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Where Do The Redskins Go From Here?

April 10, 2014 in Redskins Personnel

By: Justin Partlow

 

Now that free agency has started to wind down, the draft boards will start to become clearer at the park. After a free agency period that started out pretty quiet, the Redskins became players and added divisional players such as Jason Hatcher, and Desean Jackson. Ever since adding those players, the picture has started to become more clear, the Redskins aren’t looking at this rebuild as a long term event, it’s going to be a more rapid rebuild that should span only 1-2 years instead of a longer 3-5 year move. With that being said, what can we expect from here? Below I’ll take a look at the draft and what the Redskins could look to do now.

After adding the FA players this offseason, the Redskins have target a good solid mix on both offense and defense and have made it known not one area is the problem. With that being said, the Redskins seem very likely to target a few specific positions due to areas that still could be upgraded. The likeliest target of all the positions is still at safety, and specifically FS. Brandon Merriweather is a solid option, but he’s reckless and you can’t ever expect him to be a full 16 game player due to injuries or possible suspensions. Ryan Clark was a good stopgap signing, but he’s also an older veteran and has seen his play decline lately rapidly. With that being said, I’d be surprised if the Redskins didn’t target getting another S to add along with Phillip Thomas and Bacarri Rambo. The Redskins will look to develop those two players, but they can’t just expect to let that happen and not have any sort of back up plan.

With safety being a need, there are the usual suspect names that have been floated around, including Jimmie Ward and even in some respects Haha Clinton-Dix. The name though that makes a ton of sense for what Washington likes to run, is Deone Bucannon the starting FS/SS out of Washington State. Jim Haslett wants players who can play both safety positions and become more interchangeable than playing just one silo position. Bucannon can play in coverage as a FS, but also isn’t afraid to play up close to the LOS and make plays in the run game, and that’ll be something Haslett would seem to value highly. The good news as well is that Bucannon is a likely day 2 pick, and would be an excellent choice with the 66th pick the Redskins own.

Not only is safety a need, but as well a position that could be upgraded very well is the TE position. Jordan Reed had a bit of a break out year, but injuries are still a concern with him and with Gruden, you can look for Reed to line up more outside and play in that Jimmy Graham role. With that being the case, adding someone who can play to the strengths of Reed and compliment him well would be a very wise choice. At the 34th pick, the Redskins could look to add someone such as Jace Amaro if he were to fall into the 2nd round. As well the Redskins if they decide to trade back a little, could add another big time TE in Austin Sefarian-Jenkins out of Washington. Adding more weapons to the offense would be a good element especially with a new offense, and a young franchise QB who is likely to rebound in a big way.

The Redskins are a team that could rebound quickly and fight for that division title again next year. In order to help reach that goal again, the draft in May will be critical in going forward and helping the overall direction of the team. If Bruce Allen and company can have a successful draft, then look for Jay Gruden and staff to make a big push and fight for the division title in the fall. The future is starting to become bright again in Washington; the draft could even make it brighter.

What Holes Are Left To Be Filled?

March 23, 2014 in Redskins Offseason, Redskins Personnel

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):

Right Tackle:

-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.

Center:

-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.

Guard:

-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.

Wide Receiver:

-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.

Tight End:

-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.

Defensive Line:

-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.

Outside Linebacker:

-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.

Cornerback:

-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.

Free Safety:

-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:

-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.

What to do with Darrel Young?

March 22, 2014 in Redskins Offseason, Redskins Personnel

There has been a lot of talk since the hiring of Jay Gruden that the Redskins will be more of a passing team and use 3 and 4 WR sets more under their new head coach. The idea is that Jay Gruden didn't use a fullback in Cincinnati and that led to the use of more wide receivers. That isn't fully true as Gruden relied more on two tight end sets, then people give him credit for, but what is true is the lack of a fullback in Gruden's offense. The Bengals have not used a fullback much during Gruden's three years, and this past season they didn't even have a fullback on the roster. Instead they used TE Orson Charles and DT Domata Peko when they needed a lead blocker. What does that mean for incumbent fullback Darrel Young?

Young is probably a top 5 FB in the league, and while the position isn't considered one of major importance, it can still offer some good value. Teams that use fullbacks and have a good player at the position can get a lot of cheap value to their team. Most top fullbacks (who aren't on rookie deals) make between $1-2 million, which is pretty good for a team since they play between 35-45% of the offensive snaps and are generally positive special teams contributors. A team can get some nice value from a player even if they aren't touching the ball and picking up yards. It's overlooked but the ability to lead block or serve as a personal protector for a quarterback can have a big impact on a team. Another thing to consider is that fullbacks typically are needed most in high leverage situations. Even if you are a team that doesn't feature a fullback much, you need that player on short yardage and goalline situations. Teams that don't have that fullback on the roster need to convert someone else for the position, just to be able to run that power offense. Sure it might not be a fulltime player, but fullback playing that much and in so many important situations can have just as much value to a team as a 3rd WR or 2nd TE even if they end up playing more snaps.

While Young is more than just a lead blocking fullback, his impact as a blocker became very clear this past year. Unfortunately for the Redskins, that impact became the most clear when he wasn't in the line-up. After suffering an injury week 10 versus the Eagles, Young missed the next three games, during which time Alfred Morris simply hit a wall. During those three games against the 49ers, Giants and Chiefs, Morris had rushing totals of 52, 26, and 31 while positing yard per carry averages of 3.71, 2.36, and 2.58 respectively. To gain 1,000 yards in a season a back needs to average 62.5 yards per game, prior to this stretch of games Morris had only been below that 62.5 yard average 3 times in the previous 27 games (including the playoff game). Yet without Young, Morris couldn't top 52, and posted the two worst games of his career. Now Young was hardly the only reason why Morris and the ground game struggled. The 49ers and Giants were both top 10 defenses in yards allowed per carry, and the Redskins were in complete dysfunction mode. They weren't likely to win those games or be effective on the ground regardless, but with Young playing Morris likely wouldn't have been such a non-factor.

