The Washington Redskins worked some unexpected magic on draft day, doubling their original total of six draft picks to end up with 12 selections.
Based on their aggressive draft, the Redskins’ seem to be adopting a blueprint for making this storied franchise a winner sooner rather than later. Now that the draft is over, the Redskins are shifting this aggressive mentality to focus on the free-agent market.
“The key was getting a dozen players that we feel are going to add an energy to each position on our football team,” said Redskins general manager Bruce Allen, according to Redskins.com. “We added some talented players who are going to be hungry to compete, not only for roster spots but also for playing time.
"When free agency arrives, we have a game plan in place,” he continued. “We think we can add players to all positions to add to the competition.”
The Redskins were able to address many areas of need through the draft, potentially adding at least two starters to their lineup.
“Our coaches are itching to get the rookies on the field and help them develop into the players we want them to be,” said Allen. “Let them learn what Redskins football is, and as soon as we can do that, the better.”
The Redskins could start making moves in free agency as soon as the owners and the NFL Players Association reach an agreement ending the current lockout. The Burgundy and Gold could start signing players as early as June 3, if the court decides to lift the lockout permanently after hearing appeals from the owners.
Once considered the NFL's ATM machine for signing players to massive, undeserved contracts, the Redskins have apparently learned their lesson. Allen and head coach Mike Shanahan have stressed the need to build through substance to fill needs, rather than chase after big names.
“The question was, were we capable of it,” Allen told CSNWashington. “And, yes, we are capable of it. We’ve identified what we want to do in free agency, and as soon as they get a collective bargaining agreement, we’ll proceed with our plan...I think the draft is our statement of our game plan. We added 12 players who are going to infuse youth into every position on our team.”
Before the lockout, the Redskins signed safety Oshiomogho Atogwe. Paired with safety LaRon Landry, rookie safety DeJon Gomes, Chris Horton, Kareem Moore, Reed Doughty, and Macho Harris, Atogwe has helped solidify Washington’s secondary into the team’s best unit.
A few free-agent signings the Redskins should consider:
Tyson Clabo, a 29-year old guard from the Atlanta Falcons was a Pro Bowler last season. Clabo is a physical, nasty offensive lineman with solid run-blocking skills that has also improved greatly in pass protection.
While there’s not much to choose from among running backs due to injuries and age, Ahmad Bradshaw of the Giants is on the market and only 25 years old.
Wide receiver Plaxico Burress has fresh legs at the age of 33 (albeit after spending over a year in prison on weapons charges) and could be an interesting potential signing for the Redskins.
After releasing running back Clinton Portis, and with the potential exits of quarterback Donovan McNabb and defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth, the Redskins will have more funds to sign solid acquisitions over the coming year.
Although Washington tried and failed to rebuild through free agency in the past, the days of signing players past their prime to ridiculous amounts of money (like Deion Sanders and Bruce Smith) are over in Washington.
"No, we’ve dealt with that,” said Allen.