Washington Redskins Free Agency Primer: Who Stays and Who Goes?
The Washington Redskins may very well have $30 million in salary cap space, as ESPN.com's John Keim notes, but before they can splurge on this year's crop of free agents, they must first decide the fates of their own.
With that said, let's take a look at Washington's 18 unrestricted free agents and determine who stays and who goes.
Rex Grossman, Quarterback
After seeing action in 17 games his first two years in Washington, Rex Grossman has been relegated to holding clipboards the past two seasons.
With such little contribution, and a new coaching staff in place, it wouldn't make much fiscal sense for the Redskins to bring back Grossman for another go-round in 2014.
It isn't uncommon for teams to only carry two quarterbacks. And in Jay Gruden's tenure with the Cincinnati Bengals, this was the case.
So, save for a trade of Kirk Cousins, Grossman's time in Washington is up.
Dezmon Briscoe, Receiver
After playing seven games and tallying two receptions in his inaugural season with Washington, Dezmon Briscoe was sidelined for the entirety of the 2013 season.
Problem is, Briscoe didn't suffer a season-ending injury. Via Mike Jones of the Washington Post, Briscoe was diagnosed with a sprained AC joint in his left shoulder after the team's preseason finale.
As it's an injury that carries a recovery time of four to six weeks, Briscoe was only placed on injured reserve because he went unclaimed after being waived with an injury designation by the Redskins.
In addition to already being waived once, Washington's crowded receiving depth chart doesn't bode well for a player whose lone contribution would be on special teams.
Josh Morgan, Receiver
A major free-agent acquisition in 2012, Josh Morgan has been a colossal bust in Washington.
Already an underachiever in his first season with the Redskins, Morgan set a new low in 2013. Morgan only had 20 receptions and was a non-factor as a return man.
Even worse, he was being paid $4.9 million to put up such numbers.
While Morgan has expressed to various news outlets, like CSNWashington.com, that he wants to remain in Washington, he hasn't done enough for the Redskins to carry a similar sentiment.
Santana Moss, Receiver
At the age of 34, Santana Moss' days as a starting-caliber wideout are behind him. And to be more exact, they have been since 2010.
After tallying 93 receptions that season, Moss hasn't surpassed 46 receptions in the subsequent years.
Nonetheless, evidenced by Moss' stature as the Redskins' second-most targeted receiver in 2013, he can still be a solid contributor.
Guessing from the contract negotiations that Moss and Washington are having, according to Mike Jones of the Washington Post, the Skins feel that way as well.
While Moss' presence could stunt the development of promising receivers like Aldrick Robinson and Leonard Hankerson, his reliability is a lacking trait among Washington's receiving corps.
Fred Davis, Tight End
Jay Gruden utilized multiple tight end sets in Cincinnati with Tyler Eifert and Jermaine Gresham.
And judging from the production he's displayed when healthy, Fred Davis would seem to be the ideal tight end to pair with Jordan Reed in his offense.
But the caveat there is "when healthy." Davis has seen his career beset by various injuries. In six seasons, he's only played the full 16-game slate on two occasions.
Then there's the logjam that Washington has at tight end with Logan Paulsen, Niles Paul and Reed under contract for next season.
Factor in the drug suspension that could be facing Davis next season, according to CBS Sports' Jason La Canfora, and it's likely that a divorce between the Skins and Davis is on the horizon.
J.D. Walton, Center
Claimed by the Redskins at the tail end of the 2013 season, J.D. Walton would seem to be a fixture in Washington's plans for next season.
Formerly a starter with the Denver Broncos, Walton has been out of commission for nearly two years after suffering a broken ankle in 2012.
But listen to SBNation's Mark Tyler, and Walton could very well be Washington's starting center come next season.
In Tyler's comparison of Walton and the incumbent starter, Will Montgomery, the scale ticked in Walton's favor:
Walton seems much better at communicating blitzes and defensive line formations. He excels at keeping his head on a swivel and picking up free blitzers, or helping another linemen on a double team. He also does a nice job on his peel-back blocks, even showing the ability to get to the C-gap to pick up a free defender. Second, Walton is much better at the point of attack against larger defenders. He has a very solid hand punch, uses his leverage, and doesn't allow defenders into his body.
With Montgomery carrying a cap charge of $3.4 million for next season, according to OverTheCap.com, Walton could very well fulfill Tyler's proclamation if Montgomery is indeed a cap casualty.
Or, at the very least, Walton's re-signing could incentivize Montgomery to restructure his deal.
Chris Baker, Defensive End
With overpaid and injured players like Adam Carriker and Stephen Bowen already along its defensive line, Washington would be wise to re-sign a burgeoning player like Chris Baker.
Capable of playing defensive end and nose tackle in the Skins' 3-4 front, Baker was one of the team's best defensive linemen last season.
Despite only starting three of the 15 games in which he played, Baker was second only to Barry Cofield in tackles with 28.
Furthermore, at the age of 26, it's probable that his best days are ahead of him. Provided that his asking price isn't outlandish, expect Baker to remain in Washington.
Rob Jackson, Linebacker
After filling in admirably for an injured Orakpo in 2012, Rob Jackson returned to being a backup in 2013.
