Feb 9, 2016, 5:08 AM EDT
Here is what you need to know on this Tuesday, February 9, 15 days before the NFL Combine in Indianapolis.
QOD: Will McCloughan try to build the defense through free agency?
Scot McCloughan has said that the Redskins will not be big players in free agency. During the prime signing period last March he signed five players, all on defense. Will he sign that many defenders next month?
With the additions of those players plus a trade for Dashon Goldson, the Redskins improved in terms of points scored from 29th in the league to 17th but they still gave up a lot of yards, ranking 28th.
So will McCloughan go back to the well and try to shore up the defense via free agency again? Assuming that he sticks by his statement that they’re not going to be big players, probably not, at least not to any great extent. Let’s look at the three levels of defense one at a time:
Defensive line—Three of the five free agents that McCloughan signed last year play on the line. Stephen Paea and Ricky Jean Francois will be back while nose tackle Terrance Knighton may not be. A free agent nose tackle to replace Pot Roast could be in the offing but I think that McCloughan would rather build the line through the draft rather than bringing in more veterans. One early pick and one late rounder would fit in nicely.
Linebacker—The Redskins are pretty much set at outside linebacker although I think McCloughan would grab one on the middle or latter rounds of the draft if the right guy is there. On the inside, if Mason Foster returns they have their starters with him and Will Compton. I could see signing a free agent to either replace or supplement Adam Hayward, who has missed most of the last two seasons with injuries, as a reserve ILB and special teams star.
Secondary—If the Redskins bring back Will Blackmon, they could go with him as the nickel or dime corner along with Quinton Dunbar. They are set for starters with Chris Culliver and Bashaud Breeland. Again, McCloughan will look to the draft to upgrade here. At safety, a lot depends on if Dashon Goldson is willing to take a cut from his $8 million 2016 salary. If they can come to an agreement they will have him and DeAngelo Hall as starters and Kyshoen Jarrett, Jeron Johnson and, if the restricted free agent is back, Duke Ihenacho at safety. If Goldson becomes a cap casualty they could either look to pick up a free agent or go with the other four. This is another position that can be upgraded in the draft but may not really benefit from a mid-range free agent.
—The Redskins last played a game 30 days ago. It will be about 215 days until they play another one.
—About 170 days until guards and cornerbacks report to Richmond.
—Days until: NFL Combine 15; NFL free agency starts 29; 2016 NFL draft 79
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