There has been some angst among some Redskins fans with the report that Bruce Allen expects to add at least 20 new players and that it could be too excessive amount of turnover in one season. On the face of it you can see some concern as 20 players represent 40% of the roster. In reality though it’s on par with just about every coaching change in the league. In fact 20 new faces is typically near the minimum for new staffs. Last year Andy Reid and John Dorsey retained just 23 players from the year before, and that was a roster that had 6-7 Pro Bowlers already on it. The Redskins don’t have the level of talent that the Chiefs had in reshapping their roster, so turning over 20 or more spots shouldn’t be a concern at all.
The good news for the Redskins is it’s going to be pretty easy to have this turnover as they have 20 players heading for free agency. While they are sure to bring a few back, they will let most of those guys walk and use the money saved to find replacements. The Redskins also figure to make a couple (or hopefully more) notable cuts, freeing up additional roster and cap space.
While the report was on 20 new Redskins for 2014, the expectation should really be closer to 30 when we break it down. There are a lot of guys who are back-ups now who won’t get cut immediately, but could find a pink slip when final cuts are made in August. Here is a position-by-position breakdown of what spots are needed:
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Needs: Maybe one or two quarterbacks depending on if Kirk Cousins is traded. If he’s not the Skins could still decide to keep 3 quarterbacks given the injury risk to RGIII.
Safe: Alfred Morris, Roy Helu Jr.
Bubble: Evan Royster, Chris Thompson, Jawan Jamison
Needs: One or two running backs (it could be three if Helu is traded). Though the Redskins 3rd and 4th (if they keep four) could come from the current bubble guys, it’s possible that all three end up getting cut and the coaches go with some new options.
Safe: Pierre Garcon
Bubble: Leonard Hankerson, Aldrick Robinson, Nick Williams, Josh Bellamy
Needs: The Skins will keep 5 or 6 receivers, so they are going to have 4-5 open spots. Now it’s pretty likely that Hankerson gets one of those spots, but with the injury his status is a bit more up in the air. Robinson could be retained as well, but the staff could want to go in a different direction.
Safe: Trent Williams
Bubble: Kory Lichtensteiger, Chris Chester, Will Montgomery, Tyler Polumbus, Josh LeRibeus, Adam Gettis, Tom Compton
Needs: The Redskins are going to keep either 8 or 9 linemen so they have 7 or 8 spots up for grabs. Now they aren’t likely to get rid of all 7 guys on the bubble, and 2-4 could be retained, but none of them should be considered safe at this point. Best guess would be 1 of the starters is retained (though maybe for a back-up role) and two of the back-ups. That would mean the Skins would need at least 3 starters and one back-up at a minimum.
Safe: Jordan Reed, Darrel Young
Bubble: Niles Paul, Logan Paulsen
Needs: The Redskins are going to keep 3 tight ends so they will need two guys. Paul is actually probably pretty safe given his special teams ability. Logan Paulsen though is firmly on the bubble. His blocking really regressed last year (and that’s supposed to be his strong suit), and it’s likely the Redskins are going to want a better number 2 receiving TE than Paulsen as well.
Safe: Barry Cofield, Jarvis Jenkins
Bubble: Adam Carriker, Stephen Bowen, Kedric Golston, Chris Neild
Needs: The Redskins will probably keep 6 defensive linemen (possibly 7), and with only two spots set they have some work to do. Carriker and Bowen should both be cut. Golston and Neild are cheaper back-up options, but that might not be enough for both of them to keep their spots. Further complicating the situation is the fact that Jenkins is entering the final year on his rookie deal, the Redskins aren’t going to want to completely overhaul the position in 2015 so, expect them to add at least one longer term starting caliber guy.
Safe: Ryan Kerrigan, Brian Orakpo* (yes Orakpo is a free agent, but the Redskins have the ability to control his rights with the Franchise tag so that is why he’s considered safe)
Bubble: Brandon Jenkins, Keenan Robinson
Needs: The Redskins are going to keep 8 linebackers so they are going to have some real work to do. Orakpo should be back one way or another, and having him and Kerrigan locked down is a good start, but the Redskins need a lot of help. There is a good chance that both Jenkins and Robinson make it, given just how many needs the Skins actually have. Still you are talking about adding two starters and two back-ups at a minimum. One starter (Perry Riley) could be a current free agent that is brought back, but that is far from certain.
Safe: David Amerson
Bubble: Chase Minnifield, Richard Crawford
Needs: The Skins are going to keep 5 corners, so they will need to add 4 guys to David Amerson. It’s possible that both Minnifield and Crawford are retained, but neither is close to a lock. Both players have also had major knee injuries in their short NFL careers so it’s probably not wise to count on them just yet.
Bubble: Phillip Thomas, Bacarri Rambo, Trenton Robinson, Jose Gumbs
Needs: The Skins need 4 safeties, and it’s unclear if any of those four guys are currently on the roster for 2014. Phillip Thomas has the best chance, but he’s coming off a lost year and is likely behind the curve. Rambo was a much hyped player last year, but he was benched on multiple occasions, and what’s even worse was he was a liability as a special teamer. If you are a 6th round safety, you better be able to play special teams or you won’t be in the league long. Robinson came on and helped on special teams, but it’s unclear if he can do much beyond that. Gumbs could compete for a back-up role as well. While probably at least 1 of these 4 will be back in 2014, it will probably be only in a back-up role. The Skins need to find two starting caliber safeties this offseason.
Now obviously more than the 13 “safe” players will be either retained or brought back via free agency, but it’s not tough to imagine that there could be 30 new Redskins in 2014. And really that is what’s best for the team. The Redskins should admit mistakes now instead of trying to hang on to guys, and build the roster that this team needs and their fans deserve.