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Need to Know: Only a handful of starters will be left from 2012 Redskins team

Feb 5, 2016, 5:17 AM EDT


Here is what you need to know on this Friday, February 5, 19 days before the NFL Combine in Indianapolis.

Five thoughts on the Redskins with free agency a month away

—Although it wasn’t particularly surprising, it was noteworthy that we got the first words uttered by a Redskins official saying that Robert Griffin III and Alfred Morris are likely to be gone in 2016. Actually, Griffin is certain to be gone and Allen predicted that he will get a chance to succeed elsewhere. Allen didn’t close the door on a Morris return but they aren’t going to offer him a contract before free agency starts and they will applaud if he goes elsewhere. The 2012 season was a long, long time ago.

—I don’t get the feeling that Scot McCloughan and Joe Barry are as hopped up to bring in a stud inside linebacker as some fans and media members are. I think they would be perfectly content to bring back Mason Foster, start him alongside Will Compton, possibly cut Perry and save his $4 million salary, and go with Martrell Spaight and perhaps a relatively cheap veteran. If the right guy is there early in the draft I think they would take him but it’s not on their “gotta have” list.

—If Riley does end up leaving there will be five players who started 10 or more games in 2012 who are under contract for this year—Pierre Garçon, Trent Williams, Kory Lichtensteiger, Ryan Kerrigan, and DeAngelo Hall. Lichtensteiger is no sure bet to be on the team in 2016 so there could be just four starters left. In addition, Logan Paulsen, who started 10 games, is slated to be a free agent and may or may not be back.

—In a post on Kirk Cousins yesterday I look a bit at the lack of depth at wide receiver. Andre Roberts is sure to be cut and Ryan Grant played 425 snaps and he caught just 21 passes and dropped four. Rashad Ross is fast but he needs to learn how to play receiver. And let’s not forget that DeSean Jackson and Garçon both turn 30 this year. The situation could get ugly quickly. I get the need to bolster the defense but if there is a quality receiver on the board in any round, including the first, McCloughan will seriously consider taking him.

In my post here yesterday I did not list Duke Ihenacho when I was sketching out a possible safety depth chart for 2016. I didn’t include him for a few reasons, the primary one being his problems staying healthy. He’s been on the Redskins’ payroll for two years but he’s been on the field for just four games. He’s a restricted free agent and it’s not certain that they will offer him an RFA tender, which would be a one-year contract worth about $1.6 million. That’s probably more than they want to pay him. If they don’t tender him, he becomes an unrestricted free agent. On the positive side, he did compete for and win a starting safety job last year. So he does have a shot at returning and contributing.


—The Redskins last played a game 26 days ago. It will be about 219 days until they play another one.

Days until: NFL Combine 19; NFL free agency starts 33; 2016 NFL draft 83

In case you missed it

  1. abanig - Feb 5, 2016 at 5:39 AM

    i still think it makes sense to bring back Ihenacho for competition. Last year if he had stayed healthy, he may have been our best safety of not, he was a close second to Goldson.

    • shermanp79 - Feb 5, 2016 at 6:41 AM

      I agree….1.6 isn’t going to break the bank

      • abanig - Feb 5, 2016 at 8:59 AM

        And he can always be cut if we sign or draft someone else and they end up being better.

    • ET - Feb 5, 2016 at 12:11 PM

      Inhenacho looked pretty good at the start of the season. His injuries (while unfortunate) don’t seem like “injury bug” kind of injuries, more like bad luck. In an ideal world, I suppose he’d be a key backup or situational player, but the Skins obviously don’t have that kind of DB talent right now. I’d like to see Duke return and compete for a spot as well.

    • Trey Gregory - Feb 6, 2016 at 2:46 AM

      To me Ihenacho’s seem a lot more like the injury bug than most guys. Everyone thinks RG3 has the injury bug but who wouldn’t tear an ACL if 400 pounds of Ngada flew through their air and hit the side of their knee? That’s not injury bug, that’s blunt force teama.

