- The Washington Times - Monday, March 10, 2014

Free from a $36 million salary cap penalty imposed over the last two years, the Washington Redskins will enter the start to free agency Tuesday afternoon with approximately $20 million available to spend.

That won’t be enough to immediately upgrade the talent at every position, but there will be some changeover in the roster. The contracts of 16 players who were under contract with the Redskins at the end of last season will expire at 4 p.m., and the changeover in the coaching staff means players who may have fit the team’s offensive and defensive schemes during the last four years under Mike Shanahan may not under new coach Jay Gruden.

Having money to spend isn’t always a luxury — especially for the Redskins, who have made plenty of questionable signings over the years. The team has made smart investments, such as the five years and $42.5 million handed to wide receiver Pierre Garçon in 2012, but others have been equally abysmal: Adam Archuleta in 2006, Albert Haynesworth in 2009, Oshiomogho Atogwe in 2011.


SEE ALSO: HARRIS: Shopping season opens for Redskins, who need plenty of help


The Redskins won just three games last year, so much can be improved. And while the specifics of their plans remain guarded, there are five areas where they need immediate help.

CORNERBACK

Carolina Panthers' Mike Mitchell (21) yells in celebration to fans in the stands after helping to beat the New England Patriots 24-20 following an NFL football game in Charlotte, N.C., Monday, Nov. 18, 2013.  (AP Photo/Bob Leverone)
Carolina Panthers’ Mike Mitchell (21) yells in celebration to fans in the ... more >

On the Roster: DeAngelo Hall, David Amerson, Richard Crawford, Ryan Mouton

Pending Free Agents: Josh Wilson, E.J. Biggers

Potential Targets: Aqib Talib, Captain Munnerlyn, Vontae Davis

Hall signed a four-year, $17 million contract with the Redskins last month, and Amerson is poised to develop after playing 67 percent of the team’s defensive snaps during his rookie season. The Redskins know they need help in the secondary, however, and Talib, who played under current defensive backs coach Raheem Morris in Tampa Bay, has been their top target for the past two years. Munnerlyn, from Carolina, could fill in as a slot corner, and Davis could return to his native Washington as a low-cost signing.

SAFETY

On the Roster: Jose Gumbs, Bacarri Rambo, Phillip Thomas

Pending Free Agents: Brandon Meriweather, Reed Doughty

Potential Targets: Jairus Byrd, Mike Mitchell, T.J. Ward

This will be the one area the Redskins will target extensively — though, as previous years have shown, their signings haven’t always panned out. It’s also perhaps one of the most shallow positions in the draft, so an impact player (or two) will come from outside the organization. Byrd figures to price himself out of the Redskins‘ range, and Ward may be too expensive, too. Mitchell, a free safety who played last year in Carolina after four in Oakland, has been on the Redskins‘ radar for some time.

OFFENSIVE LINE

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