With the new league year beginning March 12th at 4 p.m., it’s time to start discussing possible changes the defending NFC East champion Washington Redskins could make. Around this time last season, buzz started to circulate about the Redskins and Rams coming close to finalizing a blockbuster deal that would give Washington hope. Around 10:30 pm March 9th, the deal was agreed – swapping 2012 first round picks, 2012 second and first round picks in 2013 and 2014 for the 2nd overall pick in the 2012 NFL Draft. That pick gave the Washington Redskins an opportunity to draft Baylor QB and Heisman trophy winner Robert Griffin III. Now, a division championship, playoff berth and Rookie of the year later – Washington is set to make some tough decisions in order to improve on their recent success.
Of course, the Washington Redskins have an $18 million cap penalty that will likely stand, unless a miracle occurs. It’s doubtful that will happen. Washington is roughly over the $123 million cap by $3 million and will have to get under that by 4 p.m., March 12th. Washington hasn’t made any moves as they continue to wait and hope they can recoup some of that $18 million taken away from them. However, that deadline is right around the corner. So, Washington will have to make some tough decisions in the coming days.
Below, we will do a few things: List the notable cap hits this off-season and forecast a few cuts, restructures or new contract candidates. Then give a 7-round Redskins mock draft with possible free agent targets in mind.
Biggest Cap Hits:
- Pierre Garcon, WR – $8.2 mill
- DeAngelo Hall, CB – $8 mill
- Trent Williams, OT – $8 mill
- Barry Cofield, NT – $6.3 mill
- London Fletcher, ILB – $6.2 mill
- Santana Moss, WR – approximately $6,167,000
- Stephen Bowen, DE – $5.5 mill
- Josh Wilson, CB – approximately $5,333,333 (had to write that out)
- Brian Orakpo, OLB – approximately $5,109,000
- Joshua Morgan, WR – $5.1 mill
- Chris Chester, OG – $4.3 mill
- Adam Carriker, DE – $4 mill
- Brandon Merriweather, S – $2.9 mill
- Will Montgomery, C – $2.65 mill
Now here are a few possible cuts:
- London Fletcher – This will be tough, but London presumably has two options: retire or get cut Chris Cooley style. Although, he probably won’t have the honor of being the person to announce his release like Cooley did. Leadership never gets old with age, but ability does. Fletcher is just not the player he used to be and he knows that. “Some people like to play until the wheels fall off, but I don’t want to do that,” London said on NFL AM. Fletcher is currently chewing on a possible retirement. However, it’s a decision the Redskins will likely have to make. Remember, London didn’t receive much attention on the open market last year. So, if he wants to come back for another season, he would want to play for one team – the Washington Redskins. So it wouldn’t be far fetched to believe he could re-sign if he believes he can play another season.
- Josh Wilson – In my opinion, Josh didn’t play well in 2012. Even more so than DeAngelo Hall, if you ask me. This may not be a likely cut — an extension is probably more likely. But it’s a move they could consider making.
- Santana Moss – Cutting Moss could be one of those tough decisions Washington may have to make. However, they could also extend his deal — saving them money. As of right now, I think that’s more likely.
- Adam Carriker – This is a move that could happen with Carriker coming off his season-long injury. 3rd year player Jarvis Jenkins will be 2 years removed from ACL surgery, so the hope is that he regains his explosion. He played better towards the end of the 2012 season.
Possible restructures (remember there is a difference between restructuring a contract and redoing it):
- DeAngelo Hall – He played well enough to justify this move. He’s not worth the contract Vinny Cerrato and company signed him to. However, pushing some of the cash flow back gives them at least a year of affordable service.
- Barry Cofield
- Chris Chester – This would be another smart restructure and I don’t think Chester would have a problem with it.
- Santana Moss – For a guy who now plays sparingly, you would think he wouldn’t be worth over $6 mill. But Moss is coming off one of his best seasons in years and asking for a pay-cut wouldn’t fly. Releasing him is a thought, but not sure if they would do that. Extending could give them time to make a decision next year.
- Josh Wilson
- Brian Orakpo – Although Orakpo is coming off an injury, the Redskins seem motivated to get him re-signed soon. Of course, Orakpo may want to wait. But this would be a solid move.
- Joshua Morgan – This is a guy who’s been fantastic in the community and he didn’t necessarily disappoint on the field. However, if he’s able to regain his explosion – which they believe he will, securing him for the foreseeable future would be smart.
I wasn’t planning on doing a mock until April, but it makes sense to do an initial mock before Free Agency. When the Redskins free up some space, they could have a few options to select from in free agency -
- Greg Toler, CB, Arizona Cardinals: The Cardinals seem motivated to re-sign Toler. But if they don’t, he will be a Washington Redskin. Toler is a DC native and coming home could be an offer he wouldn’t turn down – if he hits the open market.