      Anyway, I do believe guys can learn to stay healthy and don’t mind giving some a second chance (glad we didn’t get Reed like some fans were calling for when he was hurt pre season). But I don’t think Ihenacho is very good. He’s okay in the run game, but he’s awful and a liability in coverage. As the NFL transitions into more and more of a passing league every year, we have less of a need for Safties who hit really hard and clog running lanes. We need guy who can cover.

      Ihenacho’s one good quality seems to be that he’s a thumper in the run game. I also believe that style of play is why he gets hurt so often. So he either needs to stop what he’s good at, or he can keep doing it but probably be on IR. That’s not the kind of player I want on my team.

      There has to be another free agent safety out there who would take similar money (maybe less) who can play at about the same level of Ihenacho. I don’t think teams will be lining up to pay him a lot of money if we cut him lose so yeah: offer him a pay cut or go find another below average safety for the team who can at least stay healthy.

      • abanig - Feb 6, 2016 at 10:56 AM

        Well the idea wouldn’t be that Ihenacho would necessarily be the starter or even make the team. The idea is that why not bring back Ihenacho to compete for the two jobs. Having more competition is never a bad thing and he’s good competition. I’d rather have him in the mix for one of the 2/3 SS spots for competition than not have him.

        • Trey Gregory - Feb 6, 2016 at 4:43 PM

          I hear you. And I get that. Just, personally, I would rather give that training camp spot to someone who isn’t going to cost as much (1.6 mil isn’t nothing when we have a few players to sign) and who potentially has more upside. You never know, but I think we’ve seen about how good Ihenacho is going to get. I’m sure his game will get a little tighter as he gets even more experience, but I don’t believe he’s any team’s long term answer at safety. You never know

          I personally wou rather shift that 1.6 mil and add it to the offer we’re going to make to Terrance Knighton that be stuck with Ihenacho on the bench or IR again. Maybe offer that training camp spot to a hungry undrafted free agent with some potential or something like that. There’s always bodies for competion if you need them, and they won’t cost as much. I get that you’re saying we could cut ties either way. But wouldn’t they still have to act as if that money was tied up until he was cut, thus not being able to offer it to anyone else?

          He just happens to be the lethal combination of not very good AND really injury prone. I don’t really see what we gain by keeping him around. Give someone else that opportunity.

  2. colorofmyskinz - Feb 5, 2016 at 7:52 AM

    We need a center that has ability to push the defense. Kory just does not have the power. We need a NT that does not have overweight issues that can take every snap of the season if he needs to. Pot roast gets tired going back for seconds in the buffet line. We have needed a TALL MEGA WR for years to keep up with where the NFL is heading. Jordan kind of fills that spot but we need a draft pick to build a mega receiver. We need a safety we can count on. Like everyone said, nothing since ST. We need another CB that can be a starter for years to come.

    Lot of needs but these are mandatory to move from just barely making the playoffs to consistently getting to the NFC championship game.

    Cut Riley, Roberts, Morris, RGIII, Kory, Pot Roast, Hatcher… Honestly they are all over paid except Morris.

    • ajbus1 - Feb 5, 2016 at 10:35 AM

      Speaking of, Sean Taylor was #21. Our first round draft pick is #21. I’m taking it as a good omen.

    • Trey Gregory - Feb 6, 2016 at 2:52 AM

      There aren’t a lot of nose tackles that do play every snap. Their Giants. It’s hard for even the most conditioned NT to play every defensive snap of a game. Also, there is strategy in taking your NT off the field during obvious passing downs.

      There’s not a lot of NTs out there in general. If we cut Knighton (and I hope we don’t) then they better have a plan to replace him. Because he’s still the best NT on our team, and there’s not many viable options to replace him in FA. So we would basically need to draft a NT in the first or second round and pray they can contribute right away.

