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The 5 O’Clock Club: Playing GM - Assessing free agency targets (Offensive Guards)

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It’s 5 o’clock somewhere…

NFL: Washington Redskins at Dallas Cowboys Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

The 5 o’clock club aims to provide a forum for reader-driven discussion at a time of day when there isn’t much NFL news being published. Feel free to introduce topics that interest you in the comments below.

Chris in Manassas

With free agency scheduled to start on 14 March, I’d like to continue to look at potential free agents that could help the Redskins in 2018. Yesterday, I extended an invitation for readers to get involved by writing profiles for players they think may be good targets for the Redskin front office.

This week, Chris in Manassas has provided me with three free agent targets at Guard that he thinks are worth pursuing. Let’s see who he has in mind.

Option 1: DJ Fluker - Giants / Chargers

San Diego Chargers v Houston Texans Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images

Fluker was drafted by the Chargers in 2013, but played for the Giants on a one-year contract last season. Here’s what Chris in Manassas had to say about him:

If there is a glaring hole on the offensive line for the Redskins, it is left guard, next to Trent Williams. Shawn Lauvao either underachieved or couldn’t stay on the field after the Redskins signed him from Cleveland. It seems every other offensive line position is now set except this one.

DJ Fluker is a mammoth of a man who has underachieved in his career but still has tremendous potential. He can swing to tackle when needed and is incredibly athletic. The one coach in the Redskins organization that most fans have confidence in is Bill Callahan, who has molded guys with raw talent, like Morgan Moses, into NFL caliber lineman. Fluker would be a similar project with high upside.

DJ Fluker’s measurables

Height: 6’5”

Weight: 345 pounds

Age: 26

College: Alabama

Draft: Selected 11th overall by Chargers in 2013

New York Giants v Cleveland Browns

Here’s a look at Fluker’s salary history:

Fluker is likely to be an affordable option for the Redskins. The question is whether he has the talent to be an upgrade, or would he simply be another cheap under-achiever?

Option 2: Matt Slauson - Chargers / Bears / Jets

San Diego Chargers v Cleveland Browns Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

Slauson is a bit older, at 31. He was drafted by the Jets in the 6th round of the 2009 draft and has played for 3 teams in his nine-year career: the Jets, the Bears and the Chargers.

Slauson has played in all 16 games six times in his career, but suffered injuries in 2014 and 2017 that cut those seasons short. Here’s what Chris in Manassas had to say about him:

A bit injury prone, nevertheless Slauson would be the opposite of Fluker. A proven veteran as opposed to a young player with potential. He has played on some good lines and blocked for some good running backs, and he would add experience and toughness to a line that is pretty young (Roullier, Scherff, Moses). If he can stay healthy Slauson could be an exceptional upgrade to the players the Redskins have been fielding at the position in recent years, and provide and excellent partner on the left side to Williams.

Matt Slauson’s measurables

Height: 6’5”

Weight: 315 pounds

Age: 31

College: Nebraska

Draft: Selected in the 6th round by the Jets in 2009

San Diego Chargers v Kansas City Chiefs Photo by Peter G. Aiken/Getty Images

Here’s a look at Slauson’s recent salary history:

Slauson looks like he’d be in the same salary range as Fluker (around $3m per season). It appears that Slauson has also played at center for the Chargers, so he might provide positional flexibility that the Redskins need.

Slauson was a team captain with the Chargers in 2017. He was placed on injured reserve halfway through the season due to a torn bicep. The Chargers team website had good things to say about him at the time of his injury:

[I]t’s no surprise that Lynn hopes the 6-5, 315-pounder will remain around the team despite being unable to play.

“He was one of my captains,” Lynn said. “We’re going to lose some leadership there. In that offensive line room, he was like another coach. Especially for the young players. He had a lot of good intangibles. It wasn’t just what he did on the field…. It depends on where he rehabs, but I’d love to have him here in the building and still help with the young guys.”

San Diego Chargers v Carolina Panthers Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images

Option 3: Alex Boone - Cardinals / Vikings / 49ers

Baltimore Ravens v San Francisco 49ers

Alex Boone has played for three different teams over the past three years. Originally signed by the 49ers as an undrafted free agent in 2009, he went on to play with San Francisco until 2015, then joined the Vikings in 2016, and the Cardinals in 2017.

