Defensive Coordinator Jim Haslett has survived the initial coaching purge, and the second bloodletting after Coach Gruden took power. Emperor Shanahan has been deposed and now every player, coach, and bathroom attendant that he was personally responsible for holding back will be able to reach their full potential. With Sith Lord Shanahan gone, Jim Haslett will be allowed to let pass rushers rush the passer, defensive backs defend, and he might even be allowed back on the field during games. Containment has also been deemed optional, so expect a fun ride this season.
Defensive End Adam Carriker was released after trying unsuccessfully for the last two years to return from a quad injury in 2012. Stephen Bowen injured his knee last season, but has had disappointing production recently. His microfracture surgery, along with his contract, put his roster spot in jeopardy. Chris Baker was designated by Haslett as a priority re-signing this offseason, and he was rewarded for his development and his production replacing Bowen in the last few games of the season. Baker is projected to take Bowen's spot if he is cut, and will look to continue being the QB Killa this year. Jarvis Jenkins was suspended for the first 4 games of the season last year for taking an illegal "supplement", and it took him some time to get back into starting shape. His development has been stunted by injury and now suspension. The other reserve Defensive Ends are Kedric Golston and Doug Worthington.
Barry Cofield is the starting NT, and played 71.2% of the defensive snaps last season. Chris Neild is the backup NT, but the Pocono Punisher was in the rotation for less than 10% of the defensive plays last season, and could be upgraded this year. Will Haslett bring in a bigger, more traditional, gap-stuffing NT this offseason? The Redskins were in their Nickel defense over 60% of the time last season, and Bruce Allen has said that they plan on bringing in players that are capable of playing in 3 and 4 man fronts. One thing that is certain, the Skins need to create more pressure on the QB from whatever base front they line up in. So who are you signing to improve this year's defense?
Defensive Line Options:
1. Linval Joseph, New York Giants
Weight: 323 lbs
Joseph is expected to receive a contract averaging at least $6 milllion/year, and could cost more than the Skins want to pay. But that does not mean they are not interested, along with several other teams who are reportedly talking to his agent. Joseph is only 25 years old, and had a good season in his contract year. He could follow in the footsteps of Cornelius Griffin and Barry Cofield as another Giants defensive lineman to be signed away by the Redskins. He has the scheme versatility the Skins are looking for. Joseph is good against the run, but can also get after the QB.
2. Arthur Jones, Baltimore Ravens
Weight: 315 lbs
Jones is also reportedly getting interest from several teams including the Redskins. Mark Bullock recently labeled him an under the radar signing and described him as "a versatile run defender that Baltimore switched between nose tackle and, more commonly, left defensive end." He has good use of his hands, use of leverage, and ability to recognize the run. The Redskins will make a strong push to get him if the contract is right. Added bonus, Jones brother Jon can teach certain players who need improvement with using their hands...looking at you Rak.
3. Randy Starks, Miami Dolphins
Weight: 305 lbs
Starks was franchised last season and is not expected to be back with the Dolphins after reports of a falling out with Head Coach Joe Philbin. Starks has been a consistent starter in Miami's D for years, and made the Pro Bowl in 2010 and 2012. The former Terp can play defensive end in the 4-3 and the 3-4, and had 4 sacks and a forced fumble last year. He is consistent and durable, and hasn't missed a game since 2007. But he turns 31 in December and is not someone you want to put a lot of money into. He will get interest on short term deals, but if the price is right, the Skins could be interested.
4. Vance Walker, Oakland Raiders
Weight: 305 lbs
5. Al Woods, Pittsburgh Steelers
Weight: 307 lbs
6. Paul Soliai, Miami Dolphins
Weight: 340 lbs
7. Alex Carrington, Buffalo Bills
Weight: 301 lbs
Carrington has been with the Bills for 4 seasons, starting 3 games last year before a quad injury derailed his season. Skins fans probably don't want to hear about a defensive lineman with a bad quad after two years of surgeries and setbacks kept Adam Carriker on the payroll but not on the field. If he is healthy, he could be signed to a cheap deal to improve depth and competition. ESPN did a contract analysis for Carrington's market, and the two players who were the closest comparisons to him were paid $775k and $3 million. He will argue his good start last season and potential is worth more, but the fact is, he has to prove himself in the league before he gets paid.