The Washington Redskins have a long history of making big splashes in free agency, but one more modest signing might go a long way.
One of their roster’s most glaring weaknesses is still nose tackle. Joey Mbu, A.J. Francis and Phil Taylor are the three names already in Washington that could fill the void, but they have combined for merely seven career sacks, all of those being Taylor’s.
Thus far, the Redskins have made splashes in free agency elsewhere, adding depth at the wide receiver and safety positions, amongst a few others. Washington’s lack of experience at nose tackle in a 3-4 defensive scheme – one that is reliant on that big body up front – should concern new defensive coordinator Greg Manusky.
As Ben Standig has already outlined for us, Washington is not in the best position to draft a nose tackle, so can they make a late move on the market instead?
With about $9.4 million in cap space remaining and being that it is already April and much of the free agency period has passed, only a few players in the pool remain possibilities for Washington.
Former New York Giant Jonathan Hankins has plenty of talent, especially as a run-stopper, but played defensive tackle for the first four years of his career. If he were ever to switch positions, Hankins size wouldn’t be a problem. He is 6’3” 320 pounds, similar to Vince Wilfork’s 6’2” 325 pounds. Wilfork was one of the better nose tackles in football over the last decade, totaling 16 sacks and 355 tackles in an 11-year stretch with the New England Patriots.
Hankins looked limited as a pass rusher, notching just three sacks in 2016 after suffering a torn pectoral in 2015, but at this point the Redskins may just want to start looking for the most talented players they can maybe mold into their schemes.
The asking price for the 2012 second-round pick would probably be a hefty one, though, especially if his agents are stingy. Reportedly, Hankins has been searching for a contract worth $8-10 million per year, but as time passes, the asking price could lower.
Sen’Derrick Marks brings plenty of experience ( eight years) and boasts 19 career sacks, but also lacks experience as a nose tackle. The last season Marks started all 16 games was in 2014, posting a career-high 8.5 sacks and 34 tackles with the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Playing just four games in 2015 because of a torn ACL, Marks has not seemed to find his old form post-injury, but may not be the costliest of investments. Marks earned just over $3 million in the final year of his deal with the Jaguars in 2016.
One veteran that could cost the Redskins around $1 million is Ricardo Matthews, who has experience at nose and has played all but four games since 2012. The 29-year-old’s two best seasons came in San Diego – the only two years he spent playing the nose tackle position in his career. That stretch came in 2014-15 when he tallied 2.5 sacks and 29 tackles.
Tony McDaniel and Glenn Dorsey are two other guys with nose tackle experience that wouldn’t cost more than $4 million. Both are over 30-years-old, but peaked not too long ago. Dorsey anchored the 2013 San Francisco 49ers’ fourth-ranked rush defense, while McDaniel was part of the 2013 Seahawks Defense that won the Super Bowl and is considered one of the best units of all time.
Jared Odrick’s two years in Jacksonville (6.5 sacks) were far less fruitful than the previous four in Miami (16.5 sacks). Odrick has played nose tackle at times, but has been more of a hybrid defensive end/linebacker, and has not gotten consistent time at nose tackle since 2011. Odrick would also fit well under the $10 million window, perhaps around four.
Arthur Jones had 10 sacks from 2012-2014 but is another lineman that has not played on the nose. Jones should be nowhere north of $3 million.
There are other linemen out there that would probably be willing to sign a one-year deal laced with incentives, but perhaps the question here is not whether they can afford a nose tackle, but what difference would that potential signing make?
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