NFL free agency stars in roughly two weeks on March 9th. In the meantime, the Redskins have several important decisions to make in terms of who to re-sign, who to release, and who to pursue. Football analysis site Pro Football Focus recently released their opinion on what Washington should do this offseason.
QB Kirk Cousins
Kirk Cousins was PFF's 15th-highest rated quarterback from 2015, above franchise-caliber signal callers and rising stars such as Eli Manning, Peyton Manning, Matt Stafford, Joe Flacco, Andrew Luck, Ryan Tannehill, Alex Smith, Blake Bortles, Jameis Winston, Marcus Mariota, and Brock Osweiler. It was recently leaked that the Redskins had halted long-term contract negotiations with Cousins' camp, likely over a disagreement in duration and per-year value. However it's still extremely unlikely at this point that the team lets Cousins walk, so slapping him with the franchise tag for the 2016 season seems like the most reasonable scenario. The 2016 franchise tag for quarterbacks will be roughly $19.75 million dollars, which is fully guaranteed.
NT Terrance Knighton
PFF notes that Knighton only played 38% of defensive snaps this past season, and his stamina and skillset almost exclusively limits him to a two-down run stuffer. According to their grades, however, he was very effective in that role, and finished the year with a respectable 76.9 overall rating.
ILB Mason Foster
Foster was a mid-season free agent addition at linebacker, and so only appeared in six games, but managed to grade out as Washington's best inside linebacker -- although he was still 50th overall in their linebacker rankings. PFF notes that he is a decent run defender, but allowed a QB rating of 93.6 in coverage. Foster shouldn't be expensive to resign to a short-term deal and would be a good fit for the 'Mike' LB role going forward, provided the Redskins can pair him with someone more adept in coverage.
C/G Josh LeRibeus
After riding the pine for three seasons, "LeRib" finally got his opportunity to start after injuries to guard Shaun Lauvao and center Kory Lichtensteiger forced inexperienced backups into the offensive line rotation. PFF notes that LeRibeus was abominable in his first six games, but the last seven games of the season showed a marked improvement, where he allowed only one sack, two hits, and six hurries in that span. I agree with their assessment of LeRibeus' improvement, and believe he could provide useful depth and the center and guard spots for a very reasonable price.
RB Alfred Morris
PFF cites Alf's declining YPC (3.8 this season, a career-low), inability to break tackles (only 15 out of 213 attempts, or a 7.04% rate), and yards after contact (2.2) as reasons not to re-sign. Although I think, and many here would agree, that Alfred Morris is a true team player, class act, and all-around good guy, it's time for Washington to move in a different direction. We need someone more explosive who can be a factor in the passing game, and Morris just isn't that guy.
ILB Keenan Robinson
2014 was a breakout year of sorts for Robinson, and he looked like a defensive building block of the future for large stretches of the season. Unfortunately, he regressed mightily in 2015, and his development was further hampered by injuries. PFF cites Robinson as being the 72nd overall best linebacker, finishing with an especially putrid run defense grade of 20.1. According to their metrics, he recorded a missed tackle at an astonishingly high rate of 21.4%. As Mason Foster and Will Compton looked like the best combination of inside linebackers this season, and with 22 year-old Martrell Spaight coming in to his second year, it seems reasonable that the Redskins will move on from Robinson.
FB Darrel Young
Gruden's West Coast/spread scheme very rarely, if ever, utilizes the fullback position. Darrel Young, although a standout special teamer and by all accounts hard working, good guy, played a career-low 121 offensive snaps (out of a total of 1,068 team snaps, or 10.3%) in 2015. Young has expressed his interest in returning to Washington for 2016, but for a guy that is used on only 10% of plays, the resources aren't justified by his value to the offense. Unfortunately DY may be another cap casualty this offseason.
CB Nolan Carroll, Philadelphia Eagles
There are an astonishing number of teams this offseason with $50 million or more in cap space. The Redskins are not in that club, projected to have anywhere from $25 to $35 million available after making expected cuts and applying the franchise tag to Kirk Cousins. Combine that with GM Scot McCloughan's "build through the draft" mentality, and Washington will likely be sitting on its hands most of free agency, ready to sort through the remaining players still available after the dust settles. Nolan Carroll figures to be one of those guys available on day two or three of free agency. He received a PFF grade of 71.6 in 2015, good for 53rd cornerback overall. Not the cream of the crop per se, comparable grade-wise with players such as Jeremy Lane and Perrish Cox. His 2015 grade was better than all Redskin cornerbacks except for Bashaud Breeland.
Carroll is a good fit for our scheme: at 6'1" and 205 lbs, he's physical and long; he also has the versatility and experience to play both outside and in the slot. He will be 29 years old throughout the 2016 season; not a spring chicken by any stretch, but not ancient either. Carroll landed on IR for the Eagles last season with a broken leg, but should be fully healthy for training camp. He would likely accept a deal close to the veteran minimum.
C/G Ben Jones, Houston Texans
Jones would be a sneaky depth signing with experience at both center and guard if the Redskins decide to move away from LeRibeus and/or Lichtensteiger this offseason. He'll turn 27 in July, is listed at 6'3", 316 lbs., and was PFF's 18th-best center in 2015 with a grade of 69.4. For comparison's sake, Kory Lichtensteiger scored a horrifically low 22.1, good for 39th in the center category. That's right, there were six goddamn backups that PFF believes were better than the best guy we could put on the field. I know PFF's grades aren't the end-all-be-all by any stretch, but there's something wrong when your "starting" center receives a 22.1 out of 100 at his job. An issue the Redskins should probably look at addressing if they are even in the same ballpark on Lichtensteiger's evaluation. Ben Jones' size, relatively young age, and expected salary demands all fit the profile of what the Redskins are looking for.
You can read the full article here. Who would you subtract or add to this list?