In 12 games, Jackson had only 19 tackles and two sacks. At the age of 28, Jackson is probably staring at his last chance to get paid and become a starter this offseason.
With Ryan Kerrigan under contract for next season, the only way he starts in Washington is if Orakpo doesn't return.
Brian Orakpo, Linebacker
After being derailed by injury in 2012, Brian Orakpo returned to top form in 2013. He posted a career-high 60 tackles and his 10 sacks were his most since his rookie season.
A valued member of defensive coordinator Jim Haslett's defense, the question isn't if Washington wants Orakpo back, but at what cost?
Set to be one of the top free agents this offseason, Orakpo could net a contract that pays him a double-digit annual salary, especially in the wake of the contract Paul Kruger received from the Cleveland Browns last season.
With contract decisions looming in the future for Ryan Kerrigan, Alfred Morris and eventually Robert Griffin III, a substantial long-term deal for Orakpo could inhibit Washington's ability to bolster its roster.
But with the franchise tag and a horde of cap space available, this becomes a moot point. Whether it's with a long-term deal or the tag, expect Orakpo to anchor Washington's defense next season.
Darryl Tapp, Linebacker
A first-time convert into a 3-4 pass-rusher, Darryl Tapp didn't set the world on fire in 2013. In a backup role, Tapp had one sack and 10 tackles last season.
Not particularly strong in coverage and only an adequate run defender, Tapp's waning sack numbers leave Washington little reason to retain him.
With Brandon Jenkins waiting in the wings for some playing time, Tapp is expendable.
Nick Barnett, Linebacker
As much as London Fletcher contributed in his final years in Washington, it was long evident that he had lost a step or two.
With his retirement, Washington would be wise to fill Fletcher's spot with a player lacking these deficiencies.
And in Nick Barnett, the Skins don't have that player.
In his first season as a backup, Barnett turned in underwhelming results. A liability in coverage like Fletcher, Barnett wasn't a complement to the wily veteran and received little playing time because of it.
Add in his shoddy special teams play and the knee injury that ended his season, and there's no reason for Barnett to have a sequel season in Washington.
Bryan Kehl, Linebacker
A marginal linebacker at best, Bryan Kehl earns his keep as a special teams ace.
Considering how bad the Redskins special teams unit was in 2013, this distinction doesn't do Kehl any favors in his quest to return next season.
Worsening matters is the torn ACL Kehl suffered in Week 6.
An injury that could affect his availability in training camp, Kehl will have to prove he's healthy before being brought back.
Perry Riley, Linebacker
While he didn't elevate himself into the elite class of linebackers last season, Perry Riley turned in yet another solid campaign.
Riley had a team-high 115 tackles in 2013. At 25, with three consecutive seasons of 16 starts, Riley has shown enough for the Redskins to invest in him long-term.
With a gaping hole already at inside linebacker after Fletcher's retirement, logic points to Washington retaining Riley's services as long as the asking price isn't exorbitant.
E.J. Biggers, Cornerback
Although he didn't have a substantial impact in his first season with the Redskins, E.J. Biggers was a solid contributor.
Floating between cornerback and safety, Biggers had one interception and two passes defended in 2013. Also a special teams contributor, Biggers finished the year with 35 tackles.
With massive changes probably coming to Washington's secondary, Biggers is a versatile and cheap player worth keeping around in a backup capacity.
DeAngelo Hall, Cornerback
Outside of Orakpo, Hall was Washington's best defensive player last season.
Hall had four interceptions, 13 passes defended and three touchdowns in 2013.
And judging from the contract negotiations taking place between Hall and Washington, according to Mike Jones of the Washington Post, Hall could soon be rewarded for it.
Josh Wilson, Cornerback
Despite being heavily targeted, as teams threw away from Hall, Josh Wilson only managed one interception in 2013.
Designated with covering the opposing team's slot receiver, Wilson consistently showed an inability to neutralize receivers at the line of scrimmage.
His lone contribution came as a run defender, as he totaled 92 tackles.
With former second-round pick David Amerson set for a bigger role, in addition to whatever reinforcements the Redskins bring in via the draft and free agency, there doesn't appear to be a role for Wilson on next year's team.
Reed Doughty, Safety
Forced by injury into a starting role, Reed Doughy once again proved that he isn't a starting-caliber safety.
Owning just three career interceptions, it's clear that Doughty lacks playmaking skills. In addition to being a liability in coverage, he's not the surest tackler either.
But special teams is where Doughty's value truly lies.
And a Redskins special teams unit that was bad to begin with isn't going to get any better minus a stalwart like Doughty.
Brandon Meriweather, Safety
Brought in to be an enforcer and playmaker, like he was with the New England Patriots, Meriweather delivered on neither in 2013.
While Meriweather's totals of 69 tackles and two interceptions seem respectable, he was no stranger to missing tackles and getting lost in coverage.
Then there's the missing games issue. Whether it's because of suspension or injury, it's no certainty that Meriweather will suit up every Sunday. The last time he completed a season's slate of games was in 2010.
With a possible replacement already in tow, Phillip Thomas, and reinforcements probably on the way via the draft or free agency, Washington would be settling for mediocrity if it retained Meriweather.