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Best free agents still available: 15 March 2019

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The initial flurry is slowing down and it’s time to go bargain shopping. This is the time when front offices can plug holes more cheaply and create flexibility ahead of the draft.

NFL: Arizona Cardinals at Los Angeles Chargers Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

I heard Andrew Sciciliano officially declare Free Agency Frenzy ‘closed’ when I turned on NFL Network today.

I looked to SBNation for some guidance on who the best remaining players are at every position.

Here are the SBNation lists (each one is in alphabetical order) along with a few of my thoughts on what the Redskins fans and front office should think about the list.

Quarterback

Blake Bortles, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Colin Kaepernick, AJ McCarron

I’ll let you guys argue the merits of Colin Kaepernick in the comments section. Whether he belongs in the NFL or not, I know that Dan Snyder would never sign off on that transaction.

Bortles has spent five years showing that he’s inconsistent and turnover-prone. Basically, the antithesis of Alex Smith.

Prior to the acquisition of Case Keenum I was promoting the idea of Fitzmagic as a safety play at QB ahead of the draft, but that time is past.

There’s only one potential move here for the Redskins — A.J. McCarron. He was in Cincinnati for 4 years and spent last season with Jon Gruden and the Raiders. Jay Gruden should be able to get all the inside information on McCarron. If the Redskins aren’t going to use a draft pick on quarterback, grabbing a free agent who was just cut (conserving those compensatory picks) might be a great opportunity. If we use 2 out of 4 top draft picks on defense (OLB, S), then the Redskins might be able to get through 2019 with Keenum, McCoy and McCarron.

Running back

Jay Ajayi, C.J. Anderson, Marshawn Lynch, Isaiah Crowell, T.J. Yeldon

Having just re-signed Adrian Peterson, the Redskins seem to be all set on veteran running backs, and seem to have a full house: Derrius Guice, Adrian Peterson, Chris Thompson, Samaje Perine, Byron Marshall.

Last off-season, Isaiah Crowell was my number one choice at RB for the Redskins, so if the front office wanted to add a guy for training camp, I’d support that. He’s likely to play for a cheap contract, and, having been cut by the Jets (after they signed Le’veon Bell), he won’t jeopardize any comp picks.

Wide Receiver

Randall Cobb, Michael Crabtree, Jordy Nelson

The Redskins need wide receivers. They need good wide receivers. They need wide receivers who can create separation and catch balls reliably. They need receivers who can score touchdowns.

I absolutely think the ‘Skins need to draft a wide receiver — perhaps in the 2nd or 3rd round — but I also think they need to add a guy to the roster with veteran skills and leadership.

My guy would be Randall Cobb. He’s only 28 years old, In eight seasons with the Packers he had 5,524 yard and 41 touchdowns. He should be good for 500-600 yards and 5 or 6 TDs in 2019. Sign Cobb to the Redskins and he would instantly be the best receiver on the team.

If the Redskins had only ONE move left in free agency, this is the one I’d like to see.

Tight End

Jared Cook, Tyler Eifert, Austin Seferian-Jenkins

There is a lot of talent in those three names, but I don’t think that any of them is an upgrade from what the Redskins have in Jordan Reed and Vernon Davis.

If the Redskins are going to improve this position group, it needs to happen in the draft, which would allow them to get younger and cheaper at tight end.

Offensive Line

Matt Kalil, Kendall Lamm, John Miller, Jeremy Parnell, Ryan Schraeder

The Redskins need depth on the offensive line, but they have one glaring hole: Left Guard. In researching the free agent market over the past several weeks, I didn’t see anyone interior lineman that really caught my interest.

When the Rams didn’t trigger John Sullivan’s option, it caught my attention. He has played with the Redskins before and started for the NFC Champion Rams throughout the regular season and playoffs in 2018.

When T.J. Lang was released by the Lions, I perked up, seeing him as possible depth. I have seen at least one article that indicates that Lang may simply retire.

