The Washington Redskins are in full-blown evaluation mode heading into the final week of the regular season. They played the part of spoiler in their win over the Jacksonville Jaguars, but the final three games are about more than just finishing strong for Washington. With a mix of veterans and youth, the Redskins need to figure out who stays, who goes, and what positions need to be upgraded.
It doesn't always take a big name to make a team, but it does take a player who can add something to a team that would be missing otherwise.
In the process of figuring all of that out, the Redskins need to pay close attention to a few players that could prove to be assets next season. The defense is full of players better suited for the 4-3, the offense lacks continuity and experience, and the special teams are an enigma in and of themselves.Washington is not in a position to jettison their talent, and there are some players they should absolutely bring back next season.
Carlos Rogers has had an up and down career since being drafted by the Redskins in 2005. He has shown the ability to shut down receivers, but has not shown the consistency necessary to do so week in and week out. He is terrific at position himself to make tackles and plays, but can't seem to catch anything that hits him in the hands.
What to do with one of the more frustrating talents on the defense?
The Phillip Buchanon experiment hasn't gone over so well, and third-year man Kevin Barnes hasn't progressed into starting material. DeAngelo Hall is a quality corner in his own right, but he can't cover everyone all the time. Rogers has been a steady presence for Washington's defense when he has been healthy.
While he may not be a fan favorite for his weekly dropped interceptions, but he is the best player the Redskins can afford right now. And he is one they can't afford to lose when he becomes a free agent at the end of the season. After only getting him to sign a one-year tender before the season, it may not be quite so simple to keep Rogers in the fold.
Washington is in a tough spot with Rogers, but could offer him something in the three to four year range without breaking the bank.
The offseason market is relatively strong at the corner position, but most present significantly pricier investments. Rogers isn't likely to be as expensive as Richard Marshall or Jonathan Joseph and deserves some credit for his solid play, even if he isn't producing their interception totals.
I don't want to make the trite comparison to fine wine, but Rocky McIntosh gets better and better with each year. He is having the best season of his career with 105 total tackles and 2.5 sacks, and has taken well to the change to 3-4. He occupies the inside linebacker position alongside perennial Pro Bowl snub London Fletcher, and is proving to be worth investing over the next few years.
He may never reach the Pro Bowl, but McIntosh gives everything he has on each and every down.
After failing to reach a contract agreement with the Redskins during the offseason, McIntosh took his one-year tender to play with the team and show exactly why he deserves to be given a multi-year contract. He has shown ability in both run support and limited pass coverage, and has the same innate ability that Fletcher has to always be around the ball. He isn't in the same position to make plays on the ball as he was as a 4-3 outside linebacker, but it hasn't stopped him from making tackles every week.
McIntosh is not the best inside linebacker in the world, but he fulfills the simple task of tackling whatever you put in front of him. Isn't that what inside linebackers are for?
The best potential free agent that fits hole McIntosh would leave is New York Jets inside linebacker David Harris. He has experience in the 3-4 and is just as much of a tackling machine as McIntosh, but may cost more to bring in than it would be to keep McIntosh.
It is no secret that the Redskins have been hurting for playmakers at the receiver position. Anthony Armstrong has provided a good spark, but it has fallen on Santana Moss to be the go-to guy in the Shanahan passing game. He excels at finding open space and making tacklers miss in the open field, and he just posted his fourth 1,000 yard season.
He isn't being used as the explosive downfield threat like he used to be, but Moss is on pace to match and surpass his career-high of 60 catches for first downs.
Moss is a speed receiver on the wrong side of 30, but didn't show the tell-tale signs of decline. He may not blow by defenders like he used to, but he runs crisp routes and simply gets open. He has proven this season that he is worth some investment from the Redskins.
The potential obstacle in the way of an easy deal is Moss's obvious frustration with the team's direction.
The Redskins' losing ways have been difficult for everyone, but Moss has done his best to keep them in it every week. He is severely underrated by virtue of playing in Washington, but may be able to find a playoff contender to chase a championship with his remaining years. With the big play threats in free agency and the draft, Moss may be too old to cash in or catch on with a team building a winner.
Washington may shock everyone and pursue someone like Mike Sims-Walker or even Braylon Edwards. There are also a load of talented receivers in the draft like A.J. Green and Julio Hones.
He isn't a regular starter, but no one can deny Reed Doughty's value in Washington's safety starved 3-4 defense. He isn't as athletic as LaRon Landry, but he is a much better tackler even if he lacks the hitting power the Landry sometimes relies on too much. The Redskins defense has lacked consistency more than anything else, and Doughty makes the most of his opportunities on the field.
Doughty is a versatile veteran that offers depth and experience to a defense that lacks both.
It may seem trivial to most, but sometimes the status quo is a good thing. The Redskins secondary was decimated by injuries to Kareem Moore, Chris Horton and LaRon Landry. He may end up missing the rest of the season with injuries of his own, but he is fourth on the team in tackles and has five games with 10 total tackles or more.
Consistency is a rarity in Washington and the best thing to do is maintain as best as you can.
Doughty will never carry a steep price tag, but is the kind of player that has a lot to offer to teams looking for veterans with quality numbers. Doughty has been asked to do a little of everything with Washington, from special teams to both safety spots, and has been a bright spot on numerous occasions. He is worth the investment if only for his ability to form-tackle, which is both a dying art and still the best way to take a ball-carrier down.
Rex Grossman is not the future of the Washington Redskins, but could be an integral part in it. He has two starts this season and has shown a level of comfort in the offense that Donovan McNabb never showed in 13 starts. While he hasn't blown anyone away with his play, he has done enough to raise eyebrows in relation to McNabb's relative ineffectiveness.
Grossman has shown what he can do in Kyle Shanahan's offense, and has earned a spot on next year's roster for that invaluable experience.
His numbers are not so different from McNabb's, but Grossman has simply done more with the offense than McNabb did. He is only completing 53.9-percent of his passes, but already has five touchdowns through two starts. He would likely have more completions and an extra touchdown if Chris Cooley hadn't developed hands of stone in the last couple of weeks. Grossman doesn't have the arm that McNabb does, but is willing to throw the ball away when no one is open rather than force it into a small window.
There has also been a significant decrease in passes at receivers' feet since Grossman took over.
Grossman is a cheap investment that offers a grasp of the offense to whomever the Redskins decide is truly the future of the franchise. Whether it be John Beck or some future draftee, Washington has a good placeholder and number two quarterback in Grossman.