone starts talking about "Wilson Island."
Brandon Carr had a great year for the Chiefs in 2011 with 45 tackles and a praise-worthy four interceptions. The Chiefs have already gone out and signed some new blood at corner for 2012 and while GM Scott Pioli has stated that the Chiefs would like to hang onto Carr and vice versa, the Redskins could wage a pretty substantial bidding war for Carr's services.
It's no sure thing and the Redskins would have to persuade Carr that he'd be better served in Jim Haslett's 3-4 base, but it is certainly worth the effort to help bolster the Redskins' secondary.
Mario Manningham, NY Giants, Wide Receiver
Again, the Redskins need weapons out wide.
During their postseason explosion en route to a Superbowl win, the Giants' receiving corps looked absolutely terrific. You can't say enough about Victor Cruz and Hakeem Nicks and the job they did stretching the field.
Mario Manningham, as talented as he is, was hampered by a knee injury, and while he was able to chip in late in the season, he was essentially a third wheel to Cruz and Nicks.
While I'm sure he's feeling the love in New York at the moment, the former Michigan star is entering his free-agent year and possesses the talent to become a featured receiver in his own right.
If the Redskins were able to add both Stevie Johnson and Mario Manningham in the offseason headed into 2012, their passing attack would strengthen tenfold.
Assuming the Redskins draft wisely and bring in a young quarterback to help replenish this tepid offense (RGIII, I can't say it enough), the Redskins will have conceivably put together one of the better free-agent classes in recent memory.
London Fletcher, Washington Redskins, Linebacker
While the Redskins need to extend their reach to free agents currently occupying other teams' rosters, taking care their own is equally important.
This is especially true for veteran linebacker London Fletcher.
Fletcher, at this point, is almost irreplaceable for the Redskins defense. The stoic 35-year-old has anchored the Redskins defense for several years now and has done so with the effort and effectiveness common with players 12 years younger.
No one expects the John Carroll alum to be able to play for more than another two or three seasons, max. Until the motor stops, though, the Redskins should do everything to keep Fletcher in the defensive huddle as not only a field general but a mentor figure for younger, up-and-coming players.
It's not a question of ability at this point. It's simply the very least that No. 59 deserves.