Washington Redskins: Free Agent Focus Should Be Defense

Josh McCainSenior Writer IJuly 13, 2011

More of this equals more wins
More of this equals more winsWin McNamee/Getty Images

It appears that the lockout will finally becoming to an end within the next two weeks. That will open up a frenzied free agent signing period, as well as a few trades.

The Redskins look to be a major player in both, as they hope to trade quarterback Donovan McNabb and disgruntled defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth.

In free agency, the Redskins have been linked to several names, and since they're the reigning off-season champions, this isn't much of a surprise.

Names like Sidney Rice, Santonio Holmes and Vince Young pop up quite frequently when concerning offensive needs.

However, with the exception of signing a few offensive linemen, I'd caution the Redskins to focus primarily on defense.

Outside of the offensive line, the Redskins' two biggest question marks are at quarterback and wide receiver.

By all accounts it would appear as if Mike Shanahan is quite happy with Rex Grossman and John Beck being his quarterbacks. Not to mention that with the short off-season, any quarterback signed by the Redskins wouldn't have a prayer to start.

At wide receiver, the Redskins have returning veterans Anthony Armstrong, Brandon Banks, Terrance Austin, Taurus Johnson and Malcolm Kelly. I also expect the 'Skins to re-sign Santana Moss.

Then there are rookies Leonard Hankerson, Niles Paul and Aldrick Robinson. That's nine receivers. Why don't we wait and see what the can do before we go spending a ton of cash on free agents?

Also, with the likes of Beck and Grossman under center, it might a hard sell to a top-flight free agent wideout.

Last season the Redskins' defense was next to last in total yards allowed, however, they were ranked 21st in points allowed. This discrepancy means the 'Skins help opposing teams to a lot of field goals or turnovers deep in their zone.

This really hurt the Redskins because they didn't have an offense able drive down the field, or score a lot of points for that matter.

You could argue that this means they need to get some free agent help on offense. But they don't.

All it proves is that with a better defense, the 'Skins could win the field position battle and set the offense up for scoring more points, even with Grossman or Beck at quarterback.

Beefing up the defensive line and signing a shut-down corner or two—including re-signing Carlos Rogers—could help the Redskins improve greatly this year.

Trying to grab the Jenkins brothers, Kris (Jets) and Cullen (Packers), along with nose tackle Aubrayo Franklin (49ers) could drastically improve the Redskins' defense by absorbing blockers and letting Brian Orakpo and rookie Ryan Kerrigan run wild in the backfield.

The Redskins already made a smart move by signing free safety Oshiomogho Atogwe to help out LaRon Landry.

Now the Redskins need to shore up the defensive backfield by mending fences with disgruntled free agent Rogers and signing another shut-down corner.

It's no secret that Washington will probably look at signing former Raider Nnamdi Asomugha. But if he gets to be too expensive, some more sensible options could be Ike Taylor (Steelers), Antonio Cromartie (Jets) or even bringing back Champ Bailey, that is if the Broncos don't re-sign him first.

With all the young and unproven talent on the offensive side of the ball, the Redskins should really take a page out of the Steelers' and Ravens' playbooks and build a massive defense.

In terms of wins and losses, I think the Redskins have a better shot at a winning record if they focus more on defense in free agency as opposed to offense.

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