Redskins mailbag: Free agency moves, impacts and remaining holes


Brandon Meriweather agreed to a one-year deal. (Photo by Jonathan Newton / The Washington Post)

Things have started to quiet down on the free agent front for the Washington Redskins.

The team met some needs at some key positions, but still has some work to do. A couple of signings could trickle in here and there, and then there’s the draft later this spring.

Today in the Mailbag, we take a look at Washington’s moves thus far, the impact of those acquisitions, and what lies ahead.

Do the Redskins have the cap room to make any additional free agent signings?

 Marcus Walker

They have a little left. Right now, Washington has roughly $7.5 million in cap space, according to a person with knowledge of the situation. But it will cost just less than $4 million to sign draft picks, so as you can see, the Redskins’ resources are dwindling without additional restructurings or releases.

Now that the dust has settled from last week, did the Redskins misread the market at safety and other positions of interest on Day 1 and 2 of free agency, or did they set a firm price and not waver? The contracts for Byrd and Talib were clearly past what they were going to pay, but it certainly seems they went from shopping at Goldman Sachs to Goodwill once their primary targets were gone. Was it a lack of planning or a strategy?

 John Little

Hey man, don’t knock Goodwill. You can find some gems there! Ha ha. But yeah, the Redskins did their homework on what kind of paydays certain players at areas of need wanted, and team officials now appear to have had a dollar figure in mind and stuck with the decision not to exceed those marks. Some of their moves remain rather curious considering a quality safety like Mike Mitchell got away for a relatively affordable cap figure. But, maybe they decided they weren’t completely sold on him. They certainly went at him hard from the start of free agency and even used current players as recruiters, but then watched as he signed with Pittsburgh. But as a whole, the Redskins kept cap figures in the affordable range, committing no more than $3.75 million (Jason Hatcher’s figure for 2014) to any one player in free agency this year.

The only big hole that we haven’t addressed in free agency is safety. If we don’t sign Ryan Clark or any other safety, would it dictate us drafting one with our first pick in the second round? The offensive line and wide receiver positions are deep in this draft, so we could always draft for depth in the other rounds.

  Eli Bookstaber

It took them seven days, but the Redskins finally made a move for a starting safety when they re-signed Brandon Meriweather to a one-year deal for around $1 million. Now, this obviously isn’t a long-term move. But Washington’s coaches and talent evaluators deemed Meriweather a better option than any of the other safeties on the market. We’ll see what happens with Ryan Clark. Thus far, the two sides have yet to reach an agreement. I was told that the figure he hoped for exceeded the pay day that Meriweather received. If the Redskins didn’t want to pay a younger Meriweather much more than the minimum, would they really do so for the 34-year-old Clark, who some believe has lost some range? I guess never say never, but it would seem unlikely. The Redskins have Phillip Thomas (coming off injury), Bacarri Rambo (struggled as a rookie) and special teams contributors Jose Gumbs and Trenton Robinson on the roster. Is that enough? This draft class doesn’t boast the best depth at safety. Only two prospects (Ha’Sean Clinton-Dix and Calvin Pryor) that appear to be difference-makers, and because Washington lacks a first-round pick, it’s not likely they could snag either one. That doesn’t mean they won’t take another safety and try to develop him along with the other youngsters they have on the roster at that position, though. And yes, they should and probably will use the draft to improve the depth of the wide receiver and offensive line positions. Inside linebacker is possible as well.

Any chance the Redskins would make a run at Alex Mack, Cleveland center? He would be great to build a foundation around for the OL. Young, durable and best at his position.

  Ed Boggess

I think if they were going to they already would have. Cleveland placed the transition tag on Mack, meaning another team could negotiate with him, but that they would have the chance to match the offer. Washington didn’t make an attempt to acquire Mack in the opening days of free agency.

Anthony Spencer? Ryan Clark? Do you see these guys in Burgundy and Gold? And what about a guy like Jared Allen? Too expensive? Also it seems like there have been more moves for the front seven. Is that their way of making the secondary better by improving the guys in front of them?

 Brian Murphy

Anthony Spencer remains out there after visiting with Washington, among other teams. I’ve heard rumblings that the Redskins and others have questions about his ability to return to form following microfracture surgery. That’s a tough injury and procedure to recover from, particularly at the age of 30. Ryan Clark’s camp remains in talks with the Redskins, but the Ravens also reportedly have interest. And as mentioned a couple answers earlier, it sounds like for now, Clark and Washington officials disagree on his worth. I think Jared Allen probably is out of the Redskins’ price range as well, although it doesn’t sound like they ever had interest anyway. But yes, you’re right about working on the front seven. Washington’s decision-makers believe that an improved pass rush will help ease pressure on the defensive backs and help make them more effective.

Since the Redskins used the franchise tag on Orakpo, does that mean we have another two years without a first-round draft pick?

 Russell Owens

No. They didn’t lose any draft picks because they franchised Orakpo. An outside team would have had to fork over two first-round picks had they signed Orakpo after Washington designated him as the franchise player. But the Redskins will have a first-round pick next year. This is the last year that they have to give that pick to the Rams.

We hear every year how the Skins restructure contracts so that they can them fit into the salary cap. Is this pushing costs into the future? If so, how much do the Skins do this relative to other clubs? How much has past contract restructuring limited this year’s salary cap flexibility?

 Ed in D.C.

Most of the times when the Redskins restructure – at least recently – they have converted some of that salary money to bonuses instead of pushing money to the future. It’s possible to do that, however, most teams hesitate doing so. But last year, Washington restructured the contracts of Adam Carriker, Josh Wilson and Santana Moss, and none of the money owed to those players was pushed to the future.

What’s the Redskins’ next big move? Carlos Rogers or maybe even Antonio Cromartie?

 Moe Aburish

It doesn’t sound like the team has made serious pushes for either defensive back. A source said they had put a feeler out regarding Rogers, but things don’t appear to have progressed beyond that. Another said they didn’t reach out regarding Cromartie. Washington remains in talks with offensive tackle Donald Penn, who played for  Tampa Bay when Bruce Allen and Raheem Morris were there. And Ryan Clark remains a possibility. Washington also is expected to host wide receiver Kenny Britt today. But he isn’t the player he once was thanks to injury and off-field issues. So, even if he did agree to terms, I don’t know if you’d classify that as a “big move.”

Have a Redskins question? E-mail Mike Jones at mike.jones@washpost.com with the subject line “Mailbag question” for him to answer it in The Mailbag on Tuesdays.

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Mike Jones covers the Washington Redskins for The Washington Post. When not writing about a Redskins development of some kind – which is rare – he can be found screaming and cheering at one of his kids’ softball, baseball, soccer or basketball games.
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Mike Jones · March 17

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