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Need to Know: What else does Redskins’ McCloughan need to do in free agency?

Mar 23, 2015, 6:09 AM EDT


Here is what you need to know on this Monday, March 23, 38 days before the Washington Redskins go on the clock at the NFL draft.

Question of the day

A few days a week 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:

It has been a while since the national media came away impressed by the Redskins’ moves in free agency but the opinions seem to be unanimously positive. Here is a sample quick analysis from Chris Burke of

New Washington GM Scot McCloughan may have pushed the upper limits of cornerback Chris Culliver’s market at four years and $32 million, but at least it was a gamble on a 26-year-old talent. Elsewhere, his work has been measured thus far: retaining Niles Paul, adding Terrance Knighton and Stephen Paea to the defensive line, letting Brian Orakpo walk. On paper, a smart approach across the board.

But McCloughan still has some work to do before we can slap a final grade on his efforts. There is still a glaring hole in the deep middle of the field where a free safety is supposed to go.

It appears that the Redskins may do what they have been doing for years, getting a veteran to fill the role until a permanent solution can be found. They had discussions with Antrel Rolle of the Giants but he ended up going to the Bears. Their next target may be a player that McCloughan drafted.

The Bucs are going to release Dashon Goldson at some point. They want to shed his contract, which carries an $8 million cap number with $4 million guaranteed in 2015. They are trying to trade him but that contract plus the fact that it seems inevitable that they will let him go will make a trade difficult if not impossible.

Goldson, who was drafted in the fourth round in 2007 by McCloughan when he was the 49ers’ GM, is not a long-term solution at free safety. He will turn 31 early in the season and he is not nearly the player he was when he was first-team All-Pro in 2012. That season earned him the big free agent contract that the Bucs are trying to get out of after two seasons.

It could be that McCloughan is just waiting for Goldson to be released and is confident that he can sign the veteran to a deal. There is no particular urgency for the Bucs to let him go immediately since they have plenty of salary cap space to carry that $8 million number.

But their hand will be forced in a few weeks. Offseason workouts start on April 20 and the Bucs probably don’t want Goldson to show up at the team facility for those. If he gets injured while working out the team could be liable for his entire 2015 salary.

There is also the matter of a $500,000 workout bonus clause in Goldson’s contract. Depending on the exact structure of the bonus they could have to start writing checks to Goldson after the first week of workouts.

So some patience may be required here. Even if they do manage to land Goldson he is a temporary solution. They will be trying to find a long-term starter at safety in the draft but there are no guarantees there.

It has taken eight years for the Redskins to get into this mess at safety. It may take more than one offseason for McCloughan to get them out of it.


—It’s been 85 days since the Redskins played a game. It will be about 174 days until they play another one.

Days until: Redskins offseason workouts start 28; 2015 NFL Draft 38; Redskins training camp starts 129

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. skinsgame - Mar 23, 2015 at 7:18 AM

    Safeties can be coached up just as any position can. Goldson being a fourth round pick is a testament to that. Kam Chancellor was a fifth round pick. It’s all about identifying an athlete with the correct mindset and getting a good coach to guide and direct him. Perry Fewell has had success in building a defensive strategy and I hope he can contribute to our new defensive coordinators schemes by coaching up the secondary.
    The one move I am shocked that the team has not yet made in free agency is cutting Chris Chester. Maybe Callahan is working magic with him somehow but, he has been our worst offensive lineman for at least the past 2 years and I can’t imagine he will survive training camp.

    • bangkokben - Mar 23, 2015 at 12:03 PM

      Chester is still on the team because NO ONE has beaten him out. There is no one else on the roster that has proved that they can play at the NFL level in practice let alone games. When and if that happens, he will be released. Until then he’s your starting right guard. How is this so hard to comprehend? You can’t just release a guy because you think he’s not worth the money – unless your Chip Kelly. Even then, he thinks he’s got someone that can play.

      As for safeties, some guys are late bloomers. Most guys are system guys. Sure, there is coaching; but there is coaching the right players in the right system and then there is the players responsibility in addition to the injury bug. Blame the scouts, blame the GM, blame the coach, and/or blame the player. Bottom line: The ‘skins have been a mess at safety and have tried to fix the problem both with free agency as well as with the draft. The ironic thing is they thought they had there solution (Taylor and Landry) for the entire eight years of mess before there ever was a problem.

  2. Jgd2016 - Mar 23, 2015 at 8:02 AM

    Rich, isn’t Goldson a strong safety? I could be wrong, but I always thought that he was.

  3. sidepull - Mar 23, 2015 at 8:20 AM

    Is Will Hill a possibility?

    • ET - Mar 23, 2015 at 8:53 AM

      Hasn’t Will Hill had a couple of suspensions for drug violations? Could be Tanard 2.0 if he slips up again.

