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Need to Know: Which of their free agents should the Redskins keep?

Jan 25, 2015, 6:15 AM EDT


Here is what you need to know on this Sunday, January 25, 44 days before NFL free agency starts for the Washington Redskins and the rest of the NFL.

Question of the day

We’re changing up the format of Need to Know for the offseason. Every day I’ll give an in-depth answer to a question submitted by a fan on my Twitter feed, via the Real Redskins Facebook page, or in the comments section here. On Twitter address the questions to me at @Rich_TandlerCSN with the #NTK hashtag. There will be a comment thread set up on the Facebook page and if you’re asking your question here, put “for NTK” at the start of the comment.

Today’s question is from Twitter:

Scot McCloughan has just started to scratch the surface of evaluating the players who took the field for the Redskins in 2014. He did say last week that he has watched the tape of each of the team’s games last season and will start roster evaluations in earnest soon.

He’ll pay particular attention to the 12 players who will be unrestricted free agents—OLB Brian Orakpo, DE Jarvis Jenkins, WR Santana Moss, S Ryan Clark, OT Tyler Polumbus, S Brandon Meriweather, CB E. J. Biggers, QB Colt McCoy, WR Leonard Hankerson, RB Roy Helu, TE Niles Paul, and NT Chris Neild.

McCloughan is unlikely to pick up the phone and ask me who I would keep, here are what my recommendations would be.

On defense, I would try to hold on to Jenkins and maybe Neild. Although Jenkins hasn’t lived up to the billing he had as a second-round pick in 2011, he still is a solid rotational player who plays hard. We’ll probably never see him generate much pass pressure but if you use him in the right situations he can help the team. Neild has seen two seasons end with torn ACLs but I’d give him a shot on a minimum salary contract.

Although I wouldn’t be strongly opposed to bringing back Orakpo with an incentive-laden deal with little guaranteed money, I think that he might benefit from getting a fresh start in another city. It should be an organizational priority to find replacements for the two veteran safeties and a draft pick should be able to take Biggers’ role.

On offense, I would let Moss, McCoy, Polumbus, and Hankerson walk. The only debatable player there is McCoy, who did a nice job as a backup quarterback. But I think that will cause his salary to increase to a point where the Redskins would be better off with a mid-round backup QB.

I’d make an effort to bring back Helu and Paul. Helu has done well as the third-down back and Paul was productive (39 receptions, 5th on the team) in a limited role when Jordan Reed was sidelined with injuries and on special teams. However, both could get lured away by bigger contracts and prospects for more playing time elsewhere. The Redskins should not break the bank to try to keep them.


—It’s been 28 days since the Redskins played a game. It will be about 231 days until they play another one.

Days until: NFL Combine 25; NFL free agency starts 44; 2015 NFL Draft 95

If you have any questions about what’s going on at Redskins Park, hit me up in the comments. And I’m always on Twitter @Rich_TandlerCSN.

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In case you missed it

  1. sidepull - Jan 25, 2015 at 7:58 AM

    Agreed. Helu and Paul out of that group of players.

    • bangkokben - Jan 25, 2015 at 8:52 AM

      Helu and Paul were some of the egregious offenders at missing blocks. Chris Thompson for Helu; no one on the roster for Paul. Keeping them…so what. Fine if we do; fine if we don’t.

      • mrperry757 - Jan 25, 2015 at 10:14 AM

        I agree we need to let both players go the Skins need a pass blocking and run blocking TE we don’t have one on the roster I like Silas Redd to step up and take up and be that 3rd down back and bring in a Frank gore and maybe a Vernon Davis and draft a TE in the late rounds

        • Joe Greene - Jan 25, 2015 at 4:23 PM

          Why in the world would you bring in a worn down Frank Gore?

        • Dennis - Jan 25, 2015 at 10:01 PM

          How about bringing Chris Cooley back? Got a raw deal with Mike Shanahan.

      • Joe Greene - Jan 25, 2015 at 4:23 PM

        Paul is a good special teams player and maybe a better receiving TE than Reed.

        Helu is a solid back except for the blocking you mentioned. Thompson is irrelevant.

        I’d be looking for a replacement for Paulsen at TE while keeping Paul in case Reed’s injury issues keep occurring.

      • thirdistheworrd - Jan 25, 2015 at 5:44 PM

        The reason you noticed Helu miss blocks is because he was asked to make blocks. He’s the best/only pass-blocking RB on the team. You’ve also have to keep in mind that blocks are a lot like free throws, you only notice when players miss. And while missing a block is much worse than missing a free throw, Helu’s playmaking ability with the ball in his hands cancels out any weakness as a blocker.

