The Redskins coming off a disastrous 3-13 season have plenty of work to do to turn things around. After cuts are made the Redskins should need at least a dozen new starters and multiple key back-ups. Given their lack of a 1st round pick, it makes it impossible to try to fill every need with a quality starter, and in fact they will be lucky to fill half of them with quality starters. Maybe if the Redskins are lucky they can get starters from their 2nd and 3rd round picks, and pick up maybe 4 guys in free agency (this counts re-signing someone like Orakpo). The rest will need to be filled with stop-gaps and a combination of young guys and rookies fighting it out.
While that sounds bad, it’s actually okay to build a team like this. The Ravens last year dealt with a lot of transition after their Super Bowl win and they weren’t able to replace every player with a top draft pick or a big name starter. So they used a combination of replacements at a number of positions and many ended up playing pretty well. Some did struggle and didn’t work out, but since they weren’t major investments (either money or draft picks), the Ravens weren’t beholden to them and could part ways without it being a big issue.
For the Redskins these are the positions they can push to more of the back-burner this year:
-The Redskins only have 3 corners really under contract for next year, and they include 2nd year corner David Amerson, who had a lot of growing pains as a rookie. Third year corner Richard Crawford who is coming off an ACL injury and might not be the same. And 3rd year corner Chase Minnifield who has never played a regular season down and has dealt with major injuries in the past. Clearly corner is a major need and at least 3 corners should be brought in. The thing is though corner is one of the riskiest free agent positions because they are extremely expensive and they rarely offer any positive return on the investment. The Redskins can’t afford to hide David Amerson again this season and they need to let him sink or swim as a starter. At the other starting spot and the nickel spot the Redskins shouldn’t look to break the bank or invest a high draft pick this year. Maybe just bring back DeAngelo Hall on a 2-3 year cheaper deal. If he won’t accept it, there will be plenty of FA options that will. Then bring in another stop gap corner, and draft a mid-late rounder.
-I know many think that all the Redskins woes will be solved if they just had better receivers, but that is a luxury pick. The Redskins aren’t the Broncos and don’t need to be throwing the ball 600-700 times a year. They don’t need a major investment in pass catchers, particularly since they’ve already invested in a big money receiver and have TE Jordan Reed who has a lot of promise. We just saw a Super Bowl won by a team with two former undrafted free agents among their top 3 receivers. The Redskins need to bring in some new guys, but they don’t need to break the bank or spend a premium pick. The great thing is the FA and Draft classes are really deep with solid receiving talent so the Redskins can bring in 3 guys to the mix who will upgrade the position, and offer some potential for the future. Bringing in a WR with some return skills (Dexter McCluster, Jacoby Jones and Ted Ginn Jr.), a 4th rounder and another cheaper WR would be all the Redskins need this year.
-Now the Redskins do need two starting ILB’s and they have almost no depth here (hopefully Keenan Robinson can stay healthy), but this is also not a position the Redskins really want to throw a lot of money at. The ILB market has gotten crazy in recent years and the money thrown at these guys has simply not been worth it. Now if you are a star guy, then okay you might be worth it, but those guys aren’t hitting the market and instead 2nd rate guys are getting what should be top starting money. Already reports are Perry Riley wants to be paid crazy money, and it’s simply not worth it. Not only should the Redskins avoid paying Riley that kind of money, but honestly it would be okay if they avoid paying anyone that kind of money this year. I’d look for one veteran who is older and can’t command a major salary (Karlos Dansby would be my top target), and another guy who’s played some and is maybe a bit under-appreciated. This is a position though the Redskins should maybe look to use their 3rd rounder on as well. If they don’t draft someone in the 2nd or 3rd rounds there could be some decent options in the 4th-6th rounds.
-This is kinda similar to the Inside linebacker position where you need to find two full-time starters (WR and Corner is one full time guy and one part time guy), and you maybe spend a little money on one position and possibly consider a 3rd round option (Gabe Jackson would look nice in Burgundy and Gold). Between free agency and the draft you probably need to bring in three players and they can compete with any of Mike Shanahan’s former draft picks to see who wins the two starting jobs. Overall though the OL needs four new starters and the priority should be RT (Anthony Collins) and C (Travis Swanson in 3rd, Alex Mack if we really want to fill the position).
-More and more teams are rolling with two tight end sets and getting both of their tight ends active. The Skins have utilize two tight ends quite a bit in the running game, but really haven’t utilized two guys who can catch the football. Jay Gruden though could change that, and if that is the case Logan Paulsen (who’s on the bubble to begin with, because his blocking fell off), becomes a lot less valuable. The Skins though can’t really afford to bring in a big money TE or spend a high draft pick on a guy. Now sometimes the TE market crashes and you can get someone on the cheap (the Giants the last two years brought in Brandon Myers and Martellus Bennett on the cheap for one year deals). Maybe a guy like Dustin Keller doesn’t have a strong market coming off the leg injury, or an Andrew Quarless or Garrett Graham aren’t valued highly. Skins could also look to use a late round pick on a guy with some upside.