- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 16, 2021

Everyone knows that the Washington Football Team needs a quarterback. But with free agency a month away, the franchise also has plenty of other areas that need to be addressed this offseason. 

With the fifth-most cap space in the league, Washington has options: The team could aggressively pursue top names, or take the lower-profile approach adopted by coach Ron Rivera and Co. last season — a tack that paid dividends.

After swinging big but missing on some sought-after free agents, Washington settled on a slew of bargain-bin signings — almost all of which panned out and proved critical in helping the team make the playoffs at 7-9.

Rivera has not indicated which route he wants to take this spring, but with free agency nearing by the day, there are interesting possibilities for Washington either way. 

Receiver: The top names available are Allen Robinson, Chris Godwin, Kenny Golladay, Will Fuller and T.Y. Hilton. Under the radar, there’s Nelson Agholor and Curtis Samuel.

This year’s free-agent class is stacked at wide receiver. Chicago’s Robinson tops the list. The 6-foot-2 wideout snagged a career-high 102 catches for 1,250 yards in 2020 with Mitchell Trubisky and Nick Foles under center for the Bears. Robinson is a big-bodied receiver — a plus for Rivera — and has an excellent history of producing with sub-par quarterbacks. The Bears are reportedly interested in bringing Robinson back, but if the 27-year-old hits the market, he’ll likely be highly pursued. 

Las Vegas’ Agholor could be an intriguing, possibly cheaper option. After underwhelming in Philadelphia for years,  Agholor is coming off a career-high 896 yards with the Raiders.

Carolina’s Samuel, a speedy 5-foot-11 receiver, also bears monitoring given his natural ties to Rivera and Washington’s regime. Samuel was drafted in the second round in 2017 by new Washington executive Marty Hurney. 

Tackle: The best available are Trent Williams and Russell Okung. 

Cornelius Lucas was better than expected for Washington at left tackle last year, especially considering he was a career journeyman before joining the team in free agency. But Washington could still use an upgrade at the position after the team traded Williams to the San Francisco 49ers in 2020. 

Ironically, Williams is a free agent this year — but don’t pencil in a reunion. Instead, if Washington wants to splurge on a tackle, perhaps look at two-time Pro Bowler Okung. Hurney traded for Okung last year in Carolina and the 32-year-old is a solid veteran who has plenty of experience. 

If Washington wants to take a flyer on another veteran, how about Jacksonville’s Cam Robinson? The former 2017 second-rounder started 47 games in four seasons for the Jaguars and could compete with Lucas, Geron Christian and Saahdiq Charles. New Washington director of pro personnel Chris Polian could provide insight into Robinson, given he spent the last seven years in Jacksonville before joining the team this week.

Linebacker: Lavonte David and Matt Milano lead the class, while Denzel Perryman could be a find.

Rivera made it clear during the 2020 season that he was unsatisfied with Washington’s linebackers. Specifically, he said they were, at times, too hesitant and needed to fly to the ball. There’s practically no one better at reading plays than Tampa Bay’s David, an excellent coverage linebacker who starred in the Buccaneers’ Super Bowl. 

Buccaneers coach Bruce Arians, however, has said retaining David will be a priority for the franchise, and David expressed interest in returning. 

Buffalo’s Milano is another top option at the position. He ranked as Pro Football Focus’s 12th-best linebacker last season. 

The Chargers’ Perryman, meanwhile, could help shore up Washington’s problems against the run. As a primary two-down linebacker, Perryman only played 30% of Los Angeles’ snaps in 2020. But the 28-year-old was effective at plugging holes, recording 48 tackles.

Cornerback: Richard Sherman, Patrick Peterson and Desmond King are the top attractions, but Washington could stay at home with Ronald Darby.

A year ago, Washington struck gold with Darby, a reclamation project who had been hampered by injuries in recent years. Despite being Washington’s most-targeted cornerback, Darby was often solid in coverage and adapted to defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio’s zone-based scheme. 

With Darby hitting the market again this year, Washington will have to decide whether it wants to attempt to re-sign the 27-year-old or look elsewhere.

• Matthew Paras can be reached at mparas@washingtontimes.com.

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