The Washington Redskins have lots of cap space, and just as many holes on their roster. But despite the weight of their wallet, no team can afford to land the top free agents at every position. There has to be some sort of fall-back plan.
When the Redskins can't land the top name at every position, to whom do they look?
Below are a few more names to the Redskins' free-agency fire.
Manning the Middle
With numerous areas of need on the Redskins roster, the inside linebacker spot stands as the most depleted. Aside from Keenan Robinson—who has 10 tackles under his belt—the Redskins don’t have anyone to play the position.
Given the current market, Karlos Dansby would appear to sit by himself among the top tier for what the Redskins are looking for. Despite turning 33 in November, Dansby is a playmaker who can do it all from the middle and who would help fill the role as a veteran leader on the field.
After Dansby, guys like Arthur Moats and Joe Mays could receive some attention. They’re two lesser-known names who can play the middle and offer some versatility. And while their production shouldn’t be compared to that of a veteran like Dansby, a guy like Moats has potential, as he’ll be just 26 to start the season and has shown flashes in limited action.
Finally, a guy like Taylor Mays could be worth taking a shot on.
Mays hasn’t lived up to his hype after being drafted in the second round a few years back, but perhaps his familiarity with Jay Gruden during his last three seasons in Cincinnati can help land him a new gig in Washington. And given how desperate the Redskins look at inside linebacker right now, why not give the 6’3”, 220-pound safety a look? Worst case, he’s a solid thumper on special teams.
Whether it’s paying a savvy veteran like Dansby, opting for an unfamiliar name like Moats, re-signing Perry Riley (which remains a strong possibility) or acquiring talent in the draft, the Redskins are required to add new faces at linebacker this offseason
Cool on Collins
Given his working relationship with Jay Gruden during the coach’s run in Cincinnati, and the Redskins’ need for improving the offensive line, offensive tackle Anthony Collins makes a lot of sense for Washington.
Problem is, Collins proved his worth at left tackle for the Bengals last season, and the 28-year-old lineman would receive more money as a blindside blocker than he would holding down the right end. With the Redskins already comfortable with Trent Williams at left tackle, Collins’ asking price may force the Redskins to look elsewhere in order to upgrade their right tackle spot.
Austin Howard has started all 32 games over the past two seasons in New York, serving as a key component on the Jets offensive line. At 6’7”, 333 pounds, Howard is underrated as an athlete and he’s balanced as both a paver and pass protector.
According to Jets beat reporter Brian Costello of the New York Post, Howard is negotiating with the Jets but drawing interest from other teams, which is good news for a possible suitor such as the Redskins, as said negotiations have been ongoing for quite some time now.
At just 27 years old to start the season and still with room to improve, Howard would be a nice find for the Redskins at right tackle.
Sure, Jairus Byrd in Washington would be great. But given the 27-year-old’s 22 interceptions in five seasons, his asking price will move accordingly. And while the Redskins have the money to spend, they need to remain conscious of the number of holes on their roster.
In an effort to address their dire need at safety—and in order to acquire more playmakers—the Redskins could look to a guy like Mike Mitchell, who would serve as a cheaper option than Byrd yet still offer upside.
Mitchell will be 27 to start next season and he’s coming off a one-year stint in Carolina in which he racked up four sacks to go along with four interceptions and 67 tackles. After spending his first four seasons in Oakland, Mitchell was finally given his chance last season with the Panthers, and he took advantage of it.
The Redskins could offer Mitchell a reasonable contract and avoid paying a guy like Byrd somewhere in the neighborhood of $8 million a year.
Life Without Linval
Defensive lineman Linval Joseph is at the top of my free-agent wish list this offseason. But due to his age (25) and versatility as both a run-stuffer and able body capable of penetrating the pocket, Joseph’s market price is expected to be high, and he’ll have no trouble drawing interest.
If the Redskins can’t sign Joseph to put the 6’4”, 328-pounder at the nose, thus allowing for Barry Cofield to move over to his more natural defensive end position, then landing a powerful defensive end like Arthur Jones would also help improve the Redskins line.
Jones isn’t expected to come at a bargain price, however. Set to turn 28 in June, Jones is viewed as a solid anchor for a 3-4 defense. At 6’3”, 303 pounds, Jones is strong against the run, yet agile enough to get after the passer, having recorded 8.5 sacks in 19 starts over the last two seasons.
Following the release of Adam Carriker, and the uncertainty surrounding Stephen Bowen, the Redskins need to address the defensive line. Joseph—as the top option—would make for a new nose and some rearranging, while Jones would solidify the other end spot opposite Chris Baker, with Cofield remaining in the center.
Searching for Speed
The Redskins will have the opportunity to address their lack of speed on offense during the draft in May, but they could also look for value options in free agency.
While no one should expect a repeat of his 2011 season, recently released running back Darren Sproles is still an intriguing free-agent option. Sure, he’ll be 31 at the start of the season, but perhaps that number helps in terms of what kind of deal he’s willing to accept. If his contract demands are friendly, the Redskins could benefit by adding a shifty pass-catcher out of the backfield who provides big-play potential.
Meanwhile, another guy to keep an eye on is receiver Andre Roberts. The former Cardinals wideout will be just 26 to start the season, has good quickness and could start as a slot receiver for the Redskins. This isn’t the first time I’ve mentioned him as a good fit in Washington, but Roberts will demand respectable money given his age and potential.
The Need for Aqib
Even after re-signing DeAngelo Hall, the Redskins secondary remains a mess, while the cornerback position is far from solid.
According to ESPN’s John Clayton, there’s an early prediction that Aqib Talib—widely regarded as the top free-agent corner available—ends up in Washington.
From an acquisition standpoint, landing Talib would be fantastic. He’s a 28-year-old shutdown corner with playmaking ability and the skill set to force an offense off their game plan. But with that talent also comes concern in the form of durability and off-the-field trouble.
Additionally, the salary for Talib is probably in the $10 million range, and he’ll likely net a deal that pays him four years or more.
While Talib’s talents are outstanding, the Redskins could address their cornerback position by way of less expensive, safer alternatives.
Having already worn out my welcome on the Captain Munnerlyn train, I’ll continue to plug the 25-year-old corner as a perfect fit in Washington. Despite being undersized, Munnerlyn is a scrappy slot corner and he has the ability to make big plays—just what the Redskins are looking for.
Another guy to keep an eye on is Corey Graham. Over the past three seasons (one in Chicago and the last two in Baltimore), Graham has recorded nine interceptions while demonstrating some versatility in the back half. If the Redskins are looking to bolster the secondary with sheer talent, Graham would certainly help fill a role.
I like Talib. Love him as a talent, actually. But the cost is high, and the risk isn’t far behind. Rather than tying up huge money in one guy, the Redskins could attempt to land two corners for an arguably better number.