The Washington Redskins entered free agency with lots of internal free agents at positions all over the field and were unsure who would be back. That included interior offensive linemen (Shawn Lauvao, Spencer Long), inside linebackers (Zach Brown, Will Compton), reserve pass rushers (Trent Murphy, Junior Galette), a cornerback (Bashaud Breeland), a defensive end (Phil Taylor), a tight end and special teams captain (Niles Paul) and three wide receivers (Terrelle Pryor, Ryan Grant, Brian Quick). And, of course, quarterback Kirk Cousins, who they had already moved on from by trading for Alex Smith on Jan. 30.
It speaks volumes about what Washington thought about its own free agents that only Brown, Taylor and Quick were re-signed. And only Brown was a starter. Taylor would have been, but he was injured late in the preseason and is no guarantee to make the roster in 2018. That left plenty of work for the Redskins to patch over its roster holes. They did little. Wide receiver Paul Richardson, cornerback Orlando Scandrick and outside linebacker Pernell McPhee were the only notable outside free-agent signings.
Here is a closer look at where the Redskins are, how they got here and a shot at what they should do with their first pick in the draft.
2017 finish: 3rd NFC East (7-9)
TOTAL OFFENSE: 324.9 (16th)
RUSHING: 90.5 (28)
PASSING: 234.4 (12)
TOTAL DEFENSE: 347.9 (21)
RUSHING: 134.1 (32)
PASSING: 213.8 (9th)
- Inside linebacker: The Redskins re-signed Brown and Mason Foster, but they could use some depth behind those two. It’s unclear if 2016 fifth-round draft pick Martrell Spaight will ever be more than a reserve. Will Compton was not re-signed. This unit needs an infusion of young talent. This is an obvious spot for the No. 13 pick in the draft.
- Running back: Team officials have openly said they will add competition at running back. Rob Kelley was an undrafted free agent in 2016, Samaje Perine was a 2017 fourth-round pick. Chris Thompson is an excellent third-down back and should recover from a broken leg. But expect Washington to add another running back from a deep draft class.
- Guard: The Redskins clearly didn’t want to spend in free agency. They let Long go so either 2017 sixth-round draft pick Chase Roullier is the new starting center or Washington is in the market for a left guard and a center, too. Lauvao still hasn’t signed with anyone, but doesn’t appear to be an option. There are a few internal options at guard (Kyle Kalis, Arie Kouandjio, Tyler Catalina) if something doesn’t materialize in the draft.
KEY PERSONNEL TRACKER (As of April 6)
–LB Zach Brown: UFA; $21M/3 yrs, $10M guaranteed ($4.5M injury only at signing, $4.5M SB.
–CB Quinton Dunbar: Potential UFA; $10.5M/3 yrs, $3M SB/$5.25M guaranteed.
–LB Mason Foster: Potential UFA; $4M/2 yrs, $500K SB/$2.25M guaranteed.
–K Dustin Hopkins: Potential UFA; $7.57M/3 yrs, $1.201M SB.
–WR Brian Quick: UFA; $880K/1 yr, $90K SB.
–DE Phil Taylor: UFA; 1 yr, terms unknown.
–QB Kirk Cousins: UFA Vikings; $84M fully guaranteed/3 yrs, $3M SB.
–G Orlando Franklin: FA; $790K/1 yr.
–RB Kenny Hilliard: FA; $1.05M/2 yrs.
–QB Kevin Hogan (trade Browns).
–LB Pernell McPhee: FA Bears; $1.8M/1 yr, $350K SB.
–WR Paul Richardson: UFA Seahawks; $40M/5 yrs, $20M guaranteed ($8.5M injury only at signing, $10M SB).
–CB Orlando Scandrick: FA Cowboys; $6.85M./2 yrs, $1M SB.
–QB Alex Smith (trade Chiefs).
–LB Will Compton: UFA Titans; terms unknown.
–S Su’a Cravens (traded Broncos).
–CB Kendall Fuller (traded Chiefs).
–WR Ryan Grant: UFA Colts; $5M guaranteed/1 yr.
–C Spencer Long: UFA Jets; $27.4M/4 yrs, $6M guaranteed/$1.5M SB.
–LB Trent Murphy: UFA Bills; $22.5M/3 yrs, $10.375M guaranteed ($2.5M injury only at signing, $5.25M SB, $500K RB).
–TE Niles Paul: UFA Jaguars; $4.75M/2 yrs, $1.5M fully guaranteed/$500K SB.
–WR Terrelle Pryor Sr.: UFA Jets; $4.5M/1 yr, $2M guaranteed/$1M SB.
*NFLDraftScout.com analysts suggest (No. 13 overall)
Rob Rang (April 5 mock draft):
–Roquan Smith, ILB, Georgia. Following the splashy trade for Alex Smith, Washington might turn its attention to adding a quarterback on defense. Smith, the 2017 Butkus Award winner as the nation’s top linebacker, lacks ideal bulk but his speed to the flanks and in coverage makes him perfectly suited to today’s pass-happy NFL.
Dane Brugler (April 6 mock draft):
–Roquan Smith, LB, Georgia. In a division with a running back like Ezekiel Elliott, the Redskins need impact tacklers and Smith certainly fits that description. He is a magnet to the ball with the range and toughness required in the NFC East.
Agree? Disagree? Still shopping?
Based on the team’s current status, those are our suggestions for that first pick. To double check or find another candidate see full mocks and ratings at NFLDraftScout.com.