The Redskins’ Week 15 win at Jacksonville kept Washington’s playoff hopes alive and pushed back relentless offseason talk for at least a few more days. Regardless, there’s no stopping 2019 free agency and the NFL Draft from occurring. There’s also no denying some clear needs and concerns for the current roster going forward.
In conjunction with my latest 2019 first-round NFL mock draft, here’s a quick look at the primary positional concerns for next season. Have fun quibbling at the order, which likely changes multiple times over the coming weeks. I've changed my mind three times since starting the list.
1. Quarterback – Much speculation surrounds Alex Smith’s recovery from his broken right leg including concerns over possible infections from the compound fracture. From the football perspective, his playing career could be in jeopardy. Smith’s hefty contract remains on the books with salary cap hits of $20.4 and $21.4 million over the next two years. That limits Washington’s options since a notable free agent signing or a first round selection makes would put a huge chunk of the team’s asset allocation into one position. But does Colt McCoy and a Day 2 selection sound appealing?
2. Inside linebacker – Between Mason Foster’s private messages and Zach Brown seeing the writing on the wall, fair to say that it’s been a rough month for this unit. That the Redskins risked plenty to claim Reuben Foster shows their level of concern at the position. Washington needs a speed upgrade inside.
3. Left guard – The Redskins had a need here this past offseason and never addressed it. The problem remains. Don’t expect a Jay Gruden-coached team to select another guard in the first, but fixing this whole is necessary.
4. Edge rusher – Preston Smith, another 2019 free agent, only has 3.5 sacks and five tackles for loss. That’s 1.5 sacks more than 2017 second-round pick Ryan Anderson. Even if Smith stays, the Redskins need more production opposite Ryan Kerrigan. Edge rusher might be the odds-on-favorite for their first-round pick considering the need and draft strengths.
5. Cornerback – Washington played this season with two true veterans and four players with a combined one year of NFL experience. The top option, Josh Norman, enters the fourth year of his five-year, $75 million contract. He only counts as $6 million in dead cap space, meaning the Redskins could move on if interested.
6. Wide receiver – Jamison Crowder enters free agency. Whether the Redskins make retaining the slot threat a priority or not, this group lacks a go-to option.
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