Who to Pursue and Who to Avoid

With free agency starting Saturday morning, the Redskins have a little cash to spend. It's not the bonanza they hoped for, but it's better than it could have been.

The nice thing is, though the Redskins love to be aggressive, they've also been smarter about who they pursue. Thank Joe Gibbs for that. The class they brought in two years ago was filled with smart, tough and productive players. David Patten was a stretch as a No. 2 wideout last year, but his makeup is excellent and he'll be a solid third.

Here's a primer on free agency, looking at three primary needs for the Redskins.

Receivers

Avoid: Antwaan Randle El. He's an exciting player, but he's not what the Redskins need. Plus he'll cost too much and too many teams overpay for guys who starred in the previous Super Bowl. Randle El can help in a couple ways and that's his main worth. But the Redskins need a bigger second receiver, one who is proven and not someone who is coming off a 35-catch, one-touchdown season.

Consider: David Givens. He's not exactly a big receiver at 6-foot. But he is a solid wideout and someone who would be a consistent complimentary receiver to Santana Moss. He's used to this role, something Randle El is not.

Intrigued: Brandon Lloyd. The Redskins are reportedly interested in him and it's easy to see why, considering he made some nice athletic catches against them. He's what Darnerien McCants would have been had he been able to play: an athletic guy capable of acrobatic catches. It's what he did in college. But most consider him a No. 3 on a good team; not a No. 2. He's also a restricted free agent, which means surrendering draft picks. For all the noise made by Washington a few years ago with this strategy, it really didn't pay off.

Curious: Eric Moulds. But the Bills have to release him first and, because of the higher cap number, it's uncertain that they will. But if he's free, he'd be a good fit.

Don't even think about: Antonio Bryant. Could be excellent; could be trouble. Let him make plays elsewhere and don't disturb the locker room. Doesn't fit the Joe Gibbs mold.

Linebacker

Avoid: Will Witherspoon. He's a good player, but way too expensive for what they need. You don't need to overspend at this position. Look at Marcus Washington and Lemar Marshall for proof of that. Washington got a nice contract, but not exorbitant.

Consider: David Thornton from the Colts. He fits the Gregg Williams mold because he can play different spots, but his natural fit is on the weakside. Plus his makeup is excellent: he's a former walk-on at North Carolina and has worked himself into being a good player. He was a defensive leader with the Colts.

Intrigued: Cato June. He's small at 6-foot, but he's very fast and is excellent in coverage. But he's more suited to the Cover 2 Tony Dungy defense than anything. Washington plays that sometimes, but it would be better to find someone bigger.

Curious: Akin Ayodele. He's versatile and can play both strong and weakside. He's quick and is a former Walter Payton man of the year nominee from the Jags. Says a lot. However, he's probably best suited to play over the tight end and the Redskins already have someone in that role.

Another thought: This is a deep year for linebacker in the draft, so there's more chance finding a potential starter in Round 2 this year than there is finding a starting receiver.

Defensive End

Avoid: John Abraham. The Redskins can't afford him and would have to surrender too much. They'd be better served perhaps finding a tackle who can rush as well as a capable end, bolstering the depth.

Consider: Darren Howard, but only at the right price. He's coming off a disappointing year, but he's still young enough to help at 29.

Intrigued: Aaron Kampmann. He's not much of a pass rusher, but he's an effective run stopper. However, the Redskins already have someone like that at left end in Renaldo Wynn.

Might have to: be creative here. There are not a lot of options and this is a position of need for most teams so it will drive prices a bit higher than they should be.


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