The good news for the 2016 Redskins was that they didn’t collapse after winning the division the previous season as has been their pattern in the past. The bad news was that they didn’t take the next step and improve from a franchise that can compete to make the playoffs into one that is playing multiple postseason games year in and year out. That work begins right now for Jay Gruden, Scot McCloughan and the players.
In the coming weeks, Redskins reporters Rich Tandler and JP Finlay will examine the biggest questions facing the Redskins as another offseason gets rolling.
More offseason questions: What are resonable expectations for Josh Doctson? | Will there be a surprise salary cap cut? | Should the Redskins defense switch to the 4-3? | Is Spencer Long the answer at center?
How many defensive linemen do the Redskins need?
Finlay: Defensive line is the greatest position of need for the Redskins. Not only does the D-line need an influx of talent, but Washington also only has two linemen on the roster for 2017 in Matt Ioannidis and Ricky Jean François.
The 'Skins must get at least five D-linemen they can count on to their roster by mid-summer, and that will need to include the draft and free agency. It's silly to demand Scot McCloughan use a first-round pick on an end or tackle, as the GM will stick to his draft board. At the same time, the immense needs of the front of this defense need to be considered early and often in the draft.
In free agency, expect the 'Skins to target young, mid-tier players that have shown promise. Bennie Logan of the Eagles has reportedly drawn interest from Washington, and others like Johnathan Hankins from the Giants should get a long look.
No matter what happens, if the 'Skins intend to stick with the 3-4 base like it seems they will, the team absolutely must sign a true nose.
Tandler: How many D-linemen will they carry on their roster? They had seven for a good chunk of the season last year. If Chris Baker leaves as a free agent I don’t see any of them being irreplaceable. However, there is no reason to clean house completely if they don’t have to.
They should make a good-faith effort to re-sign Baker, their best defensive lineman over the last two or three years. It looks like Anthony Lanier has potential to rush the passer so he should stick around to see if he can develop that skill. And although Ricky Jean Francois may not justify his $4 million salary cap hit he is productive enough to keep around given the ample cap space the team has.
The other four spots can be upgraded. As JP noted, one of them needs to be a true nose tackle even if they are going to be in base 3-4 defense only 30 percent of the time.
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