WASHINGTON — The 2018 NFL offseason officially begins March 14, and the Washington Redskins have plenty of work to do.
The Redskins have 18 of their own players headed for free agency, most notably quarterback Kirk Cousins and inside linebacker Zach Brown. Barring a crazy development (and yes, I’m aware that’s totally possible with the ‘Skins), the trade for Alex Smith means Cousins is surely gone.
So, we’re starting the exercise of prioritizing Washington’s needs by dispelling a couple of crazy notions.
First, I’m operating under the assumption the Redskins aren’t so wholly reckless as to try to franchise tag and trade Cousins (that foolishness would eat up $34.5 million of their $36.2 million in cap space for a move that probably wouldn’t play in their favor, since they’d have no leverage).
Secondly, I’m not assuming the Redskins are going to totally sit out free agency just so they can ensure themselves a compensatory third-round pick for losing Cousins.
If the ‘Skins valued third rounders that much, they wouldn’t have dealt one (in addition to a good, young cornerback)
to acquire an older version of Cousins. Furthermore, the compensatory pick storyline is a bit overrated: The best compensatory selection in the last decade is safety Thomas DeCoud — and that’s by virtue of being the only such player since 2008 to go to a Pro Bowl.
Also, to be clear, I’m not advocating for the Redskins to spend on
all of these players. Like a kid’s Christmas list, they should look at this as a position-by-position list of reasonable options.
So, here it is, in no particular order because, you know, they desperately need help in all of these areas.
This has been a massive area of need for awhile. In the preseason, it looked like Phil Taylor was finally ready to break free of his long injury history, but a season-ending quad tear dashed those hopes for the Clinton, Maryland, native. He could conceivably be brought back on the cheap, but the ‘Skins can’t afford to rely on a 30-year-old who hasn’t played a regular season game since 2014.
Dontari Poe is probably the best option, but that also makes him one of the most expensive. If the Redskins believe they’re close to contending, paying top dollar for a 27-year-old nose tackle isn’t necessarily a bad idea.
Though the draft could provide a more long-term upgrade (the ‘Skins will likely be in position to take Washington’s Vita Vea or Alabama’s Da’Ron Payne, who played alongside current Redskin Jonathan Allen), it’s probably worthwhile to get a veteran — like Kyle Williams — at a more reasonable cost than Poe.
Atlanta Falcons defensive tackle Dontari Poe (92) in action against the Carolina Panthers during an NFL game in Charlotte, N.C. on Sunday, Nov. 5, 2017.
(Chris Keane/AP Images for Panini)
Chris Keane/AP Images for Panini
The Redskins could stay the course by re-signing one of their own or go for outside help. Spencer Long has been solid and likely won’t cost much to bring back, but he’s better at center, where Chase Roullier has proved to be the future. Either way, re-signing Long on the cheap should be on the agenda so there’s at least depth at guard.
The top outside option would probably be Josh Kline. The 28-year-old has been a solid starter in Tennessee for two years and seems to be the best fit for what the Redskins do.
Washington Redskins center Spencer Long, center, prepares to snap the ball during an NFL football game against the San Fransisco 49ers, Sunday, Oct. 15, 2017, in Landover, Md.
(AP Photo/Mark Tenally)
AP Photo/Mark Tenally
The Alex Smith trade has potentially left a gaping hole here. Promising youngster Kendall Fuller headed to Kansas City in that deal, and Bashaud Breeland is a free agent coming off a disappointing 2017 campaign. There’s a chance Breeland comes back, if he finds the free agent market isn’t as kind as he’d assume, but the 26-year-old corner should be able to find a new home without all the hurt feelings that seem to remain in Ashburn.
Malcolm Butler is perhaps the biggest name on the market and would likely be a pretty good fit in Washington — but his mysterious benching in the Super Bowl is still pretty fresh, so a player who couldn’t cut it in New England should be a concern for a Redskins team that lacks the structure the Patriots do.
An intriguing option for the ‘Skins could be replacing Fuller with his brother, Kyle. He’s just 26 years old, played like the first rounder he was in Chicago, and would probably be just as good since he comes from the Fuller’s Fabulous Football Family.
Chicago Bears cornerback Kyle Fuller (23) intercepts a Cleveland Browns quarterback DeShone Kizer (7) pass in the end zone in the first half of an NFL football game in Chicago, Sunday, Dec. 24, 2017.
(AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)
AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast
This position has been woefully inept for much of the Jay Gruden era. Injuries had a lot to do with the lack of run production in 2017, but the Redskins can’t reasonably expect to think they’ll improve by staying pat with Samaje Perine, Rob Kelley and Chris Thompson.
Thompson proved himself to be a productive 3rd down, change-of-pace back, but the ‘Skins need a running back that’s good for all three downs (especially since the only consistency in Thompson’s career thus far is injuries). Dion Lewis is an obvious upgrade and he’s got low mileage for a 28-year-old. Given his success as a dual threat out of the backfield, he’s the Redskins’ best option, but his asking price might send them toward guys like Carlos Hyde or Isaiah Crowell.
New England Patriots running back Dion Lewis (33) tosses the football at a network sideline camera after scoring a touchdown against the New York Jets during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 31, 2017, in Foxborough, Mass.
(AP Photo/Steven Senne)
AP Photo/Steven Senne
The most intriguing option here is Jarvis Landry. He’s an extremely productive receiver — he’s topped 80 catches in each of his first four seasons and surpassed 100 catches twice — who is widely regarded as a poor man’s version of his college teammate, Odell Beckham Jr. At the very least, Landry would be a good complement to Josh Doctson.
The Redskins generally have little issue spending money on a shiny, new toy that put up numbers elsewhere. But Bruce Allen has been frustratingly cheap when he’s had domain over the franchise’s purse strings, so maybe the team goes the “cheaper-but-risky” route by adding talented injury risks like Sammy Watkins or Allen Robinson. Hell, don’t rule out Dez Bryant if he gets cut in Dallas.
Miami Dolphins’ Jarvis Landry (14) makes a one-handed catch in front of Buffalo Bills’ Leonard Johnson (24) during the second half of an NFL football game Sunday, Dec. 17, 2017, in Orchard Park, N.Y.
(AP Photo/Rich Barnes)
AP Photo/Rich Barnes
This is a spot the Redskins can improve by simply keeping Zach Brown — far and away the team’s leading tackler in 2017 — and hoping Mason Foster returns to his 2016 form. Will Compton had some moments in Washington, but bringing him back for anything more than the veteran’s minimum is a stretch.
If Brown decides to move on, local product NaVorro Bowman would be an interesting option. At 30, he’s still an impact player when he’s healthy. He’s probably done being an All-Pro, but maybe the prospect of playing near his hometown of Forestville will bring out the best in him in the way the Redskins hoped would work out for Phil Taylor last year.
Washington Redskins inside linebacker Zach Brown celebrates a play in the second half of an NFL football game against the Seattle Seahawks, Sunday, Nov. 5, 2017, in Seattle.
(AP Photo/Stephen Brashear)
AP Photo/Stephen Brashear
Like WTOP on Facebook and follow @WTOP on Twitter to engage in conversation about this article and others.
© 2018 WTOP. All Rights Reserved. This website is not intended for users located within the European Economic Area.