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Will the Redskins stand pat on the offensive line?

Mar 8, 2014, 11:25 AM EDT

Josh-LeRibeus-vs.-SEA

When free agency opens, many are expecting the Redskins to immediately start cleaning house along the offensive line, signing in larger linemen to match the big fellas that Jay Gruden had along his O-line in Cincinnati.

Others don’t see that happening.

John Keim of ESPN was asked how many starters would be returning on the line this year. He said he anticipates at least three of them coming back, maybe four. “I was told that there would not be wholesale changes on the line—they don’t view it the same way as, say, the fans,” he said. “And that I shouldn’t assume Gruden would automatically want bigger linemen.”

Even if there aren’t wholesale changes, there still could be a new starter or two on a line that has been set since the start of the 2013 season. Here are the possibilities:

Promote from within: This is the ideal way for the Redskins or any NFL team to find new starters. The Redskins drafted guards Josh LeRibeus and Adam Gettis and tackle Tom Compton in 2012. None has played more than a handful of snaps and it is difficult to project any of them as a 2014 opening day starter right now. One thing to keep in mind here is that offensive line coach Chris Foerster was retained and he should know as well as anyone what kind of potential the three have.

Free agency: The target that everyone seems to be talking about is Bengals tackle Anthony Collins. The 28-year-old has been in the league for six years and he has never started more than seven games in a season so it might be a stretch to say that they can just plug him in at right tackle and go from there. The Redskins have a familiarity advantage here, too, as Jay Gruden has worked with Collins for the last three years.

The draft: With right tackle becoming nearly as important as left tackle in today’s NFL there is some thought that the Redskins could take a tackle early in the draft and make him the immediate starter. Perhaps Cyrus Kouankjio of Alabama could fill the bill here. Or they could bolster the guard spot with Cyril Richardson of Baylor, who could be available in the third round. There is some risk there are most of the better free agent options will be gone by the time the draft comes around so if they strike out there they could have some issues.

  1. northvajim - Mar 8, 2014 at 12:03 PM

    Is there any word on JD Walton’s physical status and whether the skins will try to sign him?

    • Rich Tandler - Mar 8, 2014 at 3:24 PM

      No feel for what they thought of him. Not sure he’s an upgrade but we’ll see.

  2. hailyeah1 - Mar 8, 2014 at 12:29 PM

    man if they stay pat ,there will and uproar in Redskins Nation the one thing our team needs is an upgrade at oline. the hogs were good at both run and pass blocking ,this line can only run block ,they are getting mauled over in pass blocking .
    now if they make an effort to address it will be a start in the right direction whether drafting /FA a RT shuffling the center and guards there are 4 positions that need eventually to be upgraded may take more one draft/FA to do it.
    unless there clones of May,Grimm,Bostic Jacoby out there all at once.

  3. kenlinkins - Mar 8, 2014 at 12:53 PM

    Rich: I have a few questions about the Cap. Every team must be under the Cap on March 11th per NFL rules. If a team go’s over the limit by paying a workout bonus or signs another player who hits the Top 51 contract cost does the team have any time to make moves to get back under the Cap?. At what point will the Redskins have a 90 man roster full? If a player with no guaranteed money left on his contract and is in the Top 51 gets hurt does the “injury Settlement” count against the Cap if he is released? Can we keep running in players as long as there signing bonus and contract terms are under the top 51? We sign our Free agents, Tag Orakpo, then sign our top picks in Free agent, then have first OTA’s (we get an extra one this year) then find holes, cut players, sign middle level Stop Gap guys, Have OTA, find holes – cut players, Draft players and sign Undrafted free agents, have rookie mini camp, find holes – cut players, and sign more one year Vet back ups? Can we use a large signing bonus as a draw to get better Stop Gap guys here to try out as long as it does stays under the Top 51 guy TOTAL cap number, we can run in a ton of guys looking for that Gem Special teamer or back up guy correct?

    • Rich Tandler - Mar 8, 2014 at 1:47 PM

      Some quick answers:

      –A move that puts you over the cap must be filed to the league simultaneously with a move that puts you back under. Otherwise the NFL won’t approve the contract.

      –At some point after the rookie minicamp they will sign enough undrafted players to get up to 90.

      –Injury settlements count against the cap.

      –Yes, can sign all the minimum salary players you want until you hit the roster limit. Usually don’t, might sign a few extra then cut some if there are a lot of undrafted players you want to sign.

      –Not sure what your last question is but you can’t make a habit out of big signing bonuses for stopgap players. The $ will hit your cap at some point. If you keep them it goes to the cap once the final roster is set and then your 53 + IR players + injury settlements + practice squad equal the salary cap.

      • kenlinkins - Mar 8, 2014 at 2:05 PM

        So every time you sign a guy and pay a signing bonus on a One Year contract and then cut him the bonus hits the dead money along with injury settlements even if the guy is not in the top 51 contracts. This is to keep teams from doing what I was suggesting?

        • Rich Tandler - Mar 8, 2014 at 2:09 PM

          Yes, all dead cap, which is what the SB of a released player would be, immediately accelerates to the cap.

