WASHINGTON (WUSA) -- The 2012 offseason is Redskins general manager Bruce Allen and head coach Mike Shanahan's third go-around together, and outside of the Donovan McNabb trade fiasco, the Redskins have not made a major acquisition during this regime.
In 2011, it was about adding role players to bolster defensive coordinator Jim Haslett's unit. Front seven additions like Barry Coefield, Stephen Bowen and rookie Ryan Kerrigan fortified the defense from one of the worst in the NFL to a respectable number 13.
Friday evening's news of the Robert Griffin III trade marked a new era in Washington, and also pricey one. D.C. area residents should be enamored with hopefully ending the two decade long drought without a noteworthy signal-caller. And most do agree with the front office's intervention in ending the franchise's dependence on play calling over quarterback ineptitude.
PHOTO GALLERY: POSSIBLE REDSKINS FREE AGENT TARGETS
With that being said, the Redskins 2012 free agency period will be looked back in history as one of the more critical stretches in the franchise's ugly history under owner Daniel Snyder. Washington is without a first round pick until 2015. The team has an ample amount of salary space ($36.5 million) to surround Griffin with protection and weaponry on the outsides. The time is now.
Here are five free agents the Redskins should take a hard look at.The player's 2011 statistics are italicized.
Firstly, the Redskins should be looking to trade Brian Orakpo for a first round pick. Most of us know that Orakpo is a replaceable piece in the 3-4 defense because he lacks speed and distinct moves around the edge. I think he's peaking and won't ever be considered elite.
If you don't already think Kerrigan is more valuable than Orakpo, you weren't watching the same team I was last season. The Lions, Chargers, Bears and Jets would be interested teams in Orakpo's services. You'll see in a minute why the Redskins need an extra pick during this free agency.
1) Mario Williams
11 tackles, 5 sacks (played 5 games because of injury)
Pass rushers like this should never hit the free agency market. He's Reggie White good. He's DeMarcus Ware good. Williams is a game changer who would immediately make the Redskins soft secondary better, just by his presence alone. Opposing teams have to focus their entire game plan on limiting Williams' activity near the line of scrimmage.
I don't care if he costs $100 million, Williams has potential for a Hall of Fame career if he plays for a winning team. He isn't comparable to Albert Haynesworth because Williams has produced his entire career and was also the number one overall pick in 2006. Houston will forever regret letting him hit the market.
2) Mike Wallace
72 receptions, 1,193 yards, 8 TD's, 16.6 YPC
Stop assuming the Redskins should automatically grab an overpriced Vincent Jackson, a player the Chargers never could commit to. I understand that Wallace is a restricted free agent, meaning the Pittsburgh Steelers can match any offer thrown out by a potential suitor. Per NFL rules on restricted free agents, the Redskins would have to ship their first round pick acquired from the Orakpo trade as compensation to the Steelers.
Pittsburgh is known for being one of the stingiest franchises in the NFL. At 25-years-old, Wallace is arguably a top five receiver in the league and almost non-arguably the best down-the-field target in the NFL.
Instead of a 29-year-old Vincent Jackson, the Redskins have to put their wallet on the table and make Wallace one of the highest paid receivers in the league. A six-year, $70 million offer should be enough to do the trick. Setting Griffin up with Wallace balances out the lack of future draft picks.
3) Erin Henderson
70 tackles, 1.5 sacks, 2 FF
Inside linebacker Rocky McIntosh will be parting ways with the Redskins, leaving Perry Riley and (hopefully) London Fletcher in the middle of Washington's 3-4 defense.
Henderson, a 2008 undrafted free agent out of Maryland, was never given the chance to shine in Minnesota. The 25-year-old was an off-and-on starter for the Vikings 3-4 defense. His athleticism in coverage and lack of a deep free agency pool at the position, make Henderson a fit in D.C.
4) Tracy Porter
52 tackles, 1 INT, 2 FF
People tend to forget that it was Porter who was the main instrument on Gregg Williams' New Orleans defense that helped win the Saints a Super Bowl three seasons ago. The former second round pick forced two critical turnovers against Brett Favre and took a fourth quarter Peyton Manning pass 74-yards for a touchdown.
This isn't Larry Brown from the Cowboys or Desmond Howard from the Packers. Porter isn't a fluke. His value is down because he's had trouble staying healthy and struggled when coming off the field so often in Williams' scheme. I'm willing to take a chance on the 25-year-old Porter to compete with Josh Wilson for the second cornerback spot.
5) Brodney Pool
36 tackles, 1 INT
Most average NFL fans won't recognize the New York Jets safety, but Pool is as underrated as they come. I'm going to assume the Redskins will lose LaRon Landry and I am completely fine with that. Landry's too brittle and too shaky in deep coverage to commit millions too. Pool is an excellent centerfielder who shined a few seasons ago with the Cleveland Browns. By the way, the 27-year-old can also deliver licks, for those of you crying over Landry leaving.
Briefly, Five players the Redskins must resist
His price tag may come at a slightly lower price than Wallace's but Jackson is 29-years-old. His best seasons are not ahead of him. RGIII is not ready to take Washington deep into the playoffs next season. By the time Griffin reaches his full maturity level, Jackson will be 32-years-old. Just to compare, that's how old Santana Moss is now. And Moss has obviously declined at his job, like normal human beings do.
You NFL combine freaks may be obsessed with his 6-foot-5, 230 pound frame. But the Redskins have Fred Davis, Chris Cooley and Moss to go over the middle. Wallace is more of an ideal deep threat, Griffin's specialty.
He's a product of a system, like a three-point shooter at Duke. Plus he's literally an injury away from an amputation.
Yes, he's as ferocious as they come. I just don't know if the locker room is big enough for Finnegan and DeAngelo Hall's ego.If his price tag is somehow below $40 million, I would consider changing my mind. This guy is a loose cannon though. If he weren't, there's no way the Titans would let him go.
The Saints guard will come at too hefty of a price for my taste. One of the best parts about Shanahan is that he's able to make offensive linemen much better than they actually are through his scheme. Guards are for run blocking rather than pass protecting. I think 50-60 million for a run blocker would be a waste for Washington.
What are your thoughts? Tweet me.