Young's value goes beyond that of his blocking as he's proven himself to be a viable runner and receiver out of the backfield. Young last year had just 12 carries and averaged only 3.4 yards per carry, but that number is misleading. Young scored three short yardage rushing TD's and had another seven of his runs result in first downs. That means 10 out of his 12 carries resulted in a very positive play for the Redskins. So while his numbers don't wow you, the impact was high. Young has done a nice job these last three years as a runner and has proven himself as an effective short yardage option. Young has also proved himself as a solid receiver option out of the backfield as well.

If anything Young has been underused both in snaps and as an offensive weapon, but how will he fit in with Jay Gruden who has favored more 3 wide receiver and 2 TE sets? It's a fair question what will happen with Young's usage this year and one that could have a big impact depending on what they do. If Gruden tries to ignore the fullback position as much as he did in Cincinnati, it could negatively impact the offense, and hinder the Redskins best weapon Alfred Morris. Gruden needs to  implement his offense, but he can't afford to ignore what Darrel Young brings to the table.

 


How often should Darrel Young be used in Jay Gruden's offense?

 

Redskins Early Offseason Report:

March 21, 2014 in Redskins Free Agents, Redskins Offseason

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.

Redskins Need to Avoid WR Kenny Britt

March 20, 2014 in Redskins Personnel

The Redskins interest in former Titans 1st round pick Kenny Britt is well documented and it has become a hot topic for fans and the media. While there is a strong push to sign Britt, it would likely end up to be a major mistake for the Redskins and would be a move that has the potential for little positive impact.

Now it is easy to see why fans and media are so high on Britt, the Titans first round pick from the 2009 draft. Britt is 6'3", 215 pounds and will be just 26 years old this season. As a rookie Britt caught 42 passes for 702 yards (16.7 ypc) and 3 TD's, which is pretty impressive for a rookie. He followed that up the next season by an even more impressive 42 catches for 775 (18.5 ypc) and 9 TD's in just 12 games. In 2011 Britt looked poised to breakout and his first two games were evidence of that as he caught 14 passes for a combined 271 yards (19.35 ypc) and 3 TD's. He was on pace for a ridiculous 112 catch 2,168 yard and 24 TD year after two weeks. Now that obviously wouldn't have happened, but Britt easily could have been a top 5 WR in the league that year. Unfortunately in week 3 after 3 catches and 18 more yards, Britt tore his ACL and MCL in the second quarter and was out for the rest of the season. Britt's production in those first 3 seasons was very impressive, and he looked like a true big play number 1 wide receiver. His production was even more impressive considering the Titans didn't have great quarterback play and they weren't a heavy passing team so his numbers weren't influenced by scheme or volume.

Unfortunately there isn't much else to point to in favor of Kenny Britt, for all his talent he carries just about every red flag you could have, and the reason why he could be an "affordable" option is also why he doesn't make sense for the Redskins. Here's a look at his red flags and why the Redskins should stay away.

Off the Field/Legal/Suspension:

Since Britt has joined the NFL in 2009, he has been part of incidents that involved the police. While most of these have been pretty minor incidents and some of have ended up being dismissed for one reason or another, they point to a troubling track record. No not every player is a saint and of course in the grand scheme of things these incidents by themselves are pretty minor, but there has been a detailed and unfortunately a consistent pattern here. At the very least they show a severe lack of judgement, (one of his issues was when he tried to drive on to an Army base while drunk), and on the other end of the spectrum they possibly foreshadow a more serious issue. The NFL has already suspended Britt once, for a 1 game suspension at the beginning of the 2012 season, so any other issues will result in a more serious suspension. From a PR standpoint alone the Redskins should avoid this potential circus and move on.

Injury concerns:

Though Britt has the major ACL/MCL issue in his history, that is far from the only injury issue that he's had in his career. In 2010 Britt missed 4 games (and had to leave early from another one) due to a pulled hamstring. He's dealt with hamstring and quad issues that have slowed him down, multiple times in his career. In addition to the more serious knee issues and the hamstring issues, Britt has showed up on the injury report with a host of other issues, including ankle, groin, and neck injuries. While some of that happens, Britt has had a pretty short career and obviously has more serious issues.

While his general health can be questioned, the big issue are Britt's knees. He tore his ACL and MCL week 3 of the 2011 season, yet he struggled quite a bit in his comeback year of 2012. Now typically that first year coming back from an ACL injury you are going to get somewhat of a pass as your speed and explosion is typically not there. That even holds true for a guy like Britt who was injured early in the year and had nearly a full year of recovery. While you can perhaps excuse the 2012 production and lack of explosion, it shouldn't be a factor in 2013. Britt was simply awful this past year (more on that in a bit), and while it all can't be attributed to the injury, Britt did not display the speed, explosion and separation that he did before the injury. If you look more into Britt's injury it's not surprising that Britt hasn't had a strong comeback from the injury despite his young age. While Britt suffered the injury in September, he needed a 2nd surgery on that knee later in the year to clean up some things. While that can still be pretty normal, it shows that it wasn't as clean of a procedure as some other cases. Britt also needed a minor surgery on his other knee to apparently repair his meniscus. Since then he's dealt with swelling in his knee both in 2012 and 2013. You might expect it that following year in 2012, but the fact that he's still missing practice and slowed down by swelling two years later is not a good sign. Perhaps year 3 will be better, but there are some serious injury concerns here.

