Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Quick hits, FA update

I would like at some point to make a long, well-written post regarding the salary cap penalty issue facing the Redskins and Cowboys, and how patently illegal it is, so perhaps I'll get around to that shortly. I also want to do an updated draft discussion, looking at players whom I think would well fit the Redskins' needs (even if, functionally, it's looking only at the 3rd round and beyond).

But, here are a few updates for now:

-Compensatory picks were announced. The Redskins were not awarded any. Big winners were Green Bay and Oakland (whose highest two picks, I believe, will both be compensatory, oddly enough).

-Finally a little trickle of refreshing new news in the dry, barren wasteland that is updates on London Fletcher's status. Nothing concrete, but it has been said that the team still wants him (and vice versa) and that talks are underway and/or have resumed. Hurrah.

-More and more speculation about RG3 potentially being the guy to take over Luck. As much as I am impressed and becoming more and more enamored with Griffin, and as much as I respect the opinion of NFL Films' Greg Cosell (who is among the analysts that, after detailed film study of both Griffin and Luck, believes that Griffin is a more talented, natural passer, and will be a stud in the NFL), I'm not ready to go that far. Great though Young Griff is, Andrew Luck is Andrew Luck, and has done nothing to be less impressive. I think some of it may be valid, but some of it is the media trying to build something up as exciting. While Irsay and the Colts are indeed likely doing their due diligence in considering both players, I would still be shocked if it weren't Luck at #1, and, love Griffin though I do, think that is how it should be.

It is encouraging and refreshing, though, how nearly-unanimously all sources and experts seem to agree that both are stellar prospects who are as close to can't-miss as possible. I don't remember the last time a quarterback coming out was pretty much free of concerns or question marks about how he actually plays, but both of these guys really are. All Luck is dealing with is the idea of "well, I guess he could have a stronger arm..." and Griffin's concerns all center around the fact that he played lesser competition in Baylor's conference and offense, and showed a huge improvement in his last season. Valid concerns, maybe, but I've heard nothing but good about his arm strength, accuracy, footwork, discipline, leadership, intelligence, work ethic, athleticism, and everything else. That is almost-unheard-of-rare.

-Last, just going to update the status of free agents. Most of the remaining contenders from the last update of my last post are still free, but because it had become cluttered, here's a fresh little look:

Friday, March 16, 2012

Remaining Free Agents of Note

Here's a little list of the remaining free agents to whom the Redskins have been linked or who would be a good fit for them. Ideally, I'll come back tomorrow and flesh this out, add some more, list the teams that these players have met with, etc.

First, from us:
LB London Fletcher (We need to bring him back. He hasn't been linked to anyone else)
FS OJ Atogwe (We cut him, unlikely to return, could use his coverage ability though)
HB Tim Hightower (Would be a good get for his blocking and receiving ability, brings a different running style than Helu/Royster, wouldn't cost too much)
QB Rex Grossman (Likely guy we'd bring back to hold us over until RG3 is ready or back him up) Re-signed by Redskins
G Kory Lichtensteiger (He's coming back. Coming off an ACL tear but looked good before that. More important to us than he would be to another team) Re-signed by Redskins
SS LaRon Landry (Want him back but seeming unlikely) Signed by Jets (1 year, 4 mil)

