The Redskins, and the NFL as a whole, remain in a holding pattern, but if a new CBA is indeed right around the corner, it’s no secret Washington is expected do a great big cannonball into the free agent pool.
The Redskins have needs at several important positions. We went over the roster position-by-position after the draft, but that seems like a hundred years ago, so here’s another look at the Redskins’ holes and possible free agent targets.
Washington filled one big need by signing free safety O.J. Atogwe on March 3 – the last day of the old CBA. But assuming that players earn free agency after four years under the next CBA, cornerback Carlos Rogers, wide receiver Santana Moss, right tackle Jammal Brown, defensive end Kedric Golston and inside linebacker Rocky McIntosh (all starters) are free agents. The Redskins would like to re-sign both Moss and Brown, but seem content to part ways with Rogers. Golston and McIntosh both hope to re-sign with the team.
At cornerback, the Redskins also are losing Phillip Buchanon, who started five games and recorded 49 tackles, two interceptions and two forced fumbles. Coaches like third-year cornerback Kevin Barnes, but is he a legit starter?
Washington still is among the long list of teams expected to make a push for Nnamdi Asomugha – the top cornerback on the market. Cincinnati’s Johnathan Joseph, the Jets’ Antonio Cromartie and Pittsburgh’s Ike Taylor also are expected to be on the market.
Washington drafted defensive end Jarvis Jenkins (second round, Clemson) and nose tackle Chris Neild (seventh round, West Virginia), but they still are expected to try to acquire veteran help at both positions. A person familiar with the situation said that there is mutual interest between Washington and end Cullen Jenkins, who recorded eight sacks last season for Green Bay and is now a free agent. Nose tackle probably is an even bigger need, and San Francisco’s Aubrayo Franklin, the top nose tackle available, has been rumored to be on Washington’s wishlist as well.
It would be a surprise if Moss does not re-sign. Both Shanahan and the receiver have said this offseason that they hope to work out a deal, and just this week Moss said he wants it to be completed quickly. The Redskins still have second-year wideout Anthony Armstrong (871 receiving yards and three touchdowns last season), but the rest of the Redskins’ receiving corps includes Malcolm Kelly, who thus far has been a disappointment and spent all of last season on injured reserve, Roydell Williams (who had eight catches last year), Brandon Banks (two catches last year) and rookies Leonard Hankerson, Niles Paul and Aldrick Robinson.
Could the Redskins go after another veteran wideout? Perhaps. The Vikings’ Sidney Rice is considered the top free agent receiver, followed by the Jets’ Santonio Holmes and the Chargers’ Malcom Floyd. Plaxico Burress is a wild card, but it would be surprising to see Washington dump a bunch of money into an aging player with a troubled past.
Shanahan and Jammal Brown both are on record saying they hope the right tackle can be re-signed, but Brown could be enticed by the opportunity offered by another team to switch back to left tackle. Top tackles expected to be on the market: Atlanta’s Tyson Clabo, Baltimore’s Jared Gaither and Marshal Yanda and Dallas’s Doug Free.
Shanahan has praised the development of guards Kory Lichtensteiger and Will Montgomery, and Washington has Artis Hicks, who can play both guard and tackle, but it wouldn’t be surprising to see the Redskins try to add another guard. The top free agents are Tampa Bay’s Davin Joseph and Atlanta’s Harvey Dahl and Justin Blalock.
At inside linebacker, the Redskins even without McIntosh have Perry Riley and Robert Henson, both young but fairly unproven players. Riley showed promise late in the season while Henson missed the entire year following knee surgery. Lorenzo Alexander will be competing for the spot next to London Fletcher after spending the offseason studying and learning the position. If Washington elects to go the free agent route, San Diego’s Kevin Burnett and Buffalo’s Paul Posluszny are a pair of 3-4 inside linebackers who are expected to be available.