Pre-Draft Off-Season Grades
By: Bernie Marshall 
Posted: 2006-04-12
Category: Washington Redskins News
With less than three weeks remaining until the draft, this might be a good time to look at how the off-season has gone for the Redskins personnel-wise. Overall it hasn’t been a bad free agent signing period. Going into the off-season, teams look at a number of things before trying to fill “holes” on their rosters. They see if they are on course for what they are trying to do as a team, they look at where they will be as far as the cap goes, they list which free agents they want to retain, and then they can decide how they will address the shortcoming of the year before.

Right out of the gate the Redskins made a major move that many missed. Bill Musgrave left via “free agency” and “the Danny” outsmarted Al “just win baby” Davis and beat him to Al Saunders. This move corrected the course and will put Gibbs and Company back on track. Saunders will bring a fresh set of eyes to the offense and will make adjustments as needed. Bringing him at the time the Redskins did, allowed Saunders to review tape from last year, rate the returning players, and, as Bill Parcells would say, help with the grocery shopping.

Having the staff intact going into its third year is something that will take some getting used to, but now it was time to look at the cap. Gibbs had stated that he had a Plan A and a Plan B depending on the outcome of the Collective Bargaining Agreement. When free agency finally started, Gibbs was ready.

Every year players are cut because of the salary cap. The 2006 “cap casualties” were: S Matt Bowen, CB Walt Harris, DT Brandon Noble, C Cory Raymer and P Tom Tupa. OG Ray Brown retired and saved some cap room and LaVar Arrington bought his freedom in a move that is still bewildering to many. Also not returning will be QB Patrick Ramsey who was traded to the Jets, and S Omar Stoutmire who chose to go elsewhere.

Looking at free agent players that the team needed or wanted to keep, my list contained the following players: LB Khary Campbell, RB Rock Cartwright, LB Chris Clemons, S Ryan Clark, OG Derrick Dockery; DL Demetric Evans, CB Ade Jimoh, and DT Cedric Killings.

In the end we only lost 1 of the 8 on my list. Retaining your own players is very important when a team is trying to reach the “next level” regardless of what level they are at currently. High turnover is a catch phrase for starting over. TE Robert Royal didn’t make my list but it would not have been bad to see him back next year. He and Clark were the only starters that were not re-signed.

Now you fill the “holes” and replace those that you have lost. The biggest need for the offense had to be WR but the offensive line lost most of its depth. On defense the issue of depth was also on the table, as was getting someone to apply pressure off the edge. Arrington’s exit also meant that a WLB is needed.

The biggest needs were addressed early with the trade for Brandon Lloyd and the signing of Antwaan Randle El. Andre Carter was brought in to play defensive end, but he also plays OLB. The offensive linemen that were lost were replaced with Mike Pucillo and Tyson Walter, both younger and cheaper. Christian Fauria, who is a better blocker, filled Robert Royal’s spot. Clark and Bowen were almost never available at the same time so Adam Archuleta should be considered an upgrade here. Cornerback Kenny Wright will be more than capable of handling Walt Harris’s previous duties on defense as well as replace Omar Stoutmire on special teams. Todd Collins will be the #3 QB this year and already knows the system.

It appears that the Redskins have addressed the “issue/non-issue” of the offensive play calling, which had been the only knock on a world class coaching staff. How can you not give the front office high marks in this area? With the massive amount of coaching turnover at the end of last year, the Redskins get an A+ for not only retaining its entire head coach caliber staff, but adding another to it.

It’s not fair to grade or rate the Redskins on their handling of the cap. ‘The Danny” is still looking for proof that there is such a thing as a cap. The adjustments from the new CBA seemed to put the rest of the NFL at a disadvantage when free agency started and Gibbs had his pick of whomever he wanted. Grade: A

Two starters did leave the team, so retention was not the best. If you consider the team was looking to replace Royal anyway, it’s not that bad. Of the 13 free agents 7 are back on the roster. Warrick Holdman really didn’t work out and won’t be missed if he moves on, and I don’t think Brian Kozlowski will play anymore; Melvin Williams wasn’t tendered. The final count should look more like the Redskins only lost three of it’s restricted free agents while retaining all but one that had been targeted to be re-signed. Grade B-

Player turnover comes out even: nine left, nine were signed. It’s only even if you just look at numbers but if you look at talent lost compared to talent gained, you have to give the Redskins another 'A'.

Now when you look at the big picture, it’s not as great as it seems. Holdman’s return won’t solve the WLB question (he proved that last year), Derrick Frost is the only punter on the team, and depth is still needed throughout the roster. Washington is still hard at work on this, as OLB Keith Adams has had a return visit. With no first round pick and still in need of a starting caliber LB to come in and compete, the overall grade for the 2006 Pre-draft off-season is about a B+.

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