NFL: High-Impact Free Agents the Washington Redskins Should Target
The Washington Redskins are a flawed team.
I don’t think any reader will disagree with this statement. Coming off a disappointing 6-10 season in which their transition to the 3-4 defense went about as well as Brett Favre’s sexting campaign, significant upgrades are needed and expected.
The Redskins had a very solid draft and managed to select 12 players, providing a much-needed infusion of youth.
Now, however, the team moves on to the next phase of rebuilding: free agency.
It’s quite apparent that the Redskins’ free agent signings in the past years have been nothing short of disastrous. I, for one, never knew it was possible to pay a garbage dumpster $41 million guaranteed.
Yet the Skins are poised to be active players in the market once again upon the end of the lockout (it’s like waiting for your girlfriend to forgive you after you’ve messed up; there seems to be no end in sight).
Here a few names Washington would be wise to look into once the negotiations on a new CBA are completed.
5. Aubrayo Franklin, NT
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One of the main reasons the Skins’ transition to a 3-4 failed so miserably was the lack of an anchor at NT. The team really needed someone to consistently draw double teams in order to free up inside linebackers to make plays.
Anthony Bryant was one of the hefty space eaters the Skins tried out at NT this past season. Although Bryant showed flashes of ability, he is more suited to serve as a rotation player.
Franklin would give the team a true defensive anchor with experience at the position. Although Franklin, 30, is a little old to be brought in to a rebuilding franchise, he still has multiple good seasons left and would fill an immense need immediately.
Franklin is a sturdy and consistent product at the position, having not missed a game since the 2007 season.
The reigning Super Bowl champion Green Bay Packers won it all shortly after transitioning to the 3-4. This was due, in no small part (really, 337 lbs. ain’t small) to the emergence of B.J. Raji as a dominant big man in the middle.
If the Redskins hope to have success with this defense, they absolutely must find a NT.
4. Carl Nicks, OG
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The Redskins' offensive line play these past two seasons have been nothing short of abysmal. Everyone keeps talking about who will be throwing passes for this team. But, it doesn’t much matter if they are constantly getting blown up and put on their back.
Washington’s O-Line reminds me of an episode of “Jersey Shore.” You are watching a disaster unfold as problem after problem keeps arising and random people off the street (Mike Williams) inexplicably become involved.
The team’s first priority should be to re-sign Jammal Brown. He began to return to form late in the season as he regained strength in that torn ACL.
After that, Washington should turn their attention to the Saints’ Pro Bowl left guard. New Orleans recently made Jahri Evans the highest-paid guard in the league, so it will be interesting to see what they do with Nicks.
Nicks, 26, is young and talented. He could come in and start right away, giving late-round draftee and part time starter Kory Lichtensteiger a little bit more time to develop.
I am unsure how well Nicks would fit into Shanahan’s zone blocking scheme. He is a massive man with solid quickness, agility and body control but may not be athletic enough for Shanahan's liking. But, this group is like the rebel alliance in Star Wars—they could use all the help they can get.
And, in all honesty, the frat-boy in me loves a dude who emphatically stated on a radio show shortly after their Super Bowl win, “I’m going to mother-fu**ing Disneyland!”
Well-played, Nicks. Well-played.
3. David Harris, IL
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Even assuming the Redskins are able to re-sign IL free agent-to-be Rocky McIntosh, the team is still in desperate need for depth at the LB positions.
Washington is banking on first-round draft choice Ryan Kerrigan to make the successful transition from defensive end to outside linebacker. But, if things don’t go as KY Jelly smooth as the team hopes, then the Skins will be in serious trouble at a crucial position.
London Fletcher, 36, is still a productive player and a strong leader on this Redskins team. Not to mention, a fan favorite. Seriously, I love this dude! And, if any of you bad-mouth him in the comments section I will track you down and make you pay!
However, there is no denying that Fletcher is the equivalent of Betty White in football age.
Harris is spectacular against the run and still has a little room to improve overall. Although shaky in coverage, Harris routinely hurries opposing quarterbacks and disrupts rushers in the backfield. He is an athletic downfield backer who can make some plays for any defense. Pair him next to Fletcher and he is bound to improve through football osmosis.
The Jets linebacker has played in all 16 games in three of his four seasons and has two 120-plus tackle years. At 27, Harris would be another impact building block for a team still searching for pieces to fit their new defense.
2. Vincent Jackson, WR
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This is definitely like giving an Academy Award to someone who played a historical figure—a very boring pick. But, V-Jax can flat-out play.
Other potential names for this spot are Santonio Holmes, Malcolm Floyd (who replaced Jackson during his hold out) and Steve Smith (NYG).
I understand that the Redskins drafted three receivers this past April. We also took two wide receivers in the 2008 draft and we all saw how that turned out (Side Note: A football world without Vinny Cerrato is very similar to a film world without Keanu Reeves—a much better place).
(Side Note #2: My brother and I have realized that Reeves is so bad at acting that it actually makes some of his movies good by comparison).
V-Jax is a physical specimen who can run a 4.46 at 6'5" and 238 lbs. During consistent playing time, this guy has proven he can ball. In the 2008 and 2009 seasons, Jackson combined to catch 127 balls for 2,265 yards and 16 tuddies.
No matter who is behind center for the Redskins, there is no doubt they could use some help. Re-signing Santana Moss, snagging Jackson in free agency and integrating third-round pick Leonard Hankerson into the offense would be huge for this franchise.
The addition of Jackson would provide another red-zone target and turn a previously thin and weak position into a strength.
1. Nnamdi Asomugha, CB
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In all likelihood, this is the name you have been hearing the most this off-season. Asomugha is the coveted prize of over a dozen teams in the league. The only difference is that Redskins owner Dan Snyder spends money like it's his last day on Earth and he only has enough time to make it to a strip club.
(Side Note: I interviewed ESPN’s Adam Schefter in May and I must have practiced the correct pronunciation of “Nnamdi Asomugha” at least 300 times beforehand. Still almost screwed it up during the interview but recovered at the last second).
Asomugha is arguably the league’s best cover corner. If not, him and Darrelle Revis are 1A and 1B. This veteran CB has the ability to completely eliminate an entire side of a football field for opposing offenses. I think it’s safe to say that that can be troublesome for some teams.
Over the course of last season, Asomugha allowed just 10 receptions on 27 passes attempted against him. He also did not let up a single touchdown all year. That type of ability is mind-boggling. Also doesn't hurt that he's played in at least 14 games every year of his pro career.
Opposing quarterbacks rarely test him since he is always on his man like a conjoined twin. This guy has incredible speed, a strong upper body to disrupt a receiver’s route when playing press coverage, and an unparalleled ability to change directions with his quick feet.
With Carlos Rodger likely on his way out to test the market, the Redskins should actively pursue Asomugha once free agency commences. The three-time Pro Bowler instantly makes any defense that signs him significantly better.