The Washington Redskins are a historically successful franchise that has fallen on hard times. Since their founding in 1932 they have won five championships, including 3 Super Bowls during the Joe Gibbs era in the 1980s. Since Gibbs left the Redskins have struggled to regain any sense of competitiveness. They have won just 2 playoff games since the 1993 season, and they don’t look like winning one anytime soon.
Current head coach Jay Gruden took over in 2014 and has a 35-44-1 in his five year tenure. He has claimed one NFC East title, but with a 9-7 record in 2015 it was hardly a brilliant season. After the 2017 season the Redskins allowed quarterback Kirk Cousins to leave the team in free agency after four solid years as the teams starter. The result was that they had to trade for veteran Alex Smith who was less impressive under center.
Gruden’s rein as head coach doesn’t seem to be on shaky ground, but with the team stuck in the middle of the NFL it is unclear when the Redskins will return to prominence as the road to competitiveness is a long one. Fortunately, in Madden 19 you have the opportunity to lift the Redskins back to their previous heights and claim a fourth Super Bowl triumph with them in Franchise Mode.
The Redskins start Franchise Mode with an 80 overall rating. That’s not bad, but it is far from the best. That overall score is made up from an 85 rated offense and an 81 rated defense. That suggests that the Redskins main issue is a lack of depth and individual superstars rather than a gross lack of talent in any one department. So how can you solve these issues to bring the Redskins back to a competitive level? Let’s start by taking a look at the teams salary cap situation.
Washington Redskins Salary Cap
The Redskins start Franchise Mode with a massive 73 players on the roster and $48.2 million in cap space. That’s a relatively healthy place to be in as the cap room will allow you to sign one or two marquee free agents and retain most of the players you want to and you also don’t have to make any roster cuts for financial reasons straight away.
You will need to cut 20 players from the Redskins roster to make it to the 53-man regular season limit. Fortunately, there are 32 players on the roster that can be cut without incurring any cap penalty. Making your cuts should open up around $4-6 million in cap space, and you can save even more by cutting some unnecessary veterans like Adrian Peterson and Ty Nsekhe.
Washington Redskins Impending Free Agents
The Redskins have 29 players entering the final year of their contract. Most of these players can be allowed to leave in free agency without a worry, but there are some that will need to be re-signed or have a succession plan in place to fill the gap they leave in your roster.
The first player you need to plan for is Ha Ha Clinton-Dix. The free safety came over in a trade from Green Bay and is easily the teams best safety. At 25 and 83 OVR Clinton-Dix is a very solid safety option and one that you should look to retain so as not to add free safety to the long list of needs this team has.
After dealing with Clinton-Dix the next player you should look to re-sign is outside linebacker Preston Smith. Another 25-year-old, Smith is a starter for the Redskins, who don’t have a deep rotation at edge rusher. Even if your draft scouting shows a star pass rusher that you’d like to go after you should still retain Smith to be part of your rotation, especially since the #3 outside linebacker Pernell McPhee is also an impending free agent.
Jamison Crowder is the top offensive impending free agent for the Redskins. The wide receiver is #2 on their depth chart and one of 5 wide receivers that will be hitting free agency after season 1. Another 25-year-old, Crowder is a solid player with good athleticism that should be retained with an eye to making him the #3 or #4 receiver in two years time. If you are a particularly run-heavy player or prefer to throw to tight ends and running backs then I can understand letting him go, but for most players Crowder will be a necessity to keep the offensive moving in season 2.
Other key impending free agents: Pernell McPhee (OLB), Ty Nsekhe (RT), Robert Kelley (HB), Jonathan Cooper (G)
Washington Redskins Roster Needs
The first job of any player taking over the Redskins is to find a long-term answer at quarterback. Alex Smith is 34 years old and has a 79 OVR. Behind that is a complete lack of a downfield arm which seriously limits the kind of offense you can run on Madden.
Quality quarterbacks almost never hit free agency, so finding one in the draft is your only chance of getting someone to really build around. It will take a lot of scout resources and potentially trading up in the draft to get your guy, but most draft classes have at least one quality option at quarterback.
Once you have your plan in place the rest should come together on offense. The combination of Chris Thompson and Derrius Guice provide a threat on the ground while Jordan Reed and Paul Richardson can threaten in the passing game. A star wide receiver would be a welcome addition, but only once you have your quarterback in place.
The Redskins offensive line is anchored by the terrific talents of left tackle Trent Williams and right guard Brandon Scherff. The left guard spot could use an upgrade but otherwise the Redskins offensive line is not something you need to worry about, meaning you have the platform to run any kind of offense you want to.
Defensively the Redskins are less capable. They have invested heavily in the defensive line in the past few years, giving them a pair of talented players in Jonathan Allen and Da’Ron Payne, while Matthew Ioannidis takes the other defensive end spot. That’s a very good front 3 to play with while Ryan Kerrigan is their star pass rusher at outside linebacker. The Redskins defense is well-established as a 3-4 front, so changing it wouldn’t make too much sense, meaning you need to find yourself some more big men to spell your starters up front and another pass rushing outside linebacker. There are several options that could be available in free agency like Jadeveon Clowney and Dee Ford, but if they don’t make it to the open market you’ll have to use the draft to get someone in. If you do end up having to make a big trade for a quarterback then leaving this spot to Preston Smith may be necessary.
The Redskins have some solid middle linebackers in Zach Brown, Mason Foster, and Reuben Foster, but none are standout players so finding more talent there would be good. The secondary is really the biggest need defensively though. Josh Norman is the top cornerback at 82 OVR but that’s far from great and at 30 years old he won’t get any better. Even if you keep hold of Clinton-Dix you will need a safety to pair next to him, so signing a veteran defensive back and then trying to find developmental players in the draft should be your focus after you solve the quarterback position.
The Redskins are not a competitive side at the start of Franchise Mode, but they aren’t as far away as many fear. Alex Smith is good enough for a strong Madden 19 player to win with, but it won’t be easy. If you can draft a rookie and put a lot of training time into developing his skills then this offense will become a points machine, allowing some pressure off the defense which can then take some time to grow. The Redskins have a tough division to get through, but with some careful scouting and smart spending in free agency they can be restored to the top of the NFL.