Free agency and the NFL Draft will 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 incoming 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)
In the mix: Evander Hood, Kedric Golston (re-signed), Corey Crawford
This is the position that has already had the most turmoil during the offseason, as expected. Knighton decided against re-signing with Washington and the Redskins cut Hatcher despite the defensive end temporarily putting retirement plans on hold. The team re-signed veteran lineman Golston to a one-year deal on March 9th and signed former Chargers defensive end Reyes on March 11th to help provide stability to the position. Frank Kearse, who was in-and-out of the 53-man roster all season, signed with the New England Patriots. In hopes of getting younger in the trenches, Murphy looks to have made a permanent switch to defensive end although an early round draft pick is still possible.
Inside linebacker (4)
In the mix: Perry Riley, Martrell Spaight, Adam Hayward
On the outside: Keenan Robinson (signed with New York)
Even with taking injuries into account, Compton and Foster were a better tandem than Robinson and Riley. Compton accepted his exclusive-restricted free agent tender on March 7 and Foster inked a two-year deal to return to the Burgundy and Gold on March 9. Meanwhile, Robinson signed with NFC East rival New York Giants. 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 and may be out of the mix with Garvin signed with the Redskins as a special teams stud. Alabama's Reggie Ragland is likely the only first round target.
Outside Linebacker (4)
In the mix: Houston Bates
On the outside: Jackson Jeffcoat (waived, signed with Browns)
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 last year and after testing the waters of free agency, the elite pass rusher returns to DC on another one-year deal. With the logjam of edge rushers, Murphy was asked to bulk up and transition to defensive end, which leaves an opening for special teams contributor Bates to make the 53 man roster.
Breeland is now the cornerstone of the Redskins secondary. On the other side, Culliver probably stays put although his release after an injury-plagued season would save $8 million 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. Washington added veteran corner Toler to fill out the position allowing Blackmon to take reps at safety. All likelihood of the Redskins spending a high draft pick on a defensive back went out the window when they signed Norman to a blockbuster deal.
In the mix: DeShazor Everett
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 accepted a one-year $1.67 million tender. 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. Probably taking Johnson's spot in the rotation is special team's ace Bruton who comes from Denver on a three-year deal worth up to $10.5 million. Although he played corner last season, Jay Gruden alluded to Blackmon receiving reps at safety because of the lack of experience at the position.
Special teams (3)
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