Will injuries force D-line changes?

Will injuries force D-line changes?
February 3, 2014, 3:00 pm
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Tandler - Tarik

This morning, we examined the Redskins’ 2014 outlook for the defensive line. Now, CSNWashington.com’s Insiders Tarik El-Bashir and Rich Tandler will give their take on the most pressing issue at the position entering the offseason: Is an upgrade at one or both end positions necessary?

El-Bashir: As we discussed earlier, it comes down to the health of Stephen Bowen and Adam Carriker. If Bowen appears as though he’ll return to full strength from microfracture knee surgery and management is convinced Carriker can rebound and play at a high level after missing nearly two seasons due to a torn quadriceps tendon, an overhaul might not be needed. In 2011, Bowen and Carriker enjoyed career years. Bowen notched a career-best 41 combined tackles and six sacks, while Carriker recorded 34 tackles and a career-high 5.5 sacks. That wasn’t all that long ago. But there are also question marks behind them, as well. Jarvis Jenkins has shown flashes but struggled to establish himself last season following a four-game suspension to start the year. Chris Baker finished 2013 strong but started only three games at end and is scheduled to hit free agency. Kedric Golston, meantime, is a steady backup and should remain in that capacity. Again, depth isn’t the overriding concern. Finding two reliable, productive starters is. So if there are any worries about the health of Bowen and/or Carriker (and there probably will be), the Redskins must consider adding proven starter via free agency.

Tandler: Money matters when making decisions like this and it’s a big factor here because both Bowen and Carriker carry large salary cap numbers. Bowen’s is just over $7 million and Carriker’s stands at about $6.8 million. If they move on from Bowen they will save $1.98 million and releasing Carriker would add $3.17 million to their cap space. It would be very difficult to justify keeping Carriker at that cap number and with that much in potential cap savings. You have to appreciate his heart and desire to come back from that quad injury but at the same time you have a player who will be 30 in May and who will not have played in almost two full seasons. The best course here might be to release him and then, assuming he is healthy enough, sign him back to an incentivized deal that protects the team in the event of further injury complications. Bowen will be 30 next month but he had not missed a start in two and a half seasons prior to Week 11 last year. They could wait until closer to training camp and check on his condition then before possibly making him a post-June 1 release.