Redskins Early Offseason Report:
By John Manuel
What I like.
1- I did like the signing of Jason Hatcher to improve the defensive line play. There was an obvious need here to help add pressure to opposing quarterbacks. Since both outside linebackers are set in stone the Redskins needed to get help up front. Hatcher forced quarterbacks to hurry all last season and that would be huge since our guys in 2013 up front failed there. The two concerns when it came to the Hatcher signing was his age and the amount of money spent. As for his age I am sure coming off his best season he can give them 2-3 solid years. As for contract, I don't read much into final numbers anymore so I am not concerned that this is anywhere near the dead money killers of the past.
2- Allen's crew has made a huge attempt to address the special teams coverage units. Last seasons NFL all-time worst special teams unit should be much better with some of the additions that the Redskins have made. Adding Daryl Sharpton, Akeem Jordan and most notably Adam Hayward we should see a difference this season. Washington hasn't really addressed the return game which was pitiful last season but that may still come down the line. You can say Andre Roberts has experience but I doubt they see him as a returner next season. Hopefully a guy like Hayward can fill the shoes as special teams leader like Lorenzo Alexander did for years. Still a work in progress but at least there is progress in my opinion.
3- There has been no rush to trade Kirk Cousins as of now. I know you can look back to November and see that I said Washington should trade Cousins this off-season but I have changed my stance. The last month of 2013 seemed to hurt Cousins trade value and now I am happy they haven't traded Cousins just to trade him. If his value is anything less than a 2nd rounder I would hold on. We could still use an inexpensive solid quality backup for now. What is the worst case? In two years Cousins is able to roll for no compensation. I can live with that instead of getting a 4th or 5th rounder now and then not having a solid backup behind RG3.
What I don't like
1- Everything that has been done concerning the offensive line. The Redskins have failed to make an average line any better so far. The most glaring need for three seasons at least has been right tackle and that has not change. Washington missed out on multiple guys who can help this team and the options are getting thin. Washington's one main pickup was Shawn Lauvao and I have to be honest I didn't know much about him when he signed at 4:01 of the start of free agency. And what I have read has not been good as Washington passed on other guards with better resumes who got similar money. Now the Skins have to look at questionable free agents and the draft to fix a huge need.
2- Nothing down at safety so far. Well they did resign Brandon Merriweather if that counts but all Redskins fans are freaking out about another season where the back end is horrible. The past two seasons have been a huge disaster at the position. The Redskins failed to land two of the top safeties they were linked to in Jairus Byrd and Mike Mitchell because of so-called money. Byrd got a lot but Mitchell really didn't in the end. Maybe the Steelers were more attractive to Mitchell but the Skins should have made a better run at him. Ryan Clark has been debating where he will play in 2014 for like 6 months it feels like. He would help and I would be down for it if in the end he comes back. But again the choices are getting thin and you have to think Allen targets this position at #34 in the draft. Which is a huge risk since you can't guarantee who will be there.
3- They have left too many holes so far in free agency that will not be able to fill in the draft. Not having a first round pick again really hurts this team of course. But even having high picks in rounds 2.3 and 4 will not be enough to fill the holes they have left. I can see this team going into the beginning of the season very weak at safety, right tackle, guard and still questions at receiver. You can say we are in a rebuilding situation but the past two seasons the division has come from the bottom. I am far from conceding the Redskins having a chance to win the NFC East this season. But I think it will be tough if they can't fill the holes they still have in the next few months.