OT Demetrius Bell, BUF (We've been linked to him, he would be a pretty good pickup to shore up the RT spot)
OT Marcus McNeill, SD (Aging but still pretty solid tackle, if we can't get Bell he might be worth picking up)
OG Eric Steinbach, CLE (Has the right physical profile for our scheme and has been a very good player in the past, though he was hurt last year)
LB David Hawthorne, SEA (Solid young LB. Could compete with Riley and ensure that we have at least a capable tandem when we lose Fletcher)
ILB Curtis Lofton, ATL (A very good young ILB but probably out of our price range unless we don't re-sign Fletcher (which would be bad))
OLB Manny Laweson, SF (Well-rounded and speedy 3-4 OLB who would be a useful rotational player backing up both Kerrigan and Orakpo, and getting on the field in packages)
NT Aubrayo Franklin, NO (Pretty good NT)
NT Shaun Rogers, NO (Great size, has been good in the past, should be cheap)
OT/G Geoff Schwartz, CAR (A decent guard, one of the few still unsigned) Signed by Vikings (1 year, $?)
ILB Jameel McClain, BAL (Solid, pretty young ILB to challenge Riley, or start next to him if we don't re-sign Fletcher) Re-signed by Ravens
LB Erin Henderson, MIN (See: McClain. Isn't getting a lot of interest including from his Vikings. Wouldn't mind picking him up even if we do re-sign Fletcher. Went to UMD.) Re-signed with VikingsQB Josh Johnson, TB (Surprisingly, we've been linked to him since re-signing Rex. He'll probably cost more than it makes sense for us to pay him, but I like him so if we could get him cheap, I'd support it) Signed by 49ers (2 years, $?)
NT Pat Sims, CIN (Good run stopper) Re-signed with Bengals
CB Tracy Porter, NO (Has shown some good play in the past, as well as some bad play. Young still, would be cheap, and we need some corners) Signed by Broncos (1 year, 4 mil)
LB Stephen Tulloch, DET (Very good ILB if we had to replace Fletcher. Probably out of our price range) (5 years, ?mil.. probably 40+)
OG Evan Mathis, PHI (would be a great fit and upgrade, supposedly top 2 teams are Ravens, Eagles) Re-signed with Eagles (5 years, 25 mil)
OG Mike Briesel, HOU (scheme fit but underwhelming talent. We've been linked) Signed with Raiders (5 years, 20 mil) 
C Chris Meyers, HOU (Scheme fit and very good player, would give us a glut of centers to figure out as Montgomery is already there and played badly when we tried him at guard) Re-signed with the Texans (4 years, 25 mil)
OT Eric Winston, HOU (Scheme fit and good player, we've been linked. Supposedly going to get a ton of money, lots of teams interested) Signed by Chiefs (4 years, 22 mil)
OG Travelle Wharton, CAR (One of the decent FA guards. We need OL help) Signed by the Bengals
NT Sione Pouha, NYJ (Good NT who could help us. Probably out of our price range) Re-signed by Jets (3 years, 15 mil)
FS Reggie Nelson, CIN (we could use a safety who is better in coverage) Re-signed by Bengals
CB Aaron Ross, NYG (We've been linked strongly) Signed by Jaguars (3 years, 15.3 mil)
CB Ronald Bartell, STL (One of the better remaining corners, not that that's saying a whole lot) Signed with Raiders (1 year, 3 mil)
C Scott Wells, GB (Very good center) Signed by Rams (4 years, 24 mil)
QB David Garrard, JAX (One of the better veteran QBs, would be willing to backup, we'll need a vet to either back RG3 up or be a stop gap while he gets ready) Signed by Dolphins
OG Robert Gallery, SEA (See: Wharton) Signed by Patriots

-Redskins sign CB Cedric Griffin, formerly of the Vikings. 1 year, $2.5 mil

-Fred Davis signed his franchise tender of $~5.5 mil

-Evan Mathis gone, I was really hoping to get him. Worse, the Eagles re-signed him at a pretty modest 5/25. I think we've a good chance to land Demetrius Bell, which should be a pretty good move, but there's not a lot else left out there on the OL, unfortunately.

-3:45 3/17: Redskins have around 14 mil in cap space this year as is. Freed up a couple mil re-structuring the contract we just signed Will Montgomery to a few weeks ago. I can't believe that DeAngelo Hall's contract is going to stay on the books the way it is.

-10:55am 3/20: Things all fully updated. Not a lot of targets left on the list. Bell is the only one I see as having much likelihood on the open market. We need to re-sign Fletcher and I'd like to re-sign both Hightower and Atogwe too.  Peyton signed with Denver.

-5:50pm 3/20: Added a handful more free agents that I think would be worth investigating that are either newly free agents due to cuts or I simply hadn't added earlier.

