Redskins Notes: Rebuilding, Orakpo, Safeties

It was already reported that the Redskins may be looking at wholesale changes in the interior of their offensive line, given the departure of offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan and his zone-blocking scheme. New head coach Jay Gruden, who ran more of a power-blocking scheme while in Cincinnati, did say that he liked the effectiveness of Washington’s running game last year, so the fates of Kory Lichtensteiger, Will Montgomery, and Chris Chester remain in flux. Here are some more notes from the nation’s capital:

  • Rich Tandler of CSNWashington believes that the Redskins are in full-fledged rebuilding mode. They are coming off a 3-13 record, have a new head coach, 20 of last year’s players are set to become free agents, and GM Bruce Allen expects to have 20 new players on the roster in 2014. However, given that the team has $30MM in cap space and a viable answer at quarterback, Tandler believes the rebuild could see results sooner rather than later.
  • Tarik El-Bashir of CSNWashington examines the Redskins’ outlook at outside linebacker, one of the few position groups that had consistent success in 2013. However, Washington faces a difficult decision with free agent OLB Brian Orakpo. Orakpo rebounded well from his injury-plagued 2012 campaign, in which he played only two games due to injury. He fared well against the run, showed improvement in coverage, and once again showed why he is considered one of the better pass rushers in the league, collecting 10 sacks. El-Bashir, though, thinks Orakpo belongs in the second tier of outside linebackers, and that the Redskins would do well to sign him to a contract befitting that status: somewhere in the $6.7MM-$9MM range. If the Redskins can’t get him for that price, El-Bashir believes they should part ways.
  • Tandler, meanwhile, thinks the Redskins should put the franchise tag on Orakpo. The tag would cost just under $11MM, and if Orakpo performs poorly or is injured again, the Redskins can simply walk away after 2014. But if Orakpo has another terrific season, they could put the tag on him again. The projected $13MM cost of the 2015 franchise tag for outside linebackers would be a bargain for Orakpo at that point.
  • In a separate piece, Tandler looks at some of the Redskins’ potential targets at the safety position. Since safety Brandon Meriweather‘s contract voids five days after the Super Bowl, the team may have a big hole in the middle of their defense in 2014. Tandler thinks Washington will almost certainly pursue a safety in May’s draft, perhaps as high the second round. Tandler points to Jimmie Ward, Vinnie Sunseri, Ed Reynolds, Terrence Brooks, and Deone Bucannon as viable options.
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