The Redskins are methodically going about their business in free agency. First order of business? The restricted free agents and five of the six are being brought back. As we proceed into the unrestricted portion, the team will need to clear some cap space. Thanks to the ridiculous penalty imposed by the NFL, the Skins are playing catchup before the race even starts. Fortunately, the new regime of Bruce Allen and Mike Shanahan have not made the splashy free agent signings in recent years and have done a much better job utilizing the draft. In other words, it could be a lot worst.
Prior to the signings over the weekend, the Redskins were approximately $3 million dollars over the 2013 cap. The Redskins began the reduction by releasing cornerback DeAngelo Hall and with it $8 million in savings, but more needs to be done. The team may also opt to restructure contracts, as they did today with defensive end Adam Carriker. Linebacker Brian Orakpo and cornerback Josh Wilson remain restructure targets, each with a number exceeding $5 million dollars for 2013. In all, the Redskins need to trim anywhere from $15-20 million dollars to have enough cash to not only fill out their depth chart, but sign draft picks and a practice squad.
Before we take a look at where we are going forward, here are more potential cap savings of over one million dollars.
Santana Moss WR $4,500,000.00
London Fletcher LB $3,500,000.00
Reed Doughty DB $1,375,000.00
Brandon Meriweather DB $1,300,000.00
A way too early look at the roster heading into the 2013 season follows. The number of projected players at each position in indicated in parenthesis. Remaining unrestricted free agents and other notes are added, along with veteran on the roster entering OTA's. Some positions will be filled through free agency, others through the draft, most through a combination of both. We have already seen the team add veteran offensive tackle Tony Pashos and defensive linemen Ron Brace and Phillip Merling, they probably give a good indication at what many of the free agent acquisitions may look like. Talent that was taken fairly high in the draft, but has failed to develop for one reason or another.
Returning: Robert Griffin III, Kirk Cousins
Free Agent: Rex Grossman
Obviously, the biggest wildcard on the team is the health of RG3. As he goes through rehab, Cousins gets a great opportunity to run with the first team. With former Redskin Jason Campbell arguably the top veteran free agent at the position, look for Grossman to be retained. If Kyle Shanahan opts to go with a rookie as his third signal caller, Matt Scott of Arizona is a nice fit for the Redskins scheme.
Running Back (3)
Returning: Alfred Morris, Roy Helu Jr., Evan Royster, Keiland Williams
Can Morris do it again? It will be interesting to see how the reduced role RG3 has in the running game will impact his effectiveness, if at all. The Skins need a speed back if they plan on continuing to run the option. Last season, they were forced to do so with wide receiver types, a return to health of Helu would be a huge plus. Local product Royster is an excellent alternative if Morris should be slowed by injury. Shanahan always drafts a back with Utah State's Kerwynn Williams a possibility if Helu can't return. New England's Danny Woodhead has been mentioned as a possible veteran option, with Pittsburgh's Chris Rainey a big time speed back also available.
Returning: Darrel Young
The Redskins moved quickly in ensuring that Young remained a Redskin for the foreseeable future. Young is a well rounded fullback, capable of contributing in every phase of the offense. The Skins may bring a veteran into camp and/or an undrafted free agent. Fairfax County product by way of West Virginia, Owen Schmitt is an overachiever with an old school style. Ohio State rookie Zach Boren may be a target after the draft
Wide Receiver (5)
Returning: Pierre Garcon, Leonard Hankerson, Aldrick Robinson, Dezmon Briscoe, Josh Morgan, Santana Moss
Was Brandon Banks' fate sealed with the departure of special teams coach Danny Smith? Moss seems a likely target for cap savings as his $4.5 million would go a long way. Dezmon Briscoe seems to be a popular choice to be let go, I'd like to see him get more opportunities between now and September with his combination of size and speed. New England's Julian Edelman has been rumored as a possible replacement in the slot, should Moss be released. Edelman has many similarities to Wes Welker. Giants receiver Ramses Barden is a huge target looking for a chance. Virginia Tech's Marcus Davis has unusual speed and size. Denard Robinson might be a nice utility player, wide out, quarterback and kick returner.
Tight End (3)
Returning: Logan Paulsen, Niles Paul
Free Agent: Fred Davis, Chris Cooley
The Browns have expressed interest in Davis, but it appears he may end up back in Burgundy and Gold on a one year deal. The free agent tight end market isn't very deep with Tennessee's Jared Cook the only potential marquee talent. If Davis doesn't return, could Cooley have one more year left? San Diego State's Gavin Escobar could be a real bargain in the draft, my favorite is Stanford's Levine Toilolo (6'8" 265).
Returning: Will Montgomery
The Skins will soon need to think about Montgomery's eventual replacement and may have plans to move either LeRibeus or Gettis to the position when the time comes. A veteran free agent is unlikely, but an undrafted free agent like Clemson's Dalton Freeman makes sense.
Returning: Kory Lichtensteiger, Josh LeRibeus, Maurice Hurt, Adam Gettis, Chris Chester
Was the re-signing of Lichtensteiger a down vote for LeRibeus? You would hope that a third round guard would have the ability to challenge for a starting job by his second season. Chester has been reliable and durable. If Hurt gets time on the outside at tackle, we may finally see what Gettis has to offer. A veteran free agency is unlikely with Lichtensteiger's return, look for the Skins to give James Madison guard Earl Watford a look if he is available in later rounds.
