Redskins @ The Combine

Updated: February 19, 2014

Long the champions of the off-season, things got off to a spending start with the re-signing of cornerback DeAngelo Hall. One of the few playmakers on the Redskins defense in 2013, Hall managed a resurgence from a one year “flyer” back to a multi year contract player. The cap penalty split equally across the 2012 and 2013 seasons has forced the Redskins to be economical with their spending, especially in free agency.

Defensive End Adam Carriker who has had some serious misfortune on the injury front, probably won’t be as lucky, likely be a salary cut casualty. The team would save almost $5 million dollars by letting him go. The Redskins have many other options to cut salary, but with the savings comes additional holes that need to be filled. Good and bad news when it comes to the rookie pool ($). The good news? Washington only needs to stow away $3-4 million for the draft, the bad news is the Redskins don’t have a first round draft pick. St. Louis will be selecting second overall with that pick, the final payment in the Robert Griffin III deal.

As it stands right now, Washington has approximately $25 million dollars in cap space. The highest salary is currently offensive tackle Trent Williams at $11 million with wide receiver Pierre Garcon bringing in nearly $10 million. Nobody else on the roster is north of $7 million. Dead money or cap space consumed by players no longer on the roster also plays a role. Washington has the ninth largest total in the NFL, nearly $7.5 million, but far below Carolina with $18 million allocated to former players.

Free Agency: Kicks off Tuesday March 11th

Washington has 16 remaining unrestricted free agents and which new head coach Jay Gruden brings back will largely define whom the Redskins target in not only in their own pursuit of free agents but the draft as well. Veterans the Skins may be looking to re-up include; linebackers Perry Riley and Rob Jackson, wide receivers Josh Morgan and Santana Moss, as well as cornerback E.J. Biggers. Most of the others do not figure in the future of the club and will probably be seeking employment elsewhere.

Franchise Tag: Until Monday March 3rd @ 4pm

Nearly $11 million is the price tag to keep free agent linebacker Brian Orakpo for one a year deal, but it limits his movement in free agency. Redskins could match any offer or receive two first round picks as compensation. An exclusive franchise tag is more costly, but prevents his departure altogether. The franchise tag has other levels, but the bottom line, if the Skins fail to sign him or apply some form of the tag, Orakpo becomes an unrestricted free agent.

Scouting Combine: Tomorrow through Tuesday

Since Kirk Cousins was drafted in 2012, many have wondered when and if the team would trade the young signal caller. Former coach Mike Shanahan talked of a first round pick as the price tag, but the team has been consistent in their claim he wasn’t on the block… until now. Reportedly the quarterback has been shopped, with the team deciding to wait a few more months, until after the draft and potentially pursue a pick in the 2015 draft. Lets face it, given the amount of premium picks the team gave up to get RG3, if he gets hurt it’s not going to be a playoff season regardless.

NFL Draft: May 8th through 10th

So just who will the Redskins be paying close attention to at the Scouting Combine in Indianapolis over the next week… that is the purpose of this piece after all. It’s just not that simple. As Allen, Gruden and staff arrive at Lucas Oil Stadium, they will have plenty to consider. What free agents will they be pursuing, perhaps nullifying the need in the draft at that position. Will they be spending $10+ million for one season of a potentially grumpy Orakpo? What other cuts will be made and will other free agents take their place? Will they need a backup quarterback?

Much like the Redskins brain trust will be operating over the next week, we can only project scenarios. Given the human nature of contract negotiation, the scenarios will need to be flexible. For the sake of discussion, we have a scenario of our own and how things may play out and in this case what I would recommend if a decision maker. Many spots in our “scenario”, as many as the last half dozen on the 53 man roster and most of the practice squad would be made up of undrafted free agents, both veteran and rookie. We will address specifically the key moves.

QB: Scout a mobile QB with every intention of a last minute trade of Cousins before the draft or after, but both before the season. Rex Grossman won’t be back, but his spot can be taken by a veteran free agent. Matt Flynn, Chad Henne and even Brady Quinn come to mind.

DRAFT: Clemson’s Tajh Boyd disappointed in some post season All-star work, but bears watching making all the throws in Indy. Boyd also has some mobility. Logan Thomas was recruited as a tight end to Blacksburg and converted to QB. While he never delivered on enormous hype and the comparisons to Cam Newton were ridiculous, he could be an interesting project. Northern Illinois’ Jordan Lynch isn’t getting much respect, what did he lose, 2 maybe 3 games over past two seasons combined? Oh yeah, he threw for 3,000 yards and rushed for 2,000 each of the past two years as well We could do a lot worst holding the clipboard (and often have).

