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 defensive linemen.
Background: One area where the Redskins need to get more production is the defensive line. Veteran ends Stephen Bowen (microfracture knee surgery) and Adam Carriker (multiple quad tendon surgeries) are coming off major injuries. Both also turn 30 this spring. The team could turn to Chris Baker and Jarvis Jenkins as the starters, but the guess here is that the Redskins will also explore adding a veteran to wreak havoc up front via free agency. A good stat to know: The Redskins’ line produced twice as many sacks in 2011 (18) as the past two seasons combined.
Best available: Antonio Smith, Texans. The 6-4, 289-pound end plays opposite J.J. Watt and has averaged 28 tackles and six sacks over the past three seasons while missing only one game during that span. Just one problem: He’ll be 33 in October and the Redskins need to get younger at the position.
Best fit: There are actually two players who might suit the Redskins’ needs quite well—Linval Joseph of the Giants and Arthur Jones of the Ravens. Seen as versatile enough to play either nose or end, Joseph is a 6-4, 323-pound run-stuffer who can also get after the quarterback (7 sacks past two seasons). He’s also 25. Jones, meantime, is 6-3, 315 and has produced 100 combined tackles and 8.5 sacks the past two seasons. He’ll turn 28 in June. Neither player will come cheap, but both would signal significant upgrades.
Best of the rest: Tyson Jackson (Chiefs) is 27 years old and has 77 tackles and seven sacks the past two seasons; Randy Starks (Dolphins) is 30 and has averaged 4-plus sacks the past six seasons; Paul Soliai (Dolphins) is 30 and is a better run-stopper than pass-rusher; Ropati Pitoitua (Titans) is 28 and had 44 combined tackles and four sacks in 2013.