What Holes Are Left To Be Filled?
The Redskins have been fairly active so far to start free agency, but while the signings have slowed down, they aren't done yet adding pieces to next year's roster. Here are their biggest remaining needs for the rest of the offseason (in no certain order):
-If the season started today Tyler Polumbus would be the starting right tackle with Tom Compton and Maurice Hurt as the only real competition or back-ups. That is about as thin of a depth chart as you can get, as behind Polumbus you have Hurt who has started 1 game at right tackle and is coming off a season lost to injury, and Tom Compton who has played just a handful of snaps in his two year career. Polumbus has not been a particularly effective right tackle (though he's decent in run blocking) and it's proven to be quite a liability for the Redskins these past two seasons. Making matters worse is the fact that the Redskins could pick up $2.5 million in cap room by cutting Polumbus, meaning they can likely get an upgrade or at least similar production for the same price or less. This could be an early round draft target and let him battle Polumbus in camp.
-The Redskins cut starting center Will Montgomery and are set to move starting guard Kory Lichtensteiger over to fill the role. While Lichtensteiger played center in college he's spent the vast majority of his NFL career at guard and was only ever the back-up center. Lichtensteiger's play at guard has not been particularly good and moving him to center isn't likely to improve his production level. Lichtensteiger is said to be putting on weight, but he still figures to be more undersized. The Redskins would be entrusting arguably the 2nd most important OL position, to a guy who hasn't played it much in years, is undersized and hasn't preformed well of late. That is a risky proposition regardless, but to do that for a young quarterback with injury concerns seems irresponsible. Behind Lichtensteiger the Redskins don't have another true center, Chris Chester, Adam Gettis and Josh LeRibeus all can theoretically play the position, but it's more like in emergency situations. The Skins have been connected with a couple centers lately in free agency, so that may be their plan for next year.
-The Redskins signed guard Shawn Lauvao early in free agency, but they might not be done addressing the position. Right now with Lauvao locked into one position, the Redskins have on paper Chris Chester at the other guard position with Josh LeRibeus, Adam Gettis and Maurice Hurt behind him. Chester's play really fell off last year and he's now struggled 2 of the 3 years in DC. It's really tough to justify his price tag and the Redskins could save $2.7 million this year and $4.8 million next year by releasing him. That is $7.5 million the Redskins can clear by releasing him and I'm sure they can find a much better use for that money than paying Chester. Behind him the Redskins don't have much. Hurt played guard as a rookie in 2011, but he struggled mightily there and the team has since tried making him more of a RT. He may be considered a back-up guard, but it's tough to consider him an option as a starter. LeRibeus came into camp last year out of shape and he was inactive every week last season. Some of that is being in Mike Shanahan's dog house, but more of it is just the sheer fact that he's been a disappointing draft pick and not ready for the NFL game. Even with renewed commitment (apparently), it's tough to imagine him starting. Adam Gettis is probably the best replacement option, but that is relatively speaking. The Redskins should look for a cheap veteran or an early round guard who they believe can start.
-The Redskins added Andre Roberts as the starter opposite Pierre Garcon on the first day of free agency. Now with their top two spots set the Redskins need to find 1 or 2 more receivers, depending on how many they plan on keeping and the health of Leonard Hankerson. Right now behind Garcon and Roberts the Redskins have veteran Santana Moss, Hankerson (who is coming back from an ACL injury), Aldrick Robinson, and Nick Williams. While if Moss has a bit of bounce back year and Hankerson is healthy, the Redskins might be alright, but both of those things are up in the air. Also Moss and Hankerson are both set to be UFA's next year meaning that long term the Redskins are hurting. The Redskins could look for a developmental receiver to take over that 3rd WR role by 2015. They also may consider another veteran option to come in if they don't feel like Hankerson is going to be healthy to start the year.
-While there is a lot of focus on the 3rd receiver, little is mentioned about the possibility of adding a 2nd TE. The Redskins have already had Owen Daniels in for a visit, and if you look at how Gruden's offense functioned a year ago in Cincinnati the 2nd tight end was more valuable than the 3rd receiver. For the Bengals they also didn't have the injury concerns that the Redskins have with their top TE, so the need is arguably even greater for the Redskins. Now Washington does have Logan Paulsen and he did an admirable job filling in for Fred Davis in 2012, but last year he took a step back and was a liability. With his contract increasing it's hard to justify his roster spot. The Redskins need to add a TE who can be inline, as Reed should be the TE that splits out wide more, but they still need one who can be an effective receiver.
-Many think the Redskins are done along the defensive line after they signed Jason Hatcher and Clifton Geathers and re-signed Chris Baker, but they shouldn't be counted out of the mix just yet. The Redskins sound like they are planning on using their defensive linemen more and using more of a rotation system than in the past. Also, while he's still on the roster, Stephen Bowen could save the Redskins a combined $10 million over the next two seasons by releasing him. Maybe he comes back at a reduced rate, but even then he's hardly a lock for the team after he's coming off microfracture surgery. Kedric Golston is another guy the Redskins could save a little money by releasing. They might not do much more in free agency, but they could target another lineman in the mid-to-late rounds.
-Not a real pressing need as the Redskins are set with their starters, but they are likely looking for an upgrade in the depth department. Currently all the Redskins have is 2nd year pro Brandon Jenkins, who has very limited experience behind their two starters. They probably want to add at least one veteran to the mix this offseason.
-The Redskins retained DeAngelo Hall and signed Tracy Porter to go along with 2nd year corner David Amerson for the top three spots. Behind that though the Redskins are razor thin with just Richard Crawford and Chase Minnifield for depth. The Redskins will likely look to add a corner in the draft to build for the future, but could still look at the free agent market for some depth options.
-Currently the Redskins would either have Brandon Meriweather or Phillip Thomas play out of position or try another go with the highly disappointing Bacarri Rambo at free safety. None of those options are a real solution and the Redskins need to add at least one free agent of draft pick who can play free safety.
-Strong safety is in a little better position as Brandon Meriweather is better in that role. He's still not a good safety, but he's more passable in a strong safety role and can at least be considered a stop gap. Behind Meriweather the Redskins have 2nd year safety Phillip Thomas. Thomas was the Skins 4th rounder a year ago, but was lost to a Lisfranc injury early in the preseason. While it's tough to rely on Thomas given the lost year (also he missed all of his junior season as well due to injury), he at least has the potential to develop into a starting caliber strong safety. With the two of them, the Redskins should be close to average at strong safety.