This off season is pivotal for the Redskins success moving forward. Without the right pieces in place, the team could fall back into mediocrity and the bottom of the NFC east. With that in mind, lets take a look at the free agents the Redskins have this season:
Unrestricted free agents: Lorenzo Alexander, DT; Kentwan Balmer, DT; Jordan Black, OL;Jammal Brown, OL; Chris Cooley, TE; Fred Davis, TE; Kedric Golston, DE; Cedric Griffin, CB; Rex Grossman, QB; Tanard Jackson, S; Bryan Kehl, LB; Kory Lichtensteiger, OL; Tyler Polumbus, OL;Sav Rocca, P; Madieu Williams, S; Chris Wilson, DE
Restricted free agents: Chris Baker, DT; Brandon Banks, WR; Rob Jackson, DE; Logan Paulsen, TE; Nick Sundberg, OL; Darrel Young, RB (Names and data from NFL.com)
First and foremost, the key difference between a unrestricted free agent and restricted free agent is simple. Unrestricted free agents are not on the team and are free to sign wherever they so choose. Restricted free agents, on the other hand, are allowed to entertain offers from other teams. These offers are then shown to the team and they are given the option to either match the offer, or receive a draft pick depending on how highly they valued the player. In other words, if a team really likes a player, they can offer him a deal, and if they redskins don’t like him they will receive a draft pick depending on how they evaluated the player before hand.
Lorenzo Alexander: Lorenzo Alexander is a must sign for many reasons. Not only is he the core of the Redskins special teams unit. He is also a versatile backup at linebacker, able to line up both inside and outside. On top of his ridiculous versatility, Alexander also offers a veteran presence in the locker room and also has a great image in the community. It would be a shock to see Lorenzo not get resigned.
Kory Lichtensteiger: The key to RGIII’s success depends on how consistent the offensive line is. Kory Lichtensteiger had a few injury problems down the season, but I believe he is a great talent and a perfect fit in between Montgomery (Center) and Williams (Left Tackle). Kory’s health is the only reason why I could see the Redskins try to see if anyone else could fill the void, but in reality I fully expect him to be back with the Redskins next season ready to go.
Darrel Young: Darrel Young is an all out beast. Many people never even realized he played linebacker at VIllanova before being converted to a fullback. This not only says wonders about his toughness, but also his knowledge of how to play against defensive schemes. Darrel Young is a great blocker and paved the way for Alfred Morris’ historic rookie rushing campaign. He should definitely be retained in order to keep the rush attack as powerful as it was last season.
Logan Paulsen: Logan Paulsen’s future depends on what the Redskins choose to do with Fred Davis. Fred Davis is a much bigger play making receiver at tight end where Logan Paulsen is more proficient in blocking. However, when Fred Davis went down Paulsen stepped up and filled the void, finishing the season with 25 receptions for 308 yards and one touchdown. I would be very surprised for the Redskins to let Paulsen go with the potential he has shown.
Nick Sundberg: Nick Sundberg is a must sign for me due to superstitious reasons. Why? Because Sundberg only played 8 games this season. The first game against the Saints where he played through the entire game with a broken arm, and then the final 7; closing out the Redskins season with all wins. I’m not saying he’s magic, but I certainly want a guy in which every game he played he won.
If the price is right:
Fred Davis: Fred Davis has shown flashes of potential as a great receiving tight end. Unfortunately, his past two seasons have come to a close early. In 2011 he was suspended for failing a drug test, the Redskins choose to slap the franchise tag on him to give him another year. Unfortunately an injury in week 7 ended his season short. This off season the Redskins have to ask themselves if they want to take the risk with Davis again or decide to let him go in favor of a more solid tight end such as Logan Paulsen.
Tyler Polumbus: Tyler Polumbus filled in for the injured Jammal Brown for almost the entire season. While his play was acceptable, it's clear that the Redskins need a much more solid fit at right tackle heading forward. Still don’t be surprised if the Redskins offer Polumbus another contract just to solidify the offensive line heading into the 2013 season.
Madieu Williams: Madieu played off and on all season long, but in reality was a decent fit for our defense. He had some solid plays and was fairly consistent. His most memorable play of the season was his 24 yard Interception returned for a touchdown against the Vikings week 6. Williams’ re-signing may be a sign in which direction the Redskins choose to go in the draft. Don’t expect a deal to be rushed though.
Cedric Griffin: Cedric Griffin is a great run stopping physical corner who had his moments during the 2012 season. Unfortunately he was suspended for four games in the 2012 season. As I said before, with how the redskins secondary was the last year, I wouldn’t be surprised if they re-signed him out of desperation or to open up more competition against starting corners Deangelo Hall and Josh Wilson.
Rob Jackson: I’m sure many of us were terrified when Brian Orakpo went down for the season with his pectoral injury. However, Rob Jackson showed play making abilities all over the field. He was great at rushing the passer and made huge plays. One thing that I enjoy about Jackson over Orakpo is the fact that Jackson can go into coverage as well as blitz. His 4 interceptions this season were huge, none bigger than the game clincher against Dallas in the final moments of the game. I would love to see Jackson be a Redskin for a long time, but that all depends on the status of Orakpo.
Tanard Jackson: Tanard Jackson was suspended at the beginning of the 2012 season for failing a drug test. However, with the Redskins lack of players in the secondary I would not be surprised if they kept him around just to have some more competition in the backfield.
Rex Grossman: With the emergence of Kirk Cousins, Grossman is most likely done with his time in Washington. Although the Redskins may choose to keep three quarterbacks on roster just because of the risk of RGIII, they will probably aim to sign a younger player in order to avoid paying the veteran minimum salary of over $900,000.
Brandon Banks: Brandon Banks has not been the playmaker he was his rookie campaign. Unfortunately for him, the rule change in kickoffs really hurt his production and eventually have made him no longer an asset to this team.
Chris Cooley: Chris Cooley coming back for the 2012 season was a direct result of Fred Davis’ injury. With Davis healthy, Cooley will not be a target of interest this off season. However, if injuries come up again, Cooley will be a phone call away from being a Redskin in 2013.
The Redskins have some tough choices ahead of them in terms of who to sign and not. Depending on who gets signed and when could very well determine how the Redskins draft strategy will go. But thats another story for another day.