Since free agency opened March 11, front offices around the league have been busy retooli ng rosters and getting ready for next season. Here at CSNWashington.com, we’ve kept a watchful eye on the moves made by teams who appear on the Redskins’ 2014 schedule.
So who’s gotten better? Who’s gotten worse? Let’s take a closer look.
Up today …
Opponent/location: Arizona Cardinals/University of Phoenix Stadium.
2013 record: 10-6 (third place in the NFC West.)
Key additions: OT Jared Veldheer (Raiders), TE John Carlson (Vikings), CB Antonio Cromartie (Jets), RB Jonathan Dwyer (Steelers), WR Ted Ginn (Panthers), G Ted Larsen (Buccaneers).
Key losses: LB Karlos Dansby (Browns), TE Jim Dray (Browns), WR Andre Roberts (Redskins), OT Eric Winston (unsigned), CB Antoine Cason (Panthers), LB Jasper Brinkley (Vikings), S Yeremiah Bell (unsigned).
Best move: Signing Veldheer, who was brought in to protect immobile quarterback Carson Palmer’s blindside. Palmer was sacked 41 times in 2013. Veldheer and Palmer previously played together for two seasons in Oakland.
The bottom line: GM Steve Keim went into free agency with a shopping list and he got exactly what his team needed. And he did it without breaking the bank.
Keim’s top priority was checked off early. As we’ve already noted, the addition of Veldheer figures to provide a big boost for an offensive line that allowed 161 hurries, 242 pressures and graded out as the NFL’s worst pass blocking unit, according to ProFootballFocus.com. Now, the middle and left side of the line is set with center Lyle Sendlein, guard Jonathan Cooper and Veldheer.
Other shrewd moves on offense include the addition of Carlson, a solid blocker, and Ginn, a deep threat to complement Pro Bowler Larry Fitzgerald and star-in-the-making Michael Floyd.
Losing Dansby (122 tackles. 6.5 sacks, 4 interceptions) dealt the NFL’s sixth ranked defense a blow, no doubt about it. But Bruce Arians believes Dansby’s replacement is already on the roster—Kevin Minter, the team’s second round pick last season. If Minter performs up to expectations, Cromartie has a bounce back season and Tyrann Mathieu returns to health, the Cards’ defense could be just as formidable, if not more so, in 2014.
The Redskins were already going to be the underdogs in this matchup. After Keim’s shrewd moves the past two weeks, their task seems to have gotten even taller.