Work ethic/Attitude/On the Field Production:

While these could all be considered separate issues they also are related somewhat and are lumped together here. For as long as Britt has been in the league there have been work ethic and attitude questions. He's missed or shown up late to practices and meetings and wasn't considered a hard worker in the offseason program or when he was at practice. This led him to get in the dog house of the offensive coordinator/head coach at times which led to less snaps than a player of his talent should have. In 2012 Britt was complemented for showing better work ethic (though still missed some practice time), but in 2013 he was right back to his old ways with a lack of effort. Even more troubling that lack of effort really started to show up on the field, and affected his on the field production.

His first 3 years the Titans dealt with his work ethic/attitude and off the field concerns early in his career because his production was still impressive. These last two years though that simply hasn't been the case. In 2012 Britt's numbers were down with 45 catches for 589 yards and 4 TD's in 14 games. His big play ability just wasn't there and he managed just 13.1 yards per catch, well below where he was prior to the injury. Britt wasn't getting the separation he had previously and when he did make the catch didn't have the big play ability to make teams pay. Britt also committed 4 penalties and had 7 drops that year, both highs for him. In 2013 though things got even worse. Britt's work ethic was non-existent and he just didn't care. He managed just 11 catches for 96 yards and a woeful 8.7 yards per catch. Even worse than those numbers were the mistakes he made. Britt committed 6 penalties, which should never happen for a receiver, especially one who plays only 300 snaps. In addition he had 7 drops,  in far less opportunities than the year before.

In addition to those major Red Flags there are a couple more reasons why Kenny Britt doesn't make sense to the Redskins:

Kenny Britt won't come as cheap as people expect:

Most fans seem to believe that Kenny Britt will sign for a 1 year prove it deal at around the league minimum given his injury history and off the field issues. While it will very likely be a 1 year "prove it" type of deal, chances are it won't be for the league minimum, especially if he were to sign with the Redskins. Now Britt's deal isn't going to break the bank, but it will probably be at a minimum seven figures with some money guaranteed. Britt will also likely be looking for some incentives in the deal that could boost the value into the $3-4 million range. Will he get that or not is a fair question, but plenty of guys get deals like that with similar baggage to Britt (i.e. Fred Davis a year ago who got $2.5 million plus incentives). Regardless of where his price ends up being, the Redskins will have to be the highest bidder if they want his services.

Whether it is league minimum (it's not going to be) or $2 million plus incentives, the Redskins will need to have the best offer as multiple other teams are interested in Britt. All those teams offer better situations for Britt and if the money is equal, he's going to choose them. In New England, in addition to having the chance to win a SB, Britt would get to rehab his value with Tom Brady throwing him the ball and be part of an offense with other major weapons so he could get some more favorable situations. The Rams are another suitor and that would allow him to play under Jeff Fisher again, the coach who drafted him and that he had those first two big seasons under. Carolina is reportedly interested and with their WR depth chart he'd easily be their number 1, and they of course were the NFC South winners last year. Finally the Seahawks are also in the mix, in addition to being the SB winners, they have a need for a receiver with Golden Tate and Sidney Rice off the team. The Redskins simply can't match those situations so the only way they get Britt is if they pay him the most money.

Kenny Britt Doesn't Offer the Redskins A lot of Value:

Even if everything goes right with Kenny Britt and he was to sign cheaply and not have any of his potential red flags cause an issue, what do the Redskins really gain? Sure Britt could end up with a really nice 50 catch 850 yard 6 TD season, but where does that leave the Redskins? While anything can happen, the Redskins are a 3-13 team with a myriad of issues and holes on this team. They don't figure to be a serious contender this year for either a division or a wild card spot, regardless of what Britt would bring to the table. Kenny Britt at 100% is not the missing piece for this team, and won't be a deciding factor as to whether or not this team can make a surprise run. Even if he posts those numbers (or even higher if you want to presume that), it's going to have very little impact on the Redskins in 2014, and then the question becomes what happens after that. If Britt has a big year his price tag will go up considerably and the Redskins would either have to use the franchise tag on him or fork over a big deal. Neither one of those options makes sense for the Redskins long term (if people were up in arms about applying the franchise tag to Orakpo, imagine their reaction to Britt).

Chances are that won't be a concern because the chance that every thing goes right with Britt is probably about the same as winning the lotto. While Britt can be a high reward type of player, he's an extremely high risk guy, and just not worth the Redskins trouble. If Washington wants to support Robert Griffin III, adding Britt is not the way to do that. He's a guy who could be an issue in the locker room and in the huddle and that is not what they need to bring in to help Griffin reach his potential. This is one player they just need to avoid and move on from.


Free Agency – Avoid or Target? Kenny Britt (WR)…

Redskins Can't Rely on Recent Late Round Picks

March 17, 2014 in Redskins Personnel

At a number of key positions the Redskins depth chart currently lists some former mid-to-late round picks as either starters to top back-ups. The Redskins though are not likely to count on many of these guys for either starting roles or key back-ups when the season starts. With a new coach coming in and the front office under a new power structure, the team is likely to have a serious new look.

Historically new regimes mean a high level of roster turnover, typically 30-40 new guys in year 1. Now this obviously just isn't about recent draft picks as plenty of Redskins free agents aren't expected to be re-signed and other players have already been cut (including 2013 7th round RB Jawan Jamison). The difference is that these recent draft picks and undrafted free agents are still under team control and for the most part won't be considered for being cut until cut down days during camp. The reality is most of these guys aren't going to make the final 53 man roster, as new coach Jay Gruden will want to put his own stamp on the organization.