      Is that really what you would prefer instead of keeping Knighton for another couple years then drafting a star WR, ILB, RB, Corner, or safety in the first or second round? Then shoot for a NT in the later rounds to develop once Knighton is gone. I would much rather do that

      • Skinsfansteve - Feb 6, 2016 at 9:50 AM

        Thank you Sir! My god how I’ve been preaching this same philosophy! If we cut TK, all of a sudden we have a HUGE need for a NT and like hot said there aren’t many in FA that can do what TK does. TK is a 350 lb nightmare because of his athleticism for his weight. I’ve never seen a 350 lb. man pull a spin man like he does so fast. The guy didn’t even play terrible, he had like 30 tackles for 1.5 sacks, that’s on par with his career numbers. We need to draft a nude tackle but in the later rounds to develop, or maybe Jerrell Powe can be that guy. I know we have him on a futures contract and I think he was on our practice squad last year

        • Trey Gregory - Feb 6, 2016 at 4:36 PM

          The thing is that it’s hard to evaluate a nose tackle on stats. Their position doesn’t really lend itself to that kind of evaluation. So a lot of it is subjective, depending on what an individual thinks. But people also look at how the run defense did with the NT, which makes sense because that’s what they’re there for. However, if the other linemen weren’t playing well, or the linebackers failed to stuff gaps and make tackles, or the same for the safties, then the run D will suffer too.

          I personally think he had an OK season. He certainly wasn’t everything I thought he would be, but he wasn’t bad either. Sometimes it was just tough for me to tell because his main job is to absorb two offensive linemen so another defensive player is unblocked to make the tackle. So if a runner got through the middle, was that on Knighton or the guy next to him? Sometimes I thought it was clear, other times not as much.

          Anyway. Danny Sheldon was the consensus #1 NT in last year’s draft. Cleveland took him, and their run defense did not improve. A lot of people don’t think Sheldon had a very good season. As much as I would love for us to draft the future of this position in the first, there’s no guarantee they will work out, especially right away, or be better than Knighton. Anything outside the first, maybe second, and I don’t know if it’s realistic to expect them to be very good right away.I think the patient approach is necessary here. It’s too important for a 3-4 to have a solid nose tackle for us to just cut a prototypical one go and hope for the best.

  3. colorofmyskinz - Feb 5, 2016 at 8:00 AM

    Here is what’s sad about pot roast… We gave him a $475,000 weight target bonus in his contract and he continued to hit the all you can eat. If someone put $475,000 in front of me to drop 10% body weight I would be eating Ethiopian ants until I was unattractive to a starving bear. That is just sad…

  4. scottmccloughanfan - Feb 5, 2016 at 9:04 AM

    Can’t wait for our rehires to begin coming in. let’s see who’s still standing come March 9.

    My second guess list pending FA changes. Picks 1 and 3 depend on FA moves.

    01 – a – Jarren Reed [DT] b – Jonathan Bullard [DE]
    02 – Nick Martin [C]
    03 – a – Shawn Oakman [DE] b – DeAndre Houston [CB]
    04 – Miles Killebrew [SS]
    06 – Kolby Listenbee [WR]
    06 – Tyler Ervin [RB]
    07 – Kevin Hogan [QB]
    07 – Eric MacLain [OG]


    Joe Gore OT
    Luke Rhodes ILB
    Greg Townsend Jr. DE
    Vad Lee QB
    Alonzo Russell WR
    Kenneth Farrow RB

    • skinsdiehard - Feb 5, 2016 at 1:08 PM

      I like your late picks. I think they should get the CB in round 1. I read somewhere that they might move Spencer Long to center and insert Kouandjio at LG and move Trent Murphy to DE. CB Culliver is not going to be ready opening day since he suffered the torn ACL in late November. We don’t want to see DHall back at CB, do we?