      • DC in DE - Mar 23, 2015 at 12:16 PM

        I’m still very surprised Will Hill hasn’t gotten more attention. The Ravens are cap strapped so in all likely hood they aren’t matching a multi-year offer over their tender of $1.5 million. Plus he doesn’t have a draft pick attached. If McCourtney got $10 million per, Ron Parker got $5 million per, and Nate FREAKING Allen got $5.75 million per, than Will Hill is easily worth $7-$8 million per year! I’m not advocating that kind of offer, but we could very easily snag him at $3-$4 million per year, for 2-3 years. We are talking about a just turned 25 year old, who graded out as the NFL #2 overall safety in 2013, behind only D.McCourtney. It’s all about risk versus reward and smart business. Sign me up every day of the week, and twice on Sunday, for a top 5 safety on a bottom 5 contract!

        • Rich Tandler - Mar 23, 2015 at 12:19 PM

          I guess you’re smarter than the dozen or so other NFL teams who are looking for safety help. Or maybe they are looking at Hill’s multiple drug suspensions and deciding to stay away.

        • DC in DE - Mar 23, 2015 at 1:13 PM

          Rich, never once did I say I was smarter than anyone. I’m simply saying the potential positives of signing a Will Hill cheaply, far outweigh the potential negatives.

        • Rich Tandler - Mar 23, 2015 at 2:04 PM

          So the Redskins should go through another roller coaster with a safety who is facing drug suspensions? Remember Tanard Jackson? At leas he didn’t cost the team much financially, just in terms of uncertainty and turmoil.

          And apologies for the “smarter than” comment. But with all of the issues at safety out there in the NFL it’s obvious that this guy isn’t nearly as hot a property as you think.

          > > >

    • jtaylor68 - Mar 23, 2015 at 9:10 AM

      He is no more a possibility than Laron Landry.

  4. kutzintl - Mar 23, 2015 at 8:43 AM

    Rich, With all the trash being thrown at Amerson, What ever happened to Sophmore slump. Also in his rookie year he had Hall coaching him all 2013. No on field coaching in 2014.

    • Rich Tandler - Mar 23, 2015 at 8:57 AM

      Breeland had the same coaching. He also figured out that film room time pays off. His teammate has yet to realize that.

    • timwillhidetimwillhide - Mar 23, 2015 at 9:10 AM

      I think it’s kind of Dumb for people to constantly trash a player because they have one or 2 bad years. They dont even think about other factors that could cause a player to have a bad year…. Health, New system, Bad Oline, No Pass Rush, No Safety help, Sophomore Slump, Another Player getting more targets…… It’s a team sport. If a guy has good support around him and has bin in the same system for the 3rd straight year then start questioning that guy but with no consistency and bad players around them what do you expect. People think if a player isn’t good right out the gate or has a bad year or 2 get rid of him he is done is abad thought process and you will never get anywhere that way. As our Gm said you dont give up on a player this early with that much talent. He was talking about RG3 but it applies to other players as well.

      • ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© - Mar 23, 2015 at 12:52 PM

        What if he’s constantly being burned by not knowing his assignments, Tim, and yet won’t spend time trying to learn them?

  5. timwillhidetimwillhide - Mar 23, 2015 at 8:53 AM

    I would like to see us Draft FS Adrian Amos Penn State

  6. renhoekk2 - Mar 23, 2015 at 9:44 AM

    It’s a tough position to fill. Takes a special athlete to play safety in the NFL. You need speed to cover a lot of ground and to run with WR, RB and TE. You need some size and strength, plus the “want to” to tackle 220lb RB’s coming at you with a full head of steam. Plus football smarts to diagnose what is happening as far as formations, routes and what your teammates are doing or not doing. I would think outside of QB it is one of the most difficult positions to play.

  7. troylok - Mar 23, 2015 at 9:45 AM

    Barry might run a defense that has interchangeable free and strong safeties. If that were the case, then they have all of the players they need. And on passing downs they could just pull the safeties and a linebacker and use corners to play the nickel. Of course, if Barry is as inflexible in his defense as Gruden is in his offense, he will need players that exactly fit the bill for that position and defense. I think Barry is going to be more flexible, though.

    • bangkokben - Mar 23, 2015 at 12:29 PM

      This is utterly ridiculous.

      1. we have interchangeable safeties
      No we don’t! You have interchangeable safeties if you have guys with both speed that can cover and the ability to tackle both in the open field and in the box. The only time we’ve had that was the 1st half of Landry’s rookie year. We don’t any evidence that we have one single safety that can cover a tight end. For that matter, we don’t have evidence that we have anyone (corner, safety, linebacker) that can cover a tight end.

      2. in nickel pull the safeties and a linebacker
      Who are the five cover specialists on this team? What’s your front six? Can they stop the run?

      3. Inflexibility
      You have to have players with exceptional talent to play with the flexibility that you are suggesting. We don’t have them. I’m sure Dallas, Philadelphia, and the Giants would love for us the use the defensive backfield we’ve got. And the offense’s problems are all because Gruden wants his offense run. Converting on third downs, red zone issues; those problems just arrived the same time Gruden got here.