This obviously doesn't apply to recent high round picks (top 3 are all probably safe) and an established starter like Alfred Morris, but beyond that we could see some surprising cuts that people aren't expecting. Here is a look at each position to see how these recent draft picks and UDFA's stand:

QB: Kirk Cousins

-Cousins isn't going to be cut he's established himself as a good back-up with the potential to start. Outside of injury the only way he's not on the 53 man roster is if a trade offer comes in.

RB: Roy Helu Jr., Evan Royster, Chris Thompson

-Already this position group has seen a recent draft pick cut in Jamison, and they could definitely see one or more cut as well. Helu should be safe, as he's the top back-up to Alfred Morris, but both Royster and Thompson could easily end up on the chopping block. It doesn't even have to be a draft pick that unseats them, the Redskins staff could sign a league minimum guy or a UDFA that beats them out.

TE: Logan Paulsen, Niles Paul

-Though Paulsen is the number 2 TE, his spot is probably more in jeopardy than Paul. Paul is cheaper and is one of the few good special teams players on this team, he offers more than enough value to justify the 3rd TE spot. Paulsen's play and contract aren't really valued at the number 2 TE spot. Already the team has brought in Owen Daniels for a visit, so they are definitely looking at options here. Paul definitely isn't completely safe, as the team could decide they can find a better 3rd TE who helps on ST's in other ways (not going to find a TE gunner).

OL: Josh LeRibeus, Adam Gettis, Maurice Hurt, Tom Compton

-LeRibeus may still get one more year given that he was a 3rd round pick, but he's not as safe as say a typical 3rd round pick would be given a new coaching staff and his track record so far. Out of Gettis, Hurt and Compton you might have one more win a back-up job, but this is not a strong group. Even with the retention of the OL coach it would be surprising to see more than 2 of these four players make the 53 man roster.

WR: Leonard Hankerson, Aldrick Robinson, Nick Williams

-The Redskins re-signed Santana Moss and signed UFA Andre Roberts so with Pierre Garcon 3 spots are probably set (Moss isn't set in stone, but there is a good chance he makes it). The Redskins are expected to add at least one WR in the draft, so depending on how many WR's the Redskins keep they could only have 1 or 2 spots remaining. Hankerson's health will play a factor as he's coming off an ACL injury. For that reason the Redskins may look to keep him on the PUP list to start the season opening up a spot early on. In the end it is probably a long climb for both Robinson and Williams to make the team, particularly if the Redskins draft more than one WR or sign another guy.

 DL: Chris Neild

-Jarvis Jenkins was also drafted in the Mike Shanahan era, but I think he's pretty safe to be on the team. He's probably not going to start, but he's probably safe for this year. The same can not be said for Chris Neild. The Redskins have already brought back Chris Baker and signed Jason Hatcher and Clifton Geathers in free agency and they might not be done. As it stands now Neild's a major long shot to make the team and those odds figure to get worse.

LB: Brandon Jenkins, Keenan Robinson, Will Compton, Jeremy Kimbrough

-The Redskins have already retained Brian Orakpo and Perry Riley as starters and signed Darryl Sharpton and Adam Hayward to compete for another starting role. With Ryan Kerrigan locked into the final starting job, all that is left is really the back-up roles. One would think that former 4th rounder Keenan Robinson is set, but that might not be the case. Even after the signings of Sharpton and Hayward there has been talk of the Redskins still interested in ILB (which doesn't bode well for Compton or Kimbrough either). The Redskins could also look to draft a guy in the 3rd-5th rounds, given the long term uncertainty of the position. Brandon Jenkins is on firmer ground, though the team has reportedly been interested in OLB Anthony Spencer. If they sign a veteran (which they probably will do), Jenkins spot could be in jeopardy from a rookie or UDFA.

CB: Richard Crawford, Chase Minnifield

-The Redskins have 3 CB positions pretty well set with D-Hall coming back, David Amerson expected to take over a starting role and newly signed corner Tracy Porter. Right now Crawford and Minnifield are penciled in as the 4th and 5th guys, but they have very little experience and a host of serious injuries between them. It wouldn't be shocking to see the team add another veteran player and at least one draft pick to the mix. One of Crawford and Minnifield could stick, but it's probably doubtful that both do.

S: Bacarri Rambo, Phillip Thomas

-This is probably the position that most people think the Redskins are in need of and they would be completely right. The Redskins don't have anything representing a set starter for next year at either safety spot, and right now all they have is Thomas who missed all of last season due to injury and Rambo who was ineffective and benched last year. Thomas's roster spot is probably fairly safe, but Rambo's might not be. Rambo after early positive reports in camp, struggled mightily in the preseason and regular season. It went beyond just basic rookie struggles as despite a serious need at the position, he found himself placed on the inactive roster or not even given a single snap in some games. Rambo's struggles went beyond just being overmatched on defense as he was a liability on Special Teams as well. If you are a mid-late round safety and you aren't an elite starter, you have to play special teams to have a spot on an NFL team. Rambo's spot is very much up for grabs and at this point it would be a mild surprise if he's on the 53 man roster.

