Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Good free agency fits for the Redskins

Carl Nicks
Evan Mathis
Ben Grubbs

Chris Meyers

My first priority in free agency is offensive guard. We need at least one guard and a tackle, and there aren't many tackles on the market, but there are some great guards. If we could get Carl Nicks, Ben Grubbs, or Evan Mathis, it would be huge. Nicks and Grubbs are a lot bigger than the typical ZBS Shanahan offensive linemen, but good enough and athletic enough despite that (especially Nicks) to excel anyway. Mathis, at just over 300, is an even better fit, though he is older and less proven. Still, any of the three would be an immediate and huge upgrade for our offensive line. I mention Meyers since he's the only center that interests me. It's not as big a need with Montgomery (and Lichtensteiger being a fit at center too), but Meyers is such a fit for the ZBS, which he has been playing in in Houston, that I felt the need to list him. I doubt it would happen since we just re-signed Montgomery, but if it did, he'd still help us out.

Brandon Carr
Courtland Finnegan
Brent Grimes

I've been harping for quite a while on how much the Skins need to upgrade at corner. With Stanford Routt off the market and Lardarius Webb a restricted free agent, that leaves these three. Grimes is older and very likely to get tagged if Atlanta doesn't reach a long-term deal with him first, so he's less likely and less of an interest, even though he had a stellar year. Brandon Carr is my top pick, both because he's good and because he's young (26). The Cowboys are closely linked to Carr. Finnegan (28) would also be a player I'd be very happy for us to get. If we can't get any of those guys, luckily the draft is actually very well-stocked with promising corners, but I'd feel good about having one less thing to focus on in the draft (if we trade up for RG3, who knows what picks and how many we'll have left?) and having corner filled with a proven commodity.

Dwayne Bowe
Vincent Jackson

I'm interested in a bigger, more possession-friendly WR, and am only interested in a very good one, as opposed to a decent WR like Robert Meachem or Mario Manningham. We have a bunch of young guys (Hankerson, Paul, Austin, etc.) that I'm content to try out before we focus on WR, so I don't want them getting stuck behind marginal upgrades, but if we are able to snag a top WR like one of these guys, that would be a huge boon. Reports are that Bowe is likely to get tagged by KC, and VJax is happy in San Diego, so I don't really expect either of these. 

Sione Pouha
Paul Soliai

I've mentioned before how helpful I think adding a big, space-eating nose tackle could be for us. I like Cofield and think he is a great player, who improved as the year went on and he got comfortable with his new spot in the 3-4, but he isn't quite the prototypical nose, as he has pretty good quickness and lacks the lower center of gravity that can be so useful. He has strength but much of it is in his upper body. As much as I like and was impressed with Chris Neild, it isn't fair to expect him to play a great deal (at least at this stage of his career), but if we had a potato NT, as I call them for their Casey Hampton-esque shape, I think it would give us a lot of versatility. Cofield, in my estimation, could also be very good at defensive end in a 3-4, and having the ability to rotate him between NT and DE with our other defensive ends and a big run-stopper would do wonders to keep everyone fresh while allowing us to keep talent on the field and give us the ability to have multiple packages for different downs and situations, with Cofield staying at nose for most pass-rushing situaitons and rotating out to end in favor of a bigger tackle like Soliai or Pouha on bigger running downs or depending on the make-up of the opposing offense. These two are both good players, not too old, and have the size (about 325 and 350, respectively) to fit what I imagine. If we don't get one of them, which we probably won't, there are some NTs in the draft that also interest me.

That takes care of the major needs, so I'll list a few other places/players I'd like to get.

ILB: No major need here until Fletcher needs replacing,  but I wouldn't mind bringing in an Erin Henderson (former of Maryland) or a Jameel McClain to compete with Perry Riley for the other ILB spot and leave us with a viable tandem post-Fletcher if London decides to retire next year.

QB: As dead-set as I am on drafting a QB, as I covered in my quarterbacks post a couple days ago, I'd like to sign someone like a Kyle Orton to be a stop-gap and veteran option/backup as well. Failing him, re-signing Grossman would do.

K: Gano was better this past season than he has been (taking into account that 5 block kicks skew his numbers) and his crazy-strong leg has always been interesting, but he's frustrating and nerve-racking, so if we are able to solidify the position, I'm all for it. Connor Barth from Tampa Bay, Josh Scobee from Jacksonville, and Matt Prater from Denver are all guys who have a long time left (being 26, 30, and 28 respectively) and have been very good, so I'd like it if we got one of them. If not, I think spend a 6th or 7th rounder on some competition for Gano.

And that about covers it. I'm also a big proponent of re-signing a bunch of the guys we presently have who are becoming free agents, so I think it's very important that we retain London Fletcher, LaRon Landry, Fred Davis, and Kory Lichtensteiger, and would be happy to hang onto Tim Hightower as well. I'm writing this wish-list expecting most if not all of them to be held onto. On the plus side, Fred Davis is the only one who will likely be in too high demand (and we're likely to franchise or transition tag him), given that Fletcher is 37 and happy here and the other 3 are all coming off season-ending injuries. 

One player a lot of people are throwing around as a good fit for the Skins is Marques Colston. I don't like Colston as a fit, personally. I like his style for our team, the size and possession ability, but think he is one more knee surgery away from possible uselessness and that most of his explosiveness is gone. I think we'd have to give him a pretty big contract (like 8 a year or somesuch, for maybe 4 years) and the chances of him Jammal Brown-ing us are waaaay too high.

It's also worth noting that Colston plays a really big percentage of his snaps in the slot, and we have Moss who is great out of the slot, Austin who has shown promise in the slot, and even Gaffney is pretty slot-friendly, so a more outside-centric WR would fit better.

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