- The Washington Times - Saturday, February 23, 2008

INDIANAPOLIS — Without a ton of salary cap space and the talent pool quite shallow, the Washington Redskins aren’t expected to be active when free agency starts on Feb. 29. The Redskins will be more apt to spend money on players who can provide depth rather than crack open the safe.

“Our cap situation is OK,” executive vice president/football operations Vinny Cerrato said yesterday at the NFL Scouting Combine. “There are limited guys in free agency and the price they’ll be paid will be astronomical. I don’t foresee us being a big player. … Dan [Snyder’s] plane won’t be fired up and ready to go. It will be a quiet start to free agency for us.”

Twelve teams have used their franchise tag this offseason to take top players off the market. The top free agents are Chicago linebacker Lance Briggs, cornerback Asante Samuel and receiver Randy Moss of New England and Pittsburgh offensive guard Alan Faneca.

The Redskins will sign players who fill a specific need, not a specific “wow” factor.

“Not so much replacing guys but adding guys,” coach Jim Zorn said. “We want to make sure we have the next guy in line, so those younger guys are being taught and being helped by the guys who are playing now.”

That comment would signal a commitment to using each of the six draft picks in April but if veterans are added, they would be in the secondary.

The Redskins’ wish list is a receiver with size, a young offensive lineman who can play guard and center, youth at defensive end and tackle and possible help at cornerback and safety:

• Receiver with size. The Redskins’ top two receivers — Santana Moss and Antwaan Randle El — are both listed at 5-foot-10. Zorn and Cerrato both mentioned young player Anthony Mix (6-5) as someone who could contribute this season.

“We’re looking for a little bit bigger receiver because you need that in the West Coast offense, whether it’s in the draft or however we find one,” Cerrato said. “We have one on the team that we like [Mix]. The draft has some big receivers that we’re going to look at.”

In free agency, the tall receivers are 6-1 Bernard Berrian, 6-2 Jerry Porter, 6-3 Bryant Johnson, 6-4 Ernest Wilford and 6-4 Randy Moss.

In the draft, they are 6-4 Malcolm Kelly of Oklahoma, 6-5 Limas Sneed of Texas and 6-5 James Hardy of Indiana.

Brandon Lloyd appears on his way out. Zorn has yet to speak with Lloyd since he was hired to the staff in late January.

• Reserve cornerback/safety: Cornerback Shawn Springs should return — “I think Shawn’s excited because he knows me and hopefully that will rev him up,” Zorn said — to join Fred Smoot in the starting lineup. Cerrato said Carlos Rogers (knee) is out until mid-September.

Leigh Torrence is the No. 3 corner if the Redskins opt to hold down the fort until Rogers’ return. If they don’t, San Diego’s Drayton Florence and Dallas’ Jacques Reeves lead the crop of nonfranchise corners.

At safety, Cerrato said third-year player Reed Doughty will get a chance to start alongside LaRon Landry, but the team could add a veteran to mentor the duo.

“After listening to the coaches when we met the other day, the coaches were really happy with Reed and thought he improved as the season went along,” Cerrato said.

• Young defensive end and defensive tackle: The first priority is a pass-rushing defensive end, which would allow veteran Phillip Daniels to move to tackle more often.

The top ends available when the Redskins draft at No. 21 could be Calais Campbell of Miami and USC’s Lawrence Jackson.

“There is a good group of ends who can also move inside,” Redskins director of player personnel Scott Campbell said. “You prefer a guy who can move in and out like Phillip does for us.”

• Young center/guard: The Redskins have developed only one young offensive lineman (tackle Stephon Heyer) since the 2004 season. With each starter 30 or older, the Redskins must address the future by drafting young players.

“Whether it’s through free agency or the draft, we would love to have more guys there that could step in,” Zorn said.

Zorn is confident right tackle Jon Jansen can return from his second season-ending injury in four years.

“Do you think he’s a super old vet? — I don’t think he is,” Zorn said. “Guys like him have been in so many battles, they know how to create leverage and create good positioning. His technique is honed.”

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