        Paul, on the other hand, has no excuses,he’s just a bad blocker. However, he is a good special teamer, and a solid back-up for Jordan Reed– another pass-catching TE who can’t block for squat.

        I think there’s a good case to keep both on the team, but like you said, I won’t cry about it if we don’t.

    • sam carter - Jan 25, 2015 at 3:38 PM

      Keep helu let Paul go

  2. celticsforever - Jan 25, 2015 at 9:00 AM

    I still have belief that Neild can be a good rotational “true” nose tackle. I’d make sure he’s in camp & see what he can do on his new knees. I wouldn’t open the bank or even my change purse for Paul or Helu.

  3. boysheadcoach - Jan 25, 2015 at 9:02 AM

    Would not keep any of them. they are all replaceable at equal or higher talent level for much cheaper than a re-sign. Culture needs to change and it starts with all new players over the next 3 years.

  4. Ricky T - Jan 25, 2015 at 9:09 AM

    I agree with bringing Helu & Paul back. It would be nice to bring Rak back on the cheap if possible. I’d have no problem bringing McCoy back. I’d love to see Santana back to end his career. He has been such a loyal Redskin. Also wouldn’t mind bringing Hank back on a minimum salary with incentive deal to camp and give him one last chance. If he doesn’t pan out then cut him. Let the rest of the FA’s go and let’s see if McC can work some magic.

    • kenlinkins - Jan 25, 2015 at 10:11 AM

      While I am not a big Moss fan IMO he will be playing in the NFL again in 2015 (maybe not here but if he wants to play there are many teams that require a WR that understands the new pass happy NFL).

  5. abanig - Jan 25, 2015 at 9:16 AM

    – OLB Brian Orakpo – I’d keep him if it’s a 1 year deal under 5 million

    -DE Jarvis Jenkins – definitely keep

    -WR Santana Moss & S Ryan Clark – needs to retire

    -OT Tyler Polumbus – keep on minimum to compete as the last OL on the roster. He can play G&T

    -S Brandon Meriweather & CB E. J. Biggers – gone & gone

    -QB Colt McCoy – he should be back

    -WR Leonard Hankerson – should be back on a minimum deal to prove himself

    -RB Roy Helu, TE Niles Paul, and NT Chris Neild – all three should be retained IMO but we shouldn’t pay Helu or Paul more to just keep them. If another team is going to pay them a few million a year, they can have him.

    • Joe Greene - Jan 25, 2015 at 4:26 PM

      Why keep Jenkins? He was terrible this year and really hasn’t played well since getting injured during his rookie year preseason.

      I’d keep Compton over Polumbus for sure.

      The others are pretty much spot on except maybe for Paul. I don’t trust Reed to stay healthy and Paul is a very good pass catcher.

    • bullets2586 - Jan 26, 2015 at 8:09 PM

      No way I would keep Orakpo. He has torn his pectoral TWICE. Not worth the money and risk.

  6. bangkokben - Jan 25, 2015 at 9:28 AM

    Leonard Hankerson? Do you really need more from him? He has proven that despite being the ‘biggest’ receiver we’ve got he’s also the most injured. Comes back and doesn’t even know the offense. Can’t beat out Andre Roberts, Ryan Grant, or Santana Moss. Let McLoughan bring in his guys. Don’t need to waste a roster spot on this guy.

  7. Greg - Jan 25, 2015 at 9:48 AM

    None of them!! This is why the Skins hired a new GM. New players, new atmosphere. McCoy did a decent job which will probably require a pay raise. So I would let him walk. Gurden will be looking for a project at quarterback in the draft. Someone he can groom.

  8. kenlinkins - Jan 25, 2015 at 10:08 AM

    Rich: Of the 12 FA’s you only have 4 guys returning and if you add in the Cap Space Cuts (my guess is 6 guys) that means 16 new faces before the draft of 7 more new guys and about 5 Free Agent signing (who make the team) not here in 2014 for a total of 26 guys (not including the Practice Squad of 8 guys). That’s a pretty high turn over rate of about 58% on the 53 man roster. Of the 12, only one guy was not here in 2013 (Clark). Would not signing 8 or the 12 Free Agents help reduce the core of guys who “just didn’t get it” we all talked about this season? (not looking for names but as a group).

    • Rich Tandler - Jan 25, 2015 at 10:32 AM

      I think your numbers are a little off but there will be a lot of turnover, perhaps as high at 50%. It’s just a matter of improving the team in many cases. Ryan Clark, for example, gets it but he has too many miles on the tires. Hankerson largely gets it but he can’t stay on the field. But as far as the “don’t get it” players, some of them would be replaced by draft picks and free agents. We don’t know who those will be yet.

      > > >

      • kenlinkins - Jan 25, 2015 at 10:43 AM

        Thanks, Great answer.

