The Washington Football Team enters 2021 NFL free agency coming off a 7-9 season (and NFC East title), in 2020 and has 15 unrestricted free agents.
Washington, of course, needs to find a starting quarterback. Then it needs to provide more help for its QBs, starting with receiver and tackle. It also needs another tight end. Defensively, it needs a linebacker, a safety and a cornerback. Washington also needs to re-sign guard Brandon Scherff and extend defensive tackle Jonathan Allen.
Here's what to expect from Washington when the NFL offseason hits high gear with the start of free agency on March 17:
Under contract: Alex Smith, Taylor Heinicke, Steven Montez
Game plan: Washington wants to upgrade its starter, whether via trade or free agency, but won't do it at all costs, knowing it still needs more around any quarterback it acquires. It seems likely they will cut Smith, saving $14.7 million against the salary cap. The staff also likes Kyle Allen, who is an exclusive rights free agent; he is expected to return.
Under contract: J.D. McKissic, Peyton Barber, Antonio Gibson, Bryce Love, Jonathan Williams, Javon Leake, Michael Warren
UFA: Lamar Miller
Game plan: Washington likes dual-purpose backs and hopes Gibson continues to blossom into someone who can be an every-down back capable of big plays. The coaches like Barber in his role as a short-yardage back, but he's limited. If Washington can add another multi-purpose back, it would strengthen the offense.
Under contract: Terry McLaurin, Steven Sims Jr., Antonio Gandy-Golden, Kelvin Harmon, Isaiah Wright, Jeff Badet, Dylan Cantrell, Trevor Davis, Emmanuel Hall, Tony Brown
Game plan: Washington will definitely add to its receiving corps, whether in free agency or the draft. It wants speed. The team aggressively pursued Amari Cooper last offseason and a few free agents will tempt them because of their speed, including Curtis Samuel, Will Fuller and Nelson Agholor. Washington needs one starter and perhaps two (including the slot) to pair with McLaurin. Allen Robinson II would help any receiving corps.
Under contract: Logan Thomas, Thaddeus Moss, Temarrick Hemingway, Tyrone Swoopes, Marcus Baugh
UFA: Jeremy Sprinkle
Game plan: Get more help. Thomas had a terrific season, but he was the only pass-catching threat at this position. Washington needs a lot more, plus blocking help in case the young players such as Moss don't pan out. The team flirted with Austin Hooper last year in free agency; Hunter Henry and Jonnu Smith could headline this year's class.
Under contract: Cornelius Lucas, Geron Christian, Saahdiq Charles, Keith Ismael, Chase Roullier, Morgan Moses, Wes Schweitzer, Wes Martin, David Steinmetz
UFA: Brandon Scherff
Game plan: Washington wants to work out a long-term deal with Scherff, who is coming off an All-Pro season. He will command top-of-the-line guard money. It could tag him for a second consecutive season at a cost of $18 million. Washington wants to add another starting lineman, preferably a tackle and probably in the draft.
Under contract: Montez Sweat, Chase Young, Jonathan Allen, Daron Payne, Tim Settle, Matt Ioannidis, Caleb Brantley, James Smith-Williams, Casey Toohill, Devaroe Lawrence, Daniel Wise, David Bada
UFA: Ryan Kerrigan, Ryan Anderson
Game plan: Kerrigan wants to be a starter again, so it's hard to see him returning. Washingotn needs to work out a contract extension with Allen, who is entering his fifth year. The team needs to keep together as much of this front as possible -- several will command big contracts when their contracts expire. Allen is up first.
Under contract: Jon Bostic, Cole Holcomb, Khaleke Hudson, Josh Harvey-Clemons, Justin Phillips, Jordan Kunaszyk, Jalen Jelks
UFA: Kevin Pierre-Louis, Mychal Kendricks, Jared Norris, Reuben Foster, Thomas Davis Sr.
Game plan: Washington is thin at this spot. It needs a starter with speed and coverage ability. Holcomb can play multiple spots, but this is an area they must address. It would be good to add a veteran to avoid growing pains on a young defense that should be really good again in 2021. Would Lavonte David tempt them? He can still help any team if he comes free.
Under contract: Kendall Fuller, Jimmy Moreland, Greg Stroman, Cole Luke, Jordan Brown, Torry McTyer, DeMarkus Acy
UFA: Ronald Darby, Fabian Moreau, Danny Johnson
Game plan: Re-sign Darby and add depth. Darby stayed healthy for 16 games and had a solid season, his first in Washington. If they can't keep him, they must find another starting corner to pair with Fuller. Even if they keep Darby, they need more help.
Under contract: Kam Curl, Landon Collins, Deshazor Everett, Jeremy Reaves, Troy Apke
Game plan: They need to find a solid, steady presence at free safety. Coach Ron Rivera's teams typically do not spend a lot on safeties, so there's no reason to think they will this time around. Curl and Collins both can play the strong side as well as the big nickel role. This staff has ties to recently-released Tre Boston.
Under contract: Tress Way
UFA: Nick Sundberg, Dustin Hopkins
Game plan: Sundberg needs to return as long as his recently-repaired triceps tendon is OK. He's been a reliable long-snapper since arriving in Washington in 2010. Hopkins has a good leg, but ranks 31st in field goal accuracy since he arrived here in 2015. Even if he returns, they should consider adding competition.