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Washington Redskins offseason: Transition to 3-4 defense should emulate Green Bay Packers, some NFL coaches say
"They do all the dirty work," one of the NFC assistants said of defensive lines in the 3-4. "They eat up space, but they also gotta be playmakers. They gotta get to the ball and make plays. They're not gonna get a lot of sacks . . . but they need to be big-body types that can move."
Golston, who is scheduled to undergo hernia surgery, is likely to be a free agent. Kemoeatu is under contract for $1.5 million in 2011 and Carriker is signed for $1.42 million. Backup nose tackle Anthony Bryant, who showed promise while starting the final three games, has a base salary of $640,000 in 2011.
At linebacker, the Redskins need another strong pass rusher to complement Orakpo, the coaches said. And Orakpo, who will be paid $480,000 next season, must continue to improve in coverage.
Alexander, under contract for $650,000, is better suited for a backup role, especially with his significant responsibilities on special teams. The team is not expected to pay Carter's $4.075 million option bonus, which would make him a free agent.
Ageless inside linebacker London Fletcher has a $4.9 million base salary in 2011 and is considered a key part of Shanahan's long-term plan, according to people familiar with the situation. Inside linebacker Rocky McIntosh, also likely to be a free agent, missed valuable study time during the previous offseason while protesting his contract situation, and is not expected to return.
In the defensive backfield, the Redskins must replace free safety Kareem Moore, who played on a bad knee for much of the season and is "more of a backup," the other NFC assistant said. Moore will be paid $555,000 next season. Cornerback Carlos Rogers could leave in free agency.
Strong safety LaRon Landry, who had the best season of his career, is signed for $3.715 million. Hall will receive $4.5 million.
Even if Washington drafts a quarterback in the first round, it has second- and fifth-round picks, and two each in the sixth and seventh rounds that could be used to help the defense. Haynesworth was suspended without pay for the remainder of the season Dec. 7 for conduct detrimental to the club, but Shanahan apparently still believes he can trade the two-time all-pro for another draft pick, according to team employees. Regardless, the Redskins no longer are counting on their most talented defensive player.
In addition to whatever moves are made, the Redskins should experience some degree of improvement next season because "we've set the foundation of the defense," Fletcher said. "We understand the scheme, the basic principles of it. Now it's just making it go from elementary, to middle school to high school. But it takes time."
It seems apparent that Shanahan, who inherited a player-personnel mess, is building toward the 2012 season, the coaches surmised. That would be his third season in control, and by then he could have the roster shaped, for the most part, the way he wants it. But the key, the assistants said, is getting the defensive front seven set.
"Personally, I think that I know what we need to do to get better," Haslett said recently. But can you get all the pieces you think you need?"
Staff writer Barry Svrluga contributed to this report.