By Rich Tandler
As the Redskins prepare for the 2012 offseason, let’s take a step back look at the big picture. What pieces of the puzzle for 2012, 2013 and beyond are in place? Where will the Redskins have to look for help in free agency and in the draft? We are going to put the roster under a microscope and see where the Redskins stand.
See below for links to the positions previously covered. Today we look at the linebackers:
Key starters: Ryan Kerrigan, Perry Riley, Brian Orakpo
Marginal/depth players: Lorenzo Alexander, Rob Jackson, Markus White
Out: London Fletcher, Keyaron Fox, Rocky McIntosh
The starting assumption here is that Fletcher will re-sign and play for two more years. He could play longer or he might not be back at all. But in any case the Redskins should start thinking about a successor.
That replacement probably is not on the roster right now. McIntosh is almost certain to leave as a free agent and even if the 30-year-old Fox is back this year he’s not a piece of the long-term puzzle.
White and Jackson flashed ability in the preseason but they are stuck behind Kerrigan, who played every defensive snap, and Orakpo, who missed about 100 snaps all year. White was only active for two games and he will benefit from having a full offseason program as he continues to make the transition from college defensive end to NFL outside linebacker.
Jackson made that move in 2010. When Orakpo was injured in the season finale against the Eagles, Jackson acquitted himself well, playing 30 snaps and posting 3 tackles, two for a loss. He will be a free agent in 2013 and he will want to build a case to get more playing time here or to be able to get some elsewhere.
Alexander also is a free agent in 2013 but it is a good bet that he will be back. The team values him as the special teams captain and depth at both inside and outside linebacker. He seems to have strong community roots. It would make sense for him to finish his career here.
Orakpo, Kerrigan, and Riley should be the core of the linebacker unit for the next several years. Replacing Fletcher and then maintaining depth will be the tasks of the scouts and Mike Shanahan over the next couple of years. Perhaps they will think about taking a page from the Super Bowl champion Giants’ book by adding an edge pass rusher on the theory that you can’t have too many.
But the situation here is not critical unless, of course, Fletcher does not re-sign. Since it seems likely that he will be back, we’ll cross that bridge if it comes up.
Previous building block articles: