When free agency opens March 11, the Redskins will have about $30 million in cap space and lots of holes to fill. Over the next few weeks, Redskins Insider Tarik El-Bashir will examine the field of potential free agents, by position, and evaluate who might be a fit in Washington.
Today, we’re looking at centers.
Background: We’ve already examined the tackles and guards who are expected to hit the open market. Now, we’re putting centers under the microscope. Incumbent starter Will Montgomery had a solid 2012 but was less effective in 2013, when the Redskins faced increased pressure from the interior. He’s under contract through 2015 but is 31 years old. Bottom line: center is not a position of dire need, but it wouldn’t be a surprise if the Redskins explored their options on the open market.
Best available: Alex Mack, Browns. Mack, 28, is widely considered the best free agent at his position. Mack earned Pro Bowl berths in 2010 and 2013 and has started 80 of 80 regular games during his five-year career. If he does reach the open market, Mack will be coveted by many teams. But recent reports out of Cleveland are that the Browns will attempt to re-sign him to a multi-year extension and may use the franchise tag (about $11.126 million).
Best fit: Evan Dietrich-Smith, Packers. The 27-year-old would represent a modest upgrade for the Redskins while also allowing them to get younger. After Mack, Dietrich-Smith is the second best center on the market. It sounds as though the Packers are prepared to let him walk. The question for Washington—and other teams who might be interested—is a tough one: is he a big enough difference-maker to justify the cost?
Best of the rest: Brian De La Puente (Saints) is 28, 6-3/306 and a quality starter who figures to be in demand; Roberto Garza (Bears) will turn 35 in March and seems likely to return to Chicago; J.D. Walton (Redskins) missed all but four games since 2011 because of an ankle injury, but RG3’s college teammate figures to get a look in Washington this offseason; Ryan Wendell (Patriots) is 27, 6-2/290 has started 32 straight regular season games but struggled, at times, in 2013.