Washington fans are singing “Hail to the Redskins” and stocking up on Campbell’s Chunky Soup after the team acquired Donovan McNabb from division-rival Philadelphia. The Redskins are sure to feature a new look under new head coach Mike Shanahan, who’s already revamping the roster and getting rid of underachievers.
As usual, Washington’s left with few draft picks after trades and the selection of Jeremy Jarmon in last year’s supplemental draft. They have just four selections overall, holding picks No. 4, 103, 135 and 211.
The future of quarterback Jason Campbell is still up in the air, but McNabb’s clearly the starter. Despite his acquisition, the team will still visit with all the big name quarterbacks, including Oklahoma’s Sam Bradford, Notre Dame’s Jimmy Clausen, Texas’ Colt McCoy and Florida’s Tim Tebow.
With McNabb in the driver seat, the No. 1 offseason priority switches to getting him some protection. Last season, the Redskins employed one of the league’s worst offensive lines. The aging group’s struggles were further magnified by nagging injuries to nearly every spot up front. Tackle is the top need. Franchise left tackle Chris Samuels retired in the offseason after suffering an injury in Week 5 and missing the rest of the season. Stephon Heyer was tendered and has yet to sign, but struggled at times over the past two seasons and hasn’t proven himself a legitimate starter anyways. Mike Williams was retained, but struggles mightily against speed and is a better fit at guard. Russell Okung of Oklahoma State, the consensus top left tackle prospect, has already met with the team. It’s widely speculated the Redskins will opt to select him with the fourth overall pick, assuming he’s available.
The Redskins will still have desperate needs along the interior of the offensive line. Left guard Derrick Dockery was average at best, and longtime right guard Randy Thomas was released. The team started four right guards, none of whom proved capable, after Thomas went down with injury in Week 2. Casey Rabach was retained, but will be 33 in 2010 and is an average center at this point. The offensive line needs a large influx of youth and talent.
The running back group features three aged veterans in Clinton Portis, Larry Johnson and Willie Parker, all of whom are nearing the end of their careers. Portis missed the second half of last season with a concussion and has been banged up in recent years, Johnson will be 31 in November and Parker will turn 30 that month as well. It’s unlikely the team will keep all three. They could use some youth at this position. They’re planning on meeting with Jahvid Best of California, Montario Hardesty of Tennessee and Dexter McCluster of Mississippi.
On the defensive side of the ball, Washington’s expected to switch to a 3-4 scheme under new defensive coordinator Jim Haslett. Inside the linebacking corps, London Fletcher will be 35 years old in May and Rocky McIntosh is a candidate to move inside and man the other spot. Brian Orakpo, who set a team rookie record with 11 sacks last season, will be starting at one of the outside linebacker positions and defensive end Andre Carter could find himself starting on the opposite side.
On the defensive line, Albert Haynesworth will likely move inside to the nose, but has been rumored in trade talks recently. Thirty-seven-year-old Phillip Daniels was retained to play one of the end positions, but it’s unclear who’ll man the other spot, although Kedric Golston’s a likely candidate. Washington needs to get younger along the defensive line as well.
The problem lies in the secondary. DeAngelo Hall and Carlos Rogers are average corners, and the team signed Phillip Buchanon from Detroit to provide some depth, but he’s far from a sure thing. Kevin Barnes, whom the team selected in the third round of last April’s draft, needs to step up and make a bigger impact. The Redskins need to get a better coverage safety to protect LaRon Landry and allow him to play closer to the line where he’s best suited. Landry’s coverage skills were badly exposed last season. Chris Horton and Reed Doughty are the other safeties and both are better against the run.
FRANCHISE PLAYER: None
TRANSITION PLAYER: None
UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS: LS Ethan Albright (was not re-signed), DE Phillip Daniels (re-signed for one-year at $845,000), T Levi Jones (was not re-signed), C Casey Rabach (re-signed for three years at $12.3 million), P Hunter Smith (was not re-signed), T/G Mike Williams (re-signed for two years at $1.97 million), DE Renaldo Wynn (was not re-signed), TE Todd Yoder (was not re-signed)
RESTRICTED FREE AGENTS: DL Lorenzo Alexander (received first right of refusal tender at $1.101 million and signed offer sheet), QB Jason Campbell (received first-round tender at $2.621 million and signed offer sheet), S Reed Doughty (received second-round tender at $1.759 million), DT Kedric Golston (received second-round tender at $1.54 million and signed offer sheet), T Stephon Heyer (received second-round tender at $1.684 million), LB Rocky McIntosh (received second-round tender at $1.759 million), DT Anthony Montgomery (received fifth-round tender at $1.176 million), G/C Will Montgomery (received seventh-round tender at $1.226 million and signed offer sheet), CB Carlos Rodgers (received first-round tender at $2.621 million), LB/DE Chris Wilson (received second-round tender at $1.684 million and signed offer sheet)
EXCLUSIVE RIGHTS FREE AGENTS: None
PLAYERS RE-SIGNED: DE Phillip Daniels, C Casey Rabach, T/G Mike Williams, DL Lorenzo Alexander, DT Kedric Golston, G/C Will Montgomery, LB/DE Chris Wilson
PLAYERS ACQUIRED: QB Donovan McNabb (via trade with Philadelphia Eagles), RB Willie Parker, CB Phillip Buchanon, P Josh Bidwell, QB Rex Grossman, RB Larry Johnson, TE Sean Ryan, DT Maake Kemoeatu, G Artis Hicks
PLAYERS LOST: T Chris Samuels (retired), FB Eddie Williams, G Randy Thomas, CB Fred Smoot, WR Antwaan Randle El, DT Cornelius Griffin, QB Todd Collins, RB Rock Cartwright, RB Ladell Betts, LS Ethan Albright, T Levi Jones, P Hunter Smith, DE Renaldo Wynn, TE Todd Yoder, DE J.D. Skolnitsky
OFFENSIVE TACKLE — Washington’s had the luxury of a franchise left tackle in Chris Samuels the past 10 seasons, but he retired in the offseason and Stephon Heyer and Mike Williams haven’t proven themselves to be capable starters. After trading for Donovan McNabb, the Redskins desperately need a blindside protector for him. Last year’s group struggled to keep Jason Campbell upright, as they ranked 29th allowing 46 sacks and 97 quarterback hits.
INTERIOR OFFENSIVE LINE — The interior offensive line is another area of great concern. Randy Thomas was released in the offseason after going down with an injury in Week 2. The team shuffled through four different players at right guard in Thomas’ absence, none of whom were effective. Derrick Dockery, who returned to Washington this past season after a stint in Buffalo, was far from spectacular at left guard. Casey Rabach’s average at center and is getting old.
RUNNING BACK — Clinton Portis missed the second half of last season with a concussion. He’ll still be just 29 at the start of the season, but his tough running style and over 2,000 carries have taken their toll. Larry Johnson and Willie Parker were signed, but both are on their last legs and have little gas left in the tank. Chances are the team will look to add a young runner in the later rounds of the draft.
SAFETY — The Redskins could use an effective coverage safety to best utilize the talents of LaRon Landry, who’s much better playing closer to the line of scrimmage and was badly exposed in coverage last season. Chris Horton and Reed Doughty are still on the roster, but both lack great coverage skills as well. The Redskins have met with Tennessee safety Eric Berry, the top secondary prospect in the draft.
DEFENSIVE LINE – Phillip Daniels is 37 and the team could use some talented young defensive lineman to help in the transition to the “30 front.” Albert Haynesworth will man the nose. Kedric Golston is a candidate to play the other defensive end spot opposite Daniels.