All offseason we have had Stephen Bowen’s name written on the depth chart in pencil, very lightly. There has been uncertainty surrounding the defensive end on two fronts.
He underwent microfracture surgery last year and that creates doubt about his ability to return and be effective. Although the procedure is no longer the career death sentence it one was, there has to be a high degree of concern surrounding his health.
And then there is his contract. Bowen is slated to make $4.4 million in base salary this year and his cap number is a shade over $7 million. Both the base and the cap number are the sixth highest on the team.
Even a healthy player who just turned 30 and is coming off of back-to-back so-so seasons (one sack in 26 games played) might be concerned about being a cap casualty with a contract like that. Add in the health questions and there was legitimate speculation that Bowen might not be on the roster this spring or that he faced a hefty pay cut.
So far, however, Bowen and his salary have both survived. He appears to be in the Redskins’ plans for 2014 and he said recently that the Redskins have not approached him about changing his contract.
A healthy Bowen would solidify a pretty solid depth chart along the defensive line. Free agent pickup Jason Hatcher joins Bowen and Jarvis Jenkins at end. Chris Baker can play in the rotation there and back up Barry Cofield at nose tackle. Kedric Golston and Clifton Geathers could end up battling for the last backup spot.
And you can’t rule out the Redskins taking a defensive lineman in the draft, perhaps early on. Things could fall so that the best available player plays the D-line. Given that of the players who seem certain to make the roster this year only Jenkins and Baker are under the age of 30 getting a shot of youthful talent certainly would be helpful.