Washington Redskins Offseason Roster Analysis

by Brian Umbaugh, @NFLRosters

Washington Redskins LogoDuring the Redskins’ 4-12 season, only one of their wins was by more than 3 points; conversely, 5 of their losses were by more than 20. There were massive failures on offense, only matched by worse problems on defense. The team is 7-25 over the past two seasons, and has had just four winning seasons since owner Dan Snyder’s arrival in 1999. This article from MMQB accurately captures the “death spiral” in Washington and how it is affecting the main players. It is obvious no one tells Mr. Snyder what to do; however, if and when he asks my opinion on how to begin the resurrection of the Redskins, I’ll be happy to refer him to the following review. There are possibilities, even for a team that had fewer net points than the 2-14 Tampa Bay squad and limited cap space ($13.3 million).

Redskins Depth Chart

Offense

Quarterbacks

Robert Griffin III, Kirk Cousins, Colt McCoy (UFA)

The Redskins’ problems don’t start or end at QB, but this position is a mess. All three QB’s had below-average seasons again. Apparently, it wasn’t just the Shanahans’ fault. What is wrong with Griffin? According to SI’s Andy Benoit, the problems lie in bad mechanics and poor timing, coupled with the fact that he can’t run like he did before his various injuries. He’s in the last year of his contract, so he has one season to prove he’s worth an extended deal. Cousins is also playing for dollars, but he has not shown any sustained ability since 2012. Remember when drafting these two together was cause for speculation regarding a QB controversy? It still is, but only because neither can step up.

The team had the right idea in getting a veteran to compete with these two, and this idea needs to be re-upped. McCoy is a UFA, and should be re-signed to a 3 yr/$3-5 mil deal. In 2015, the race will be on to determine is Griffin or Cousins is worth re-signing long term. If one can show up and deserve a new deal, McCoy will back them up and the other QB will be out. If neither shows up, McCoy will compete in 2016 with a new rookie QB.

Running Backs

RB: Alfred Morris, Roy Helu (UFA), Silas Redd, Chris Thompson (ERFA)
FB: Darrel Young, Jordan Campbell

Morris did not have a good year in 2014 after producing well in his first two years. He has one more inexpensive year to rebound before the Redskins need to decide how to proceed with him. UFA Roy Helu is the subject this offseason. He is decent on the ground and in the passing game, has low mileage, and is good insurance against an injury or a repeat sub-par performance from Morris. I would offer 4 yrs/$8 mil, but it might not be enough because Helu may want to sign somewhere he can start.

Backups Redd and Thompson performed acceptably in limited snaps. Redd is similar to Morris, while Thompson more of a change-of-pace receiving back. Even if Helu is not re-signed, Redd can fill the backup job nicely. Thompson could be cheaply re-signed as an ERFA. Fullback Darrel Young is a jack-of-all-trades; he doesn’t catch a lot of passes, but he is deceptively fast and is a big hitter.

Wide Receivers and Tight Ends

WR: Pierre Garcon, DeSean Jackson, Andre Roberts, Santana Moss (UFA), Leonard Hankerson (UFA)
TE: Jordan Reed, Niles Paul (UFA), Logan Paulsen

Washington pays a lot of money for minimal or no production from its passing game. There are receivers in the NFL with worse QB’s that still manage to shine. So when nearly $23 million of the cap goes to three wideouts that combined for 160/2374/11, it has to be considered a disappointment. Unfortunately, the ridiculous contract given to Andre Roberts creates difficulty releasing him. Jackson is still a decent threat, albeit inconsistent. Garcon, then, becomes a target of cap savings. If cut before June 1st, he would save $5.3 mil; after June 1st, that total rises to $7.5 mil. He is well-liked, but he doesn’t have production commensurate with his salary. Backups Santana Moss and Leonard Hankerson have not been useful and do not need to be retained. This area is a position of need for the ‘Skins, as they need to draft some new, inexpensive wideouts.

UFA Niles Paul is not a good enough receiver to make up for his poor run blocking. Assuming the Redskins don’t re-sign him, they have Jordan Reed and Logan Paulsen. Unfortunately, Paulsen is similar to Paul. It might even be a good idea to cut him and save the $1.8 mil for other needs. Reed is a good receiver and, while he is not a great blocker, he is a decent offensive weapon.

Offensive Line

L to R: Trent Williams, Shawn Lauvao, Kory Lichtensteiger, Chris Chester, Tyler Polumbus (UFA)
Top Backups: T Tom Compton (RFA), G/C Josh LeRibeus, G/T Spencer Long

No one knows quite what happened, but the edges of the offensive line took a serious hit from 2013. Williams was dominant and Polumbus was great. In 2014, Williams was decent and Polumbus was well below average. Guards Chester and Lauvao were slightly above average pass blockers, but not so good in the run game. Guard-turned-center Kory Lichtensteiger was the best run blocker in the unit, but was far from dominant. Not exactly glowing words for a group that takes up 20% of the cap.

