Here is what you need to know on this Saturday, February 28, 10 days before the Washington Redskins and the rest of the NFL start free agency.
D-line transformation just beginning
In 2011 the Redskins drafted Jarvis Jenkins in the second round and soon after the lockout ended they signed Stephen Bowen and Barry Cofield as free agents. Jenkins missed his rookie season with a torn ACL but since 2012 those three players have been mainstays on the defensive line.
Now Bowen and Cofield are gone, released in a move that saved the team some $9.6 million in salary cap space. Jenkins is a pending unrestricted free agent and his future with the team after free agency gets underway on March 10 is far from certain. The same goes for fellow free agent and 2011 draft pick (7th round) Chris Neild. He is a decent backup nose tackle when he’s on the field but he has missed two of the last three seasons with ACL injuries.
With at least two and possibly three linemen from last year gone, the process of building the line back up started on Thursday when the Redskins signed former Scot McCloughan draft pick Ricky Jean Francois. But obviously they will need more than him to replace Bowen, Cofield, and, if he leaves, Jenkins.
The four holdover defensive linemen the Redskins have under contract are Jason Hatcher, Chris Baker, Kedric Golston, and Frank Kearse. Hatcher is likely to be around this year and Golston might be but neither will around for the long haul. They are temporary placeholders at best.
McCloughan has stated that he will build the Redskins through the draft. Prospects like USC end Leonard Williams and Washington nose tackle Danny Shelton are potential picks for the Redskins with their top draft pick. But immediate help after the first round may be hard to come by. There may be another free agent or two on the way.
It’s impossible to craft a depth chart now because there are too many moving parts. You could start the season tomorrow with Hatcher and Jean Francois at end, Baker at end with Golston and Kearse as backup. Robert Thomas, who was on the practice squad last year, could be the backup nose tackle.
Fortunately the season doesn't start tomorrow. You could get by with a line like that but the goal should be to improve. And the Redskins would be back into a hole again in 2016 with Golston and Hatcher likely gone. Look for more big guys to be added in free agency and the draft to strengthen it for 2015 and beyond.
—It’s been 62 days since the Redskins played a game. It will be about 197 days until they play another one.
—Days until: NFL free agency starts 10; Redskins offseason workouts start 51; 2015 NFL Draft 61
If you have any questions about what's going on at Redskins Park, hit me up in the comments. And I'm always on Twitter @Rich_TandlerCSN.
In case you missed it
- Cuts continue with release of Bowen
- Redskins re-sign starting offensive tackle
- Redskins cut veteran nose tackle day after signing Jean-Francois
- Are the Redskins working towards an Orakpo return?
- Redskins stay or go: DE Jarvis Jenkins
- Jean Francois signing likely first of many moves on Redskins D-line
- Will Redskins' Hall move to safety?