5 Still Unsigned Free Agents the Washington Redskins Should Consider
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As the Washington Redskins prepare for training camp, there are dozens of undrafted free agents who have yet to sign with an NFL team. While head coach Mike Shanahan has emphasized his intentions of building a younger team, there are still some veteran players on the free-agent market who are looking to extend their careers. And the Redskins are looking for bargains.
Handcuffed by salary cap penalties levied by the NFL, the Redskins managed admirably with 15 percent less money—having incurred an $18 million penalty for both the 2012 and 2013 seasons.
Latest reports, including Spotrac.com, put the team somewhere around $2.2 million under the NFL mandated $123 million salary cap for 2013.
In an added twist, according to ESPN.com, the Redskins have the fourth-oldest projected starting lineup. Despite Shanahan's desire for a youthful team, the Redskins may not be able to afford much more than a "seasoned" veteran willing to settle for a significant salary reduction in order to remain in the NFL.
The Redskins can, however, take advantage of a contract clause known as the Minimum Salary Benefit, which allows teams to sign veterans for a minimum salary, depending on the player's length of service in the league.
According to overthecap.com, a player with at least four years in the league can sign with an NFL team as a veteran with a one-year contract for a minimum of $555,000 counting against the salary cap. If a signing does occur under these circumstances, a player's signing bonus cannot exceed $65,000. The amount increases based on NFL experience.
The season, the Redskins are stuck between a rock and a hard place—wanting a young team but financially strapped to pay the top dollar many veterans are seeking.
The following slideshow will present players still on the market and available to the Redskins. While the likelihood that all of these players would be willing to take a drastic cut in pay is remote, one may entertain an offer, despite his history of receiving a seven-digit salary.
Close but off the Table—Tackle Eric Winston
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There are several unsigned free agents who are clearly out of the salary range of the team. Among the biggest surprises to be without a NFL team at this stage of the offseason? Former Kansas City Chiefs tackle Eric Winston.
Last season, Winston singed a four-year, $22 million contract with the Chiefs and started every game.
When the Chiefs selected tackle Eric Fisher with the first overall pick in this year's NFL draft, Winston was shown the door.
At one point following his release, Winston's name surfaced as a possible addition to the Redskins due to his familiarity with the team's offense.
Prior to his short stint with the Chiefs, Winston spent his first six years in the NFL as a left tackle for the Houston Texans, mostly as a starter.
Current Redskins offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan was part of the Texans' coaching staff from 2006-09, including two years as offensive coordinator while Winston was a starting tackle. In fact, the Redskins run the same blocking scheme that Shanahan ran during his time with the Texans.
According to The Washington Post, the NFC East champs had contacted Winston last year before he signed with the Chiefs but have not yet expressed any interest in signing the tackle so far this offseason.
Here now are the five players, one of whom has a possible chance of joining the Redskins in 2013.
Defensive End Israel Idonije
DE Israel Idonije spent his career with the Chicago Bears.
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Former Chicago Bears DE Israel Idonije spent nine seasons with the Chicago Bears and can certainly help the Redskins defense when it comes to pressuring the quarterback. In 2012, he accounted for 48 combined tackles, three forced fumbles and 7.5 sacks as an 11-game starter for the Bears.
At 6'6", Idonije can also help the Redskins on special teams as he led the NFL in blocked punts/field goals for three straight seasons (2005-07).
Redskin fans may recall it was Idonije who, in the second preseason game of last season, recorded 2.5 sacks against Robert Griffin III.
At 32, Idonije still has the ability and versatility to switch between defensive end and defensive tackle.
ProFootballTalk.com's Mike Florio reported on April 29 that Idonije met with the Tennessee Titans, and the Chicago Bears have made an offer to Idonije which is likely far less than the $2.5 million, one-year contract he signed in 2012.
Safety Quintin Mikell
"Here I come to save the day!" Quintin Mikell in action.
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Former St Louis Rams safety Quintin Mikell plays the game like he is 22 years old. This 10-year NFL pro safety has started in all but three games during his decade-long career and was released by the Rams in March.
If his name sounds familiar, Mikell spent his first eight seasons with the Philadelphia Eagles. He joined the Rams in 2011, and in all but one season of his 10-year career, his tackle numbers have steadily increased.
