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PRO FOOTBALL: Redskins will be active in free-agency period

WASHINGTON—Three months after concluding a 3–13 season, the Washington Redskins are prepared to spring into action to begin reshaping their roster.

The team’s front office and player personnel staff have used weeks of film-study sessions, player analysis and meetings to formulate a plan for the start of the NFL’s free agency period begins.

Beginning Saturday, teams are permitted to hold negotiations with prospective players and their representatives. Then at 4 p.m. on Tuesday, teams can sign players to contracts.

Burdened by needs on both sides of the ball, but the beneficiaries of having roughly $20 million in cap space, the Redskins figure to take an aggressive approach to free agency.

As new head coach Jay Gruden put it when he last addressed the media at the NFL combine, “We have a lot of holes everywhere. Any time we’re 3–13, there’s a lot of needs, so we have to figure those out quickly and address them.”

Fixing a defense that surrendered far too many points and yards and generated too few takeaways ranks high on the Redskins’ list. Earlier this winter, the team re-signed cornerback DeAngelo Hall and defensive end Chris Baker and earlier this week placed the franchise tag on outside linebacker Brian Orakpo.

The Redskins still have question marks at cornerback, free safety, strong safety and both inside linebacker positions. Additional moves to bolster the depth of the linebacker position and defensive line remain possible as well.

Washington is trying to re-sign inside linebacker Perry Riley, but its likely the fifth-year player will test the waters of free agency. The retirement of last season’s other starting inside linebacker, London Fletcher, created a void which the team must fill. Arizona’s Karlos Dansby, Baltimore’s Daryl Smith, New England’s Brandon Spikes and Houston’s Joe Mays are possible targets for the Redskins at that spot.

Safety continues to be a long-standing problem for the Redskins, who since 2006 have used 27 different starters at safety. While the team still has hope for 2013 draft picks Bacarri Rambo and Phillip Thomas, it will take a look at Buffalo’s Jairus Byrd, Cleveland’s T.J. Ward and San Francisco’s Donte Whitner, to name a few.

The team may pursue a starting cornerback opposite Hall, but could give 2013 draft pick David Amerson a chance to win the spot.

Offensively, the team will pursue help on its offensive line and at wide receiver.

The Redskins are expected to pursue Cincinnati right tackle Anthony Collins, who played for Gruden the past three seasons.

Washington wants to find a consistent receiver to compliment starter Pierre Garçon. Denver’s Eric Decker, Seattle’s Golden Tate, the New York Giants’ Hakeem Nicks may be on the radar.

 

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