Ranking the Redskins free agents. All of them

Projecting what happens with Washington's 19 free agents, including the "must returns" to "anything is possible, but..." guys.

The NFL offseason includes numerous chapters. One, dealing with your own free agents. That's what we're doing here for the Washington Redskins by breaking down the 19 players into four categories.

Salary information provided by Sportrac. For each player, position, age, 2015 salary cap hit and 2016 status (UFA = unrestricted free agent; RFA = restricted free agent; ERFA = exclusive rights free agent).

One note off the top: Expect many of these names back, but for a team that won the NFC East, there aren't nearly as many must return types as one might think. Let us know if you agree or disagree with the categories for each player in the forum section. Cool? Cool.

Must return

Kirk Cousins,  QB, 27, $778,172, UFA

* You might be familiar with this story. Cousins won't truly hit free agency since Redskins can slap one-year franchise tag on if both sides don't agree on a long-term deal. Forget the term franchise quarterback. After a breakout season, Cousins works as an NFL starter and then some in coach Jay Gruden's offense. 

https://twitter.com/BenStandig/status/686172163146055680

Bring 'em back

Will Compton, ILB, 26, $510,000, RFA

*By the number, Washington's run defense improved when the former undrafted backer entered the starting lineup. If enthusiasm counts most for Pro Bowl voting, Compton is headed to Hawaii. None of this means the Redskins should or will hand him a starting job for next season, but he'll be in the mix for sure.

Tom Compton, OL, 26, $660,000, ERFA

* Yes, I know Tom comes before Will alphabetically, but not here. In the case of this Compton, a return doesn't automatically mean a roster spot. Washington used the lineman at *tight end* when needed, though strictly as a blocker. There's something to be said for continuity on the line and Compton has been here for a bit.

Junior Galette, OLB, 27, $413,000, UFA

*Certainly Galette thinks he's coming back even though he's coming off a season-ending Achilles injury and has never played a regular season snap for the Redskins. Let's all agree teams can never have enough pass rushers. We can assume it won't cost Washington much for his services in what could be a one-year show-what-you-got deal. If Galette can go by training camp, would give the coaching staff enough time to formulate ways for him, Ryan Kerrigan and Preston Smith to play together.

Duke Ihenacho, SS, 26, $660,000, RFA

* Surged past the competition to win the starting strong safety spot only to suffer a season-ending wrist injury in Week 1. Even with DeAngelo Hall's shift to safety, playing time opportunity remains. Primary question for Redskins on possible return is whether they feel he can actually stay healthy.

Chris Thompson, RB, 25, $585,000, ERFA

* Largely stayed healthy and finally delivered on the change-of-pace hope. Might never make it through a full 16-game schedule, but his pass catching skills and quickness through running holes makes him a viable if not valuable third running back.

Decisions, decisions

Will Blackmon, CB, 31, WAS, $550,588, UFA

Yeoman's work from the journeyman after joining the roster early in the season and he quickly moving up high in the rotation. Also a major favorite for the chattering class because of his consistent sound bite prowess. However, Blackmon wasn't exactly a shutdown corner or even an average option at times. The Redskins will seek more help at the position especially with uncertainty over Chris Culliver's injury. Best guess: Washington leaves Blackmon on the open market until either all other viable options are gone or he is. Every media member hopes both sides work this out.

Mason Foster, ILB, 26, $481,764, UFA

Went from street free agent to one half of the "Beavis and Butthead" starting combo at inside linebacker. Assuming the price is right or Washington doesn't spend an early draft pick on the likes of Alabama ILB Reggie Ragland, seems likely that Foster returns. Clearly Foster is cool for a return.

https://twitter.com/Mason_Foster/status/689926550540701697

Frank Kearse, DE, 27, $504,705, UFA

Kearse's circle of life early in the season: active roster to last minute cut to re-signed. Decent chance to stick next season simply because of potential turnover elsewhere. Also decent chance he's playing elsewhere next year rather than endure another yo-yo season.

Terrance Knighton, DT, 29, $4,000,000, UFA

Biggest question mark on the page is with the biggest man on the team. Knighton's massive presence helped solidify the defensive line. He also wasn't an every down player in part because of some suggested his weight easily crossed the 400-pound mark. Don't forget that while the Redskins got a nice deal last year by signing Knighton to a one-year contract, he was also available for a one-year deal because seemingly others weren't throwing bigger contracts at the big man. Yet if Knighton walks, there is no clear Plan B at nose tackle on the roster. Our guy Chris Russell will ponder what to do with Knighton in the near future.

Josh LeRibeus, C/G, 26, $864,081, UFA

Probably the best thing that can be said is that LeRibeus gained experience at another position after taking over for the injured Kory Lichtensteiger at center for much of the season. Teams like versatility. Teams probably won't be thrilled he struggled at both positions. Here's guessing GM Scot McCloughan adds more OL help in the draft. If so, LeRibeus' time in Ashburn likely ends.

Pierre Thomas, RB, 31, $175,294, UFA

Washington typically kept three running backs on the game day roster. If Matt Jones is one and Chris Thompson another and the Redskins add an experienced back to help with the primary work, does that leave room for Thomas? The pass-catching threat certainly blended nicely with the offense despite joining late in the season. Factor in the locker room leadership and bringing Thomas back makes sense. There just might not be any room at the inn. Even if Washington keeps a fourth on the 53-man roster, that final spot seems destined for a kid who can also help on special teams.

Tress Way, P, 25, $510,000, RFA

12th in average yards, 19th in net average, 27th in punts inside the 20 and tied for the fourth most touchbacks. Punting competition in Richmond? Sure, why not

Darrel Young, FB, 28, $1,533,334, UFA

It's a locker room leader thing if the Redskins keep DY more than a key figure in the game plan thing. He'll be back for training camp, but remain on the roster bubble if not on the wrong side unless the team cannot live without his presence in Ashburn.

Anything possible, but...

Kedric Golston, DT, 32, $1,195,000, UFA

Speaking of locker room presences...Golston is beloved by his teammates. He's also on the wrong side of 30 at a position where the Redskins must get younger. Like Young, a return means wanting to keep his voice. Leaders are valuable. At some point, playing ability trumps all.

https://twitter.com/_willcompton/status/685582069146206212

Alfred Morris, RB, 27, $1,572,775, UFA

Let's get right into it. Sorry, but not seeing another season with Alf's bicycle and "Bentley" in Ashburn. Morris shined with the Shanahan's system in part because Robert Griffin III's mobile presence helped create holes. In 2015, Morris often showed his inability to read and attack the proper holes. He was always more steady than spectacular. Last season he was neither. The offensive line injuries didn't help. Look for Washington to seek more explosive help from those who are better fits for this offense. Alfred, it's been real.

Logan Paulsen, TE, 28, $2,116,668, UFA

Jordan Reed, Niles Paul and Derek Carrier are on the roster. Washington won't keep four tight ends. You do the math. Camp invite, sure. Better chance at making a roster if he signs elsewhere, probably.

Keenan Robinson, ILB, 26, $765,027, UFA

Stunning fall for Robinson. Missed tackles were in abundance before injuries knocked him out of the lineup. When he returned, the active backer couldn't move past one linebacker who entered the league undrafted and another who joined the team during the season. Age is on his side, but Robinson likely must prove himself elsewhere.

Alex Smith, TE, 33,  $103,235, UFA

See Logan Paulsen's notes and then note Smith's age.

Ben Standig is the Publisher of Breaking Burgundy. You can find him on Twitter @benstandig and on Google+

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