*The Redskins needs change somewhat depending on whether they are a 4-3 or 3-4 team in 2014, so I looked to address both scenarios with these rankings.
-The good news is the Redskins top need can be easily fixed if they simply re-sign/franchise Brian Orakpo. If Orakpo would walk though, filling that top pass rushing role would be key regardless of the Redskins scheme. For as good as Ryan Kerrigan is, he hasn’t yet shown that he can go up versus left tackles on a regular basis. The Redskins need a better pass rusher opposite him, and finding one won’t be easy if Orakpo walks.
-The Redskins need to overhaul their secondary this offseason, but it should start with finding a capable free safety. The Redskins haven’t had a truly good free safety since Sean Taylor’s death and it has severely hurt this team. They need a guy back there who can be a true last line of defense and give you confidence to come up and make plays.
-This is another position that can be filled internally if the Redskins bring back DeAngelo Hall for another season. This will be an interesting case as Hall was a bust under his last contract, but is playing his best football this year. He’s not a long term answer so maybe the Redskins can work out a reasonable 3 year contract.
-With London Fletcher’s contract being voided and Perry Riley an unrestricted free agent the Redskins are going to need to pay some serious attention to the inside linebacker position. Top back-ups Nick Barnett and Bryan Kehl are also free agents and Kehl and Keenan Robinson are coming off season ending injuries. Fletcher shouldn’t be back even if he doesn’t retire, but the real question is does Riley come back. The Redskins probably want him back, but he could be in line for a big pay day and really isn’t worth it. The Redskins won’t be able to afford two big name ILB’s so expect a cheaper option to fill the second starting spot. If the Redskins were to go to the 4-3, they would need one middle linebacker and possibly two starting outside linebackers.
-Kory Lichtensteiger and Chris Chester have both struggled big time this season and just aren’t worth the money the Redskins are set to pay them. This is a good year for the Redskins to clean their cap and both should be cap casualties and replaced with better options. Unfortunately due to the failure of the Josh LeRibeus pick it is likely those options need to come from outside the organization.
-Tyler Polumbus hasn’t been as bad as expected this season, but that doesn’t mean he’s been good either. Polumbus should be back as a back-up, but it would be great if the Redskins could find a better starting option.
-Will Montgomery has taken a big step back this season and is a problem in the middle of that line. He could be a cap casualty as well and would need to be replaced as there isn’t a real good back-up center option.
-Strong safety needs to be replaced as well as hopefully Brandon Meriweather has played his final down for the Redskins after this season. Rookie Phillip Thomas is a possible option, but he’s coming off a lost year so the team should bring in at least a solid vet.
-Right now among the Redskins 3 man defensive line only Barry Cofield is playing well and really in many ways he’s playing out of position. He’s not a true nose tackle and can get moved around too easily in the run game when lined up over the center. He does his best work when he’s in the nickel and can rush the passer. If the Redskins stay a 3-4 team they should look at bringing in a true nose tackle and shift Cofield primarily to DE and move him inside in nickel packages. If they keep Cofield at NT they need to bring in at least one defensive end. Stephen Bowen and Adam Carriker should probably both be released, and Chris Baker may not be back. If the Redskins go to a 4-3, the main thing would be to find a DT to pair with Cofield inside.
-This is dependent on the idea that David Amerson can become a full time starter next year. While he plays outside, Amerson only comes in when teams go 3 wide. If he can’t prove to be an every down player this need definitely should rise. If Amerson can handle a full time role it should make the Redskins job easier as slot corners can be found later in the draft and are cheaper in free agency.
–Pierre Garcon will handle one outside starting spot and Leonard Hankerson should be back to handle the other one. The real issue is who takes over the slot role from Santana Moss. The Redskins need to find a reliable quick option to give RGIII another weapon in the passing game.
-While Leonard Hankerson can fill one starting role, he’s hardly a great option. Hankerson will also be entering his final year under team control so the Redskins should look to draft someone to develop behind them and give them quality depth. They probably can’t use too high a pick, but need to find someone with some promise.
-Even if the Redskins add another starting defensive lineman, they still need more help. Jarvis Jenkins has been somewhat of a disappointment so far and he’s entering his final year of team control. Kedric Golston is a solid back-up, but is hardly a starting material guy. The Redskins need to get some nice depth here to have a strong unit in 2014. If the Redskins go to a 4-3, the depth then becomes finding back-up defensive ends behind Kerrigan and hopefully Orakpo.