          > >

  4. skinsdiehard - Mar 8, 2014 at 1:52 PM

    This is why we don’t rely on John Keim to build our team. His logic is questionable. I think Phillip Thomas will be a good SS. For some reason, the media doesn’t like players coming off injury. He should be fine. Compton can play RT. Skins need a center more than anything.

    • Rich Tandler - Mar 8, 2014 at 1:58 PM

      How about “a player who has never played an NFL snap, didn’t look like a starter in camp and is coming off of an injury”? That’s a more complete description of Philip Thomas.

      Maybe he can play. Maybe Compton can. Maybe Keenan Robinson can. But a GM who relies on hoping that injured players with zero NFL snaps (or very limited in the case of Keenan Robinson) can step in and start and play 70+ snaps per game is soon an ex-GM.

      Hope is not a plan.

      One other note, not sure why you’re killing Keim. He did not insert his logic into the statement at all. He’s just relaying what he’s heard from people on the team. You know, the people who spend hundreds of hours deciding where they need to pay for free agents and where they don’t.

  5. internetcareer - Mar 8, 2014 at 2:34 PM

    Davin Joseph has been release in Tampa. Look for Bruce Allen and the Bucs former staff in Washington D.C. to make a strong run at Joesph. Skins are looking to upgrade at guard and if Joseph can pass a physical then he will be in D.C. and THAT is the “Lock of the Day” folks.

    • northvajim - Mar 8, 2014 at 3:18 PM

      For whatever it is worth, Davin Joseph appears to have been rated the second worst guard in the nfl in 2013 (see CBS Sports article on his release)

      • Rich Tandler - Mar 8, 2014 at 3:24 PM

        Sorry, was out and couldn’t approve comments. I only have to approve your first one, after that you’re good to go.

        Joseph probably worth a look but, yes, he seems to be well past his prime.

  6. jaxjoe - Mar 8, 2014 at 2:42 PM

    The line IMO isn’t as big a problem as what many fans think. PFF or FO said the line was third best in the league and that 10 sacks were on RG3. But to save cap, I’d cut Chester and replace with LeRib or Gettis. At least give those guys an honest chance. I think what would make our line better is a better receiver. But a better receiver is expensive. So, I’d draft a guy like Kelvin Benjamin… a guy who should improve our 3rd down and red zone effectiveness.

    Right Tackle shouldn’t be too much more expensive than what Polumbus is scheduled to be paid this year, if we bring in a FA. But, it should also be the time Compton or Hurt steps in; again, be given an honest shot to compete. How much worse could either be?

  7. kenlinkins - Mar 8, 2014 at 3:06 PM

    Rich, Have you gotten any idea of what the GM and Coach are thinking was the cause for the tail spin in 2013? Everyone is talking about the O-Line as the major concern on offense, but I also remember RG3 holding the ball to long, being off the mark on many pass plays, not finding open WR’s, WR’s not getting open, drop passes and giving up on patterns, along with O-line not being able to form a pocket and getting run over in the middle, turn overs, playing from behind,and poor starting field position. If you had to point to one or two areas that could improve this team what would they be and how much (if any) will the team progress just by having a new coach?

    • Rich Tandler - Mar 8, 2014 at 3:16 PM

      Well, you pretty well summed it up; a lot of things have to go wrong to to 3-13, it’s not just one thing. Allen and Gruden don’t really talk about what went wrong, saying only that they are working to fix things.

      > >

    • ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© - Mar 8, 2014 at 7:23 PM

      Don’t forget the salary cap penalty, ken.

      That stuff bit us badly. We have a team with little depth and glaring holes, and that penalty isn’t a small part of how we got here.
      ~

  8. scirishhoss - Mar 9, 2014 at 9:23 AM

    The cap penalty played a huge part, were talking 16 million we couldn’t use last season. We could have kept Lorenzo Alexander around and added a starter in the secondary, along with just overall improvement of depth with the money. Still tho it’s no excuse for a 3-13 season.

  9. manchild157 - Mar 9, 2014 at 12:31 PM

    A thought occured to me this morning and this is off the thread subject above. Since the league has agreed to increase the cap by $10 million, Allen took that money to Franchise tag Rak, therefore it really hasn’t hurt us because it was money we didn’t know we had anyway. Now if the league didn’t raise the cap then who knows what they might have done. Idle thoughts on a Sunday morning.

    • Rich Tandler - Mar 9, 2014 at 12:36 PM

      Well, sort of. They were told shortly after the season ended to figure on a cap of ~$127 million so it’s not like the increase came totally out of the blue. And many I talked to figured that it would wind up near $130 million and surely Bruce and company were aware of that chatter.

      Still, every bit helped in paying for Orakpo’s tag. Not sure what they would have done with a $127 million cap.

      • manchild157 - Mar 9, 2014 at 1:09 PM

        Thanks Rich. I think I was basing that thought off of pre-announced figures. It seems like that initially I read it may only increase 2-3 million. Like to see the team sign free agents who are relatively young with a good upside to them for 4-5 year contracts ending when these players are 30-31 years old and develop their replacements from the draft. And I realize we can sign but a few of these players. Stop gap players can hopefully be found after the draft as teams are releasing players.

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