After the Seattle Seahawks won Super Bowl XLVIII, all 32 teams officially entered the offseason and started plotting how they could position themselves for a shot at Super Bowl XLIX. Shutdown Corner will look at the offseason blueprint for each of the 32 NFL teams, presenting one team a day (using the 2014 draft order, starting with the Houston Texans and finishing with the Seahawks), leading you right up to the start of free agency on March 11.
2013 record: 3-13
Projected current salary-cap space (according to Spotrac): $26.6 million
Possible salary-cap casualties: DE Adam Carriker, DE Stephen Bowen, OG Chris Chester, OT Tyler Polumbus, C Will Montgomery, P Sav Rocca
Draft situation: Traded first-round pick (No. 2 overall) to St. Louis Rams in Robert Griffin III trade; own all other original picks
Revisiting 2013: The team stumbled out of the gates badly with a gimpy Griffin likely returning to the lineup too soon following knee injury, and his demise became the central arc of the season, leading to the firing of head coach Mike Shanahan and much of his staff. The defense also badly fell apart, going from a ball-hawking unit to one that was near the bottom of the rankings in every key category, namely points allowed.
Reasons for optimism: The Redskins get to push the reset button with new head coach Jay Gruden, who might be able to get Griffin back on track. It’s way too soon to give up on a quarterback who turns 24 in a few days and who has shown obvious talent. Lacking their top draft pick clearly hurts badly, but the team will have the cap space — and could have more with a few cuts — and ownership backing to be major players in free agency once they re-sign their key players.
Glaring hole to fill: London Fletcher is retiring finally, and his presence and talent will be missed on Jim Haslett’s defense. Through all the chaos of the past several seasons, Fletcher was the glue that kept things together (as best he could) and his effort never wavered. The Redskins could use a smart, heady veteran on any of the defense’s three levels to take his place.
Toughest decision: We’ll hedge a bit and pick two units in major flux — the offensive line and defensive secondary. Both feature a number of key free agents and could see huge overhauls. The smallish, zone-blocking linemen of Mike Shanahan’s units could give way to a more powerful bunch under Gruden. And even if Hall, Wilson and others are back in the secondary, some younger players on the roster and a few new faces might be given shots to improve his harried group.
Best-case offseason scenario: The first thing that must happen is Gruden and Griffin turning the page on a nightmarish season and forging a working relationship that can last and thrive. The team is building around Griffin as its centerpiece until further notice, and they must work well together. If the team can keep some of its key defensive parts (such as Orakpo) and add a few more in free agency, the talent level is not awful. And the hope is that there will be a strong, first-round quality player left when the Redskins first pick in the draft at No. 34.
Previous Blueprints: 32. Houston Texans; 31. Washington Redskins; 30. Jacksonville Jaguars; 29. Cleveland Browns; 28. Oakland Raiders; 27. Atlanta Falcons; 26. Tampa Bay Buccaneers; 25. Minnesota Vikings; 24. Buffalo Bills; 23. Detroit Lions; 22. Tennessee Titans; 21. New York Giants; 20. St. Louis Rams; 19. Chicago Bears; 18. Pittsburgh Steelers; 17. Dallas Cowboys; 16. Baltimore Ravens; 15. New York Jets; 14. Miami Dolphins; 13. Arizona Cardinals
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