      01 – Eli Apple (CB)
      02 – Austin Johnson (NT)
      03 – Tyvis Powell (FS)
      04 – C.J. Prosise (RB)
      05 – Blake Martinez (ILB)
      06 – Kolby Listenbee (WR)
      07 – Eric MacLain (OG)

      DE is okay for 2016 with Paea, Hood, Murphy, Jean-Francois, Cory Crawford
      NT would be okay with Baker, Austin Johnson and Powe. Baker could still rotate to DE.

      • skinsdiehard - Feb 5, 2016 at 1:29 PM

        Starting DLine could be Baker, Johnson and Paea. Or could draft DE in round 2 and move Baker to NT.

      • JOHNNY B - Feb 5, 2016 at 2:55 PM

        Baker is a better DE. He is less than serviceable at NT

  5. ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© - Feb 5, 2016 at 9:08 AM

    I think we should bring Knighton back, and draft an NT.

    We don’t want to take a step back from last year. But we do need his eventual replacement, and there may be as many as six players who go in the 1st round who could play NT for us (so one should be there at 21…I’m still a fan of Andrew Billings, btw).

    • ajbus1 - Feb 5, 2016 at 10:36 AM

      I agree thunder.

    • skinsdiehard - Feb 5, 2016 at 1:31 PM

      None of those DT’s that could go in round 1 weigh more than 315. I would want a NT to start at 330 or more. Only Austin Johnson and D.J. Reader fit the bill. Reader can be had late in the draft.

  6. celticsforever - Feb 5, 2016 at 10:29 AM

    The first draft choice will depend on how the previous 20 picks shake out. SM will take the best player available. Simple. You cannot have too many A++ football players on your team. Might be a DB, a WR, a RB. Who knows. Remember people, the more top-notch talent that is drafted and starts, means there is more $ for free agent signings & resigning your own core talent. Now I am not advocating a big name FA splash. But if you draft a #1 WR at 21, you pay him 2 million a year. The same player via FA costs 9 million per year. That leaves 7 million to spend on depth, maybe one front-line starter. etc. etc.

    Best player available is always the best strategy. Name one single position on this team that could not be improved. Do they have a Todd Gurley? Julio Jones? Luke Kuechly? Patrick Peterson? Nope. You draft the best player available.

    • skinsdiehard - Feb 5, 2016 at 1:34 PM

      I hate when people say this. A team can only draft best available player when they are solid in all areas. If you continue to ignore your weakness, it will forever hold your team back. If you need a QB, are you never going to address it? Football rosters are too large for that thinking. It’s a lie. You can draft best available in basketball or hockey. In football and baseball, you better address your needs and weaknesses.

      • Trey Gregory - Feb 6, 2016 at 3:04 AM

        You actually have that completely backward. When you have a bad roster overall, you draft best player available. When your team isn’t loaded with talent you have to draft best player available to get the talent on the team, at every position. Talent wins. You have to infuse your team with it at all positions. Once you do that, then you can make luxury picks. Then you can think, “gee if we only had one more great receiver….” And pass on a great player at a different position for that WR with less talent. That’s how you build a whole team, over time. One that lasts. It takes time and patient fans though.

        The QB situation is the exception to the rule. Everybody knows that. You can’t win without a QB so that need trumps everything else. But that’s the exception, not the rule.

        There isn’t a single position group on this team that couldn’t be improved. Our guys aren’t so good that we can afford to pass on better talent in order to take lesser talent at a position we perceive to need more. That need can change vey fast too. A couple injurys hit then suddenly you’re no longer strong at that position. You never know. You have to just add talent, all around, and use FA to fill in holes.

        Now, if a couple of players are close on your board but you know you need one position more than the other, then that changes a bit. But they have to be close. You have to believe the guy you’re taking is going to be very good and not believe the guy you’re passing up will become the next JJ Watt. Yes, that kind of stuff does happen.

      • John - Feb 7, 2016 at 9:51 AM

        We cracked open the piggy bank for RG3. what did that get us? The Bengals drafted Akili Smith. The Browns drafted Couch, McCoy, Weeden and Manziel. The Chargers drafted Ryan Leaf. The Skins drafted Heath Shuler. That’s just a few who at the time were supposed to be “franchise QBs”. What did they do? Nothing.

