The Washington Redskins head into Free Agency and this year’s draft with $64 million in cap space and major needs up front on defense. It would be easy for the team to solve those needs in free agency, but also would be a lot more expensive in terms of salary cap structure. The team needs at least two defensive tackles and a defensive end as they attempt to build their defensive front after finishing near the bottom of the league against the rush last season. With a free agency market and draft pool full of capable players who fit Washington's wants, the team should be able to improve this offseason.

Defensive lineman are expensive in free agency

Defensive end and tackle are two of the only positions in football that the salary is somewhat near what the quarterbacks make. In comparison, the franchise tag for defensive ends for 2017 is $16.934 million, for defensive tackles, it’s $13.387, while quarterbacks will get $21.268 million for a first-year tag. The top paid defensive tackle, Ndamukong Suh, makes an average of $19.062 million a year on a deal he signed in 2015, and the top paid defensive tackles in this year’s free agent pool while likely be paid more than $17 million per year.

Again in comparison, the number 17 pick (Washington’s current pick) in last year’s draft was determined by sliding scale to have a maximum contract total of $10,748,913 over a four-year period (little under 3 million a year).

Now keep in mind that the number in the max contract total continues downward as the draft goes on, as the numbers continue to decrease you can then see why the draft would be the more economical path. The Redskins could select two good defensive tackles and an end in the first three rounds of the draft, and pay all three less than they would pay former Ravens defensive tackle Brandon Williams, who is currently a free agent.

The Redskins must approach free agency and the draft with a plan

Once the Redskins sign their own free agents they intend to bring back including quarterback Kirk Cousins who they intend to sign long-term, it will then be time to move forward with the offseason plan. In order for the plan to work out the way the Redskins need it to, they should sign one or two defensive players via free agency, and then draft the rest of their needs.

Free agent names that could fit the Redskins needs and won't completely break the bank include Bennie Logan and Calais Campbell. With names like Carlos Watkins, Malik McDowell, Caleb Brantley, Jaleel Johnson and Chris Wormley floating around the defensive lineman draft board the Redskins would be cheating themselves to not take advantage of that heavy prospect list.

The Redskins current needs include two defensive tackles, defensive end, inside linebacker, safety, cornerback, guard and wide receiver if one or both DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garcon leave.

If the Redskins are going to successfully build their defense into a powerhouse this offseason they must have General Manager Scot McCloughan at his best.

Recently, the often wrong and inflammatory radio programming in the nation’s capital have targeted McCloughan with their normal ‘bring him down’ rumor mill that other former players/employees of the Redskins have also felt the wrath of in the past. McCloughan has denied all the rumors and says that even though a recent death in his family is keeping him away from the combine, he’s still watching film and will be back at Redskins Park soon.