-11:50am 3/24
Again, all updated. News is coming in much slower now, some guys that wouldn't have been huge gets but I would've really liked to add (like Erin Henderson and Pat Sims) are gone, sadly. Lots of one-year deals. Still no word on Fletcher, and I've surprisingly heard nothing about Eric Steinbach. Demetrius Bell visited us but hasn't signed anywhere. If we could get him and Steinbach I'd be thrilled.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

More Free Agency

Redskins signed Brandon Merriweather for 2 years, 6 mil.... I don't hate it, but I'd prefer Atogwe or Landry. Merriweather has talent but hasn't been very good. Hopefully Raheem Morris can get something out of him, though. It also indicates we could plan to go into next season without any more serious moves at safety, which would probably mean, I imagine, Merriweather starting at FS and DeJon Gomes starting at SS with Reed Doughty as a utility backup and package player. That's a pretty phenomenally unspectacular group unless Merriweather seriously turns things around or Gomes makes a huge leap in his sophomore season.

We're still considered to be in the Eddie Royal sweepstakes, though the decision hasn't come.

Nicks(TB) and Grubbs(NO) have both been signed and Eric Winston is receiving a lot of interest. Paul McQuistan, in whom we supposedly had interest, has also been re-signed by Seattle. I'm very much hoping that we pull off a deal with Evan Mathis, who has been linked to us, the Ravens, and might stay in Philly. We've also more recently been linked to former Texans guard Mike Briesel, who fits our scheme but does nothing to excite. Mathis would be huge for us. Other than that, Steve Hutchinson (who could help out but is old) and recently-released Robert Gallery are the notable options in free agency.

Brandon Carr(DAL), Cortland Finnegan(STL), and Eric Wright(TB) have all been signed as well, meaning we aren't going to get a ton of CB help in free agency. We're still likely to bring someone in but we've been linked to people like Aaron Ross, so it's looking more like depth.

Kyle Orton(DAL), Chad Henne(JAX), Luke McCown and Jason Campbell(both CHI) have all been signed, making a return of Rex Grossman look like our most likely option as a vet to pair with RG3.

We're still interested in Fletcher, and there hasn't been any word of him talkin with anyone. We need to bring Fletch back, bottom line.

Stay tuned for more updates.

UPDATE 5:24: Steve Hutchinson signed to a 3 year deal by the Titans.


Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Free Agency underway

Even with the stupid unreasonable 18 mil cap hit we have to take this year (more on that another time), we can still be active FA players. After cutting Sellers (I'll miss you, Big Daddy) and Atogwe (bleh :\), we have close to 20 mil free, and could free up more through some other re-structures or cuts (Guys like Cooley and his ~4mil or DHall's team-leading 8.5 mil cap hit are prime candidates) and, given our team's creativity with the cap and willingness to give money to players in exchange for flexibility, up to 30 mil would be fairly reasonable if we really wanted.

Now, my ideal scenario still involves signing Vincent Jackson(with a little back-loading could probably have around a 9 mil cap hit for the first season with us) and Cortland Finnegan (maybe 6 mil), both of whom have been linked to us and expressed interest in going to the same team. I want to re-sign Fletcher (maybe a 4-5 mil cap hit for year 1), Landry (3-4 mil, his will probably be just a 1-year deal, maybe with an option of sorts), and it sounds like we're re-signing Carriker (maybe 1.5-2 mil), all of which could be accomplished by taking up somewhere in the low to mid 20 millions. After that, I'd be happy with just small moves and filling thinsg out, only remaining big named I'd be interested in would be Atogwe if we could bring him back cheaper (especially if we don't keep Landry) or an offensive lineman, such as guards Carl Nicks from the Saints, Ben Grubbs from the Ravens, or, perhaps cheapest and best fit, Evan Mathis from the Eagles, or newly-released scheme fit right tackle Eric Winston from the Texans.

That all said, I undoubtedly won't get what I want.

Free agency developments after the jump

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Predicting the quarterbacks

With so many moving pieces in action, this is both more important to help me get a sense of things, and more futile because something changing at the top will change everything else, and there's a lot of unpredictable things yet to come. That said, I took the liberty of sort of mocking out where I think quarterbacks are likely to sign/get drafted. I did this a couple days ago before the Redskins-Rams trade, though that just re-affirmed what I had projected. The one I'm presently beginning to doubt more is Peyton Manning as the way he's hanging out in Denver and, accourting to reports, still has no meeting scheduled with Miami is calling that one into question.