Overall:

Of the 22 players listed, only Kirk Cousins and Roy Helu Jr. are truly "safe" for next year in a role as a starter or key back-up. As long as he checks out medically Leonard Hankerson will join that list, but beyond that we may only see a handful of guys make the team. The health of Phillip Thomas, Keenan Robinson and Richard Crawford will be a major factor. If they are healthy they are pretty safe bets, but they aren't true locks. The next most likely are Niles Paul (mainly due to ST) and Brandon Jenkins, but after that it is totally up in the air and will be very much based on how many roster spots at a particular position. If the Redskins keep only 8 OL, there might be only a spot or two available if they sign and draft a couple guys (cuts of current players could also determine how this plays out). If the Skins keep just 5 WR's, they might not have a spot for anyone beyond Hankerson. Now there are a lot of factors that can change things, but it would probably be a surprise if more than 10-12 of these players were on the final 53 man roster and most of them will likely be near the bottom of it. With few exceptions these are not players the Redskins can count on going forward.

 

Redskins Defense Starting to Take Shape

March 15, 2014 in 2014-free-agency, Redskins Free Agents, Redskins Offseason

The Redskins entered the offseason with their top defensive player, OLB Brian Orakpo, poised to hit unrestricted free agency, and two other solid starters CB DeAngelo Hall (who was coming off his best season) and ILB Perry Riley set to join him. The Redskins defense was among the worst in the league to begin with, but they absolutely couldn't afford to lose their top defensive player and only real star in Orakpo. Given how thin their secondary was, losing Hall would have also been tough to swallow. Riley the weakest member of the group was more replaceable, but with London Fletcher retiring, replacing both inside linebackers would have been a tough task. As free agency started the Redskins found out that all three would definitely be back as Perry Riley signed a 3 year deal, to go along with Orakpo's franchise tag and Hall's 4 year contract. With all three returning along with top reserve defensive lineman Chris Baker returning the Redskins could begin to look at fixing their holes on defense.

It wasn't going to be an easy task as in addition to the three key free agents, the only players on the Redskins defense who played at an average level even were DL Barry Cofield and OLB Ryan Kerrigan. That is 5 starters the Redskins could count on, and a guy like Riley is hardly a guy you can count on. That meant the Redskins needed 6 additional starters and a couple key back-ups. On paper Chris Baker and David Amerson would fill two of those starting spots, but neither player had completely shown that they were capable of that role. Defensive lineman Jarvis Jenkins could possibly join Barry Cofield and Baker on the DL as a starter, but thus far he's played more like a back-up. In addition to needing probably 2 defensive linemen (at least), the Redskins needed help at inside linebacker where their depth chart was Riley and 3 year LB Keenan Robinson who has missed basically the last year and a half due to injury. In the secondary the Redskins needed at least one more corner and at least 2 safeties (preferably starting quality).

That is a lot of needs for one offseason, especially since depth was needed at every position. While the Redskins are hardly done fixing their defense, 5 days into free agency their outlook is far better than it was a week ago (they didn't even have Orakpo Franchised or Riley signed at that point). Here is how each position group is shaping up:

Defensive Line:

Key additions/re-signings: Chris Baker, Clifton Geathers and Jason Hatcher

Projected starters: Jason Hatcher, Barry Cofield, Chris Baker    Key Back-ups: Jarvis Jenkins, Kedric Golston, Stephen Bowen, Clifton Geathers

Outlook:

Hatcher was a big get for the Redskins as he offers an actual pass rushing threat along the defensive line. While 3-4 defensive linemen don't typically rack up the sacks, most teams still need some good players along their line. Cofield was one, but he couldn't do it alone and pass rushing isn't his strongest skill set. Hatcher gives the Redskins that pass rusher and a guy who can push the pocket. This is going to make the lives of OLB's Brian Orakpo and Ryan Kerrigan that much easier. In the past quarterbacks typically were able to step up to avoid outside pressure. Now with a guy like Hatcher in there that won't always be an option and in fact at times he'll force the QB right into one of those outside backers. Chris Baker probably shouldn't be starting, but with the thought that the team is going to more of a 1 gap scheme he should be more effective. The depth is solid, though it wouldn't be surprising if Bowen is cut given his contract and the injury he's coming off of. The Redskins could still look to improve this area, with maybe a mid round draft pick, as the long term depth is highly questionable.

Linebackers:

Key additions/re-signings: OLB Brian Orakpo, ILB Perry Riley, ILB Darryl Sharpton, ILB Adam Hayward

Projected starters: Brian Orakpo, Perry Riley, Darryl Sharpton, Ryan Kerrigan      Key Back-ups: Adam Hayward, Keenan Robinson, Brandon Jenkins

Outlook:

Retaining Orakpo was a must (hopefully now they work out a long term deal) and with the Redskins bringing back Riley and signing Sharpton they should have a passable inside linebacking unit to pair with their quality OLB unit. Sharpton has filled in nicely with the Texans over the years and has the potential to be an average starter. It's not  going to be a strong group of inside backers, but it should be an upgrade and passable for this year. Hayward could challenge Sharpton for the starting gig, and at the very least gives the Redskins some better depth at the position. They should look to add a rookie to the mix, given that Robinson's job is far from secure. Depth at outside linebacker is pretty thin and the Redskins may consider a veteran back-up to go along with Brandon Jenkins.

Secondary:

Key additions/re-signings: CB DeAngelo Hall, CB Tracy Porter

Projected starters: DeAngelo Hall, David Amerson, Phillip Thomas, Bacarri Rambo     Key Back-ups: Tracy Porter, Richard Crawford, Jose Gumbs

Outlook:

This position group clearly still has the most work to be done, but with Hall and Porter they have a nice start. Hall was coming off his best season where he was his most consistent and really locked down some of the top WR's in the league. He was still far from perfect, but at this new salary that level of play is very good. Porter has been up and down in his career and has had injury issues, but he fills a big role for the Redskins in that he can play in the slot. Prior to him signing the Redskins simply didn't have that guy on the roster. David Amerson and Richard Crawford can't do it, and it's Hall's worst position. Also if you play Hall in the slot it would mean that another corner would have  to cover the Dez Bryant's of the league, which wouldn't have been good. Porter should be the primary slot corner on the team and if David Amerson struggles he's got the experience to play outside as well. Safety is a huge need right now as two starters are really needed and possibly a back-up as well. Rambo's roster spot is in jeopardy so considering him as a starter is laughable at this point. Phillip Thomas will likely make the team, but he's not a good starting option coming off a season lost to injury. With at least two safeties needed and possibly another corner the Redskins still need to do some work here, but it's not as dire a situation as the start of the offseason.

