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Need to Know: What is the Redskins biggest need after free agency?

Need to Know: What is the Redskins biggest need after free agency?

Here is what you need to know on this Thursday, April 9, 21 days before the Washington Redskins go on the clock at the NFL draft.

Question of the day

A few days a week I’ll give an in-depth answer to a question submitted by a fan on my Twitter feed, via the Real Redskins Facebook page, or in the comments section here. On Twitter address the questions to me at @Rich_TandlerCSN with the #NTK hashtag. There will be a comment thread set up on the Facebook page and if you’re asking your question here, put “for NTK” at the start of the comment.

Today's question is from Twitter:

I’m going to give you an answer that will surprise you. I think their biggest need in the draft is the one that just addressed via a trade.

The Redskins desperately need to find a free safety in the draft.

Dashon Goldson, just obtained by the Redskins for a swap of draft picks and $4 million in cap space, is a one-year patch at the free safety spot at best. He’ll be 31 by the time Week 2 of the upcoming season rolls around and his play has been in a steep decline the last two years. Even if he bounces back and plays well this season the Redskins will need a replacement sooner rather than later.

In fact, there is a pretty good chance that they will need someone who can line up at free safety at some point this year. Goldson missed three games in 2013 and two last season so there needs to be a capable backup ready.

The Redskins have the option to keep him for the next two years but the salaries are steep, $7.5 million in 2016 and $6.75 million in 2017. It’s safe to say that it’s unlikely that he will be around beyond 2015.

The Redskins need to do some succession planning and get Goldson’s replacement in house sooner rather than later. Or they will be doing the same one-year rental on an aging and declining safety, like they did last year with Ryan Clark, in 2012 with Madieu Williams and in 2011 with O.J. Atogwe.

This draft is thin at safety but Jay Gruden has talked about the possibility of drafting a corner and converting him to safety. There are several possibilities here. You can take a closer look at two of them that I’ve covered in the Draft Countdown series here, Eric Rowe of Utah and Byron Jones of Connecticut.

There are many other areas where an upgrade would be welcome. But given the situation with the last line of defense, free safety has top priority.

Timeline

—It’s been 102 days since the Redskins played a game. It will be about 157 days until they play another one.

Days until: Redskins offseason workouts start 11; 2015 NFL Draft 21; Redskins training camp starts 112

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.

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In case you missed it

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New #RedskinsTalk Podcast: JP & Tandler break down Redskins draft targets, and players to avoid

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New #RedskinsTalk Podcast: JP & Tandler break down Redskins draft targets, and players to avoid

How plausible is a draft day trade? Could the Redskins move up? And what to do about all those 'diluted samples'? JP Finlay and Rich Tandler break it all down.

<<<LOOKING AT REDSKINS DRAFT PROSPECTS>>>

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!

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Redskins roster by the numbers: Defense

Redskins roster by the numbers: Defense

The Redskins currently have 75 players on their roster. They are about to add some more in the draft and as undrafted free agents. They can have up to 90 players on their offseason roster. Year after year the distribution of those players to positions are consistent. We can look at what they have and see what they need to sign to get through OTAs, minicamp, and training camp.

Let’s break down the numbers by position and see where they will need to add players to get to where they want to be going into training camp. Last week we looked at the offense; today we’ll look at the numbers on defense.

End

Have: 6
Need: 8

Just like in a game, you want plenty of players to rotate through the line in the heat of training camp. They could carry one or two additional players here since they are legitimately in search of players who can have an impact beyond starters Terrelle McClain and Stacy McGee and pass rushing project Anthony Lanier.  

Nose Tackle

Have: 2
Need: 4

Like with the ends, you want to have a few big guys to rotate in when it gets hot in Richmond. It would be surprising if the Redskins didn’t add a nose tackle to the mix in the draft, probably on Saturday.

Inside linebacker

Have: 9
Need: 8

If the Redskins take an inside linebacker in the draft, as many expect that will, this position would get very crowded. They could keep as many as six on the final 53-man roster if there are a couple of key special teams players in the group.

RELATED: NFL Mock Draft Version 10.0

Outside linebacker

Have: 7
Need: 7

They could keep an extra one or two if they find some in the draft. You can’t have too many pass rushers, although they have kept just four on the final roster recently.  

Cornerback

Have: 7
Need: 8

It has always seemed to be a little odd to me that they’ll bring in a dozen wide receivers and only seven or eight corners.

MORE REDSKINS: Redskins mock 2.0 goes offense early, defense often

Safety

Have: 7
Need: 7

The depth chart here is unusual in that all seven players have significant NFL playing time; there is no “training camp fodder” here. If the draft one, an experienced player might be let go.  

Total defensive players under contract: 38
Total needed for camp: 41

There are 34 offensive players and three specialists on the roster, making the total 75. If they don’t make deals and use all 10 of their draft picks that will leave just five spots to sign undrafted free agents. They likely will want to sign more than that meaning that some of the players currently on the roster will end up getting cut, particularly those on the defensive side.

Stay up to date on the Redskins! Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page Facebook.com/TandlerCSN and follow him on Twitter @Rich_TandlerCSN.