Last year marked his best year as a NFL safety, recording 101 combined tackles—of which 83 were solo—three sacks and a forced fumble. Spending virtually his entire career at strong safety, Mikell has honed his skills inside the box.
For his career, Mikell has just 12 interceptions, and he has never scored a defensive touchdown. That notwithstanding, his continued improvement over the course of his career makes me think that he may be reaching his prime later than most players.
With the team's top two strong safeties, Brandon Meriweather and Reed Doughty, experiencing injuries last year, Mikell could move into the starting lineup and serve as a leader for the secondary.
Guard Brandon Moore
Guard Brandon Moore is a durable, underrated interior offensive lineman.
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When it comes to interior offensive linemen, former New York Jets guard Brandon Moore is someone who can be relied upon heavily to protect the quarterback.
Guards do not get much press coverage and Moore—who spent his entire career with New York—is one of those workmanlike, behind-the-scenes players who shows up and gets the job done. At 6'3" and 305 pounds (relatively light for an offensive lineman), Moore still has great abilities for a 10-year veteran.
His performance at guard during the 2011 season prompted ProFootballFocus.com to post a Twitter message: "Moore is the only guard in the league not to allow his quarterback to hit the ground once through 16 weeks.
His release from the Jets, as with so many currently unsigned free agents, was over money, as the team struggled to fit under the 2013 salary cap. Moore made nearly $4.5 million with the Jets in 2012 and without many teams calling this offseason, he may settle for the veteran league minimum to continue his NFL career.
Wide Receiver Brandon Lloyd
WR Brandon Lloyd played for the Redskins in 2006-2007.
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Wide receiver Brandon Lloyd had 911 yards receiving last season with the New England Patriots, his third-highest total in his 10-year career. He has moved from team to team, playing for six different NFL teams since his career began with the San Francisco 49ers in 2003.
A true veteran with playmaking abilities, Lloyd has lost a step or two but has above-average blocking skills. He can still run decent routes and has good hands. And he can still be productive, as his 74 receptions last season attests.
With a salary of $2 million in 2012, Lloyd may need to accept the fact that teams are looking for younger players and that, if he wants to continue playing in the NFL, he might have to accept the league minimum salary.
Lloyd could be a productive veteran wide receiver and fit in as an insurance player should injuries occur during training camp or the regular season. With nearly 1,000 yards receiving last year—after a decade in the NFL—he certainly has some tread remaining on his tires.
Working alongside veterans Pierre Garcon and Santana Moss would certainly give the Redskins respect when these three line up against younger safeties and cornerbacks.
Running Back Ahmad Bradshaw
Running back Ahmad Bradshaw has been plagued by injuries but appears to be in good form for 2013.
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In December 2012, NFL.com published an article on the top running back tandems of all time. Many of the names were from long ago in NFL history, some pictures were in black and white.
To find the most recent RB tandem, the writer went back to the late 1980s where he found Los Angeles Raiders powerhouses Bo Jackson and Marcus Allen along with Dallas Cowboys backfield combination of Tony Dorsett and Herschel Walker.
In my own research of Pro-Football-Reference.com, I found that the Redskins pairing of Clinton Portis and Lydell Betts combined for 1854 yards rushing in 2005. It was at this point I began to ponder what an Alfred Morris and Ahmad Bradshaw combination would yield.
If by chance the Redskins were to acquire Ahmad Bradshaw, who was released by the New York Giants and still awaits a deal he feels comfortable accepting, could a Morris-Bradshaw duo attain legendary status?
The 27-year-old Bradshaw has a history of foot injuries—three requiring surgery on his right foot alone. His ankles have needed extensive work as well.
Last season for New York, he finished the regular season with 1,015 yards on 221 carries, averaging 72.5 yards per game. He can still produce, and he potentially has a few years of NFL playing time left in him, providing he remains healthy, which holds true for every NFL player.
With the Redskins leading the NFL in rushing last season and the health of Robert Griffin III still to be determined, the addition of Bradshaw in the backfield suddenly turns a dual-threat running game into a triple-threat attack.
Unless otherwise noted, all statistical information provided by ESPN.com.