Mike Iupati(6'5", 330 lbs, 27 years old) was not a Scot McCloughan draft pick, he was taken by the San Francisco 49ers in the 1st round of the 2010 draft. McCloughan was fired by the 49ers shortly before the draft, so it is safe to assume that he had put a lot of time into scouting Iupati and other first round talent considering they had two picks in the 1st round to work with. Dianna Russini of NBC Washington is reporting that the Redskins will have a strong interest in signing Iupati when free agency begins on March 10th. She also mentions interest from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Iupati is expected to be the top guard in free agency this season, and will command a contract that reflects that. The Redskins made Shawn Lauvao a priority, day one signing in last year's free agency, giving him a 4 year, $17 million deal. He became the starter at left guard, replacing Kory Lichtensteiger who moved over to center. Last year's starter at right guard, Chris Chester, is expected to be a cap casualty this year, saving the team $4 million. The Redskins also drafted guard Spencer Long in the 3rd round last season to develop. The Redskins replaced OL coach Chris Foerster with former Dallas Cowboys OC Bill Callahan, and plan to get bigger along the line and use more power blocking schemes this season.
How does Iupati fit into the current roster, and what will he cost? Former Hogs Haven, and current Washington Post writer Mark Bullock looked at Iupati as a possible signing for the Redskins. He highlighted Iupati's strengths as a run blocker, but is impatient in the passing game. He also points out his ability to get to the second level which is vital because Gruden will still be using zone blocking schemes in his offense. The contract price will be the issue, but he would immediately step in and be an upgrade on the line. If the Redskins decide to release Shawn Lauvao, which is unlikely, they would only save $1 million this year, and eat $3 million in dead cap space.
[UPDATE: 10:00 am, 2/28/15] Iupati is expected to enter free agency, but the 49ers could still try to re-sign him.
It looks as if LG Mike Iupati will hit the open negotiating market on March 7, but a return to the 49ers remains a possibility.— Matt Maiocco (@MaioccoCSN) February 27, 2015