Redskins will have tough questions to answer this offseason
I don’t know if many people really thought the Redskins were set and ready to contend in 2014, but I think the general consensus was this team was building for the future. Now after 10 weeks the Redskins sit at 3-7 and there are growing concerns about the future of this team going forward. There aren’t many positions that one can point to that Redskins fans can feel comfortable with going forward. Let’s quickly breakdown some of these offseason questions and what could happen:
-This is obviously the biggest question mark heading into the offseason. While it once seemed like RGIII was a lock for not only picking up his 5th year option, but an even longer extension those plans are likely to be scrapped this offseason. Griffin has shown regression and dealt with multiple injuries since his hot start his rookie year, and there is a serious question if he can regain the title of QB of the future for this organization. The Redskins could entertain trade offers for Griffin, but that probably won’t end up working out this year. Griffin will likely be back, but without the 5th year option or extension, which means he would be entering his last year under contract, with his future very much in doubt. Kirk Cousins may be moved on from given how he played this year and the idea that a change of scenery could be good for him. Colt McCoy will be a free agent, but it’s likely the Redskins will work to retain him as the fallback option if Griffin struggles next year.
–Alfred Morris is set as the top back and will be entering his final contract year. The Redskins would be wise to try to extend him this offseason to ensure they don’t need to worry about the starter. Roy Helu Jr. is the team’s number 2 back and 3rd down back and he’s an impending free agent. The Redskins may let him walk and hope that rookie Silas Redd can fill his shoes. If that is the case a 3rd (and possibly 4th) back will be needed. If they don’t feel Redd is ready then the Redskins need to have a solid plan for the number 2 back.
–Santana Moss, Leonard Hankerson and Aldrick Robinson are all free agents and are likely to not be back (or in Moss’s case retire). The Redskins top three guys DeSean Jackson, Pierre Garcon and Andre Roberts are all under control through at least 2016, but at this point it wouldn’t be surprising if Garcon is not on the Redskins next year. It’s unlikely they would cut him, but a trade for a mid round pick could happen. Garcon is expensive, and seems unhappy in the offense right now. If he isn’t going to get 120+ targets, it is tough to justify paying him that money. The Redskins do have Ryan Grant to hopefully step up, but they will need some additional wide receivers as well (hopefully some guys with size). It probably won’t be a major need even if Garcon is traded, but it will be something to look out for.
–Jordan Reed can’t stay healthy, Niles Paul is a free agent, and Logan Paulsen is flat out overpaid. Obviously Reed will be back next year, but the Redskins can’t be sure he will be able to give them a full season. If they let Paul walk, not only does he weaken the depth as a decent pass catching TE, but he’s been a very good special teams player for the Redskins. If they bring Paul back on the cheap it will probably be a smart move, but he would fit best as a 2nd receiving TE and given Reed’s health issues he’ll probably be pressed into a greater role. Paulsen has really struggled this year and will almost certainly be cut. The Redskins need to find a 3rd TE who can block and play special teams. That isn’t the toughest thing to find, so the strength of this position really boils down to the health of Reed.
-Assuming he doesn’t rush back and further hurt his knee Trent Williams will be locked in as a stud LT on this line. Kory Lichtensteiger has played okay this year and probably could give the Redskins another decent year next season (though the team should look to upgrade for the future). Beyond that though there are serious question marks here. Shawn Lauvao and Chris Chester have been awful at guard this season and while Chester is basically a lock to be cut, Lauvao’s contract might force the team to at least keep him on the roster. The Redskins have young guys like Tom Compton, Morgan Moses, Josh LeRibeus and Spencer Long waiting in the wings, but they are all unproven. Moses is the best of the bunch and may very well be the RT next year, but the team needs to get better guard play. Relying on unproven guys like LeRibeus and Long is probably not the answer, particularly if you are somewhat rolling the dice with Moses.
-Jason Hatcher and Chris Baker are locked in to be back next year, but beyond that there are some question marks here. Barry Cofield contract is pretty expensive and coming off an injury filled year it could be tough to bring him back. Jarvis Jenkins is a free agent and Kedric Golston and Stephen Bowen will likely be released as well. Though Hatcher and Baker are good and solid players respectively, the Redskins need more from their defensive line. They need to add an impact player and may look to either the draft or free agency to hopefully find one. Even if they don’t get an impact guy, they need to completely improve their depth and talent of this unit.
-The Redskins look like they have found one good inside backer in Keenan Robinson, but the other spot is a big question mark. Perry Riley was signed for a short term deal in the hopes that he would develop into the promise he’s always had. It’s been a rough year on Riley, which is troubling given that the talent has improved beside him and in front of him. The Redskins don’t have another starting caliber ILB on the roster and would ideally like to find a good player to pair with Robinson.
-The Redskins franchised Brian Orakpo and drafted Trent Murphy at this position and so far neither move has panned out as the Redskins have hopped. Orakpo wasn’t playing well to start the year and got injured seriously in the 7th game of the season. Trent Murphy has flashed a few times, but by in large has been invisible on this defense. There is little to suggest that Murphy could replace Orakpo on the right side so the Redskins have to decide what to do at arguably the most important position on defense. Do the Redskins re-sign Orakpo on the cheap and hope he can stay healthy and rebuild his value? Do they role with the unproven Murphy and hope he drastically improves? Do they slide Ryan Kerrigan over to the tougher position and hope that he can handle it? Or do you spend another top pick or make another big FA signing (not clear there will be any legitimate options in FA) to fill the position? A lot of tough questions here for the Redskins at a key position.
-DeAngelo Hall is coming off two Achilles tears and at 30 it’s going to be tough for him to be fully ready by the start of they year. He may need to start on the PUP list, and even if he doesn’t his effectiveness could be compromised. Young corners David Amerson and Bashaud Breeland have flashed at times and may be decent starters, but the book is still being written on them. At the very least the Redskins need to add a veteran corner who can play the slot and replace Tracy Porter and E.J. Biggers. They might need to add two capable corners if they are really concerned about Hall’s status.
-This was a position where the Redskins basically knew they were punting on this year as their only additions were Ryan Clark and bringing back Brandon Meriweather for a year. Both starting safeties have struggled and the young safeties the Redskins have/had (Bacarri Rambo, Phillip Thomas, Duke Ihenacho), haven’t done much to prove they are worth starting long term. The Redskins reasonably need to add two capable starting safeties this offseason and hope that some young guys can man the back-up roles.