Polumbus and top backup Compton are UFA’s in 2015. Compton is not worth re-signing, but Polumbus has shown some ability. It would be a good idea to re-sign Polumbus at roughly $4 mil per year and draft a tackle to replace Compton and insure against Trent Williams’ decline/desire for a huge contract. 32 year old Chester still has ability, but he needs to improve in the last year of his deal if he wants to re-sign. The curious contract was for Lauvao, who was sub-par for the Browns before signing for $17 million. He would be a good candidate for a post-June 1st cut to save $3 mil for draft signings. Long or LeRibeus would be acceptable plug-ins at LG.

Defense

Defensive Line

DE: Stephen Bowen, Jason Hatcher, Jarvis Jenkins (UFA), Kedric Golston, Frank Kearse
NT: Barry Cofield, Chris Baker, Travian Robertson (RFA), Chris Neild (UFA)

Only one lineman for Washington weighs less than 300 lbs., and he’s new, so I’m sure he won’t for long. It’s too bad that the weight doesn’t directly equal stoutness; only Hatcher and Baker produced any pass rush, and there were precisely zero above average run defenders. Bowen is the most expensive and has been terrible for years. He’s in his last year, and cutting him would mean $5.5 mil. It shouldn’t be saved to sign Jenkins, because he has been right there with Bowen at the bottom of the rankings. The best idea would be to move Baker to the outside of Cofield. Then draft some reinforcements in the form of 3-4 run stuffing linemen. Robertson and Neild are inexperienced, but can be re-signed cheaply for depth.

Linebackers

OLB: Ryan Kerrigan, Trent Murphy, Brian Orakpo (UFA), Jackson Jeffcoat, Gabe Miller
ILB: Keenan Robinson, Perry Riley, Will Compton, Adam Hayward, Steve Beauharnais

Kerrigan was once again ranked in the NFL’s top 7 3-4 OLB’s after a sub-par 2013. He is getting some serious pressure on the QB, with 13 sacks and 51 hurries. On the other side, Murphy and Orakpo combined for only four sacks and only average pass rush ratings. Orakpo makes entirely too much to tally more missed games than QB hits. The ‘Skins should let him walk. None of the other OLB backups stood out, but they are young and could develop.

On the inside, Robinson and Riley are part of the problem in run defense, nor are they particularly adept at pass coverage. Top backup Compton has a similar set of ratings. They have each had time to develop, but it seems they are placeholders for better players to come along. This would be one more place to visit during the draft.

Defensive Backs

CB: DeAngelo Hall, David Amerson, Tracy Porter, Bashaud Breeland, Justin Rogers (UFA), E.J. Biggers (UFA)
S: Ryan Clark (UFA), Brandon Meriweather (UFA), Duke Ihenacho (RFA), Trenton Robinson (ERFA), Phillip Thomas, Akeem Davis

Many decisions must be made in the backfield. Washington is bringing 17 incumbents into the 2015 season, with 7 of them being some degree of free agents. In the league’s worst pass coverage unit, are there any players worth saving? At corner, it doesn’t appear there is anyone above average. Projected 2015 starter Amerson was rated worst overall in the NFL, and Hall on the other side was on his way to a similar ranking before injury. Backups Biggers and Breeland were 7th and 8th worst in the league. Rogers and Porter have had low ratings throughout their careers. Biggers and Rogers are not needed, and there’s nobody currently on the roster to rely upon.

At safety, Ryan Clark was rated the worst overall in the league, mostly due to his inability in run support. He’s cheap with the league’s free agent subsidy rules, so he’ll probably get re-signed anyway. Phillip Thomas was rated 12th worst, a distinction because he only played about a quarter of the total defensive snaps. Duke Ihenacho has only played significant snaps one season (2013) and the results were poor. Meriweather, on the other hand, is just average but worth the re-sign…as long as he remains inexpensive and the Redskins can write an ironclad suspension insurance clause. Trenton Robinson is also worth the re-sign as he is young, inexpensive, and has potential. However, no matter how many of their own free agents the Redskins sign, they will still have trouble in pass coverage, save serious player development.

Special Teams

Kicker Kai Forbath did well in his limited field goals, although the ‘Skins did not test him but once from 50+ yards. His kickoffs leave something to be desired, though; his average distance was short of the end zone. If he doesn’t have the leg for long field goals and kickoffs, consideration should be given to replace him. If given a low tender and forced to earn his job against another kicker, he may improve. Punter Tress Way led the league in gross punting average, obviously meaning he has a strong leg. Another example of that would be that he had the longest hang time for a punt last season. The only negative is that he out-kicks his coverage often, as he had the 3rd highest percentage of punts returned.

Initial cap space: $13.7 million

Re-sign: McCoy ($1.2 mil), Helu ($1.5 mil), Polumbus ($4 mil), Neild ($745K), Meriweather ($1.5 mil), T. Robinson ($585K), R. Clark ($1.2 mil), Forbath ($1.3 mil) – with a net $3.9 million needed to sign draftees, these are projected to leave approximately $1.7 million in cap space.

Let walk: Moss, Hankerson, Paul, Compton, Jenkins, Orakpo, Biggers, Rogers, Ihenacho, T. Jackson

Best cap cuts to clear up room, if desired: Bowen ($5.5 mil), Garcon ($5.3 mil), Porter ($2.3 mil), Paulsen ($1.8 mil)

Biggest Team Needs: CB, S, ILB, WR

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Other team analysis reports and depth charts can be found in the archive.