Boone has only started 16 games in a season twice in his career, but he has never played in less than 13 games, and he played in 14 games in each of the past two seasons, starting all but one of them.

Here’s what Chris in Manassas has to say about Alex Boone:

The argument for Boone is similar to Slauson, but you can add in the fact that Boone has played in bigger games, including starting in a Super Bowl. He worked through some lean years in San Francisco but signed with Minnesota and Arizona after that. Boone is an excellent player who has enjoyed more success than Slauson. He’s blocked for a variety of running backs, has seen it all and played well against elite competition. He would bring leadership and toughness, and he has not been injured the way Slauson has. If I had my choice of free agent guards, Boone would probably be my first.

Alex Boone’s measurables

Height: 6’8”

Weight: 310 pounds

Age: 30

College: Ohio State

Draft status: Undrafted Free Agent in 2009

Dallas Cowboys v Minnesota Vikings Photo by Tom Dahlin/Getty Images

Here’s a look at Boone’s recent salary history:

NFL: Jacksonville Jaguars at Arizona Cardinals Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Boone got a big payday from the Vikings in 2016, but signed a pretty cheap contract last year with the Cardinals. He looks like he might sign for slightly less money than the other two, but not enough for salary cap to be the deciding factor.

Home grown

NFL: Preseason-Washington Redskins at Tampa Bay Buccaneers Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

Of course, another clear option is for the Redskins to re-sign Spencer Long, whom they drafted in the 3rd round of the 2014 draft. There was a (very) recent report (via Twitter) that Spencer Long isn’t in the Redskins’ plans, having been replaced at Center by Roullier, however, until proven to be true, all Twitter reports are taken with a grain of salt. Long has positional flexibility at both Guard and Center, and has been with Jay Gruden for his entire tenure.

The Redskins could also choose to bring Long back, but still sign another veteran free agent guard for quality depth.

The point is, the Redskins have options at Left Guard. They could stand pat and use Long & Roullier to fill the two positions of Center & Left Guard; they could draft a player; or they could sign a veteran free agent like Fluker, Slauson or Boone.

NFL: Preseason-Washington Redskins at Atlanta Falcons Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

Lest we forget, the ‘Skins also have a 4th round draft pick from the 2015 draft still on the roster. Arie Kouandjio has a contract for 2018 that pays him $705,000 (non-guaranteed). Perhaps he can step up.

Veteran Guards are relatively cheap. It looks like any one of the three suggested by Chris in Manassas could be signed for around $3m per year or less, which is why I would sign a starting quality free agent from another team or bring Spencer Long back rather than use a high draft pick on the position this season. I’d rather see the first four draft picks by the Redskins used to get an explosive running back and three impactful defensive players.

But what do you think?

Poll

Grade DJ Fluker as a free agent target at Left Guard for the Redksins

This poll is closed

  • 8%
    A
    (31 votes)
  • 39%
    B
    (145 votes)
  • 37%
    C
    (136 votes)
  • 9%
    D
    (34 votes)
  • 5%
    F
    (21 votes)
367 votes total Vote Now

Poll

Grade Matt Slauson as a free agent target at Left Guard for the Redskins

This poll is closed

  • 4%
    A
    (13 votes)
  • 22%
    B
    (74 votes)
  • 48%
    C
    (158 votes)
  • 19%
    D
    (62 votes)
  • 5%
    F
    (18 votes)
325 votes total Vote Now

Poll

Grade Alex Boone as a free agent target at Left Guard for the Redskins

This poll is closed

  • 9%
    A
    (30 votes)
  • 37%
    B
    (125 votes)
  • 31%
    C
    (105 votes)
  • 16%
    D
    (56 votes)
  • 4%
    F
    (16 votes)
332 votes total Vote Now

Poll

What’s your preference?

This poll is closed

  • 40%
    Re-sign Spencer Long and use either him or Roullier at LG, the other at Center
    (176 votes)
  • 30%
    Bring in a veteran free agent at LG
    (132 votes)
  • 21%
    Draft a new starting LG
    (96 votes)
  • 4%
    Start Arie Kouandjio, who is already under contract
    (21 votes)
  • 3%
    Do something completely different
    (14 votes)
439 votes total Vote Now

NFL: DEC 17 Cardinals at Redskins Photo by Mark Goldman/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images