The Redskins' need for a right tackle

January, 18, 2013
1/18/13
4:06
PM ET
Tyler Polumbus is eligible for free agency and was never a perfect solution for the Washington Redskins at right tackle to begin with. Sure, the Redskins' line had a good year with Polumbus starting on the right side. The Redskins led the league in rushing yards, so it obviously couldn't have been all bad. But the threat of running quarterback Robert Griffin III likely helped the line look better than it was. Pro Football Focus rated Polumbus the No. 77 tackle in the NFL in 2012.

The questions is the extent to which the cap-strapped Redskins can or need to make right tackle a priority in free agency or the draft, and I don't think you should be surprised if it turns out to be a low one.

There are a number of very good right tackles available in free agency, which could have the effect of diluting the market and landing someone very good in the Redskins' lap at a reasonable price. New England's Sebastian Vollmer heads the list along with Cincinnati's Andre Smith (who likely brings a bit too much knucklehead risk) and guys like Phil Loadholt. And even though they don't hold a first-round pick, it's not inconceivable that they could find a starting right tackle in the second or third round. Especially when you consider that Mike Shanahan's offense looks for specific kinds of linemen suited for zone-blocking, and not every team is looking for the same type of player.

But given the team's needs on defense in the secondary, and given the decisions that need to be made about the contract situations of key players such as Brian Orakpo, Fred Davis and Darrel Young, I wouldn't be surprised if they brought back Polumbus or found an even more economical solution than that. Shanahan told me in training camp, when people were still worried about whether Jammal Brown could stay healthy enough to play right tackle, that the important thing for him was health and continuity on the line -- that even if Polumbus might not be the same caliber player as Brown, he'd rather have him at 100 percent than wonder from week to week how much he could count on Brown. The Redskins believe that a large part of their offensive success this season was a product of starting the same five offensive linemen in 16 of their 17 games, and if Polumbus wants to come back at their price they could certainly talk themselves into the idea that the line isn't an area of the team that needs changing. And if he doesn't, they could talk themselves into the idea that they can find an adequate replacement.

Point is, given the salary cap problems the Redskins face because of the $18 million in league-imposed penalties they face again this season, they're going to have to prioritize. And they have so many needs at cornerback and safety, they're going to have to use resources to fix holes there. Positions like offensive line and wide receiver, where they could use some help, but did more than just get by in 2012, are likely to head to the back burner while the Redskins make budget-conscious decisions. So as much fun as it might be to shop on that good right tackle market, I doubt you should get your hopes up.

Dan Graziano

ESPN New York Giants reporter

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