Redskins Path to Winning the NFC East

The Washington Redskins completed the 2019 season at 3-13, earning them the 2nd pick in the NFL Draft. Free agency starts next week, and Washington is in a good spot to turn this franchise around. They’ve already hired a new coaching staff (a noticeably good one at that), and are in a division that’s wide open for any of the four teams to take over. Washington also has roughly $60 million in cap space (according to Spotrac), which gives them some decent wiggle room to build the roster. Now it’s not all peaches and cream for the ‘Skins, as they don’t plan to hire a GM until after the draft, and their offense last year finished near last in almost every category. But I don’t think Washington is too far away from being a playoff contender as early as next year. With free agency and the draft still ahead, the Redskins have a chance to make some noise in the offseason. Here are the main transactions that need to happen for the Redskins to make the playoffs next year.

Trade Trent Williams and Find his Replacement

Now, obviously this is already in the works. But it needs to happen sooner rather than later to clear up some cap space for free agency. Now the loss of Williams really isn’t that big of a deal, even though he’s one of the best left tackles in the league, as the Redskins offensive line played well without him. They were easily the best unit on the offense, despite the entire team finishing so low. However, they still need to find that replacement at the O-line. In terms of trade value, Washington makes it sound like they’ll accept nothing short of multiple 1st round picks. Is that likely? Maybe if they find a desperate team to trade with, but I think it’s much more likely to at least get a 2nd round pick in 2020. But first, in the free agent market, I think it would be wise for the Redskins to look at Jason Peters. I get that he’s 38 years old with a little injury history, but I think his experience and all around game play would be a huge asset for this offensive line. This also opens up the possibility of Washington drafting a Tackle in the upcoming draft. He doesn’t have to be a first round pick, but it would be great for them to have a young prospect to play and learn behind Peters until he’s ready. Not to mention, Peters should be a cheaper sign than other players like Conklin, or Bulaga.

Re-sign Brandon Scherff

I know he lost some time due to injuries last year, but Scherff is one of the best offensive lineman in the NFL. This guy would be the anchor of this O-line, and with the addition of Jason Peters, Washington’s front five is nearly ready to dominate. Now there’s some speculation that Scherff will be asking for a big contract, as back in November it was discussed he could be asking for a deal larger than Brandon Brooks’ extension with the Eagles. Meaning Scherff could be reeling in a 4 year deal that’s over $56 million dollars. Pretty pricy, but the veteran Guard more than deserves it. Besides, the Redskins would still have a decent amount of cap space available.

Improve the Rush Defense

The Redskins gave up 2,339 rushing yards, the second most in the league. Opposing offenses were able to dominate and control the game clock all year long as a result, which helped lead to a 3-13 record. However, the Redskins pass defense was right in the middle of the pack. Josh Norman is gone (great move for Washington), which gives the Redskins the opportunity to find someone better. So the defense isn’t too far away from becoming legit, which makes acquiring the right players crucial for this franchises future. First and foremost, they HAVE to address the rush defense. They already have guys like Matt Ioannidis, Daron Payne, and Jonathan Allen on the line (all guys I like), which means I think they should go after an Inside Linebacker in the free agent market.

First, they should re-sign Jon Bostic. He wasn’t signed until training camp last year, but during his year in Washington, he recorded over 100 tackles, a sack, and an interception. Now he’s not the best player available by any means, but he’s very well rounded and already familiar with the team. Additionally, he’s not going to break the bank either, giving Washington more money to acquire more players. Now I know they have Reuben Foster and Cole Holcomb, but Foster’s coming off a big injury and has had problems off the field for quite awhile, and Cole Holcomb is still a young prospect. Finding another ILB for this squad will give this defense massive improvements in the run game while Holcomb (and hopefully Foster) can keep learning and subbing in.

My suggestion is Joe Schobert. The Cleveland Browns have already claimed they don’t plan to re-sign the 26 year old ILB, which opens up the possibility of the Redskins landing a solid player who has his best years ahead of him. He’ll be a bit expensive, but considering how this defense looked last year, the money spent would be worth it, as the former 4th round pick recorded over 130 tackles, 2 sacks, 4 interceptions, and 2 forced fumbles in 2020. Schobert would be a huge sign for the Redskins and would vastly improve the defense.

