By Tarik El-Bashir and Rich Tandler
Although the Redskins will sign some more players in the coming days, weeks, and month, the bulk of their free agency activity for 2013 is over. Although there was no big splash, they made some moves that will have a profound effect on the 2013 season and beyond.
What were the best signings the Redskins made? What mistakes were made? Redskins insiders Tarik El-Bashir and Rich Tandler look at the best and worst moves—and non-moves—in this week’s edition of Point-Counterpoint.
Rich Tandler: I’m going to go all the way back to Wednesday and the signing of cornerback E. J. Biggers. He’s a 25-year-old player who struggled early in his career but appears to be on the rise. At best he catches on and the Redskins have a solid cornerback in the prime of his career. At worst they have a good nickel back.
Tarik El-Bashir: I’m going with right tackle Tyler Polumbus. Yes, I’m well aware that he didn’t have a Pro Bowl caliber season in 2012 and ProFootballFocus.com didn’t rate him very high. But he’s 27 and has ideal size (6-8, 305) for Mike Shanahan’s zone blocking scheme. Polumbus also got better each week during his first season as a starter, which, to me, means the best may be yet to come.
Tandler: I think they should have moved on from Kory Lichtensteiger. I don’t know why the would draft Josh LeRibeus in the third round plus Adam Gettis in the fifth, and then sign your 28-year-old incumbent to a five-year contract. Lichtensteiger is certainly a competent zone blocking guard and I can see wanting some continuity on the line. But there is a time to shake things up and I think this was the time.
El-Bashir: I’ve got to agree with Rich on this one. Yes, continuity on the offensive line is important. So is veteran leadership. Loyalty also played a role; Lichtensteiger was also Shanahan’s first acquisition as Redskins coach. But you’ve got to wonder why they spent a third round pick on Josh LeRibeus last year if they’re not going to play him. Not to mention the fact that parting ways with Lichtensteiger would have been a provided some precious cap space.
Tandler: OK, letting Brandon Banks walk without an offer is too easy so let’s go with offensive tackle Eric Winston. I’m not sure if there ever was any serious interest in him but the fan base sure was crazy about the idea of figuring out a way to bring him in. Winston will be 30 before this season ends and he’s looking for his third team in three seasons. The fact that he remains unsigned after getting let go by the Chiefs a week before the start of free agency is a strong sign that his opinion of his value exceeds that of the teams in the NFL.
El-Bashir: This is an easy one: Aqib Talib. He would have provided the secondary with a significant talent boost, no doubt about that. But meeting his salary demands – the 27-year-old eventually re-signed with the Patriots for one season and $5 million – would have required another salary restructure or, worse yet, the release of a contributing veteran. It also would have contradicted Shanahan’s “high character guy” edict. Talib has had a few too many run-ins with teammates, the law and the NFL’s PED policy to qualify as high character.
Tandler: I know that Keenan Robinson needs some experience if he is going to be London Fletcher’s successor at inside linebacker but I’m still not comfortable with the depth there. A player like Dan Connor would have brought some starting experience to the position should anything happen to Fletcher, who nearly missed a couple of games last year. The Giants got Connor, 27, on a one-year deal for the veteran minimum, no reason the Redskins couldn’t have done the same.
El-Bashir: Lorenzo Alexander is precisely the type of guy you’ve got to keep. Special teams captain. Pro Bowler. Locker room leader. He’s lined up at so many positions, in fact, that his nickname is ‘One Man Gang’. Sure, the $18 million salary cap penalty hurt the Redskins’ chances of retaining ‘Zo. And, sure, Shanahan and Bruce Allen are very much against creating cap space by restructuring contracts. But if ever there was a time to make an exception, this was it.