The Washington Redskins are coming off an emotional victory over the Giants and playoff hopes are in the air. Like an eager child at Christmas, Redskins fans have had a playoff berth atop their wish lists for quite sometime.
While there is still plenty of season left to look forward to, the offseason is right around the corner. The college all star games, combine and workouts are marked on the calendar for the front office and coaching staff. However, the first big moves will come from free agency, and there is no shortage of talent available this year
Here we will examine some of the top players on the Redskins free agency wish list. For purposes of this article, we will only analyze unrestricted free agents. Also this will not be diving into the salary cap considerations as there are too many unknowns at this point.
Changes in the secondary are high on the list of priorities for the Redskins this offseason. Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie is heading into the prime of his career, and the Eagles have shown no initiative in re-signing the young star.
Rodgers-Cromartie was originally drafted by Arizona and found his way east as one of the centerpieces of the Kevin Kolb trade. The Eagles appear to be in full overhaul mode for the future with the release of Jason Babin and switch to Nick Foles.
Few players have secure futures in Philadelphia, and without an offer in hand, Rodgers-Cromartie is scheduled to hit the open market in 2013.
DRC has proven himself to be a consistent corner with at least three interceptions in four out of five seasons. At age 27, Rodgers-Cromartie still has plenty of quality years ahead, and he should be high on the Redskins' radar.
The Redskins offensive line has performed surprisingly well down the stretch, particularly in the run game. However, one point of clear weakness still remains on the right side. Tyler Polumbus is not a starting right tackle at this point, and his performance in pass protection makes that clear.
It is hard to imagine a left tackle drafted first overall hitting the free agent market, but that is very possible with Jake Long. The former Michigan standout is heading into the offseason without a long-term deal, and now on injured reserve.
If the Dolphins let him go, he will be one of the most viable tackle free agents in recent history.
The Redskins are in serious need of help on the right side of the line, and Jake Long could provide a world class upgrade. Long may be more experienced on the left side but has always garnered support as more of a mauler suited for the right side.
With Long coming off a serious triceps injury, many teams may pass on hims for the left side, but the Redskins should investigate a possible position change for the four-time Pro Bowler.
It is hard to believe that one of the New England Patriots' elite offensive linemen would be available in free agency, but then again last year a Hall of Fame quarterback was on the market (Manning).
Sebastian Vollmer is one of the unsung heros for the Patriots and is heading into the end of this season with no whispers of an extension. The Patriots are a first-class organization and do not like to bid for their players against free agency, so we have to assume there is a strong chance Vollmer will be available.
Vollmer is a true force on at the right tackle position and provides significant leverage for the running game. At 6'8" 318 pounds, the former second-round pick also has experience at the left tackle position.
At first glance it seems as thought there may be a high market for Vollmer, but do not forget that Ryan Clady and Jake Long will be on the market as well and will demand initial attention. With a glaring need at right tackle, the Redskins should make a significant push to lock up this 29-year-old and provide stability for the offensive line.
Keeping up with the change in the secondary theme, Jairus Byrd arises as an unlikely character that could make a big splash. Byrd jumped onto the stage early in his career with nine interceptions his rookie season. However, the Bills financial situation will likely lead to the young safety departing Buffalo and heading for greener pastures.
The Bills have significant cap space tied up in their defensive line for the foreseeable future, and many teams need help at safety. Byrd will leave the great white north in search of a better contract and more winning franchise this offseason. The question remains, where will he end up?
Despite the Bills lackluster performance over the past decade, Byrd has remained one of the consistent producers. The Redskins are in desperate need of a true cover safety, and Byrd may be the answer to their prayers. At age 26, Byrd may be a player worth investing in as he could be a long-term solution for the secondary.
Heading into 2012, the tight end position in Washington appeared to be secure. Hopes were high for Fred Davis to emerge as Chris Cooley's successor and long-term solution. But an early season Achilles injury ruined those hopes and now the Redskins are back to square one.
Jared Cook emerged from South Carolina as a player with some production, but monstrous potential. The talent was evident and over the last four seasons; he has done nothing but continue to improve.
This season Cook is on pace for his best year yet, scheduled to finish with over 54 receptions and nearly 700 yards. What's even more impressive is that this production has occurred inside the anemic Titans offensive.
Fred Davis is a free agent this offseason, and after a franchise tag year and an injury, it would not be shocking to see him search out another team. Cook will likely be looking for the same as the Titans continue to struggle to find their identity.
The RG3 bandwagon will have free agents clamoring to come to DC, and the Redskins should be on the look out for Cook.