        You build your team and get a solid, dependable QB. Back when the Skins won Super Bowls it was not because they had a “franchise QB”. They had a great O Line. A great group of WRs, solid RBs, a solid defense and excellent special teams. They had a couple HOF players, some Pro Bowlers and a bunch of role players but no QB on the level of a Manning or Brady.

        • Trey Gregory - Feb 7, 2016 at 3:14 PM

          John: I think your head is in the right spot and I appreciate that line of thinking. I agree that it’s best to build a strong team instead of just relying on one player.

          However. It’s pretty hard to deny that the league has drastically changed since the last time Washington won a Super Bowl. Green Bay and Indy are great examples from this year about how teams need more than a franchise QB to win. But then look at Carolina, maybe New England. Carolina really isn’t a very good team (at least on offense). Their receivers probably wouldn’t even start on other teams. Their OLine really isn’t that special, despite the stats. Cam just raises their level of play. He’s so good that all those other guys around him look better.

          Then there have been other teams built really solid, but without a good QB, who haven’t done much. Cleveland over the past couple years had a lot of talent. I think very underrated talent. Strong lines and a good secondary, but obviously hasn’t done much. The Rams, very solid lines, good players, no real success. The Bills last year (2014), such a good defense, pretty solid roster all around, but no QB. You get the point.

          I think you have to have a QB to win in this league. Even to the point of overreaching at times. That’s the one exception, in my opinion, to truly drafting for need over best talent.

          I do, however, also believe that need plays a part in the best player available philosophy. If two guys are close on the board, but one a bit higher at a position the team is fairly set at and the other slightly lower in rankings but at a position the team desperately needs, they will go for the lower ranked guy. But they won’t go 20 spots down on their board just to fill a position of need. Taking into account that every GM is going to be a bit different. I think that’s the general way it works.

        • John - Feb 7, 2016 at 4:51 PM


          Yes, the game has changed but the fundamentals still apply.

          Considering the number of “franchise quarterbacks” can be counted on one hand (Brady, Rodgers, Manning prior to this year, Luck, Newton, Palmer, Romo, Big Ben) and the greater number of guys drafted high, that don’t pan out, your far better off building a complete team and having a solid QB running things.

          The Ravens won with Flacco, the 49ers got there with Kapernick the Seahawks won with Wilson, Ravens won with Dilfer and so on.

          You bring up the Browns. They have some pieces on defense and fewer on offense (weak when compared with San Fran) and they have had McCoy, Weeden, Hoyer, McCown and Manziel. There is not a name there that strikes fear in anyone all career backups at best.

          Regarding the Rams, they gave up to early on Bradford. Files? Really? They could use some O Linemen and some weapons. The defense can play but is small and can be pushed around.

          Can has a very solid offensive line, excellent tight end and damn good defense and special teams. They enforce their will on their opponents.

          Brady has a team that has players that have totally sucked down the Belichick Kool-Aid. The defense and special teams are solid. Awfully nice having an unstoppable force in Gronk. Having Belichick as the coach makes a huge difference, that and being on the same team with the same system throughout his career.

          Taking a look at the Skins, Kirk has played for 2 coaches, 1 full season and parts of 3 others. This team is on its way but still has a lot of holes to full. 2 more drafts and they should be competing with the big boys game in and game out, but they still have a long way to go. The longer Kirk plays in this system, the more comfortable he will become and start to scramble and make “off schedule” plays. A great example of that is Andy Dalton. He started running this year and the Bengals were rolling and then, he tried to make a tackle busted his hand and the Bengals lost um the playoffs….