  9. murphsman - Jan 25, 2015 at 10:30 AM

    I don’t think Moss is going to play anywhere else. I have a feeling if we don’t re-sign him he’s going to retire a Redskin. I don’t see us re-signing him, though, because Scot said he doesn’t want a lot of older guys, so I think he’s done. Also, Rich, who are our restricted free agents? And for that matter, what’s the difference?

  10. dcfaninecuador - Jan 25, 2015 at 10:39 AM

    Get rid of Rak. Hate to see Moss go, but…outta here. Clark, Biggers, Merriweather…gone. Cofield and Bowen… So long. Hankerson… Bye bye

  11. goback2rfk - Jan 25, 2015 at 10:41 AM

    This is not worth debating. Let them all walk. Niles Paul has been a major disappointment and Helu has been fine here and there but running backs are like a dime a dozen. There is another 100 roy helu’s out there than can be had on the cheap.

    • Joe Greene - Jan 25, 2015 at 4:27 PM

      Niles Paul, after switching positions and being a backup, was 17th in receiving yards as a TE last year. How is that a major disappointment?

  12. James Bridges - Jan 25, 2015 at 10:56 AM

    I agree with you Rich, but I would try to sign Moss and Hankerson to 1 yr contracts, I would definitely bring back Hulu, and Paul, I am still iffy on McCoy, but would bring back Jenkins and maybe Clark to what do you think?

  13. redskinscaio - Jan 25, 2015 at 11:09 AM

    How is Orakpo doing? Is he healthy? Is he going to work out for someone to prove it? Could he have his own pro day?

  14. gurnblanstonreturns - Jan 25, 2015 at 12:35 PM

    Spot on, Rich.

    Dan Snyder should hold a press conference during which he announces the retirement of Santana Moss and begs Santana’s forgiveness for squandering his outstanding career.

    • manchild157 - Jan 25, 2015 at 3:13 PM

      Squandered his career? He’s made millions playing for the Redskins. You and I should be so lucky.

    • jeff - Jan 25, 2015 at 3:17 PM

      Best comment ever!

  15. channer81 - Jan 25, 2015 at 12:37 PM

    I’d like to keep Rak, he’s not gonna give you Justin Houston sack numbers but 10-11 sacks is still worth keeping around, it’s hard enough finding that out on the street. However IDK if we could afford him despite his injury history. I know his agent would be looking for Paul Kruger type money for his guy whose put up much better numbers over the span of his career compared to Kruger who up until the point he signed his new deal had only one season like Rak did.

    Other than him, I’d like to see Clark come back simply due to his leadership, Neild, Paul, and Jenkins.

    • goskins44 - Jan 25, 2015 at 3:35 PM

      How many times did Rak give us 10 to 11 sacks? Sorry, he needs to go, period. Don’t even want him at a reduced contract. He just can’t stay on the field and when he is on the the field he is just not that productive. Kerrigan just had a career year with Rak mostly on the sideline. (# of sacks were about the same Rak/Murphy, but you have to realize 5 were against Jacksonville. The last half of the season he was getting almost a sack a game.)

      • Rich Tandler - Jan 25, 2015 at 3:39 PM

        Rak won’t give Justin Houston sack numbers? In half a season he had a half sack more than Justin Bieber did.

  16. goskins44 - Jan 25, 2015 at 3:41 PM

    I could see just letting the whole lot go. There are no “have to” priorities in that group. If I were to keep anyone, it would be Helu, Jenkins, and maybe McCoy.

    The only one I would feel bad about letting go is Santana Moss. He is a great player and has given himself of the Skins. Yes, he has gotten paid but I still hate to see him go. But there is no way he will be here long enough to help with the rebuild so it’s better for him and us to separate. I hope he lands with a contender and gets a real chance at Playoff football.

  17. Joe Greene - Jan 25, 2015 at 4:30 PM

    Why are so many people thinking that Jenkins is a must keep? He’s shown nothing for several seasons now and really hasn’t done anything of worth since his rookie year preseason injury.

    • goskins44 - Jan 25, 2015 at 4:35 PM

      Myself, I did not list anyone as a “must keep”. I did say if I was to keep anyone he might be one of them. There is still a lot of upside and he has been a serviceable back-up. If we get him cheap he could be a flexible back-up. But he is certainly not a must keep.

    • Rich Tandler - Jan 25, 2015 at 4:45 PM

      I didn’t say Jenkins is a “must keep”. Yes, he’s just a guy. But even the best NFL teams have JAG’s for at least a third of their rosters and a team like the Redskins will go for at least a couple of years needing a few dozen JAG’s to fill out the roster. As long as they’re not paying him too much money (and that’s the caveat with any free agent I talk about keeping), Jenkins is serviceable and a known quantity.