Returning: Trent Williams, Tom Compton, Tony Pashos (FA)
Free Agent: Tyler Polumbus, Jordan Black
Jammal Brown is finally gone, along with 3.3 million in wasted cap space. The acquisition of Pashos was more than a rumor, he is joining the battle at right tackle. I am alone, but I really like Polumbus and hope he is brought back, even if he ends up in a reserve role. In my opinion, Compton remains a long term project. The "experts" believe Ryan Harris is going to be the big free agent pickup, he has ties to Shanny in Denver and the offensive scheme in Houston. Eric Winston is an elite tackle, but may be too expensive. Will Terron Armstead's combine move his stock up too high? I still like North Carolina's Brennan Williams.
CONTINUE READING FOR DEFENSE AND SPECIAL TEAMS
Nose Tackle (3)
Returning: Chris Baker, Barry Cofield, Chris Nield, Ron Brace (FA)
Baker did a fine job after Nield went down to injury and was brought back. Brace was thought to be a "poor man's" B.J. Raji, perhaps a change of scenery will help. With four veterans fighting for two, maybe three spots, there appears no need to add another through free agency. Overachieving Joe Vellano of Maryland would be a nice project to bring in for camp.
Defensive End (4)
Returning: Adam Carriker, Stephen Bowen, Jarvis Jenkins, Doug Worthington, Phillip Merling (FA)
Free Agent: Kedric Golston
Improving a weak pass rush has to be a top priority for Jim Hasslet. The absence of Carriker and Brian Orakpo had to hurt and hopefully their return will make a big difference. There was talk of Carriker getting released for cap purposes, but a restructure helps preserve depth in a big way. Jenkins improved as the season went on, but may be more of an interior player due to lack of pass rushing skills. Merling was a high number two pick out of Clemson, but never made a difference in Miami. The Skins like Worthington, which may make Golston expendable. With strength in numbers, there doesn't appear to be a need in free agency. Joe Kruger may be worthy of a look, especially if he has any of his brother's game.
Outside Linebacker (5)
Returning: Rob Jackson, Ryan Kerrigan, Brian Orakpo
Free Agent: Chris Wilson
With Jackson retained and Orakpo's return, this appears to be a position of strength on the defense. Expect Kerrigan to benefit the most as opposing teams won't be able to give him the focus he faced in 2012. Wilson is not expected to be brought back, so the Skins may look for a young veteran in free agency to groom in case both Jackson and Orakpo depart after this season. I liked Keith Rivers a year ago and still believe he is worthy of a look. In the draft, Maryland's Kenny Tate is a man without a position, switching between strong safety and linebacker, but has physical traits similar to former Terp Vernon Davis. DC native Jelani Jenkins was an underachiever at Florida, but has a big upside.
Inside Linebacker (4)
Returning: Keenan, Robinson, London Fletcher, Perry Riley, Vic So'oto, Roddrick Muckelroy
Free Agent: Lorenzo Alexander, Bryan Kehl
As Fletcher contemplates retirement, it seems Mike Shanahan may be ready to move on. While Fletcher remains the team leader both on and off the field, 21 missed tackles last season show signs of slowing. With Alexander appearing poised to head elsewhere, the Skins aren't prepared to fill Fletcher's void, should he hang up the cleats. Riley has been a find and figures to hold down one of the inside spots for the long term. Robinson's injury set back his development, but the addition of So'oto and Muckelroy were underrated. If Fletcher does retire, would the Skins look for a one year deal from a veteran like Takeo Spikes or Keith Brooking? Penn State's Michael Mauti and Bruce Taylor from Virginia Tech, might be good value late.
Returning: Richard Crawford, Chase Minnifield, Jerome Murphy, Josh Wilson
Free Agent: Cedric Griffin
Hall's departure makes a problem area even more pressing. Will Washington look to sign Hall at a reduced rate? Griffin is a possibility, but I have to believe the team is going to go in another direction. Jacksonville corner Derek Cox looks to be a possibility, but Denver and Tampa are also considering. Bucs corner E.J. Biggers has a relationship with secondary coach Raheem Morris and graded out a top 20 corner in 2012. Wilson returns and will probably man one corner. Crawford showed promise and has versatility. Will the Minnifield experiment pan out? Some like Oregon State's Jordan Poyer and everyone will be keeping an eye on Tyrann Mathieu. How high and how often will the Skins go corner in the draft?
Returning: Jordan Bernstine, DeJon Gomes, Brandon Meriweather, Reed Doughty, Jordan Pugh
Free Agent: Madieu Williams, Tanard Jackson
The Meriweather/Jackson experiment didn't fare well and Williams won't be back. Doughty continues to make the team and by season's end is starting and making plays. Gomes, Bernstine and Pugh are young, but figure to be reserves in the secondary, at best. All Skins fans had dreams of Jarius Byrd, but the Bills spoiled that by applying the franchise tag. How about a veteran safety duo of Ed Reed and Charles Woodson? We can continue to dream, right? San Diego's Corey Lynch is a possibility and the Giants Kenny Phillips has intriguing skills. Will Jonathan Cyprien, the do-all safety from Florida International be around when the Skins pick in the second round? I prefer LSU's Eric Reid.
Free Agent: Sav Rocca
I really feel its time to move on at punter. Rocca isn't cheap and isn't getting any younger. If they are looking for a veteran, Daniel Sepulveda has ability. LSU's Brad Wing is the choice if they want to pursue someone in the draft.
Returning: Kai Forbath
The team will bring someone in, just to share the duties in camp, but was there ever anything more automatic that Forbath was last season? Maybe the Skins still have Neil Rackers number?
Returning: Nick Sundberg
The Skins love Sundberg, so much so they burned the newly created, in-season, injury reserve spot on him last season. Never heard of him? That's the best compliment you can pay a long snapper.
While we will hear all the rumors between now and then, free agency and the NFL new year, complete with trading, doesn't officially begin until 4pm Eastern on Tuesday.