- Bradley Fletcher, CB, St. Louis Rams: The Rams have a ton of young corners and will allow Fletcher to hit the open market. He’s young, physical and should come fairly cheap. He’s still working on potential, however, as he never put it all together with the Rams. Health has been an issue — but when healthy he’s looked like a very solid corner. His physicality has also caused him to receive some costly flags — so that could be another issue.
- E.J Biggers, CB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers: After being considered for several jobs, former Buccaneers head coach and current Redskins secondary coach Raheem Morris remains on the coaching staff. Morris is familiar with Biggers, who is coming off a pretty good season. Biggers was asked several times to replace the often suspended Aqib Talib and eventually replaced him when the Patriots traded for Talib mid-season. With the connection, he could be a possible young and cheap target, if available. The Buccaneers also seemed motivated to re-sign him.
- Ryan Harris, RT, Texans: The Redskins passed on Harris when he was available in the past, mostly because of injury concerns. But the former Mike Shanahan draft pick from his Denver Bronco days could be a solid veteran stop-gap at the right tackle position. He’ll be 28 years old, but could give the ‘Skins flexibility until Tom Compton or a future draft pick is ready.
- Corey Lynch, FS, San Diego Chargers: It’s a deep safety draft, and picking up Lynch could allow the Redskins to fill a need area with a vet — affording to not select a free safety high in the draft.
So with those names in mind, the Redskins could be able to fill some holes in the secondary and right tackle position. If they do, here’s our initial feeling on who the Redskins could take in April’s draft:
2nd round (51 overall):
Ryan Swope, Utility Receiver, Texas A&M (Alt positional picks: TE, CB, S) - This could come as a shock. But at this point, it’s not a stretch to believe the Redskins’ first selection will be an offensive player. In my opinion, it will be between a tight end or what I call – utility receiver. In 2008 with the Denver Broncos, Shanahan selected Eddie Royal, who almost signed with the Redskins last off-season. At that time, Broncos fans believed Shanahan would go defensive with that pick. It’s no secret, Royal was on the Redskins target list last off-season, so the need of a slot receiver should come as no shock. Santana Moss had a solid season, but being able to get a guy like Swope who is a great route runner, has deceptive speed and can even line up in the backfield would be a value pick. He opened the eyes of scouts at the combine, which forced them to go back and watch more film. His stock is on the rise and will likely not be available at 85 overall. I expect the ‘Skins to try trading down.
3rd round (85 overall):
D.J Swearinger, SS, South Carolina (Alt positional picks: TE, CB, RT) – On our media conference call with Mike Mayock a few days before the combine, Mayock called Swearinger a 4th round pick who could rise. The main thing teams want to check with Swearinger is — the type of person he is. As Mayock said, “Like him on tape, but I want to buy into him as a person.” Hence the numerous times the Redskins have met with him. At the very worst, he’s T.J Ward of the Browns – who is a very solid player.
Dwayne Gratz, CB, UConn (Alt positional picks: TE, S, RT, Utility Back) – The Redskins visited two schools with quality DBs multiple times during the season – UConn and Miss. State. If the ‘Skins can’t grab one of the Miss. State CBs or Blidi Wreh-Wilson, Gratz is a guy I like on tape and could be available here in the 4th.
Theo Riddick, RB, Notre Dame (Alt positional picks: TE, RT, DB) – Riddick projects as a change of pace back and “utility receiver.” The Redskins have a great back in Alfred Morris, but the offense needs a receiver out of the backfield. Roy Helu Jr. would be perfect, but health is a major concern right now.
5th round (from New England):
Nick Kasa, TE, Colorado (Alt positional picks: RT and DB) – Kasa made the transition from a high school defensive end to the tight end position. He’s 6ft 6 with limited experience, but his raw ability to catch and block has scouts intrigued. Many don’t believe he’ll make it past the 5th round.
Bradley McDougald, FS, Kansas (Alt positional picks: RT and DB) – I’ve heard some raving reviews on McDougald as a late round guy who has potential to make an impact early.
Jamaal Johnson-Webb, T, Alabama A&M – JJW became Alabama A&M’s first combine invitee ever. I had an opportunity to speak with his college teammate Joaquenssi Eugene, who is also draft eligible, last week and he gave a raving review. A&M played some zone and power blocking scheme. JJW would be a perfect fit at RT in Shanahan’s zone blocking scheme, although he’s still a fairly raw prospect. He’s an NFLPA Bowl alum and in speaking to the scouts who were there, they believe he could develop into a good player.
Follow Emmanual Benton on Twitter @Manny_PPI
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