Washington Redskins: Six Linemen Who Can Boost the Redskins' Offense
The three Super-Bowl-winning Washington Redskins squads were built on the foundation of a strong offensive line.
The proud tradition of the Hogs made assured pass protection and powerful run blocking synonymous with the Redskins.
Since their last title triumph in January 1992, the Redskins trademark of a dominant offensive line has slowly eroded.
During the last three seasons, the offensive line has ranked among the team's biggest deficiencies. Bad drafting, questionable free agency moves and injuries have reduced the offensive line to a revolving door.
Mike Shanahan knows the value of a strong unit in the trenches as well as any coach. His two Championship Denver Broncos teams in the late nineties relied heavily on the efficiency of a dominant group of linemen. Shanahan's famed zone-blocking running scheme depends on a capable line.
Entering the 2011 season, restocking the offensive line is as much a priority for Shanahan and general manager Bruce Allen as finding more suitable pieces for their 3-4 defense.
Here are six free agents the Redskins could consider bringing on board to help restore one of the hallmarks of the franchise's glorious past.
6. Robert Gallery Oakland Raiders
The guard position is perhaps the biggest weakness on the Redskins line.
Eight-year veteran Robert Gallery has already indicated a keenness to test the free agent market. Gallery could be just the man to help improve the Redskins rushing attack.
In 2010, the 6'7" 325-pounder was instrumental in helping the Raiders rank number two overall in rushing offense.
Gallery's powerful drive-blocking contributed to silver-and-black rushers posting an impressive 4.9 yards-per-carry average.
The former Iowa star would fit in nicely at left guard for the Redskins.
The only question is if Gallery's aggressive, smash-mouth style would be a natural fit in Washington's zone blocking scheme.
If line coach Chris Foerster could add some movement and fluidity to Gallery's game, then the former 2004 first-round pick would be a valuable addition.
5. Kyle Kosier Dallas Cowboys
Capturing the signature of an experienced free agent like Kyle Kosier would be about more than just plundering the rival Dallas Cowboys of one of their best offensive linemen.
Capable of playing on either side of the line, Kosier is a commanding blocker who would add efficiency and savvy to the Redskins front five.
The 32-year-old is a skilled pass protector who also uses his 6'5" 309-pound frame to be a force in the running game.
Like Robert Gallery, Kosier is more of a pancake blocker than a finesse player. But Kosier has a more flexible skill set.
Offering greater mobility than Gallery, Kosier has decent enough movement to be effective in the Redskins' blocking schemes.
Injuries have blighted Kosier in recent seasons, but he rebounded nicely in 2010 to record 13 starts.
When healthy, he is one of the better linemen in the league and well worth a look from the Redskins coaching staff.
4. Trai Essex Pittsburgh Steelers
Versatile backup Trai Essex is an interesting option for the Redskins to consider.
The seventh-year man out of Northwestern has been a spot player throughout his tenure in Pittsburgh. The 6'5" 324-pounder could now be primed to take on a starting role with a new team.
Essex is capable of playing at either tackle or guard.
Originally drafted as a left tackle, his aptitude for goal-line blocking has gradually seen him shift inside to guard. The experience at tackle shows Essex has some mobility and could make him a nice fit for Mike Shanahan's favored style of blocking.
A limited amount of starts makes Essex a risk, but the 28-year-old could be the right player for the Redskins staff to mould into the kind of lineman they want.
3. Chris Chester Baltimore Ravens
Another player who performs a utility role along the line, Chris Chester presents a lot of free-agent value to the Washington Redskins.
Line coach Chris Foerster worked with Chester during his time with the Baltimore Ravens and is aware of Chester's versatile skill set.
Chester has played guard, center and even tight end during his pro career. He has the quickness and footwork to be an asset in the zone-blocking scheme employed by offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan.
A former basketball standout in his youth, Chester possesses the high degree of athleticism the Redskins coaches covet.
The 6'3 315-pound Oklahoma alumni would be an upgrade on 2010-starting right guard Artis Hicks. Chester's flexibility could even see him push unconvincing incumbent Casey Rabach for the spot at center.
2. David Baas San Francisco 49ers
Landing 29-year-old 49er standout David Baas would be a free-agency coup for the Redskins.
The 6'4" 330-pound former Michigan prodigy began his career at guard but has since developed into one of the more under-rated centers in the league.
Baas has become the fulcrum of a 49er line that has knocked open the holes to enable running back Frank Gore to achieve superstar status.
A durable and consistent linemen, Baas would be a huge upgrade if he were inserted into the middle of the Washington offensive line.
Baas has played at both guard spots and has an exceptional understanding of blocking schemes and calls. It would probably require a lucrative offer to tempt him away from the Bay Area, but the Redskins would not regret the investment.
1. Jared Gaither Baltimore Ravens
Man-mountain tackle Jared Gaither is another player familiar with line coach Chris Foerster from his days with the Baltimore Ravens.
Signing a lineman the caliber of Gaither would represent a clear signal of intent from the Redskins organization.
Gaither's enormous 6'9" 340-pound frame allows him to completely lock down one side of the line. Strong enough to suffocate edge rushers, Gaither is comfortable in pass protection. His tremendous size also makes him capable of flattening defenders to create inviting rushing lanes.
Injuries and consistency make Gaither a gamble.
Back problems ruled him out of the 2010 season. His future in Baltimore is unclear, especially since Michael Oher has supplanted him at left tackle. Gaither has played on the right, but his natural position is left tackle.
With youngster Trent Williams occupying the left side, Gaither would have to be willing to operate at right tackle for the Redskins.
If he can rebound well from his health problems, Gaither would certainly strengthen the line.
Last year's right tackle Jammal Brown may still be retained but has himself struggled with injuries. Brown's own ability to play at both tackle spots could make him a useful backup in the event that Gaither is brought in.
Depth at tackle is an area where the Redskins are quite thin.
There are plenty of intriguing free-agent offensive linemen for the Redskins to consider. If Mike Shanahan's offense is going to have a chance to succeed in year two, then addressing the line will be vital.