February 24, 2011

Redskins Roundtable: Offseason Musings Part Two

Here's round two. Part one can be read here.

3. Out of all the Redskins set to hit the free agent market, which one does Bruce Allen have to re-sign?

Pappas: Santana Moss (Editor's note: I was hoping for some elaboration, but seeing as I agree with Pappas and have argued this point ad naseum, I think you guys get it).

Murf: Jammal Brown, Santana Moss and Carlos Rogers are the three guys I feel the Redskins should make a strong push to bring back. Brown and Moss have said repeatedly that they want to be back in Washington, but Rogers looks like he's hoping for a big pay day. If the money is right though, I'd love for all of them to return.

Ed: Fortunately, the Redskins would not be hit hard if they lost every FA available on their roster. If they are to continue building off their six win season, retaining WR Santana Moss is essential. I wouldn't go beyond a three year deal with Moss, but they may prove to be difficult unless the Redskins can front-end the bulk of his salary in 2011 and 2012.

Rajan: He got a fair bit of criticism this season, but in my book, it's gotta be Tackle Jammal Brown.

When Brown is healthy, we're talking about a player who has been to the Pro Bowl twice in the past five years, and is versatile enough to play either left or right tackle. We have to remember that he was still recovering from surgery that he had on his hip. While his injuries did manage to heal (to some extent) as the season went on, it's impossible for anyone to fully recover from that injury, given the wear and tear they go through during the season.

Coming into 2011, Brown has a chance to finally start the season healthy. Pairing Brown with Trent Williams would give the Redskins Pro Bowl-caliber bookends on the offensive line for at least another half decade.

Keely: The ‘Skins cannot afford to lose their most reliable receiver, Santana Moss. Moss' accomplishments last season included a career-high 93 catches for a second best 1,115 yards. He placed 3rd in the league in receptions and 10th in total yards. Without his contributions, the team would have been in even worse shape.

4. What concerns you the most about the current state of the roster?

Pappas: A lack of talent across the board. At this point it is easier to list the areas where they don't need help - and that would be tight end.

Murf: Too old. Too slow. Too few playmakers on all sides of the ball.

But other than that, they're great.

Ed: The biggest concerns I have with the Redskins' roster heading into the 2011 season is age and Albert Haynesworth. Haynesworth needs to go. If they can't trade him, cut him.

It is my hope that the Redskins will let some of the aging veterans go and bring in faster, stronger, and hungrier players. There are too many players on the Redskins roster who play not to get hurt. Although that is the culture in today's NFL with no guaranteed contracts, there are younger players out there who don't have the big contracts that will sell-out for their big pay day.

New England has mastered managing players who start to show signs of playing only for the money. They ship them out quickly and bring in players looking for opportunity. Bruce Allen and Mike Shanahan will turn things around, but it is a process and it won't happen overnight.

Rajan: Honestly, it's the severe lack of quality depth at so many key positions. I've been saying this all along: most people don't realize how unbelievably bare the cupboards were once Cerrato was dismissed and Allen & Shanahan came aboard.

I know it's cliche to say when it comes to the Redskins, but when you keep trading away multiple draft picks, year after year, for a single player, it eventually comes back to bite you. They're dangerously thin at running back, wide receiver, the interior of the offensive line, inside linebacker, cornerback (with Carlos Rogers and Phillip Buchanon being free agents), and free safety.

Redskins fans can cross their fingers that a "bigger name" prospect in the draft falls to Washington's selection at No. 10, but if they have an opportunity to trade back (ideally into the mid-to-late-teens) and pick up a second and/or third rounder, they have to do it. This team needs depth, youth, and speed - and lots of it.

Keely: Our wide receiver and quarterback situations give me most cause for concern. Despite the poor defensive performance last season, the Redskins have enough talented on defense to give them an opportunity to succeed. The offense, however, lacks a viable long-term candidate for quarterback.

After benching Donovan McNabb, the Redskins found themselves without a starting-caliber quarterback. Santana Moss, whose contract expired in February, had an excellent season, but has been the only consistent playmaker at wide receiver. Though Anthony Armstrong showed big-play potential and made considerable progress, his production was sporadic.

5. The defense finished 31st in the NFL last season. Another year in the 3-4 will help better that mark, but what position is in most need of an upgrade?

Pappas: Yikes, tough question. We have to say defensive line/nose tackle, because without a bonafide nose tackle this defense is never going to work. Too much depends on the position. That being said, there is an argument for linebacker. They need size and speed inside and versatility outside, especially on the left side.

Murf: The secondary. Rogers might be gone via free agency. Same with Phillip Buchanon. None of the safeties outside of LaRon Landry did anything last year to make you think they're the answer. That's a lot of holes to fill in one offseason. Kevin Barnes played well enough down the stretch to warrant a closer look, but otherwise, there could be a ton of turnover in the secondary.

Ed: The Redskins' defense is not as bad as their 31st ranking will lead most to believe. They need a strong filler at DT, and we now know Albert Haynesworth won't fill that role. They odds of finding a diamond in the rough at DT in this years' draft is slim. They will have to find a few free agents and hope one of them pans out.

I would also like to see a stronger inside linebacker acquired to play next to London Fletcher.

Rajan: Nose Tackle, unquestionably. You can make the argument that Nose Tackle is to the 3-4 what the Quarterback is to an offense. It's the lynchpin and the cornerstone you build around. While they have needs at defensive end, inside linebacker, cornerback, and free safety, if the Redskins have the opportunity to shore up one single position on this defense, it has to be the Nose Tackle spot.

If the Redskins can trade back from the No. 10 pick, Baylor DL Phil Taylor is a guy they have to take a strong look at with their first round pick. He has prototypical size for a Nose Tackle (6'3, 337 lbs), and absolutely tore things up at the Senior Bowl.

Keely: Despite having such talent as DeAngelo Hall and LaRon Landry, Washington's secondary seriously underperformed last season. I'm not convinced that the franchise needs to upgrade the secondary as much as use the considerable talent it already has more effectively.

6. How do you see the Donovan McNabb situation playing out considering both sides haven't ruled out and seem open to a possible return in 2011?

Pappas: He's still here? Not for long. As soon as the new CBA is done, so is he in Washington.

Murf: He's gone.

Ed: McNabb was on pace to break the Redskins passing record before his benching at the end of the season. Honestly, I was pleased with McNabb's overall performance this season considering he was playing behind one of the worst offensive lines in the NFL. Who knows how this will play out.

Both sides are keeping quiet and it may benefit the Redskins if there is a fairly lengthy strike and the team won't have a chance to move McNabb. Without McNabb, the Redskins may be looking at another 2-3 years of below .500 football. With McNabb and a few key acquisitions, the Redskins will contend next season for a playoff spot.

Rajan: I really don't see how this is a discussion. The Redskins don't want McNabb as part of their future, and McNabb has no desire to remain with the Redskins (no matter what he'll say in public).

If you're McNabb, why would you stay? You've made enough money this season (the Redskins paid him $3.5 million this year, after he signed his "contract extension"), you'll turn 35 around Thanksgiving, and you've played for a team that's been a perennial contender in the NFC for the past several seasons prior to this one. Why would he stick around for a clear rebuilding job, with coaches that don't even want him here in the first place?

Needless to say, McNabb's days as a member of the Redskins are numbered, and any discussions of him staying here are silly and ultimately worthless.

Keely: If Donovan McNabb returns, he will do so at great expense to his dignity and professional reputation. Shanahan's decision to bench the veteran QB last season signals that the coaching staff deemed his contributions inadequate. Neither McNabb nor the Redskins have reason to believe he will succeed in Washington next season.

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