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Free Agency Defensive End Strategy

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Update [2007-2-21 19:38:48 by Skin Patrol]: Per TexSkins, Sportscenter has Redding Franchised. So Dewayne White you win by default, Huzzah!

With franchise tags going out to DEs Dwight Freeney and Justin Smith, among others, if the Redskins plan on solving their pass rushing woes in Free Agency (note: I think they should do it in the draft), the field is shrinking. Pete Prisco and Clark Judge have dueling Free Agency analyses, where Prisco identifies bargains and Judge points out potential busts. We'll start with the bad news from Judge on Atlanta DE Patrick Kerney, who may try and stay with the Falcons anyways:

The question potential suitors must ask themselves is: Can he be a great player? He's coming off a pectoral injury that shortened his 2006 season. And he will be 31 in December. That's not a good combination...

But buyers beware. "When I look at Patrick Kerney," said one scout, "I see a terrific athlete who wears down as the season goes on and who defenders start to handle. He's had some productivity, but I'd think twice before paying him a lot of money." Apparently, so would Atlanta.

I saw a few threads on Kerney at Extreme Skins but didn't give them much of a look. For now I'm willing to sell on Kerney if only for his age and the confirming concerns from Judge.

So who should we go after? Pete Prisco has two names:

Dewayne White, DE, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

There's always a shortage of good, young pass rushers. It's why the Cincinnati Bengals gave Robert Geathers a five-year contract to keep him off the market. The Bucs haven't been as lucky with White, so he will likely be available.

A second-round pick in 2003, he spent most of his first three seasons being used as a situational rusher but took over as a starter late last season when Simeon Rice went down with an injury. He had five sacks and showed he had the speed off the edge. He has 14 sacks the past three seasons.

He turns 28 in October, so his best football is in front of him. Tampa Bay would love to keep him, particularly because Rice and Greg Spires are both over 30.

Cory Redding, DT-DE, Lions

Redding picked a good time to have his career season. He had eight sacks in 2006, playing both end and tackle.

He finished the season at tackle, but at 290 pounds he is small by those standards for some defenses. The fact he can play both positions bodes well for his free-agency status.

Redding has played four seasons since being drafted by the Lions out of Texas and had four sacks before last season

Redding is 26 -- do I like that age or what? -- and won't turn 27 until November. The Lions could still place a franchise tag on him, but if not, he will get signed early by another team.

Using their current contracts as a measuring stick, Dewayne White was around a 700k hit in 2006 whereas Redding was a 1.5M hit last year. Redding is younger so will fetch a larger contract anyways, though clearly is more versatile and has a higher upside.

I said fix this in the Draft because it's the best way to get a cheap player that starts (or will eventually do so). We need to improve our pass rush ASAP, so either FA or draft should focus on supplanting Phillip Daniels eventually. If we eschew the draft at this position, I have to think Redding is the better investment. The money concerns me, but I'd rather get a starter on defense than settle for depth; I'm fine with Demetric Evans in that role anyways. Phillip Daniels doesn't need someone to spell him, he needs someone to challenge for that position or else enter the game on passing downs as a sack-specialist. Redding will cost but could contribute on this team for many years to come. I like his size as well -- he has nearly 20 pounds on White.

Reader(s), should we even be considering a DE in free agency or is this a need that clearly needs to be filled on April 28th?