Overall:

I don't think this Redskins defense is going to be challenging the 49ers or Seahawks any time soon, but it should no longer be in the bottom 5 of the league (assuming they find some safeties). They still have some work to do, and this will be a transitional year, but the Redskins should be more competitive in games and at least have a chance to get some wins. While the secondary is still the weak point of this side of the ball, the improved pass rush should have a positive effect on the ability of the secondary.

What to Expect Next for the Redskins

March 5, 2014 in Redskins Personnel

By: Justin Partlow

 

After the Redskins tagged Brian Orakpo, the question immediately became “How do we target the rest of free agency and the draft?” That’s easily going to be the biggest question mark over the next few days as we approach the start of the legal tampering period and the beginning of Free Agency. While the Redskins just lost a chunk of their salary cap, expect Bruce Allen to effectively restructure contracts as well as release players to help gain extra cap room. With that being said, lets take a look at what needs to be done in order to see this as an “effective” offseason for the Redskins

 

Releases:

This is always the hardest part of the offseason as you are releasing players, but the same time the NFL is a business. I expect the Redskins to take a hard look at salaries and matching production and make decisions based off of that. Look for the Redskins to release players such as Stephen Bowen and Chris Chester. Similar to the Carriker situation, Bowen is beginning to age and coming off of a serious injury. Chester hasn’t been able to perform at the same level of his contract and is aging with two young players behind him ready to step up and play. Outside of those three, I wouldn’t be surprised if Tyler Polumbus and Will Montgomery are all released as well. Outside of those players being released, I wouldn’t be surprised if any players are restructured

 

Free Agency:

This is the exciting part always for Redskins fans, because it leads to the usual “quick fix” philosophy. Free Agency under Bruce Allen and under Mike Shanahan was a way to supplement the draft and the contracts weren’t usually extravagant. Under Bruce Allen and company this year, I expect much of the same. The big needs heading into FA are to add to the DL with another DE/NT type and to add to both the secondary and ILB positions.

With that in mind I’d be surprised if they didn’t target such players as Linval Joseph, Brandon Spikes, Captain Munnerlyn and Chris Clemons. Joseph would probably be the big splash of the bunch with his contract, but the thought of him playing alongside Chris Baker and Barry Cofield is quite intriguing. Brandon Spikes, Captain Munnerlyn and Chris Clemons would provide serious stability to our ILB, Slot CB and FS positions at very reasonable costs. I was under the impression for a while that the offensive line would be the focus in FA, but as we’ve seen lately and rumors are coming out, the focus seems to be adding to the defense and focusing on the draft for offense. A quick sleeper name to watch for WR would be Kenny Britt as he would fit directly into what Jay Gruden wants in his WR’s and would come relatively cheap and the upside is high, while the risk would be low.

 

Draft:

Finally heading to the draft, we’ll see that the major needs for the team stem on the offensive side of the ball, but also at the same time the Redskins can choose to add more parts to the defensive side of the ball. With that in mind I’ve created a quick 7 round mock draft, using the needs of the Redskins after FA.

 

2nd round- Allen Robinson WR Penn State

3rd round- Gabe Jackson OG Mississippi State

4th round- Jordan Zumwalt ILB UCLA

5th round- Kevin Norwood WR Alabama

6th round- Tyler Larsen C Utah State

7th round- Tom Hornsey P Memphis

 

As you can see after the draft, the Redskins will have addressed some of the major needs of the offseason with both free agency and the draft. Jim Haslett will have parts that are added to his defense and Jay Gruden will have young and talented offensive players who will help mold and change the old days of the team. Look for the Redskins to follow a plan somewhat similar to this and use FA as a defensive upgrade area, and the draft to be an area to upgrade the overall team as well as focus on the offense.

Life without Brian Orakpo: Part 2 FA Options

March 2, 2014 in Redskins Personnel

Part 1: Internal Options | Part 2: Free Agent Options

In part 1 the focus was on the internal options and showing the importance of having a guy succeed on the right side of the line as it is the most important position on defense and arguably the 2nd most important position on a team outside of the quarterback. There wasn't a strong internal fit that made sense for the Redskins, but what about finding a guy in free agency or in the draft? Here are the options the Redskins could have to choose from:

Free Agency:

Michael Johnson:

-Johnson has a lot going for him from a free agent perspective. He's young, just turning 27 years old last month. He's considered a very good run defender, he's a right side rusher, and he had an 11.5 sack season two years ago. Despite that  there are a number of  questions with him as well. Johnson fell into the 3rd round of the 2009 draft due to some maturity and work ethic concerns. Will his play fall off when he signs a big contract, is a fair question that a lot of people have with him. His first three seasons as a situational pass rusher and starter, Johnson's production was pretty average. In that time he combined for just 11.5 sacks and around 55 pressures in over 1,000 pass rush snaps. He broke out in 2012 with his 11.5 sack season and over 40 pressures, but he dropped off this past year in the sack department. Though Johnson had  56 pressures (in over 500 pass rushes) he manged just a paltry 3.5 sacks. The biggest question surrounding Johnson is whether or not he can stand up in a 3-4. He's played his entire career as a 4-3 DE, and while former Bengals DC Mike Zimmer apparently toyed with a hybrid system one year, it never really made the field. Johnson could end up being a liability and a potential free agent bust if the Redskins sign him and his production drops off due to the position change. Another key factor is Johnson's salary. Johnson might not get Orakpo money, but remember he's coming from a defensive end position, a spot that gets paid higher on average than outside linebackers. Even coming off the disappointing sack total this year, Johnson will likely find himself a pay day between $9-10 million, and that could be a conservative estimate. The Skins might end up only saving $1-2 million a year at best.