  8. hk2000 - Mar 23, 2015 at 10:20 AM

    You can talk about the players all you want- you’re not the only one, all DC reporters are doing it- but the weakest link on this team is coaching in all phases of the game. Like the first reply in this thread pointed out, a good coach can make an ordinary player look great and a terrible coach can make a great player look awful. With Berry and Gruden at the helm, it won’t matter who they get.

    • bangkokben - Mar 23, 2015 at 12:12 PM

      You’re right. We should let the players call the plays and game plan. We’ve had such a talented bunch that the coaches have just squandered and now we have worse coaches. Don’t even bother watching the games.

  9. eataylor87 - Mar 23, 2015 at 10:55 AM

    I think the ideal scenario would be to bring in Goldson on a relatively cheap, 2-3 year contract … maybe 3 years, $10 million … and address FS in the draft. There’s really not one pure FS in this class, but there are quite a few bigger CBs who are rumored to be getting FS looks by teams … I think the Redskins were actually one of the teams at Miami of Ohio’s Pro Day working out CB Quentin Rollins at FS. There’s been quite a bit of success getting players to make this transition. In fact, many thought Amerson and Breeland would/could be moved to FS at some point … I think Breeland has established himself as a CB but Amerson, if the team can’t find a solution in the draft, could make that move.

    I think we’ll see Washington grab Goldson if he becomes available and pair him with one of these rookie CB prospects making the move to FS. Goldson would allow them to make the transition without too much pressure. I think Adrian Amos could make that transition too. Quentin Rollins, Erik Rowe, Adrian Amos … three guys I think could be had in the 3rd-5th round that could make the move. Going with one of them + Goldson would be a perfect short+long-term combination play there.

    • DC in DE - Mar 23, 2015 at 12:45 PM

      We already had Goldson on this team, his name was Brandon Merriweather! As a matter of fact, Merriweather graded out higher than Goldson last year. Do we really want more of that? Someone who’s past his prime, can’t cover, and constantly gets personel fouls. The last thing we should want is another stop-gap. I said in my earlier post that I am a strong advocate of signing Will Hill, he absolutely 100% worth the risk! He’s young, proven, and cheap. We signed at least 4 free agent busts last year alone to bigger contracts than Hill would require. If we go the stop gap route Id much rather sign Stevie Brown.

    • 214hof - Mar 23, 2015 at 2:13 PM

      Amos made the move to FS two years ago at PSU… He is one of the best coverage safeties in the draft and Washington should most certainly acquire him in the 3rd.

  10. gurnblanstonreturns - Mar 23, 2015 at 1:42 PM

    Rich began this article by noting the general praise McCloughan is receiving for his first offseason as Skins GM. I just wanted to chime in about how refreshing this really is. A grown up making grown up decisions – what a concept! I’m just gonna keep on repeating my mantra, “Fat boys and guys who can cover kicks, fat boys and guys who can cover kicks.” McCloughan appears to be as advertised. Year one of a three-year plan underway and proceeding smoothly.

  11. DC in DE - Mar 23, 2015 at 2:02 PM

    I’d like to know if the Skins or any other teams are considering making a run at RFA Tashaun Gibson. It would cost a 2nd round pick and a long term deal. Knowing McLaughlin’s talent at the draft Id hate to trade our 2nd rounder but maybe trade down in round 1 and pick up a extra 2nd. Gibson is a young proven talent with 9 interceptions in his last 14 games, grading out as a top 5 safety. He’s smart, rangy, and physical. Best of all he’s proven. Either way you have to be excited about McLaughlin’s moves so far. I love the Jeron Johnson move, and still believe in Phillip Thomas. I still think we move David Amerson to safety at some point. Look what Devon McCourtney became once NE moved him from CB to S.

  12. kenlinkins - Mar 23, 2015 at 7:37 PM

    Rich, IMO the new GM doesn’t HAVE to do anything more until after the draft and OTA’s. At this point most of the low hanging fruit has been picked. The Chester, Hall and Porter moves can wait until later as there is no pressing reason to act now. We fans do not know if the Redskins plan on moving Amerson (or another CB) to Safety, or if there are other ideas waiting to be tried. We also need to see which of the young guys will step up and show improvement under the new DC and DB’s coach ( Bridget, Wolfe, Okoro and Davis come to mind). While there may be a player or two that are under contract somewhere else that the new GM is waiting to be released so he can try and sign them, IMO we fans may see only Stop Gap Vets be added for the rest of 2015 (which would be just fine with me). My hope was that 4 things would happen this preseason 1. Clear the dead wood by cutting a few over paid under performing players (mostly done) 2. Signing Up grade Free Agents and not super stars (done, so far) 3. Rebuild the defense coaching staff (Done) 4. Draft a great class of players (work in progress). This is not to say that the work is done, it is not, but until the Redskins hit the field for OTA’s, Mini Camp and Training Camp I hope the main target is solving the questions (i.e. QB, O-Line, DB, and Special Teams problems) on the practice field and not in the front office. Archives

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