WR: Sign Eric Decker. Early indications are Denver will not be franchising him and are preparing to move forward without him. He’s still only 26, has excellent size and game breaking speed. He had huge numbers this season. Sure Peyton Manning was his quarterback, but would you rather have someone with pedestrian stats?

DRAFT: This is such a deep draft at WR, some outstanding players are going to slip. Kelvin Benjamin caught the game winning score with 13 seconds left to deliver FSU a national title, he’s 6’5″ and athletic. Mike Davis from Texas was a 5-star recruit, but fell into the fog that many athletes have in Austin in recent years. Mizzou had a basketball team at wide receiver the past few years L’Damian Washington was one of four Mizzou had at wide out standing between 6’4″ and 6’6″. Until Leonard Hankerson can deliver on a healthy, regular basis, a “jumbo” pass catcher is in need in Burgundy and Gold.

OL: Target at least one guard and one tackle in the draft. The young backups currently on the roster are unproven and need to be pushed and tested in camp.

DRAFT: It’s not too soon for an understudy behind Wil Montgomery and there are plenty of options. FSU’s Bryan Stork, James Stone from Tennessee and Oklahoma’s Gabe Ikard all had productive careers. Gabe Jackson is an absolute load at guard for Mississippi State, he certainly has the size and strength to step in. Stanford’s David Yankey is very popular among Redskins faithful, but are you ready to spend the 2nd round pick on a guard, if he is even still available? This is the last season for Tyler Polumbus at right tackle and I know just the guy to “coach up” next season. Seantrel Henderson from the U, is 6’8″ 345 pounds and was the top player coming out of high school in 2009. He is projected mid-draft and someone has to convince me it’s not worth a shot.

DL: 3-4 defensive ends are a bit harder to find in the draft, but mobile 4-3 college DT’s will work. At least one end should be targeted in the draft. I would like to see the team look at Tyson Jackson, a talent that may just need a new place.

DRAFT: Tennessee’s Daniel McCullers stands 6’8″ and weighs 350 pounds, I would certainly give him a mid round look, which is where he projects. Later in the draft, classic underachievers like South Florida’s Aaron Lynch (Notre Dame transfer) and elite recruit Jackson Jeffcoat from Texas (yes, he is the son of the former Cowboys defensive lineman). Inside Will Sutton from Arizona State, South Carolina’s Kelcy Quarles and either of the massive LSU DT’s, Ego Ferguson or Anthony Johnson.

LB: We know that London Fletcher needs to be replaced, so all efforts need to be made to retain Riley. Even if he returns, a high pick needs be invested as a long term replacement for Fletcher. If Riley goes elsewhere, the will HAVE to sign a veteran, someone like Jon Beason perhaps.

DRAFT: I’ve done more than a few mock drafts and often Stanford’s Shayne Skov is available at the second round spot. Michigan State’s Max Bullough very well could be another ILB who could play week one. In case Orakpo leaves this year (or next), some nice gambles late may be Alabama’s Adrian Hubbard and Florida’s Ronald Powell.

CB: If Biggers is re-signed, they probably only need to replace Josh Wilson. If David Amerson is ready to take over opposite D-Hall, Wilson would suffice in a battle with E.J. for backup/slot roles.

DRAFT: Florida’s Marcus Roberson is very talented, or how about some big corners, why not?, Utah’s Keith McGill and Antone Exum from Virginia Tech fit the bill.

S: It is too early to give up on Bacari Rambo and Phillip Thomas, but Brandon Meriweather is an uncertainty and Reed Doughty may have run out of tread. This may be another spot to mix a solid free agent and draft pick. Jairus Byrd or T.J. Ward would be a huge upgrade.

DRAFT: I have followed Baylor safety Ahmad Dixon since he was recruited out of high school, has the tools. Terrence Brooks from Florida State has big game experience.

P: Definitely time for a new punter and some savings. Sav Rocca is now on the other side of 40 and was making some good money. I personally like former LSU punter Brad Wing, who the team brought in for a tryout late last season. I wouldn’t be spending anything over the minimum for a veteran or a draft pick for a rookie. Steve Clark of Auburn is a great punter, especially limiting returns. Alabama’s Cody Mandell is also solid and doubles as a holder.

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