Jason Worilds:

-Worilds is a guy a lot of fans want to point to (probably due to the fact that he went to Virginia Tech), but he doesn't exactly have the career to back up the assertion that he could be a viable replacement for Orakpo. Worilds was the Steelers 2nd round  pick in 2010, and really didn't due much to justify the draft position his first three years with the Steelers. Worilds dealt with a host of injuries in his first two years (Hamstring, Knee, Quad and Wrist) that all limited his time on the field and in practice to develop. He's been relatively healthy these past two years, and had a breakout season in 2013 with 8 sacks and 42 pressures in 378 pass rushes. While some see him as an ascending pass rusher, he's still behind Brian Orakpo in terms of talent and production. While he's rushed from the right side some, about two thirds of his pass rushes this year came from the left side. He might be young, but he's a player who's only had a small sample size of success, has an injury history, and hasn't proven he can be the blind-side rusher fulltime. Despite all that Worilds will probably command a contract north of Paul Kruger's 5 years $40 million.

Shaun Phillips:

-Phillips signed a 1 year prove it deal with the Broncos last season for $1.4 million and he rewarded them with a 10 sack year playing defensive end. Phillips has had a long successful career as a rush linebacker before coming to Denver (though his production was lower than Orakpo's), so you know he can rush standing up. Phillips though would probably be more of a part-time player at this point since you probably wouldn't want him in coverage. The Redskins could maybe consider a Rob Jackson platoon with Phillips, but that becomes problematic from a financial standpoint. Phillips given his age (he will be 33 next year), won't command Orakpo money, but will probably be looking for a 2-3 year deal averaging between $5-6 million a year. Jackson is probably going to want at least $4 million, so you could be looking at $9-10 million for the platoon. It also clearly wouldn't be a long term option so the Redskins would have to invest heavily in the position in the coming years.

Anthony Spencer:

-Spencer is the Cowboys former 1st round pick in 2006. For much of his career he was either non-descript to solid, but he had a breakout year in 2012 with a 11 sack performance (prior to that he had just 21.5 sacks in 5 years). Spencer got hurt last year in camp and had to undergo mircofracture surgery. Given that and the fact that he's 30, he's likely looking for a 1 year deal in the $5-6 million range. While that is cheaper than Orakpo (though the actual 2014 cap hit will probably be similar), Spencer represents a risk. If he either can't come back from the injury or his production is down (or say back to his 2011 and prior levels), then it is a waste of money for the Redskins. If Spencer does have a great year, then the Redskins will be in the boat of having to extend their ROLB long term next year on a big money deal. Except he'll be older, a higher injury risk and have less of a track record. While Spencer did rush some from the right side with the Cowboys since Dallas was known to swap pass spots some, most of Spencer's time rushing the quarterback has come off the left side.

Calvin Pace:

-Pace has been a solid player throughout his career and he notched his first double digit sack season (10), last year at the age of 33. The 10 sacks were the most since 2009 when he tallied 8 sacks, so the production is not likely to be there with Pace. In addition to being 34 next year, Pace has some other question marks (to go along with the lack of career production). He's been primarily a left side pass rusher, and he benefits from playing behind arguably the most talented front 3 in the league. With the Redskins he wouldn't have that benefit and would have to face off with more left tackles. Likely his production would drop significantly. Pace obviously isn't a long term fix and despite the question marks will probably be looking for $5 million a year for 2-3 years.

Mike Neal:

-Neal was drafted as a 5 technique out of Purdue in 2010. Injuries and ineffectiveness plagued his early career, and last year the Packers asked him to cut weight to transition to a rush linebacker/situational pass rusher role. Neal got down to the 270 range and made the switch. Neal had 5 sacks and 41 pressures in about 400 pass rush snaps. The sacks were a little low, but it's easy to like the promise that Neal brings in this role. The question though is can he be asked for a more expanded role? The Packers rarely allowed him to drop into coverage, and given his background it's not likely he would be any good at the role. Neal has rushed mainly from the left side and his sample size as an edge rusher is pretty small, but the Redskins could consider him an upside play and look for a platoon partner. If they go the Jackson/Neal platoon route you are again talking a good chunk of money to sign both players, as Neal could see offers in the $5-5.5 million range.

In Part 3 tomorrow I'll look at some draft options, but it's clear that there isn't a single free agent option who can bring the level of production of Brian Orakpo and that is just from a basic outlook, before even really accounting for which side they are rushing from or their production per snap. While it is true that all of these options will be cheaper than Brian Orakpo, given the way the market is the savings will likely won't be what people are hoping for. Johnson and Worilds at best will save $2-3 million a year, but it could end up being smaller than that. Phillips, Spencer and Pace will be cheaper, but will only be a 1-2 year fix at best, and even then their production won't be on par with Orakpo. Mike Neal is an upside option who will be cheaper, but he carries plenty of risk as well. Even though Orakpo is the most expensive option, he's the best combination of age, potential, production, consistency and most importantly the ability to handle the position. Looking at the free agent market, it makes signing him even to a deal north of $11 million a year (which is far from certain at this point), seem like the best option.

