Mike Shanahan says that he already knows which free agents the Redskins will go after in March, so I decided to go position by position and figure out what he may be thinking.
The biggest position of need is quarterback, but most Redskin fans are hoping we’ll be addressing this in the draft, even at the cost of several quality picks. The only free agent quarterback worth signing as a starter, in my opinion, is the most-likely unattainable Drew Brees. Forget about Manning. He’s done. Forget about Flynn. He’s only played two games, and we don’t need to make the high-dollar mistake that Arizona made with Kevin Kolb. There is not another quality player worth spending big money on, but there are a couple who could be potential back-ups. The most likely FA to land the back-up spot in Washington is Rex Grossman, even though the thought of him remaining a Redskin makes a lot of fans nauseous. It makes sense though. He knows the playbook, and has a little bit of chemistry with the other players. Other intriguing names on the free agent list include Dennis Dixon and Brian Hoyer, but I don’t think we’ll be going after either of those guys.
At running back, we’re pretty much set, even though there are a ton of good players without contracts. Names like Arian Foster, Marshawn Lynch, Matt Forte, Mike Tolbert, LeGarrette Blount, and Ray Rice are all intriguing, but we really don’t need to spend the big money on one of these guys when Shanahan’s scheme can get just as much production from an undrafted rookie. Just re-sign Tim Hightower and Evan Royster, and watch Helu get better and better with each game.
Free agent wide receivers are plentiful this year. There are lots of guys available who have been big time playmakers, but some of them come with bad attitudes and baggage that is not needed in Washington. The Jacksons, DeSean and Vincent, have undeniable talent that would improve the Redskins offense immensely, but the distractions they create make them not worth the price they’ll cost. I think the better fits for the Redskins are Dwayne Bowe, Pierre Garcon, and Stevie Johnson, and it would be amazing to steal Mario Manningham from the Giants even though his production fell a little this year due to the play of Victor Cruz. Marques Colston and Robert Meachem from New Orleans are also very good options, but do they excel because Drew Brees is throwing to them? Just remember what happened to Deion Branch when he left Tom Brady. Any of these guys could be our number one receiver, with Jabar Gaffney and Santana Moss as our second and third receivers. I don’t think any rookie quarterback will have trouble finding someone to throw to.
If we re-sign Fred Davis, and Chris Cooley can get healthy, we don’t need any help at tight end. If, for some reason, we lose one of those guys, Greg Olsen and Scott Chandler look like the best available options in free agency. Both have the ability to put up numbers and score touchdowns, and there is plenty of opportunity for tight ends to do that in Shanahan’s offense. Having more than one tight end who can catch will help out a rookie quarterback tremendously.
Offensive line depth is something the Redskins need badly. The NFC East is a tough division with beasts like Jason Pierre-Paul, DeMarcus Ware, and Jason Babin trying to kill our quarterback, so we need quality starters AND back-ups on the o-line. Carl Nicks, OG from New Orleans, will probably be the most sought after in free agency, but is likely to land the franchise tag. Most likely, we’ll have to look elsewhere. Ben Grubbs, OG from Baltimore, is another player rumored to have caught Shanny’s eye, but the Ravens will definitely fight to keep him. The best strategy in this area is to sign our own free agent offensive linemen to reasonable contracts, with the exception of Sean Locklear, who trash-talked his way out of getting signed. We should be able to build more depth with some later round draft picks.
The key to free agency is picking guys that fit our scheme, and won’t cause any trouble. We don’t need big names, and we don’t need to be the “offseason champs” again. Just bring in good, quality, “team first” guys that are willing to fight their hearts out for the burgundy and gold!