Washington Prepared for 2016 Season
Defending the NFC East Title
The Washington Redskins finished the 2015 with a 10-6 record and the NFC East title for the second year running. The 'Skins won five of their last six to leave their rivals behind with the rest of the division unable to finish with a winning record. The team overcame tough losses and even suspensions from the league to earn a playoff appearance which saw them host the Arizona Cardinals. Unfortunately they would fall 21-13 to a strong Cardinals side and the campaign was over. The Redskins were able to go 5-1 in the division with the only loss coming to the Giants in week one when they fell short by a point.
The off-season came and the Redskins were active in building their squad for 2016. The team resigned veteran line backer Donald Butler to a lucrative seven year deal which will surely see him end his career in Washington. The first trade was with the New Orleans Saints where the team agreed to send their fifth round pick in exchange for 352lbs defensive tackle Kwame Geathers who will see some game time rotating in as the number three defensive tackle this season. Geathers was a former fourth round pick who is entering his second season in the GZL. The team opted to let veteran tackle Vernon Carey go after one season, the team filled the gap by trading for veteran tackle Jared Gaither from Baltimore. The thirty year old is a exceptional blocker and will provide great protection from the right side. The team decided to send long time safety LaRon Landry to the Jacksonville Jaguars for a future pick, the team needed to free cap space and Landry's trade helped ease pressure. The last deal was with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers when both kicker Shayne Graham and defensive tackle Terrell McClain were also traded for cap reasons in exchange for future draft picks.
Noteable cuts were Andre Johnson, Reggie Bush, Larry English and Siona Fua. Fading skills and unattractive contracts were the reasons behind the players releases. The Washington Redskins opened up the cheque book and made big offers to numerous free agents. New York Giants Safety Carlos Brown was the first to sign with the team on a five year deal. Sources close to Brown state the assurance of starting on a division leading team was to much to pass along with the inflated contract. Cornerback Zackary Bowman signed soon after, leaving Chicago where he played his six seasons and comes off a eleven interception Pro Bowl season. The thirty-one year old signed a one year deal and brings veteran leadership and deadly hands which will ease the loss of DeAngelo Hall. Another big offer was made to Tampa Bay kicker Rhys Lloyd and he soon signed, joining the team to replace long time kicker Shayne Graham who's kicking power has diminished over the years. Lloyd brings a strong and accurate leg which will give Washington more opportunities of scoring. The next two players to sign were a couple of Phildelphia Eagles. Big defensive tackle Phil Taylor and tight end D.J. Williams leave Philly and join a rival which will surely cause some tension between the teams in their upcoming clashes. Taylor is a former first round pick who has yet to live up to his draft position as he now joins his third team in six years. Williams is a moderately agile receiver with exceptional hands who will give Henne a sure target. The final player to sign was former Cleveland punter Gregory Kelly, who signed a five year deal and will become the Redskins punter right away.
Draft day arrived and the Redskins held valuable picks to add to the roster. However with the free agent splurge cap room was tight and decisions had to be made. The Redskins were on the clock with the twenty-second overall pick but opted to trade out, the Houston Texans agreeing to send their future first along with two mid third round picks. The first rookie to join the team was wide out James Mayes, at only 5'10" and 196lbs Mayes offers lightning agility and great hands for a youngster. He is expected to train hard on his speed over the off-season to help compliment the other bigger body receivers already on the squad. The team needed a starting safety and added Chester Truman who is 6'0" and 206lbs but he is also a very quick and mobile defender who will be able to close the gap. He is expected to start at strong safety. The next rookie was line backer Larry Ulrich who is a big strong enforcer who will see time behind Donald Butler.
Washington still has a couple of holes to fill until the squad is complete but the feeling around the facility is positive. The team is building a winning culture and they expect nothing less than a division championship. The rivals have all had strong off-seasons and will be as competitive as ever but the Redskins know they can get the best of them. A young receiving corp will need to play beyond its experience, Chris Johnson will have to make plays even after losing a step, the expensive free agents will need to perform to make the Redskins lucrative deals worthwhile. The Washington Redskins are ready for 2016 and are eager to take the next step towards Super Bowl glory.