Redskins free agent fits: Inside linebacker

Redskins free agent fits: Inside linebacker
February 15, 2014, 1:15 pm
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Jim Haslett talks free agency

When free agency opens March 11, the Redskins will have about $30 million in cap space and lots of holes to fill. Over the next few weeks, Redskins Insider Tarik El-Bashir will examine the field of potential free agents, by position, and evaluate who might be a fit in Washington. 

Today, we’re looking at inside linebackers.

Background: With the expected retirement of London Fletcher and Perry Riley due to become an unrestricted free agent next month, inside linebacker is a position of priority for the Redskins this offseason. Even if Riley is retained, as expected, the Redskins will need to sign at least one starter in free agency because, well, there’s no one on the roster who’s ready to be that guy in 2014.

Best available: Karlos Dansby, Cardinals. The 32-year-old Dansby notched 122 combined tackles, 6.5 sacks, a forced fumble and a career-high four interceptions for Arizona’s sixth-ranked defense. He’s got ideal size (6-4, 250) and has shown no sign of decline at age 32. But he’s still 32, and we all know how quickly things can change when you’re on the wrong side of 30. In Washington, he’d be a short-term solution at a position where a long-term solution is needed.  

Best fit: Donald Butler, Chargers. Butler is our pick because he won’t turn 26 until October and should continue to improve. And the Redskins need a younger, long-term solution here. Durability, though, is a concern for Butler, who missed his rookie season with a torn Achilles and a combined seven games the past two seasons because of groin muscle pulls. But when he’s on the field he’s a leader and a difference-maker. In 13 games last season, the 6 foot 1, 242-pounder recorded 84 tackles, a fumble recovery, an interception and defended five passes. Recent reports out of San Diego are that the Chargers have resumed talks on a contract extension with their former third round pick.

Best of the rest: Jon Beason (Panthers/Giants) helped turn around New York’s struggling defense and finished his eighth NFL season with 104 tackles; Arthur Moats (Bills) is 25 years old and recorded a career-high 54 tackles in only 301 snaps; Daryl Smith (Ravens) will be 32 in March but had 123-tackles, five sacks and three INTs last season; Brandon Spikes (Patriots) is 26, a hard hitter and recorded 86 tackles and an INT last season; Wesley Woodyard (Broncos) had 84 tackles in 14 games last season, including five vs. Washington.

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