  18. skins1970 - Jan 25, 2015 at 5:00 PM

    I would say good bye to Santana Moss he has been a reat Skin for 10 years but he is done IMO, I would also release Leonard Hankerson I don’t think he was active for more then 1 game after he came off the PUP list but I could be wrong. I like Roy Helu and would like to see him come back but if he was to leave I do think he could easily be replaced and it would hopefully mean Silas Redd we get more of a look. Brian Orapko is one of my favorites but I would only bring him back at the right price and that would be at 8 Million IMO, I think he is going to find out no one is going to pay him the money he thinks he deserves because he isn’t a elite pass rusher.

  19. colmac69 - Jan 25, 2015 at 5:18 PM

    Would keep paul for sure,,,,, not best blocker but he reliable special team guy and better receiver than given credit for,,,,, when reed was injured paul had quite a few productive games especially when cousins was quarterback,,,,, seemed to be forgotten when reed came back although I thought reed was a disappointment in second half of season except colts game

    As for others perhaps jenkins,,, merriweather and mccoy,,,, however if none of these came back then I wont lose much sleep over it

    Its pass rushers thats required and a gd safety,,,,, if we can get three, four guys who can rush passer consistently and get pressure it would help out secondary big time

    Said it before great 3-4 teams in past ten years have had fine outside guys and a great nose tackle and safety,,,, teams like ravens and steelers for example had those in place and because these guys created that much havoc their secondaries were ok at best (did not need to have all pros across board),,,,

    Untill we acquire great players in these four positions we will only be an average defense,,,,,,

  20. Susan G - Jan 25, 2015 at 5:36 PM


  21. Mr Hart - Jan 25, 2015 at 6:55 PM

    I say keep Orakpo. Let the others go. Hes good for about 10 sacks if healthy and gives constant pressure if he has a good DE next to him. Hes not great. But good and we need all the good players we can find. Murphy is not that dude. Why bring back most of the players that won a combined 7 games in 2 years . Just start the rebuild already. We wont win WITH those guys next year.

  22. joeaman87 - Jan 26, 2015 at 3:36 AM

    OLB Brian Orakpo: Rak needs to go. It was a decent run until all the torn tricep injuries the past few years.

    DE Jarvis Jenkins: Keep Jenkins.

    WR Santana Moss: Bring back Moss. He was more productive than Andre Roberts. Moss caught all the passes, though not many, thrown to him. Roberts was unproductive overall on offense and not a factor on special teams. I’d rather have Brandon Banks return to the NFL with the Redskins than see Andre return anything. Santana needs to be active more. He’s 35 going on 36 in June but still productive when given the chance. I’d like him to have some return duties and also have a Steve Smith-type role on the team.

    S Ryan Clark: He already had one foot in the door at ESPN in the summer before training camp began. Go back to your other day job. I’m glad he came back but I wish it was 3-4 yrs earlier. I honestly wish he would’ve been re-signed by the Redskins almost a decade ago. Should’ve never let him walk in the first place back then.

    OT Tyler Polumbus: Bye Bye Tyler. He sucks. Cut Chris Chester as well.

    S Brandon Meriweather: If he only stayed healthy and didn’t get suspended for his hitting he would’ve been very good for us.

    CB E. J. Biggers: Gone.

    QB Colt McCoy: Keep. Maybe as a backup or #3 again.

    WR Leonard Hankerson: He never really did much in D.C. Bye-bye.

    RB Roy Helu: Keep Helu. He’s productive at times.

    TE Niles Paul: Keep. Same reason as Helu. Get rid of Mr. False Start Logan Paulsen though.

    NT Chris Neild: Keep on 1-yr, minimum contract. One more chance.

  23. timwillhidetimwillhide - Feb 4, 2015 at 12:44 AM

    DE Jarvis Jenkins I would resign him for depth

    WR Santana Moss I would resign him and keep him active all year he is more productive than Roberts and I would also have him return punts and kicks. Team Captin on offense and Special Teams

    S Ryan Clark I would not resign him

    OT Tyler Polumbus I would have cut him before the season ended just to be able to say I cut him he’s that bad.

    S Brandon Meriweather I would resign him he’s a playmaker just needs to aim lower on his hits

    CB E. J. Biggers I would resign him for depth

    QB Colt McCoy I would cut Cousins and resign McCoy as the Backup

    WR Leonard Hankerson I would not resign him.

    RB Roy Helu get him on the cheap if not no big deal RBs with his skill set are a dime a dozen

    TE Niles Paul I would not sign him he causes to many turnovers with tipped balls and fumbles. He doesnt block well and has allot of key drops.

    NT Chris Neild I would resign him for depth. Archives

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