This morning, we examined the 2015 outlook for the Redskins’ defensive line and studied the salary cap situation at the position. Now, CSNWashington.com Insiders Tarik El-Bashir and Rich Tandler will give their take on the most pressing issue at the position:
Should the Redskins keep Barry Cofield at nose tackle?
Tandler: Cofield converted from defense tackle in the Giants’ 4-3 defense to nose tackle in the Redskins’ 3-4 when he signed with Washington as a free agent in 2011. He was solid in the role his first two seasons but his performance has started to fade. Injuries are partly to blame. He played the first few games of the 2013 season with a cast on his hand after suffering a broken thumb in the preseason. Then last year he suffered a high ankle sprain in the season opener and spent the next eight games on short-term injured reserve. Cofield played the rest of the season but was not very effective with one sack and five tackles while played 252 snaps. The question now is if his body can continue to hold up under the pounding that comes with the position in the middle of the line at his age (31 before OTAs start) and size (listed at 303, probably heavier but still a smaller than average NT). When you factor in his cap number, which is fifth highest on the team at $7.7 million, you have to think that Scot McCloughan will be considering other options at nose tackle. I think he takes a reduction from his 2015 salary of $5 million, including roster and workout bonuses) and moves to a rotational role at end.
El-Bashir: Earlier today, I noted that four of the Redskins’ seven defensive linemen are on the wrong side of 30. And, as Tandler just mentioned, Cofield is one of them. He’s a respected, lead-by-example veteran in a locker room that needs more players of his type. In 2013, he was one of the league’s most productive defensive linemen. But in the NFL, it’s all about, ‘What have you done for me lately?’ And when you couple Cofield’s recent injury history (particularly the groin/hernia ailment that required two procedures last season) his high mileage and salary, it’s difficult to conclude that his current (and even projected) production matches his $7.7 million cap number in 2015. It’s very difficult, in fact, especially when you take into account the fact that 27-year-old Chris Baker is able to step in as the starter at nose tackle. Would Cofield accept a pay cut? I’ve got imagine the Redskins will ask him to do so. If he won’t, it's possible he'll be elsewhere in '15. I do believe Cofield’s versatility and leadership can be a key asset as a new general manager and defensive coordinator reshape the Redskins’ D-line. But I suspect it will only happen at the team’s price. And that could complicate matters.