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The Redskins have major needs in the middle of their defense

The Redskins have major needs in the middle of their defense

A Washington Post report cleared up some confusion and confirmed that Brandon Meriweather’s contract does void five days after the Super Bowl, making the Redskins’ starting safety an unrestricted free agent starting March 11. Let’s take a look at what this means for the Redskins’ salary cap and their depth chart.

The cap implications are straightforward. Meriweather was slated to make a salary of $3 million and he had a $400,000 bonus proration to make his cap number $3.4 million. When his contract voids, the $3 million will come off of the books but dead cap totaling $1.2 million will accelerate to this season. That leaves a net savings of $2.2 million.

Add that to the previous estimate of cap space and it gives the Redskins around $30 million in cap space for 2014. That number could increase further if the NFLPA decides to exercise an option that would add another $2 million to the cap. The Redskins also could create more room by releasing some veteran players.

A look at the depth chart shows very little depth left at safety. Meriweather, Reed Doughty, and E. J. Biggers, who combed to start most of the games at safety in 2013, are all free agents. Bacarri Rambo is the most experienced returning safety and the rookie had all of three starts and 340 defensive snaps in 2013. He struggles and was benched. Jose Gumbs started one game and played 84 snaps. Trenton Robinson, picked up during the season mostly to try to bolster special teams, played 34 snaps.

The best of the lot could be Phillip Thomas, last year’s fourth-round draft pick. But he spent the entire season on injured reserve after suffering a Lisfranc injury in the preseason. Even before he got injured he didn’t look like someone the team could count on to be a starter this year.

They almost have to jump into the free agent market to get immediate help while Thomas, Gumbs, Rambo and perhaps another draft pick get a chance to develop. The top names like Jairus Byrd of the Bills and Buffalo’s T. J. Ward are likely to cost too much. Last week we looked at a few names of some more moderately-priced options including Michael Mitchell of the Panthers and Chris Clemons of the Dolphins.

They could bring back Meriweather and Doughty but both of them are now on the wrong side of 30 and the team could use an upgrade.

But they have to do something. Looking at the big picture, the Redskins now have a huge hole in the middle of their defense. In addition to the situation at safety, neither of last year’s starting inside linebackers is under contract. London Fletcher is retiring and Perry Riley is a free agent. Although it seem likely that Riley will be back in the fold, how Bruce Allen handles this area will go a long way towards determining how successful the team will be in Jay Gruden’s first year on the job.

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Final Redskins seven-round mock draft: Defense first, a surprise in the third

Final Redskins seven-round mock draft: Defense first, a surprise in the third

We’re a day away from the start of the NFL draft and all the questions surrounding the Redskins’ intentions will start to get answered when they go on the clock at about 10 p.m. on Thursday.

[More Redskins: Full Redskins Seven-Round Mock Draft]

Speaking at the team’s annual pre-draft news conference, Scott Campbell, the team’s director of college scouting, stuck with the company line when he was asked about making picks based on team needs.

“I’m going to frame the answer, and the age-old answer of ‘I’m going to take the best player available,’” he said. “And if that serves your needs, that’s a bonus.”

It would be a big “bonus” for the Redskins if a defensive lineman who can rush the passer and stuff the run was the best player on the board when their first-round pick comes up at No. 17. But it doesn’t look like the board will play out that way. That’s OK because the Redskins have plenty of needs.

In fact, it’s not hard to do a mock draft for the Redskins because they have needs at virtually every position. Certainly, some needs are more urgent than others. But once you get past the first couple of rounds there is enough doubt at each position, whether it’s immediate depth or possible free agency holes in 2018, to get that need “bonus” with every pick.

Campbell said that this is a strong defensive draft and this is reflected in these mock selections, with six of the 10 picks going to defense including the top two. The first offensive pick may surprise some but the talent was just too good at that point in the draft.

Go here to see the full seven-round mock draft.

Your comments are welcome, as always. Make them here in the comments or hit me up on Twitter and Facebook.  

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.

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QB run will come at NFL Draft, but when it happens matters most for Redskins

QB run will come at NFL Draft, but when it happens matters most for Redskins

Quarterbacks will come off the board in the first round of the NFL Draft Thursday night. That much is certain. Where those quarterbacks come off the board, however, matters much more for the Redskins. 

Mitchell Trubisky will be the first passer off the board, and depending on the information, he could be drafted as high as the first overall pick, and will certainly go early.

Trubisky, though, seems like the only certainty of a QB going early. Questions plague guys like Deshaun Watson and Patrick Mahomes. Those guys could all go in the first half of the draft, but they could all slide into the 20s as well. 

For Washington, the earlier quarterbacks get drafted the better. It seems highly unlikely the Redskins make a draft day trade of QB Kirk Cousins, limiting hardly any interest in a first-round passer.

The more passers that go before the 'Skins pick at 17 means the more high-quality players slide down the draft board. Look around the internet at lists of the best prospects available. Hardly any signal callers crack the Top 20, but the positional need at QB demands the position be overdrafted.

Though the Burgundy and Gold continue to slow-play contract talks with Cousins, he is under contract for 2017 and the team holds an option for 2018. That means Bruce Allen can sit in his draft room and potentially be a trade partner for a team that wants to land a QB, or just wait patiently and watch as they come off the board and send other desirable prospects closer to 17.

<<<LOOKING AT REDSKINS DRAFT PROSPECTS>>>

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