Still, here they are:

Peyton Manning: Miami... he could go a lot of ways, but I think this is the most likely with the team's very obvious interests, t the weather, and him already having a home there. Plus, there's no real reason they can't/wouldn't sign Reggie Wayne to play opposite Marshall and Dallas Clark for Peyton to throw to.

Matt Flynn: Seahawks... Deep-pocketed owner who I think will work hard to get Flynn. Harder than the biggest competitors

Andrew Luck: Colts... duh.

RG3: Redskins... If the Seahawks and Dolphins are out of contention, and the Rams and Vikings aren't abandoning their QBs despite some stupid predictions, it's either Browns or Skins for RG3. I think the Skins want him more.

Kyle Orton: Redskins... I think there's a good chance that if the Skins go with a QB in the draft they also get a stopgap-capable vet, and Orton is one of the best available. They fall back on Rex if they can't get another, but I think they probably can.

Ryan Tannehill: Seahawks. If they don't sign Flynn, or perhaps even if they do, they might look to a rookie and Tannehill seems possible.

Three firsts, a second, and maybe more for RG3?

Lots of people have been waiting to hear from me with bated breath on this matter. Let me just say, I oppose it wholeheartedly. I really like RG3, and he's been growing and growing on me. Had a very impressive year, you rarely hear anything negative about him (you hear question marks regarding being a Big 12 or spread offense QB, or not having been so great for as long as other people, but never really hear about things he does poorly), he's extremely athletic, incredibly well-spoken and charismatic, and by all accounts a very, very hard-worker and good leader. Super. That's great. I love the idea of the Skins having him as our QB of the future, as I've been saying all along.

That said, there's a point at which it isn't worth trading up. I'm all for being aggressive and taking some risks, but no matter how impressed you are, you can't be 100% sure RG3 is going to be a top QB in the league. Keep in mind, he isn't even the top pick this year (obviously providing the Colts still take Luck first overall and we take RG3 second, but if the trade rumors are true, that seems a foregone conclusion). Until mid-way through this past NCAA season he wasn't really even on the first round radar.

Some people say you can't put a price on a franchise quarterback. I understand that a franchise quarterback is a massively important thing to a franchise. That said, yes you can, Heath. Even ignoring the fact that you can't be positive RG3 is one, the expression is wrong in and of itself.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Gregg Rosenthal's Free Agents to Avoid; or, Told You So


Top spots are occupied by Marques Colston, Pierre Garcon, and Mario Manningham, for pretty much the exact reasons I've been opposing the idea of the Skins pursuing them. To quote:

1. Marques Colston, Saints wideout

The surgeries are well documented. I’m less worried about the injury risk because Colston has only missed ten career games, including three in the last three years.

I’m more concerned that you will have to pay for his past production and that production matches up with the game’s elite receivers since 2006. You aren’t likely to get anything close to that production unless you also have Drew Brees throwing Colston the ball.

Brees’ pinpoint accuracy and trust in Colston creates a lot of plays that aren’t there because Colston doesn’t get much separation. Ultimately, he’s a possession receiver.

2-3. Pierre Garcon and Mario Manningham, wide receivers

I’m listing these two together because they are in many ways the same guy. They can look like No. 1 receivers for stretches, but they make way too many mental errors and drop too many passes to invest big money on. Those mental errors are only going to pick up from Peyton and Eli Manning.

Garcon and Manningham are borderline No. 2/3 receivers that will get paid like No. 1 receivers.

The rest of the list is pretty irrelevant to the Skins.  The #3 and 4 spots are occupied by offensive tackles Jared Gaither and Demetrius Bell, who are feasible since we likely need a new right tackle to replace Jammal Brown and UDFA Willie Smith isn't ready, but neither is really a great option and I haven't seen the Skins linked much if at all to either one. Depending on what happens with trading picks away to move up in the draft, I expect that to be the place we address the right tackle position, which would be a good move for us.