If you’ve read any Redskins related articles lately, you’ve no doubt encountered the phrase “lots of needs to address.” Indeed, the team has many holes, ranging from wide receiver to punter, that it must fill between the start of free agency on March 11 and Week 1 in September.
In the coming days, Redskins Insiders Tarik El-Bashir and Rich Tandler will identify those needs and present various ways the team can fill them.
On the roster: Robert Malone. Signed to a futures contract Dec. 31, the 26-year-old appeared in two games for the Jets last season before being released. In those contests, Malone posted a 46.3-yard average and a 37.1-yard net. He also recorded the second longest punt in franchise history, an 84-yarder vs. Tampa Bay. Don’t underestimate Malone’s prior relationship with new special teams coordinator Ben Kotwica. The two worked together in New York in 2012 and 2013.
Pending free agents: None. Incumbent punter Sav Rocca, 40, was released Tuesday after a poor 2013 season.
Free agent possibilities: The top two punters who could hit the open market next week are Pat McAfee of the Colts and Donnie Jones of the Eagles. McAfee, 26, ranked 11th in average (46.0) and 25th in net (38.5) last season. McAfee is also a holder and kickoff specialist, which could make him particularly attractive to the Redskins. But he won’t come cheap, and one of the reasons the Redskins released Rocca was presumably to create cap space. Jones, meantime, is a 33-year-old left footed punter who ranked 20th in average (44.9) and ninth in net (40.5).
Draft possibilities: There are a handful of quality prospects such as Iowa State’s Kirby Van Der Kamp, Memphis’ Tom Hornsey and Miami’s Pat O’Donnell and Alabama’s Cody Mandell, to name a few. But given the fact that the Redskins are already have so many holes to address, it doesn’t seem likely that they’ll select a punter. Worth noting: the Redskins have drafted two punters the past 21 years (Durant Brooks and Ed Bunn).
Prediction: The smart money is on the Redskins not signing a top free agent or spending a draft pick on a punter. Instead, the prudent move would be to bring in a moderately priced free agent or sign an undrafted free agent to compete with Malone in the preseason—and may the best man win.