Of course, Ari Kuandjio could always be re-signed by Washington.

So, there are a number of good options for getting an interior line depth player from free agency, but I think 2019 is the year the Redskins finally need to use a draft pick (I’m thinking probably one of the 3rd rounders) to find their starting left guard.

Edge Rusher

Ezekiel Ansah, Shaq Barrett, Justin Houston, Clay Matthews, Shane Ray

The Redskins need to field a great defense this season. To do that, they need to replace the position that was vacated by Preston Smith.

The Redskins need speed.

I wouldn’t object to any of the four guys I see listed above being added to the Redskins team, but Ryan Kerrigan will be 31 before the start of the regular season. The team needs a young pass rusher.

I see this position as the best bet for the Redskins first round pick (15th overall), and I’d be surprised if the front office tried to use free agency to find Ryan Kerrigan’s bookend for the ‘19 season.

Defensive Tackle

Timmy Jernigan, Corey Liuget, Darius Philon, Ndamukong Suh, Muhammad Wilkerson

I would never say the team couldn’t get better, but when you take salary cap into account, I can’t see any reason to try to change what the Redskins currently have - which is one of the best defensive line units in the NFL.

Jonathan Allen, Daron Payne, Matt Ioannidis, Tim Settle, Caleb Brantley looks good enough to me that I don’t feel like the Redskins need to invest more cap dollars or draft picks into the group this off-season.

Linebacker

Mark Barron, Jamie Collins, Gerald Hodges, Brandon Marshall

It was widely reported that the Redskins were pursuing C.J. Mosely in the “legal tampering” period of free agency, so the front office clearly wants to enhance this unit.

The team lost speed when Zach Brown was released. Reuben Foster is currently on the Commissioner’s Exempt List. Shaun Dion Hamilton didn’t prove that he was ready to start in the NFL with his 2018 performance, and he has a troubling injury history from Alabama. Josh Harvey-Clemons showed some promise, but he is also not an every down player who can be the difference maker for the Redskins. Zach Vigil is a good special teams player and competent backup.

I know a lot of Hogs Haven readers want to see the release of Mason Foster. I don’t see it happening unless he gets beaten out completely in training camp. He is the only player on the unit with starting potential that has completed his rookie contract.

The ‘Skins look competent at ILB, but they don’t look strong, and they have question marks. In an ideal world, I’d love to see them drafting a difference maker, but with the needs for LG, WR, S and edge rusher, I can’t see them drafting a LB before the 5th round.

A chunk of the available cap space may need to go for a free agent linebacker to come in and provide a bit of stability.

Mark Barron is 29 and formerly of the Crimson Tide.

Jamie Collins is 29 and a former New England Patriot.

Gerald Hodges is 28 and a former 4th round pick of the Vikings. He played on one of the worst defenses in the NFL with the Cardinals last year.

Brandon Marshall is 29, a former 5th round draft pick of the Jaguars, who has put together a good career in Denver.

Frankly, I just don’t see the answer to the Redskins needs here.

I am thinking that the best choice for the Redskins is to stay in a holding pattern at ILB until the draft. If a great linebacker falls to them, go ahead and draft him.

If they don’t get a game-changing linebacker in the draft, then I’d suggest picking up a veteran free agent in the “leftovers” market in May or June, and bringing him to camp to provide a little stability while the front office waits for the Reuben Foster situation to resolve itself.

Cornerback

Ronald Darby, Darqueze Dennard

The Redskins depth chart doesn’t look too bad: Josh Norman, Quinton Dunbar, Fabian Moreau, Adonis Alexander, Greg Stroman, Josh Holsey.

But in 2018, the lack of depth and experience was exposed when Dunbar struggled with nerve damage that cost him most of the season. His ability to play in 2019 is an open question.

Of course, Moreau, Alexander, Stromand and Holsey will all have another year of NFL experience; one of them might ‘make the leap’ this season.

Still, it is a young, thin group that would benefit with the addition of a talented veteran free agent.

