Five Issues

Ryan O'Halloran looks at five big issues with regards to the Redskins heading into the draft.


It could still happen in the weeks leading into the draft, but the Redskins' inability to make a deal with the Chicago Bears for linebacker Lance Briggs may soon be called The Great Trade That Wasn't Made. For whatever reason, owner Dan Snyder was infatuated with Briggs, a two-time Pro Bowler who would have commanded a salary cap-busting contract in the neighborhood of $35 million had he been traded to the Redskins. Never mind that most observers think he would be a bad fit for the Redskins' scheme and doesn't rush the passer and doesn't create turnovers, two things the Redskins desperately need. The no-move is a smart move because it means the team holds on to the sixth overall pick ... for the time being.


Amid all the chatter this offseason about the usual big contract signings, the Redskins have actually made two smart moves that didn't cost them very much money. Last month, they signed safety Omar Stoutmire, and on April 5, they inked cornerback David Macklin. Stoutmire, who returns to the Redskins after a one-year hiatus, was a solid player for New Orleans last year and will bring much-needed depth to the safety position and could even start. Macklin is an eight-year veteran with more than 70 NFL starts and as the projected No. 4 corner, he's a definite upgrade over last year's fourth corner, Mike Rumph. Both players will earn the veteran minimum – a little less than $800,000. Sometimes, bargain signings end up being smarter moves than the ones that are highlighted by multi-million dollar signing bonuses.


One of the talking points Gibbs elaborated on at the Scouting Combine and NFL Meetings is the need to have two established running backs. "Down the stretch, what you saw from the last four teams in the playoffs is that they all had two running backs," he said. "It's a punishing position and they get hit a lot. I think Clinton and Ladell will be a good team." This is why the Redskins locked up Ladell Betts to a new contract before he hit the market and have probably been unwilling to move him to another team. With Clinton Portis back from shoulder surgery, it gives the offense two different styles of backs that get the job done. Last year, Betts had 245 carries and Portis 127 attempts. This year, a split of 250 carries for Portis and 150 for Betts would mean the Redskins are an effective running team.


The whispers and rumors coming out of Redskin Park since the start of free agency have us concluding that Snyder wants to do something BIG leading into the draft. His pursuit of Dre Bly and Briggs fell short. He was never in the bidding for Nate Clements. And had Snyder paid up for Leonard Davis, that move would have been big in monetary value only. There's one way The Danny can create a buzz: Trade up in the draft to get Georgia Tech receiver Calvin Johnson. It would take a big package – a starter-caliber player plus a minimum of two draft picks, but expect the Redskins to explore it. Johnson appears to be a once-in-a-decade talent, a player who was productive in college even though defensive coordinators game-planned for him and he played with a lousy quarterback. When it comes to the Redskins and trading draft picks, don't rule out any crazy scenario.


Since Gibbs returned to the Redskins in 2004, the place-kicking job and, to a lesser extent, the punting position, have been in a state of constant flux. But that might be changing. The last three years, John Hall couldn't stay healthy and the Redskins didn't feel the need to address the situation by releasing him and signing a proven kicker. Instead, they signed guys like Ola Kimrin, Jeff Chandler and Nick Novak. The Redskins have also used three punters in three years. But with kicker Shaun Suisham and punter Derrick Frost back in the fold for 2007, it appears the Redskins are confident in the two players. Suisham was signed midway through last season and was 8-for-10 on field goals; Frost is always a candidate to shank one into the bleachers, but he did average 42.9 yards per attempt last year. If these two positions remain solidified, it will let Gibbs worry about more pressing roster spots.

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