Entering the 2018 off-season, the Washington Redskins had to resolve a major question; to keep or not to keep Kirk Cousins.
Bruce Allen, Jay Gruden and company had to decide first if Cousins was worth keeping, and secondly if keeping him for how much. In a very unexpected yet decisive move the Redskins traded for Alex Smith, the odd man out from Kansas City. They lost a young yet promising corner Kendall Fuller and a third round pick, yet the Redskins quickly found stability in their quarterback position. The Redskins also were able to extend Smith for another three years after this current year.
While rumors swirl about the details of the contract, what is known is Smith will count $17 million dollars against the salary cap in 2018. So for a situation that the team caused, the Redskins came out of that as good as possible.
Now that the QB position is settled, where do the Redskins go from here? Positions of need now are: inside linebacker, left guard, wide receiver, running back, and possibly safety. In free agency I expect the Redskins to address inside linebacker and wide receiver. The first task is to resign ILB Zach Brown.
Brown led the Redskins in tackles in 2017 with 127 in 13 games. He was on a pro bowl pace until injuries slowed him down then finally shut him down for the year. Brown is an impressive linebacker with 4.4 speed however, the knock on him has been his pass coverage. The rumor mill is that he is looking for around $10 million a year and that maybe a price too steep. When healthy Brown led a Redskins defense that was trending upward until injuries went through the team.
Wide Receiver is another position that needs to be addressed through free agency. Josh Doctson has assumed the number 1 receiver spot, while Jamison Crowder had a shaky season as a slot receiver, both are under contract and will definitely be back in 2018. Terrelle Pryor was pretty much a bust and Ryan Grant is a free agent. I fully expect the Redskins to let Pryor walk, resign Grant, and then look for a receiver to lineup on the opposite side of Doctson. There are numerous free agents that the team can target, but look more for a speed receiver that Gruden craves.
In the draft I expect the Redskins to address the middle of the defense. Either a defensive tackle, inside linebacker, or safety to sure up the middle of the defense. For a maligned unit the defense actually put up better stats than you would think. The Redskins defense was ranked: first in QB pressure, seventh in sacks, ninth in 3rd down conversion percentage, 10th in opponent passer rating, and 12th in takeaways. The issues were the run defense and addressing the middle of the defense should help there. If one of the top defensive tackles or inside linebackers are there at pick number 13 in the draft, expect the team to draft there.
While the Redskins have numerous questions to answer, their biggest one has been answered by moving on from Cousins and signing Smith.