          Yes, the rules have changed to favor the offense but consider it took a long time to bust Marines records (5,084 yards and 48 TD passes) set back in 1984. Sure 5 guys have passed the yardage number and Brady and Manning broke the TD record but even with things being pass happy, it took 20+ years. Even in Marines case he went to the Super Bowl in his 2nd year but never won the big one. The Dolphins were beaten by a complete team with a damn good defense. The record setting Redskins of 1983 were shut down by a damn good Raider defense in 1983.

          Keep in mind, as good as Rodgers is, he sat behind Farve for 3-4 years and was OK at first but not all that. He benefitted greatly from having Jordy Nelson, Donald Driver, Greg Jennings, etc., as well as having a damn good defense when they won the defense.

          Elway, perhaps the best of all time went to 5 Super Bowls and won 2. It was not until they had a complete team that he got 2 rings.

          People make to big a thing of the “franchise quarterback”. It would begreat to have one but they are nof the end all and be all

  7. troylok - Feb 5, 2016 at 11:39 AM

    Interesting post about wide receivers. Do you think teams dial in that Grant is most likely not going to get the ball when he comes in? Maybe they know its a run when Grant comes in. Telegraph your punches much, Gruden?

    • ET - Feb 5, 2016 at 12:23 PM

      Gruden has always had nice things to say about Grant, but let’s face it, the guy has been a game day dud thusfar. His high drop rate doesn’t even factor in a few times when slipped on his routes and was nowhere near a pass. Disappointing.

  8. timwillhide - Feb 5, 2016 at 11:57 AM

    I think our WRs and depth isn’t too bad just need to restructure Garcon and possibly Jackson. Jackson is still a playmaker, Garcon I think will be putting up some Boldinesc like play the next 2 years, Crowder is an up and comer. I think/hope we sign Travis Benjamin in free agency and will Draft a WR. Our main areas of need would be DE, C, ILB, S , and a Blocking TE. I would also like to see us take a flier on Terrell Pryor at WR Big fast guy that could turn into something great.

    • Mr.moneylover - Feb 5, 2016 at 1:02 PM

      I know you not serious on Terrell Pryor…two Bengals WRs will be free agents I think they will go after them instead of the guys you named…

      • timwillhide - Feb 5, 2016 at 2:42 PM

        Travis Benjamin has Desean Jackson ability. Terrell Pryor has the size and speed. He is raw but could be a beast. Worth taking a look at.

        • Mr.moneylover - Feb 5, 2016 at 3:37 PM

          Naw we would draft a WR before we pickup terrell Pryor…if he can’t make it with the browns he can’t make it with us

  9. Mr.moneylover - Feb 5, 2016 at 12:58 PM

    The sleeper of the inside LB is martrell spaight he said his injury was a blessings in disguise because he know know the defense and he said coach berry said to the rookies the only way you can play fast is to stay in the film room and stay in the weight room…martrell spaight also said he know knows the defense and he’s looking to put on more muscle this off-season he wants to get bigger but he also said he want to be able to carry that weight…rich tandler is right redskins will not be looking heavy at inside linebacker they like how will Compton and mason foster study the game and they was impress how well they played when they got thrown into the fire

  10. Mr.moneylover - Feb 5, 2016 at 1:09 PM

    Ryan grant fold in big games and he drop some catchable balls if he was a good enough backup redskins could’ve had a better chance beating some of the other teams we lost too….I see redskins going after two WR and adding a bunch of undrafted WRs…

  11. Doc Inc - Feb 6, 2016 at 7:59 AM

    Agree with Scot and Joe regarding the inside linebacker position. You just drafted a guy last year who was looking great until he went on IR. Give him a year to show what he can do before you go and use another draft pick on the position. Some people may not agree but the secondary is still the most glaring weakness of this football team. Breeland is a stud and the Goldson/Hall combo at safety is serviceable for another year or two but they need another starting caliber corner BADLY. They also need to start looking for another young safety to groom. If they want to be contenders at some point they can’t be in a position where they’re calling in guys off the street to play key minutes in the defensive backfield. Archives

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