Life Without Brian Orakpo: What Do the Redskins Do If they Let Him Walk?

March 2, 2014 in Redskins Personnel

Part 1: Internal Options | Part 2: Free Agent Options

There is a major debate going on in the Redskins fan community (and apparently Redskins Park) about whether or not to retain ROLB Brian Orakpo or let him test free agent waters. While there could be a chance that Orakpo would come back if he hit unrestricted free agency, the reality is that he would be the premier unrestricted free agent and would have a very robust market. Orakpo plays the all important right side (from a defensive perspective) pass rusher, that is generally considered to be the 2nd or 3rd most important position on an entire team. It's not a spot that you can really afford to go "cheap" on and rely on a stopgap situation. Frankly I believe letting Brian Orakpo test free agency is one of the worst free agent decisions that this team could make, and hopefully this article will be moot as the team will reach an agreement with Orakpo or apply the Franchise tag. If the Redskins don't retain Orakpo for next season, it's important to look at what options there might be to replace him. If there isn't a suitable option to replace him then it should make your decision pretty easy. Let's see what options there are to replace Orakpo if the Redskins decide to let him walk in free agency:

Internal Option(s):

-Play Brandon Jenkins there:

-This is far-fetched, but I've seen it mentioned and wanted to quickly dismiss the notion. Jenkins has some pass rushing potential, but he was a 5th round pick last year and played all of 41 snaps on defense last year (mainly on the left side). He is not a reasonable option to replace Orakpo as a starter.

-Play Rob Jackson there:

-Another popular notion is Rob Jackson taking over the role. There are a few things wrong with that idea. In 2012 when Orakpo missed most the season, Jackson wasn't a good enough pass rusher and needed to platoon with Lorenzo Alexander. It's the most important position on defense and you can't expect to platoon the position and be successful for a season. As a back-up option that is one thing, but that can't be the starting option. Jackson just isn't a good enough pass rusher, and his value with the interceptions is way overblown. Rush linebackers aren't judged on their coverage skills, and there is no guarantee that Jackson could repeat that performance. Finally Jackson is a free agent himself, if he's going to sign for a starting role at the premium position, it will increase his contract value. He will still come in far less than Orakpo, but is paying Jackson $4-5 million a year for subpar production a good idea?

-Move Ryan Kerrigan to the right side and replace him on the left side with Jenkins/Jackson or a rookie:

-This is by far the most popular internal option, but I'm not sure it makes much sense. When Orakpo was injured in 2012, Kerrigan rarely rushed from the right side, so it's not clear the team believes he could do it full time. Also, if the team (and the fanbase) is concerned about Orakpo's production from the right side, is Kerrigan really the guy to fix that? In Orakpo's three healthy seasons as a rush linebacker he's got 27.5 sacks in 46 games going up primarily against left tackles. Ryan Kerrigan in his career has gotten 24.5 sacks in 48 games going up against right tackles. He's not likely to improve on that production without the threat of Orakpo opposite him and now going up against a more talented offensive lineman. The Kerrigan/Orakpo split in production is probably even more noticeable when taking a look at how they did per snap:

Over their last three full seasons here is their sack and pressure production from Pro Football Focus (note: PFF counts half sacks as full sacks for grading an individual's performance so not to penalize a player since another player did their job as well)

Orakpo: 1,196 pass rush snaps, 29 sacks, 129 additional pressures: Sack Rate: 2.4%  Additional Pressure Rate: 10.8%  Sack or Pressure rate: 13.2%

Kerrigan: 1,481 pass rush snaps, 27 sacks, 150 additional pressures: Sack Rate: 1.8% Additional Pressure Rate: 10.1% Sack or Pressure rate: 11.95%

So despite nearly 300 additional pass rushes, Kerrigan has 2 fewer sacks and just 21 additional pressures, despite facing the weaker competition. Now the difference in the percentages looks pretty small, but it can have a big impact in numbers that shows up better when you normalize the pass rush snaps. Here are their 1 and 3 year totals based on an average of 450 pass rush snaps a year:

Orakpo: 1 year: 10.8 sacks, 48.6 pressures | 3 year total: 32.4 sacks, 145.8 pressures

Kerrigan: 1 year: 8.1 sacks, 45.45 pressures | 3 year total: 24.3 sacks, 136.35 pressures

As you can see we start to see a pretty noticeable difference here particularly when looking at the 3 year total.

Not getting to the quarterback enough is the reason why people and the team is apparently okay with letting Orakpo walk, but Kerrigan figures to do so at a worse rate. It's clear that Kerrigan's current production isn't good enough for the role, and with him facing off versus left tackles it's likely that production takes a further hit. In addition to seeing the drop off in production from their right side pass rusher, the Redskins would also be in danger of seeing a drop off from the left side as well. In just breaking down Kerrigan's production it is clear that it is pretty good, it's jut not on the level of Brian Orakpo. If the Redskins move Kerrigan over they will need someone to replace that level of production from the left side. The Redskins can't expect Brandon Jenkins or Rob Jackson to produce on Kerrigan's level (either by themselves or as a platoon). They could maybe find a rookie replacement, but there is no guarantee (more on that later) and the Redskins would be pretty much locked in to using their 2nd round pick on the position. If you move Kerrigan over to the right side you are in serious danger of weakening two spots, both at very important positions on defense. This is likely the reason why the Redskins didn't move Kerrigan to the right side when Orakpo was injured in 2012. They knew that the sum effect of the move was actually worse than just playing back-ups in Orakpo's spot.