Redskins Free Agent Primer

What do they need: A middle linebacker, a blocking tight end, a cornerback and a guard.

How much they have: Approximately $10 million. Alas, too many teams have a lot more. But they can still improve themselves with a few prudent moves. But they need a much better offseason than last year.

Who will they target: In all the calls I've made and all the rumors I've either heard or read, two names have been mentioned. It's no surprise: LB London Fletcher-Baker and CB Nate Clements. We're guessing they'll get Fletcher-Baker done fast. Buffalo would like to retain him and coach Marv Levy has told friends that he still likes Fletcher-Baker a lot. Others I've talked to say he can still cover, which makes him fine in the Cover 2 and he's instinctive, in addition to being an excellent leader. But one Buffalo source worried that, as an overachiever, once Fletcher-Baker starts to go down, he'll do so fast.

As for Clements, he's coming off an excellent season. He's physical and covers well. He's not Champ Bailey, but he is a solid corner. He would be overly expensive, however.

Why they need a corner: Because Shawn Springs does not want to take a paycut and from what we hear, there might still be some resentment from the feeling that he was rushed back from his initial injury. However, Springs would return if the money is right. He still sees himself as a corner.

Others they should target: New England's Daniel Graham will be too expensive, so two blocking tight end possibilities include Cincinnati's Reggie Kelly and Jacksonville's Kyle Brady. Both are excellent blockers.

What they should have done: Negotiate harder with guard Derrick Dockery during the season. One player said this was yet another reason why the Redskins need a full-time GM. If the Redskins had one, they might have focused more on getting this deal done. Now they'll have to pay a lot to get a replacement. Having said that, how much would you give Dockery? After all, he's, at best, the Redskins fifth-best lineman.

Mistake they're still paying for: Antonio Pierce. Had they just bumped their offer up just a little bit, they would have retained a solid middle linebacker. Instead, they'll overpay a soon-to-be 32-year-old linebacker. Granted, Fletcher-Baker is a fine player. But if they had taken care of business a couple years ago, they could have spent that money elsewhere. Instead, they're always paying for mistakes they've made.

Who I would avoid: End Patrick Kerney. The pec injury bothers me, but also he's battled some nagging injuries and I wonder if that wouldn't be a preview. To be honest, I haven't heard his name much in connection with Washington, except in small doses.

Games they play: One prominent Redskin signed in free agency talked about how when he was free, one of his former coaches ''scheduled'' a visit for after this player had visited Washington. In truth, the former coach was never going to sign this player, but he wanted to do him a favor by driving up his price. It worked. The player still chuckles over this one.

What they've done: Washington has re-signed guard Mike Pucillo, but please do not consider him a possible replacement for Dockery. He's not. But as a backup he's just fine.

The Redskins also have tendered punter Derrick Frost, a good move. The more I saw of Frost, the more I liked. He improved enough to warrant keeping him around longer.

What they haven't done: Tendered DT Ryan Boschetti. He's an energetic player, but a highly replaceable one. He does like Harry Potter, so a few of us will miss talking to him when the new, and final, book comes out.

Who they shouldn't re-sign: LB Warrick Holdman. He's OK, at best, but if the Redskins sign a middle LB, why would they need Holdman? They would then move Lemar Marshall back to the outside, along with Rocky McIntosh. Again, I go back to my earlier point: if they had just signed Pierce, Marshall would be on the outside and they would not have had to trade up to get McIntosh.

By the way, there's no doubt that one reason Dale Lindsey was fired was because of McIntosh. Some people couldn't understand why he didn't progress faster. It was simple: he didn't know the defense.

Breaking Burgundy Top Stories