The topic of the week for the Washington Redskins mailbag: Scot McCloughan and free agency. Several of you had questions that touched on this area so I'll address them. Thanks to @Gcarmi21, @RedskinsCult and @rwj64.
McCloughan’s free-agent classes in San Francisco: With the 49ers, his two biggest signings were corner Nate Clements and defensive end Justin Smith. But you can look at last year as a good base in terms of how the Redskins will approach free agency. They were active, but they weren’t crazy. McCloughan knows he must be active in free agency – it’s why he signed a handful of players, but only one would be considered expensive (corner Chris Culliver). Not all of them hit, either. Culliver was injured; Stephen Paea lost his starting job; Terrance Knighton did not play the way they had hoped. McCloughan will not just sit on the sidelines during free agency. Another factor: The Redskins will have some room – they’re around $10 million right now – but they won’t be so flush with cash that they could go crazy even if they wanted. Plus they have several strong needs so they’ll need to spread the money around (and draft well again).
Would he sign guys with character issues? This one was about the draft and free agency, so I’ll address a little of both. The answer is yes: They signed Junior Galette and Culliver, both of whom came here with off-field baggage. So they won’t shy away from such players, especially if they offer something the Redskins lack (pass rush/secondary help). However, to maintain a certain culture you can absorb only so many players who have off-field issues. I don’t know how Galette would have been in the locker room this year, but I know teammates liked what Culliver added in terms of intensity. The Redskins built a good locker room this season and that led to some of their success. If the locker room is strong, the Redskins feel they can handle a couple of players with character concerns. As for the draft, McCloughan was clearly reluctant to draft guys with any off-field issues. I don’t know if that will change.
Positions they could address: I don’t have a great feel yet for which positions they absolutely will address in free agency. But I know the areas they want to, and must, fix. We still don’t know yet who will be re-signed by previous teams so it’s hard to say right now which positions would be the strongest in free agency. But I know they want to get younger on the defensive line and that they’d like to find another inside linebacker. Obviously they’ll need more depth at corner and safety. I really don’t think there are many positions I wouldn’t address, especially defensively. They need another running back; they could use more blocking help at tight end; they might need receiving depth if they cut Andre Roberts. I’ve written before that they’ll likely try Spencer Long at center this offseason, so unless something changes that’s not a spot I think they’ll address in free agency – if Long can’t cut it, they’ll just keep Kory Lichtensteiger.