Picking the Ideal Free Agent to Fill Each of the Washington Redskins' Holes
As their 3-13 record in 2013 would indicate, the Washington Redskins will enter the free-agent period with a litany of holes on their roster.
While wide receiver and the defensive line would certainly fall under this umbrella, the largest holes would seem to be along the offensive line and in the secondary.
A healthy Robert Griffin III sitting the final three games of last season speaks to the inadequacy of Washington's offensive linemen. With left tackle Trent Williams being the only sure thing up front, none of the remaining starters are above reproach.
Owning a total quarterback rating of 51.2 on the season, per ESPN, Ponder registered a total QBR of 95.0 against Washington's maligned secondary. On the season, opposing quarterbacks completed over 65 percent of their passes and tallied 29 passing touchdowns against the Redskins.
Fortunately for Washington, it'll have approximately $30 million in salary cap space, according to John Keim of ESPN.com, to address such deficiencies in free agency.
But remember, with the likes of linebacker Brian Orakpo and cornerback DeAngelo Hall set to be free agents, it's also money Washington will have to use to retain its own players.
With that said, here are five ideal free agents to fill the Redskins' needs.
For a secondary lacking in playmaking ability, safety Jairus Byrd is the perfect elixir.
Despite only playing in 11 games last season, Byrd managed to register four interceptions. In his career, Byrd has 22 interceptions.
In a sense, Byrd is the ball hawk that Brandon Meriweather was supposed to be for the Redskins. And for that reason, it's going to cost Washington some significant coin to acquire him.
According SB Nation's Brian Galliford, Byrd could warrant a contract that pays him between $9 million and $11 million a year.
With a fragile quarterback under center and trade chatter surrounding their backup quarterback, Kirk Cousins, as reported by ESPN's Adam Schefter, the Redskins would be wise to solve their Tyler Polumbus problem.
And considering his play this past season, along with his connection to Jay Gruden, offensive tackle Anthony Collins would seem to be a logical candidate to do that.
Fluttering in and out of the Cincinnati Bengals starting lineup for much of his career, Collins started a career-high seven games in 2013.
Seeing time at both right and left tackle, Collins went up against opposing defenses' best pass-rushers and allowed zero sacks last season.
This is in stark comparison to Polumbus, who allowed four sacks in one game last season.
While Collins is sure to garner a pay raise from the $2.1 million he made in 2013, he'd come much cheaper than a tackle like Branden Albert.
While $30 million is certainly an exorbitant amount of money, it's not enough salary-cap space for Washington to throw cash at all its problems.
Enter: Jeremy Maclin.
Coming off a torn ACL that kept him off the field in 2013, Maclin isn't going to command a hefty salary on the open market.
This was a sentiment he openly acknowledged in his comments to CSNPhilly.com:
I’m a realist, I understand that’s a possibility. For a team that wants to give me a one-year deal, that’s cool, I’ll just go out there and ball out, do the things I think I can do. Hopefully get that type of deal I’m looking for.
An owner of a stellar resume as the Philadelphia Eagles' No. 2 receiver prior to his injury, Maclin is the type of buy-low player that Washington should be targeting in free agency.
In four seasons in Philadelphia, Maclin averaged over 60 receptions and 800 yards per season.
With Pierre Garcon already in tow, Washington's offense wouldn't be reliant on Maclin producing.
So while the Redskins know firsthand the type of complications that a torn ACL can present, there's minimal risk in signing Maclin to an incentive-laden deal.
It's no secret that Washington owns one of the NFL's worst offensive lines. So why not poach from one of the league's best?
While center Jonathan Goodwin is no spring chicken at the age of 35 and thus only a stop-gap solution for the 'Skins, he's been a valued member of the San Francisco 49ers offensive line for the past three seasons.
Just listening to the praise 49ers offensive coordinator Greg Roman heaped upon Goodwin, per Bill Williamson of ESPN.com, you can see how his addition would bolster Washington's offensive line:
I think he's a master with his hands. Maybe one of the best in recent history using his hands and understanding how to use his hands, hand placement, leverage. He's just incredibly smart at getting everything organized quickly and recognizing it during the week. It's very easy to teach him something. And I'm talking about something totally new. As long as you give him the concept he's like, 'OK, OK, I got it, you want me to do this.' So, that's awesome when you can do that because he's directing traffic at a very high level, I might add.
Coming off a 2013 season in which he had a base salary of $2.5 million, according to OverTheCap.com, Goodwin could be a cheap get for the Redskins.
While Byrd's acquisition would strike fear into opposing quarterbacks, 49ers free-agent safety Donte Whitner is the type of enforcer who could do the same to opposing receivers.
And let's face it: With Reed Doughty manning the starting strong safety spot, this wasn't the case in Washington last season.
An adequate player in coverage, Whitner's realm of expertise is in run support. As great as the 49ers' linebacker corps is, Whitner was a key cog in San Francisco only allowing four runs of 20 yards or more.
Such sure tackling was missing from the Redskins' back end in 2013. Washington allowed 14 runs of 20 yards or more last season.
With a secondary featuring Byrd, Whitner and Hall, the Skins would go from perhaps the worst secondary in the NFC East to the best.