Ronald Darby is a really good player that we all know from the Eagles. The question mark for him this off-season has been his health. I imagine that, if he doesn’t get signed by another team ahead of the draft, the Eagles will agree to some sort of contract with him.

When I reviewed free agent cornerback options a couple of weeks ago, this is what I said about Dennard:

Dennard seems to round out a trio of mostly under-performing first round cornerback selections from the 2014 draft — all three guys played 5 years for the teams that drafted them, but none seem to have made themselves indispensable to their teams, and all three seem destined to be on the market in the coming weeks.

This looks like yet another guy who could add some veteran depth to the Redskins, but “only at the right price” — unfortunately , the right price isn’t typically what free agency is known for.

Another few days on the free agent market may be enough for Dennard to get nervous and sign a one-year ‘prove it’ deal on a low dollar contract, or to simply accept a 3-year structured offer that has the opportunity for big dollars in the latter years if he performs well. If the Redskins can get Dennard, who is a former Bengal, on favorable terms, I would see him as a good veteran addition to the team.

Otherwise, I’d suggest that the Redskins continue to do what they’ve been doing, and invest a Saturday draft pick in another young player and try to keep the group stocked with young developing players with potential.

Safety

Eric Berry, Tre Boston, Johnathan Cyprien, Glover Quin

Obviously, the Redskins made a splash move by signing 25-year-old Landon Collins to a 6-year. $84m contract.

The problem is, it only solved half the problem.

The Redskins still need another safety.

Montae Nicholson had looked like a good draft pick and player right up until the point where he was caught on video punching out a civilian in a parking lot. Now he’s on the Commissioner’s Exempt List and is likely to face suspension.

Even before this, however, Nicholson had lost his starting job to HaHa Clinton-Dix when the Redskins traded a 4th round pick to the Packers at the trade deadline last season.

With the D.J. Swearinger soap opera ending with his late-season release, the Swearinger-Nicholson duo that looked so promising at the start of last season now looks like the punch line to a bad joke.

Clinton-Dix, if you hadn’t heard, has signed with the Bears.

In the 2018 off-season, I loved Tre Boston and wanted the Redskins to sign him. I still love Tre Boston, though the fact that he was waived by Carolina, has played just a year for both the Chargers and the Cardinals, and now seems to have a slow market for his services again may be an indication that there’s something wrong with him.

Eric Berry simply hasn’t been healthy and doesn’t look like a good option for the Redskins for that reason. We need a player who is reliable.

It looks like one of the four top-100 picks the Redskins hold in the draft will need to be used on a safety.

I think the Redskins will find themselves one or two draft picks short of being able to plug the holes in the starting lineup this season. I’ve suggested above that they can get by with the current crew of TEs and ILBs, but, having missed out on the chance to re-sign HHCD, if they can find a partner for Landon Collins in free agency, it might be worth the investment to free up a draft pick that can be used elsewhere on offense or defense.

Poll

What should the Redskins do at QB this off-season?

This poll is closed

  • 0%
    Blake Bortles
    (10 votes)
  • 2%
    Ryan Fitzpatrick
    (38 votes)
  • 7%
    A.J. McCarron
    (127 votes)
  • 3%
    Josh Johnson
    (52 votes)
  • 47%
    trade for Josh Rosen
    (790 votes)
  • 1%
    acquire a different veteran quarterback
    (30 votes)
  • 37%
    draft a quarterback
    (624 votes)
1671 votes total Vote Now

Poll

If the Redskins sign ONE MORE veteran free agent this off season, what position should it be?

This poll is closed

  • 1%
    quarterback
    (30 votes)
  • 41%
    wide receiver
    (666 votes)
  • 19%
    offensive line
    (308 votes)
  • 21%
    safety
    (345 votes)
  • 3%
    cornerback
    (48 votes)
  • 5%
    inside linebacker
    (95 votes)
  • 6%
    outside linebacker
    (97 votes)
1589 votes total Vote Now