The Redskins used to be kings of the offseason, and they have plenty of work to do before free agency begins March 13 if they want to reclaim that label. Coach Jay Gruden all but admitted Monday that his future with the franchise is unclear. Fans are bailing faster than the Titanic crew, and owner Dan Snyder needs another shiny trinket to lure them back. Maybe it will be a new quarterback, but firing president Bruce Allen — addition by subtraction — could be the best way to regain public trust. Here are five priorities to watch during the offseason.
Fans want to know why the team president is still around after nine awful years. And until Bruce Allen’s gone, many aren’t coming back. This was the worst attendance in the Dan Snyder era, and figures were propped up by an influx of visiting fans. It’s the same scenario that caused general manager Vinny Cerrato’s ouster in 2009, but the Redskins’ owner needs Allen to negotiate a new stadium deal. Why can’t Snyder do it himself like predecessor Jack Kent Cooke? Because Snyder is an introvert who doesn’t play well with others. Still, many fans want Allen gone for fear of his creeping influence.
The Redskins’ best offensive player this year was a sudden preseason signing. The team needs Adrian Peterson even more in 2019. Sure, Derrius Guice will return after missing his rookie season with a torn ACL, but it takes a long time to recover from that injury. Peterson is a great locker-room influence, and he should have options this offseason after proving he can still contribute by rushing for 1,042 yards. Peterson also wants to play for a contender, and Washington’s probably not one. Look for a decision a few days after the start of free agency March 13.
Drafting a QB
The brutal truth is that Alex Smith is a long shot to ever play again after a devastating broken leg in November that prompted the Redskins to spiral from 6-3 to 7-9. A second hard truth is that the team has no replacement or salary cap room to sign a worthwhile free agent. So, it’s time to look to the draft. Except, the No. 15 pick probably won’t yield a top-tier QB prospect, so it might be better for the team to look in the middle rounds, when Boise State quarterback Brett Rypien, above, nephew of Redskins Super Bowl XXVI MVP Mark Rypien, might be available. Snyder loves marketing the glory days.
Finding a left guard
No more waiting for Shawn Lauvao, above, to stay healthy after missing 33 games over the past four seasons, including 11 in 2018. Moving Ty Nsekhe to left guard didn’t work, either. Offensive linemen are invaluable, with few good ones ever becoming free agents. It’s time to invest a second- or third-round pick because the draft is always loaded with plug-and-play guards. Look for Boston College’s Chris Lindstrom or Oklahoma’s Cody Ford, in the second round or Michael Deiter of Wisconsin in the third round. When healthy, the Redskins’ line is otherwise pretty effective.
The stunning release of safety D.J. Swearinger has a ripple effect on the secondary. For starters, it forces the Redskins to keep cornerback Josh Norman, above, who hasn’t been worth his mega-contract over the past three years. Norman is obviously bored with football but stays for the money. Maybe Washington would have cut him this offseason, but they need a veteran presence. Do the Redskins re-sign safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix after a lackluster season and keep safety Montae Nicholson, who may face NFL action after he was charged with assault? Questions abound with this young unit.
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