Jim Haslett talked to reporters at the Senior Bowl yesterday and he had a few interesting things to say. The Redskins, he said, will stick with the 3-4 defense as their base. That is not surprising. Jay Gruden indicated that the 3-4 was here to stay during his introductory press conference.
Haslett also talked about the number of free agents the Redskins have on the roster and he named some of the players he’d like to keep. His “priorities” were linebackers Brian Orakpo and Perry Riley, cornerback DeAngelo Hall, and defensive lineman Chris Baker.
Of course, those aren’t the only free agents the Redskins have on defense. And while the Redskins could sign more of their own players than just the four on that list, let’s work on the assumption that they are willing to let the other defensive free agents walk. Let’s take a look at what they would need to acquire via free agency or the draft or through promoting from within.
Line: If Baker, who plays both end and nose tackle, returns the team will have its entire depth chart from last year back. That may not be a good thing as many would like to see more pass rush from the unit and perhaps see them get a bigger nose tackle.
Linebacker: If Orakpo and Riley stay, the Redskins still need to find another inside linebacker to replace the retiring London Fletcher. The only other inside linebackers they have under contract are Keenan Robinson, who missed all of last year with a torn pectoral muscle, and Josh Hull, a special teams player who got one snap on defense so they will need some depth signings. They will need the same on the outside as Ryan Kerrigan and Brandon Jenkins are the only players there who are signed for 2014. If Orakpo comes back they will need to re-sign or replace Rob Jackson and Darryl Tapp.
Secondary: Hall being back could leave the Redskins with, well, one starter back in the secondary. Word is that Brandon Meriweather has a player option in his contract so he could be signed for next year. If he does stay the Redskins still will need another safety as Reed Doughty and E. J. Biggers (who also played corner) are free agents. It’s possible that Phillip Thomas and/or Bacarri Rambo, both 2013 draft picks, could step into starting roles but that remains to be seen. Second-year corner David Amerson should be ready to start opposite Hall but someone would have to step up into the nickel role.
Here is a list of the Redskins’ defensive free agents
- DL Chris Baker
- ILB Brian Kehl
- OLB Brian Orakpo
- ILB Perry Riley
- OLB Darryl Tapp
- ILB Nick Barnett
- OLB Rob Jackson
- CB Josh Wilson
- CB DeAngelo Hall
- S Reed Doughty
- CB/S E. J. Biggers
As should be expected when a team goes 8-7-1, there were plenty of good moments and a lot of frustrating times during the Redskins’ 2016 season. Over the next couple of weeks, Redskins Insiders Rich Tandler and JP Finlay will take detailed looks at the 10 best plays of 2016 and, to present a more complete picture of the season, the 10 worst.
No. 6 worst play of 2016
Redskins at Cardinals Week 13
3:47 left in Q4, Cardinals ball at their own 34, 4th and 1, Cardinals leading 24-23
David Johnson up the middle to ARZ 48 for 14 yards (Josh Norman).
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Tandler: What's worse than a punch in the gut? A gut punch you don't see coming. The Redskins had pulled to within a point with plenty of time left to get a winning score—if the defense could get a stop. When Bruce Arians sent out his offense on fourth and one, the Redskins had to watch for Carson Palmer to try to draw them offside. In fact, Joe Barry told the Redskins not to expect a snap and to be sure not the jump. But they did snap the ball and Johnson ran for the easiest 14 yards up the gut you’ll ever see. The air was out of the Redskins’ comeback balloon and Palmer all but put it away a few plays later with a 42-yard TD pass to J.J. Nelson.
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Finlay: This is not the first 4th Down conversion on our list of bad plays, but perhaps the most important one. Washington desperately needed this stop, and the defense thought they had it on the 3rd down play prior. Only Arians did not flinch about going for it, much to Barry's surprise, and the 'Skins D had no shot at Johnson. This play illustrated the weakness of Washington's defensive front perhaps better than any other run all season.
10 best plays countdown
10 worst plays countdown
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Want more Redskins? Check out @JPFinlayCSN and @Rich_TandlerCSN for live updates or click here for the #RedskinsTalk Podcast on iTunes, here for Google Play or press play below. Don't forget to subscribe!
Kirk Cousins' price tag just moved even higher with the news that he will replace Matt Ryan in the Pro Bowl. ESPN's John Keim reported the roster move first.
Ryan's Atlanta Falcons advanced to the Super Bowl on Sunday with a 44-21 dismantling of the Green Bay Packers. That victory means Ryan will not be available for the Pro Bowl, held this Sunday in Orlando. Cousins got his spot as an alternate.
Cousins gets the spot deservedly. This season he passed for 4,917 yards, completing 67 percent of his passes and throwing 25 TDs to 12 INTs. In two seasons since being named starter for the Redskins, Cousins has thrown for more than 9,000 yards.
The Pro Bowl nod for Cousins will only make the Redskins pending contract talks that much tougher. The quarterback played in 2016 under the franchise tag, which netted him nearly $20 million. This season Washington could again place Cousins on the franchise tag, with a price tag around $24 million. Both sides can still work for a long-term deal, though the value of that contract would likely soar past $100 million and closer to $120 million.
Some questions exist within the Redskins organization if that is too much money devoted to one player, even if it is a Pro Bowl quarterback.
It's fitting that Cousins is subbing in for Ryan, who has found much success playing under Falcons offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan. All signs points to Shanahan taking over as the 49ers head coach after the Super Bowl, and a report emerged that San Francisco would make a strong push to obtain Cousins, either in free agency or via trade.
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Want more Redskins? Check out @JPFinlayCSN for live updates or click here for the #RedskinsTalk Podcast on iTunes, here for Google Play or press play below. Don't forget to subscribe!