It's shopping time! The free agent market is set to open tomorrow at 4 pm and the Redskins have quite a bit of cash to spend and a huge list of needs. How will they spend that money and who will end up in Burgundy and Gold, is the prevailing question on most fans minds today. Here is a look at some combinations of offensive free agents the Redskins could look to target.
Now obviously the Redskins need to spend money on the defensive side of the ball (and that really is the bigger need) so they can't just sign every key free agent, but that doesn't mean the Redskins can't spend a good chunk of money on the offensive side as well. The Redskins can create more cap room with a Brian Orakpo extension (which will need to wait till later in the month at the earliest) and cutting any number of Chester, Polumbus, Litchensteiger, Montgomery, Bowen or Paulsen.
Now everyone has their own priority for fixing the team, and it should come as no surprise that I believe that focusing on the offensive line is the key to the Redskins success (from an offensive standpoint). An offensive lineman is going to be on the field 100% of the time and involved in every single play. A number two WR may only see 70% of the snaps and a slot receiver will probably be more like 45-50%. Also, for running plays that a WR is on the field their impact is typically very limited. The other big factor with favoring offensive linemen is the fact that they are more likely to help RGIII than receivers.
Griffin like most young quarterbacks is struggling to get rid of the ball quickly. This is regardless as to whether or not targets are open or not. The best way to support him as he grows as a QB is to give him extra time in the pocket to either make the throw or scramble. There are obviously other opinions and options to boost this team, so feel free to come up with your own wish list.
*Note: While the draft can help, with the lack of a first round pick the Redskins may have a harder time finding a starter in the draft, particularly at an offensive position. There could be a couple OT's and G's that could start right away, but otherwise you aren't getting an offensive starter. I don't see any center I'd really want to start day one, especially with a young QB. And wide receivers is one of the lowest impact positions, particularly as rookies. Your chance of finding a quality starter with a rookie is extremely small.
C Alex Mack, RT Anthony Collins, G Geoff Schwartz, WR Lance Moore, WR Jason Avant, TE Ed Dickson
-This would be pricey along the OL, but it would mean that Griffin would have the time to pick apart opposing defenses and Alfred Morris would have even more running room before having to break tackles. Mack and Collins are both going to be very expensive, but they would lock down the 2nd and 3rd most important OL positions. Schwartz would be the icing on the cake for the line. Moore and Avant would be cheaper receiving options who you know can produce if given the opportunity. They would be a nice complement to Pierre Garcon for a year or two and give some decent weapons to Griffin. Ed Dickson would be on a 1 year prove it type of deal. He's always had the potential to be a good TE, but he's never put it together.
The downside of this plan is the Redskins would need to pretty much cut everyone listed above, and go cheaper on defense than they would probably like. More money would be pushed into the future than some other scenarios, but it probably wouldn't be too prohibitive. The biggest issue with this type of scenario is the unlikelihood of it. Mack has the transition tag so the Browns can match any offer, and Collins could likely get interest as a LT from some teams. Moore and Avant could consider the Redskins as a fall back option, but they would likely try to latch on to a team that either throws the ball more or has a more established QB.
Offensive Weapon Heavy:
WR Emmanuel Sanders (or Andre Roberts), WR Hakeem Nicks (1 year deal), RB Darren Sproles, TE Garrett Graham, RT Tyson Clabo, C J.D. Walton, G Daryn Colledge
-This scenario would add weapons and playmakers to the Redskins offense giving RGIII plenty of options to work with. Add these four guys to Garcon, Reed and Morris and the Redskins would be pretty tough to defend. Along the offensive line the Redskins go for stop gaps here with veterans Clabo and Colledge. Both are solid veterans who typically play at least at an above average level (which is still a big jump from what the Redskins have had), but they aren't the impact guys from the dream scenario. Walton is at least a younger option, but he's missed the past two years due to injury so he's likely a short term upgrade as well.
The downside of this scenario is how the Redskins resources are being allotted and the longterm impact of these deals. Sanders Nicks, Sproles and Graham will all cost good money to essentially fight with Garcon and Reed for catches. There are only so many balls to go around and unless the Redskins plan on throwing the ball 700 times, you are simply wasting money on a couple of these players. Signing Sproles can make sense, but not if he's only going to catch the ball 20 times in your offense. The other issues is the long term impact of this FA group.
