It’s time for the Redskins to hang up their belt. They no longer will be the offseason champions that they once were for so many years.
No more outlandish trades (hopefully), no more irrationally convincing myself that Jason Taylor is the answer to all of my problems and no more giving away draft picks like they're charity.
With the quarterback position already set and many other positions controlled by young and talented players, the Redskins front office will amicably try to finish their puzzle.
While an emphasis on the draft has been the focal point of the Redskins organization ever since Mike Shanahan took over, free agency will be an integral part of its offseason plan too.
Below are the rankings for the biggest free-agent priorities. I also want to put a disclaimer on this; neither free or strong safety is on this list because those positions need to be addressed via the draft.
With Brian Orakpo set to return this coming season, the starting outside linebackers are set with him and Ryan Kerrigan.
On the other hand, the need for productive reserves is vital to Jim Haslett’s defense.
When Orakpo went out with his injury early in the season, Rob Jackson, Chris Wilson, Markus White and Lorenzo Alexander all had opportunities to fulfill that role opposite of Kerrigan.
Throughout the first half of the season, Orakpo’s presence was sorely missed until Rob Jackson eventually proved his worth.
As Jackson is set to be a free agent this offseason, the Redskins front office may look for a veteran to be relied upon in case of injury.
Recently released from the New York Jets, Calvin Pace is a potential suitor. His days as a starting outside linebacker appear to be numbered.
Another interesting prospect is former local product Shawne Merriman. Merriman was best used as an outside linebacker in a 3-4 while in San Diego.
Don’t expect the Redskins to break the bank for either one of these veterans, but their familiarity with that style of defense and lack of significant interest could make one of them an ideal fit.
Let’s just assume that London Fletcher is returning for one more season in Washington. Therefore, the starters are set with him and Perry Riley playing alongside one another.
Second-year linebacker Keenan Robinson will be fully recovered for the start of training camp and should be in the process of developing into a starter once Fletcher departs; however, the Redskins need to have an additional inside linebacker on their roster.
With Lorenzo Alexander set to be a free agent, his future in Washington is not guaranteed. On a side note, I think we are undervaluing the significance of these “salary cap” penalties. This changed everything. If the Redskins had the amount of cap space that they initially intended, we wouldn’t have to worry about Lorenzo Alexander playing elsewhere and could also target a marquee free agent in other areas.
Anyway, in a perfect world the Redskins will be able to work out a deal with one of their captains in Alexander. His versatility, leadership and incredible special teams play should earn him a modest contract.
On the other hand, Alexander does not have a starting role in Washington and after years of paying his dues as a middle-of-the-road player, he deserves to explore possibilities that will enhance his career.
First off, this position should be addressed in the draft. The Redskins already have two solid starting cornerbacks, but are in need of a third corner to be used in nickel formations and to develop into a starter when DeAngelo Hall’s contract ends.
Hypothetically speaking, let’s say the Redskins choose to address this need via free agency instead. Additionally, DeAngelo Hall agrees to restructure his contract, therefore loosening up the salary cap.
Barring Robert Griffin’s recovery, after a 10-6 season, the Redskins have high hopes for next season. If Charles Woodson signs a one-year deal, that immediately transforms the secondary that was once considered poor to pretty dangerous.
The unit would then consist of the combination of three playmakers (Hall, Woodson and a recovered Merriweather), a cover corner in Josh Wilson and whomever the team drafts in April.
Lastly, Charles Woodson can be used in a variety of roles in the defensive backfield, which is conducive to Jim Haslett’s scheme.
For Fred Davis, getting suspended and tearing your Achilles in less than 12 months is about as bad as it gets for him personally.
Not to be insensitive, but this could be a blessing for the Redskins. For example, let’s say Fred Davis wasn’t suspended last season and continued at his Pro Bowl rate.
Although he started off slowly this season, he finally turned the corner in this new offense, so let’s imagine Davis doesn’t get hurt in New York.
If that were the case, it would be highly unlikely for the Redskins to re-sign their former second-round draft pick. Davis would obviously be asking for a hefty contract and the Skins front office wouldn’t be in a position to do so.
Now, the Redskins can offer Davis a moderate three-year contract that pencils him in as the starter while Niles Paul continues to develop.
If there is any position that the Redskins should spend some cash on this season, it's right tackle. By signing an elite player, it locks up the two offensive tackle positions for the foreseeable future.
While Tyler Polumbus filled in admirably given the circumstances, he’s not the long-term answer in Washington and that’s what Mike Shanahan is all about.
He’s not only finding answers, but he’s finding them for years to come.
Former New England Patriot Sebastian Vollmer is atop that list. He’s young, athletic and significantly better in pass protection in comparison to Polumbus.