It's cold up here in New England; very cold. Just like New England weather, the Redskins defense has been hot and cold all season.
I want to take a moment and tell you why I feel the Redskins will be a greatly improved defensive team in 2014, with the help of a few additions-by-subtractions, key free agent signings, return from injury to a few key players, and a good draft strategy. Oh, and it never hurts to retain some of our own home-grown talent!
*Disclaimer - I will not get into any possible change of scheme, or new coordinator scenarios.
Re-sign our Own:
Brian Orakpo - Re-signing or franchising Orakpo is a must. I personally like the franchise option the best, but as long as he remains a Redskin, I'll take it.
Perry Riley - Re-signing Riley is almost as equally important as retaining Orakpo. Riley leads the team in tackles, and has shown to be a very productive linebacker.
DeAngelo Hall - I'm torn on Hall a bit, but his play this season has been stellar. I wouldn't offer him any more that a two year deal with some incentives, but if we can retain his services for a reasonable cost, it would be a huge bonus.
Addition by Subtraction:
London Fletcher - Just like Raymour and Flanigan, one name says it all. And just like my wallet, the Redskins can no longer afford to keep Fletcher around in 2014. And unlike my wallet, it's not about the money. It's about the liability he's become to this defense. His cons heavily outweigh his pros, and there are no Super Bowls or Pro Bowls in site for the savy veteran. Retirement will look very good to both Fletcher and the Redskins.
Brandon Meriweather - So long. Nice to know ya! Such is the Redskins career of safety Brandon Meriweather. Injuries, suspensions and personal fouls have plagued his time in DC. I still think he's a talented player, but the baggage is becoming too heavy to carry.
Adam Carriker - It's not that Carriker has played poorly when he's on the field, but rather the salary, and injuries that make him a detriment to the team. Time for some new young blood.
Jairus Byrd - If there is a must get on defense in the 2014 free agent class, Byrd is it. He will add a dynamic player to our weak last line of defense.
Linval Joseph - Joseph can play the 1, 3 or 5 technique, and at just 25 years old, he could become a staple of the defensive line for years to come. If the Redskins happen to part ways with Bowen(his level of play is no where near his contract)Joseph would be a great replacement.
Donald Butler - The young, versatile linebacker could become the prefect replacement for London Fletcher. Hint: he's not a liability in pass coverage. I am very high on this guy if he makes it out of San Diego.
The Injury Bug has Left the Building:
Philip Thomas - I believe Thomas was the third best safety in the 2013 NFL draft, and I believe he would be entrenched as a starter if injury hadn't hit during his rookie season. Either way, the return of a healthy Thomas in 2014 will greatly improve our secondary. If he is paired with Byrd,.................watch out!
Keenan Robinson - I don't know if Robinson will be an immediate in-house candidate to replace the departed Fletcher, but his return will give a boost to our depth and special teams.
Richard Crawford - Crawford was a bright spot on defense as a rookie. He offers good size, speed and return ability. Getting him back healthy in 2014 will be a huge benefit to our secondary as a whole, not to mention what he can add as a returner.
Darqueze Dennard CB Mich St. 5-11 197(3rd round): If Dennard is avaliable when our third round pick roles around, I'd heavily consider using it on him. He possesses great man cover skills, and is a very sound tackler. He's not a blazer, but he has enough speed to get the job done.
Deandre Coleman DT Cal 6-5 315(4-5 round): Coleman is a mid-to-late round prospect who can develop into a solid defensive tackle in the NFL. He's not a disruptive gap-slasher, but he does a great job taking on double teams, and can beat interior linemen one-on-one with his strength.
Glen Carson LB PSU 6-2 240(6-7 round): Carson is a three year starter who has been incredibly productive on the field. He won't wow you with measurables, but he makes up for that with great instincts, and a non-stop motor.
With the proposed moves I have suggested, I believe the Redskins can go from historically bad to better than average!
I will project my new starting lineup in the comment section.