Find a New Tight End

Jordan was one of the better TE’s in the league, but unfortunately, he constantly suffered from concussions throughout his career. I personally hope he retires and gets healthy, but Reed is a grown man and will make his own decisions. So for now, we’ll have to wait and see what Jordan Reed’s decision will be. But for the Redskins, they have big shoes to fill in the position, as I don’t think Jeremy Sprinkle is the answer. Considering I think the Redskins will have spent a good amount of money on the O-line and the defense, I think Washington will be looking for a cheaper option. The best possible candidate I can think of, is Darren Fells. I’m aware he’s 33 years old and his best years are likely behind him. But he’s 6’7″ and caught 7 touchdowns in 2019. Fells is a great all-around player, and could be a great red zone target for this offense. Fells and McLaurin would be a great 1-2 punch for the QB.

The Draft

Lately there has been speculation of the Redskins drafting a QB. In the position this team is in, and if they do acquire the right guys on offense, I think they should give Dwayne Haskins a shot. They drafted him last year in the first round and he didn’t play all that poorly during the season. I think a lot of the struggles could be blamed on the lack of weapons around him, so why not load up and give him a chance to succeed? The other rumors I’ve heard is for them to trade back and acquire more picks. This is an option to consider, as the Redskins could benefit from picking up more young talent to add to their roster. However, I think there’s a player available in the draft that holds more value than 2 first round picks. I’m also a huge believer in the “Defense Wins Championships” mantra. Having said that, the Washington Redskins should draft Chase Young, the defensive end out of Ohio State. The kid is a 6’5″, 265 lbs monster. In 2019 alone, Young recorded 46 total tackles, 16.5 sacks, and 6 forced fumbles. If you’re looking for a game changer, you’ve found him. Plus, he would be paired up with Jonathan Allen, Daron Payne, Matt Ioannidis, Ryan Kerrigan, and Montez Sweat within the front seven. Factor in Washington could have Joe Schobert at ILB as well, all I can say to opposing offenses… Good luck.

I think the team should stick to defense in the 2nd or third round, preferably focusing on the corner back position. They just traded away Josh Norman, and will need someone to replace him. I think it’s realistic they let one of the guys on the roster already take that spot, but why not draft a young CB in the 2nd round? Additionally, they’ll have to address the offense, specifically, wide receiver. I love Terry McLaurin, and I think he has the talent to be a number one receiver for this team. But Haskins is going to need as much help he can get. The Washington Redskins literally just signed Pierre Garçon (17 minutes before writing this) to the squad. I like this sign as this adds a veteran WR that can really help the young core. He also still has some juice left and can be a threat in the redzone. Add to the fact that this draft consists of a very deep WR class. They can take a guy in the 3rd or 4th round and feel confident he they acquired a guy with a lot of talent and high potential.

Ready for Kickoff

Now that the draft is over we head to training camp. Where we’ll all get to see the Redskins new training staff. With Ron Rivera serving as Head Coach, and Jack Del Rio as the Defensive Coordinator, Washington will have outstanding leadership and experience for these players to learn from. We’ll get to see Scott Turner as an Offensive Coordinator for the first time after working with Ron Rivera in Carolina as the QB Coach in 2018 (Newton had a 67.9 completion percentage that year, which is highest in Panthers Franchise history). It should be exciting to see what this team does in the 2020 season, as like I mentioned earlier, the NFC East is WIDE OPEN.

After strengthening up their defense by drafting Chase Young, and signing Joe Schobert, this front seven all of a sudden becomes a wrecking ball. In addition to any other defensive players they sign or draft, this defense could go from dead last to top 15 quickly. As for the offense, the O-line is still strong, and hopefully Derrius Guice can stay healthy. I think Haskins having a guy like Scott Turner as his OC is only going to help him. He’ll also have continued chemistry with WR Terry McLaurin, and new redzone targets in Darren Fells and Pierre Garçon. Obviously, this team still has a couple holes on the roster, but considering how weak the NFC East is, I think this could be enough for the Washington Redskins to go out and win their conference.

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