Depth chart check: Major changes in defensive trenches, secondary

The bulk of the Redskins moves to start free agency came on the defensive side of the ball. Transactions opened up cap space but also wholes in the roster.

Free agency and the NFL Draft wiill dominate the next two months of coverage. The Washington Redskins are in the process of sorting out their own players, targets around the league and incomng prospects. Part of the calculus involves those already on the roster. Here's a look at the Redskins projected defensive and special teams depth chart, showing the current players, those likely back and missing pieces. The number of projected players for each position shown in parenthesis. Click here for the offense.

Defensive Line (6)

Locks: Chris Baker, Ricky Jean Francois

In the mix: Stephen Paea, Frank Kearse, Evander HoodKedric Golston, Corey Crawford

On the outside: Terrance Knighton (free agent), Jason Hatcher (cut)

This is the position that will has already had the most turmoil during the offseason, as expected. The Redskins do not intend to re-sign Knighton and have cut Hatcher despite the defensive end putting retirement plans on hold. Kearse was in-and-out of the 53-man roster all season whle Crawford spent the entire season on the practice squad. Washington will try to get younger in the trenches so an early round draft pick is quite possible.

 

Inside linebacker (4)

Locks: Will Compton

In the mix: Mason Foster (free agent), Perry Riley, Martrell Spaight, Adam Hayward

On the outside: Keenan Robinson (free agent)

 

Even with taking injuries into account, Compton and Foster were a better tandem than Robinson and Riley. With Compton all but a guarantee to return, it makes little sense to spend money on Robinson; even Riley could be cut with just over a million in dead cap. Re-signing Foster is likely a priority. Washington will continue to try and develop Spaight, last year’s fifth-round pick after his season was cut short by a concussion. Hayward, a special teams ace, also missed 2015 with injury. Alabama's Reggie Ragland likely the only first round target.

 

Outside Linebacker (4)

Locks: Ryan Kerrigan, Preston Smith, Trent Murphy

In the mix: Junior Galette (free agent), Houston Bates

 

Kerrigan is going nowhere after one season of his five-year extension. Neither is Smith after a bright rookie campaign. Galette never took a snap for Washington after signing a veteran’s minimum deal, but sounded extremely committed to the franchise when the season ended. We'll see following Drew Rosenhaus being hired as Galette's new agent. With the logjam of edge rushers, Murphy could be asked to bulk up and transition to defensive end, especially if the team wants to part ways with Paea in order to save $13 million over the next three years.

 

Cornerback (5)

Locks: Bashaud Breeland, Chris Culliver, Quinton Dunbar

In the mix: DeShazor Everett, Will Blackmon (free agent)

 

Breeland is now the cornerstone of the Redskins secondary. On the other side, I think Culliver stays put although his release after an injury-plagued season would save money with doubts about his mobility following ACL surgery. Since making the conversion from receiver to defensive back, Dunbar has developed greatly and another year of getting him comfortable in the system will do him a lot of good. Even though Blackmon is on the back-end of his career, their is reported mutual interest in a return for the veteran corner. The Redskins could spend a high draft pick on the likes of Eli Apple, Macknsie Alexander or Kendall Fuller.

 

Safety (4)  

Locks: Kyshoen Jarrett, DeAngelo Hall

In the mix: Duke Ihenacho (restricted free agent)

On the outside: Dashon Goldson (cut), Jeron Johnson (cut)

 

With the way Jay Gruden and Scot McCloughan have raved about Hall’s transition and leadership, Goldson was released because of his $8 million cap number for 2016. That's a leadership loss, but no dead money with this move. Johnson was penciled into the strong safety position last summer before Ihenacho beat him out and has now been released as well. Ihenacho on the other hand has been tendered a one-year $1.67 million offer, which probably means he's safe for 2016. Jarrett, a sixth-round pick, was an impressive find by McCloughan last year so there is a chance another safety is picked this year to round out the position.

Special teams (3)

Locks: K Dustin Hopkins, P Tress Way, LS Nick Sundberg

Certainly possible Washington brings in true competition for Way, but good bet all three remain. Rashad Ross and Jamison Crowder are favorites for kick and punt returner respectively.

Follow Neil on Twitter @NeilDalal96.

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