The Washington Redskins are using the free-agency period to bring in veterans who will bolster a defense that gave up an average of 29.9 points per game during the 2013 NFL season. In a division that deals with multiple high-octane offenses, this is a very smart move.
Lacking a plethora of cap space—the Redskins have just over $11.5 million as of March 13, according to Spotrac.com—the team is making smart, calculated decisions to get the most out of their money.
The Redskins are in dire need of defensive help. Not only did they have the 30th-ranked scoring defense last season, they were also ranked 17th in the league against the run and 20th against the pass. Washington also struggled to apply pressure on opposing quarterbacks, finishing the season with just 36 sacks—good enough for 21st in the NFL.
So far, the rumors circulating around Washington involve players who will help in all of these areas.
Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports tweeted late Wednesday evening that the Redskins would bring in former Dallas Cowboys defensive end Anthony Spencer:
Cowboys DL Anthony Spencer will visit the Redskins tomorrow. Skins have also had interest in Dallas DL Jason Hatcher— Jason La Canfora (@JasonLaCanfora) March 13, 2014
After injuring his left knee early last season, Spencer was placed on season-ending injured reserve. This was a big hit for Dallas, as Spencer accumulated 95 tackles, 11 sacks, two forced fumbles and one fumble recovery in 14 games just one season before.
Due to Spencer's recent injury, the Redskins should be able to nab him at a reasonable price. If he can prove to team physicians that he is healthy once again, Washington's pass rush will take a huge step forward.
Pro Football Talk tweeted on Thursday that former Seattle Seahawks cornerback Brandon Browner is set to visit the Redskins in the near future:
CB Brandon Browner will visit the Redskins tonight, per league source.— ProFootballTalk (@ProFootballTalk) March 13, 2014
This is a curious decision by the Redskins. Browner was charged with an indefinite suspension by the league for violating the NFL's substance-abuse policy. Browner said via Twitter that he planned to fight the ruling:
I disagree with the circumstances surrounding my suspension, I accept responsibility for all of my actions and I apologize for any that causes any unflattering reflections of my family and the Seahawks. I believe in my innocence and will continue to fight with all legal resources available to me to.
He is slated to miss the first four games of the regular season. Washington is taking a chance here; Browner is a high-risk, high-reward free agent. The team could be dealing with his ongoing league issues for an undetermined period of time; however, his talent on the field simply cannot be denied.
His stats over the last three seasons speak volumes:
If he is able to maintain that kind of production, Browner would solidify a shaky Washington secondary.
Obviously, the Redskins have a huge need in the secondary. They made the first move to shore up that unit by signing cornerback Tracy Porter, according to a tweet from Ian Rapoport of NFL.com:
CB Tracy Porter has agreed to terms to join the #Redskins, pending a physical, per source.— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) March 13, 2014
Porter has spent time with the New Orleans Saints, Denver Broncos and, most recently, the Oakland Raiders. He has been an up-and-down player over the years, but has always managed to be productive in multiple systems.
Last year with the Raiders, Porter accumulated a career-high 67 tackles. He also recorded 1.5 sacks and two interceptions. Porter may not be a No. 1 option at the cornerback position, but he is an upgrade on Washington's current roster.
Safety play hasn't exactly been stellar for the Redskins over the past few seasons. It appears that the team is ready to shore up the position by bringing in former Pittsburgh Steelers safety Ryan Clark, according to a comment by Clark, via a tweet from Adam Schefter:
Steelers free-agent S Ryan Clark said on SportsCenter he is going to visit the Washington Redskins.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) March 12, 2014
Washington has plenty of youth at the safety position, with Phillip Thomas and Bacarri Rambo taking up roster spots. These two young players could use the tutelage of a veteran like Clark.
Clark still showed last season that he has plenty left in the tank. He recorded a career-high 104 tackles and added one fumble recovery and two interceptions.
Getting a short-term stopgap deal done with the veteran safety would immediately improve the Redskins defense in 2014 and elevate the play of the team's upcoming players at the position going forward.