Sure next year this group of players could really jump start the Redskins offense, but outside of Sanders and Graham their impact beyond 2014 is in doubt. Nicks would sign for a year just to boost his stock for the next season's free agency. It could be a steal of a signing next season, but it offers zero future impact. Sproles probably has 2 good years left, but you never know when a RB hits that wall. If he loses speed/quickness he's done as an effective player. All three of the offensive linemen would be 1-2 year type of signings, so even if they played well in 2014, by 2015 or 2016 you will have to replace all three players.
WR James Jones, RT Eric Winston, C Joe Hawley, G Chad Rienhart, WR Nate Burleson, TE Dustin Keller, RB Jonathan Dwyer
-The Skins upgrade both their offensive line and weapons with this approach. Neither side is too favored and none of the players are going to break the bank. It's also a good mix of guys who can offer production for at least three years and some shorter term guys. The offense would definitely improve under this scenario with two quality veteran receivers, and three good offensive line upgrades. Keller would be a 1 year deal guy trying to prove he can comeback from a serious injury, but if he does the value could be huge.
The concern with this type of deal is that while you added a lot of above average talent, there is no player or two you can really count on. Winston and Jones have the best track records, but both have been average at times in the past as well. Also, some of these guys might not really consider the Redskins as an option. Rienhart might not want to come back to the Skins and Jones, Burleson and Keller might not view the Redskins as the best option for their careers given the uncertain passing game. Maybe you get one of them, but all three signing would probably be a stretch.
RT Zach Strief, C Brian De La Puerte, G Willie Colon, WR Dexter McCluster, WR Jerome Simpson, TE Scott Chandler, RB Felix Jones
-This is my favorite scenario for the Redskins. Ideally when I started i wanted Anthony Collins at RT, but it sounds like his market will be too high. Instead I see Strief as a nice fallback option. He's not too old that he should be able to offer 3-4 good years at RT. He's done an excellent job blocking for Drew Brees these past few seasons and would really help keep Griffin upright. Teaming him up with his former Saints teammate De La Puerte makes a lot of sense. De La Puerte is a good center and has again done a really nice job for the Saints. He doesn't figure to break the bank and New Orleans doesn't have a ton of money to retain him with. Rounding out the offensive line is former Steeler and Jet guard Willie Colon. When Colon is healthy he's a very good offensive lineman, unfortunately he hasn't been too healthy of late. He's worth taking a shot at since he'll come cheaply on a 1-2 year deal, and even if he only plays 8-10 games he could be a nice boost for Griffin and Morris.
In the weapons department I like the combination of McCluster and Simpson at receiver. Simpson can be the outside guy and deep threat option, while McCluster works out of the slot and can be used in a variety of creative ways (and boost the return game). Simpson knows Jon Gruden from their time in Cincy, and he's had over 700 yards in two of the past three seasons (one of those under Gruden). That is exactly what the Skins are looking for in a cheap number 2 receiver. A Garcon, Simpson, and McCluster WR corps would be pretty solid and allow the Redskins to do a variety of things offensively.
Scott Chandler could be a big time sleeper option in free agency and make quite an impact for the Redskins offense. He's a strong run blocking TE, so he complements Jordan Reed perfectly and should help out Alfred Morris quite a bit. He's not just a blocker though, as Chandler has put up solid numbers in Buffalo. He might not stretch the field, but at 6'7" he can be the big safety valve target that Griffin needs, particularly in the Red Zone. Though he won't make the impact of the other signings, Felix Jones could be a nice cheap pick-up for the Redskins. Sure injuries have been an issue, but the Redskins are looking for a number 3 or 4 back who can help on ST's and that is Jones. Jones has been effective as well when on offense, so if injuries pile up he can help out some there as well.
Like any scenario there is a downside here as well, as the Redskins would be looking at mainly 2nd tier guys here in an effort to fill every role. Now that is better than the scenario where they are focused on above average production, but none of these guys are impact players. That should be okay considering the Redskins already have that in guys like Trent Williams, Alfred Morris, RGIII, Pierre Garcon and hopefully Jordan Reed, but it is worth noting.
What scenario do you like? And what would be your choices in free agency to fix the offense?