Offseason Blueprint

Here is what the Redskins need to do to take the next step and emerge as a serious Super Bowl contender.

Five offseason priorities

1. Fix the salary cap. The Redskins are between $15-20 million over the salary cap and that's not a good place to be. They have 11 players who will count at leas $4 million against the cap next season, which is way too much. This is why teams must draft well, so they can avoid always having to pay outsiders large sums to come here. But enough about that; they're in a tough spot and need to fix this before they can improve the team.

2. Resolve the LaVar Arrington situation. Arrington, as everyone knows, is in jeopardy of being cut. If he's not, and if he doesn't restructure his contract, he'd cost approximately $12 million against the cap. So the alternatives are to trade him, redo his deal or cut him. It would be surprising if teams traded for him, knowing the jam Washington is in; plus they would not want to take on his contract because there's doubt around the league about his health. It would be nice if he could return; he wants to stay and he does like playing for Gregg Williams. And he could suffer old-school Dale Lindsey another year. We doubt he'll be back. Hard to imagine Dan Snyder wanting to redo Arrington's deal; but he will if Joe Gibbs wants him to. Guaranteed. Whoever gets Arrington will have an interesting player. He'll benefit from an offseason of strengthening his knee rather than rehabbing it. Maybe he could regain that explosiveness. Without it, he's good but not special. And he'd have to rely more on studying than ever before.

3. Resolve the Patrick Ramsey situation. This one could be resolved happily. Ramsey once thought he could fetch a high-pick for the Redskins in a trade. Teammates told him he was nuts; he's in the last year of his deal and nobody will give more than a very low-round pick for him. After the way Mark Brunell finished the season --whether because of diminishing skills or injuries -- why should the Redskins rush into a trade for a low pick when they might need Ramsey next season? Well, Joe Gibbs has a way of accommodating players who don't want to be here. But it's doubtful he'd do it if he didn't think Campbell was close to being ready to play.

4. Find a No. 2 receiver. Easier said than done because they might not be able to afford one. Indy's Reggie Wayne is terrific (I liked him coming out of college a lot) and is friends with Santana Moss. But he's not a secret and would probably cost more than Washington could pay. David Patten is best suited as a No. 3, but at least his return will help because he's better than anyone else on the Redskins' roster.

5. Find a pass rusher. We love Phillip Daniels. We also know he's going to be 33 and is best as a run-stuffer, at which he's excellent. But the Redskins need to find a way to consistently get to the passer without blitzing. Another young pass rusher would help tremendously. They also need depth along the offensive line. Right now, there's no one to get excited about among the backups; all are viewed as strictly that. Cory Raymer is the best of the bunch, but is a center and not a guard. They have no one good should one of the guards get hurt or, heaven forbid, the tackles.

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