NFC East: Vonnie Holliday

With the third pick in the sixth round of the NFL draft -- the pick they got from Minnesota last summer in return for quarterback Donovan McNabb -- the Redskins selected running back Alfred Morris from Florida Atlantic.

Morris is a strong, compact power runner who's only about 5-foot-9, and I have no idea how he'll factor into the Redskins' 2012 season because he's a sixth-round pick. But he's a different kind of back than the two they drafted last year -- Roy Helu and Evan Royster -- and he gets added to the offseason and training camp mix with them. The Redskins still want to bring back free agent Tim Hightower or, if he leaves, another veteran back or two because they believe it's important to have depth and they're not sold on Helu or Royster as a full-time starter at this point.

I just found it interesting because it was the McNabb pick. Couple of other notes of mild interest:

— With the seventh pick in this round, Arizona took cornerback Justin Bethel from Presbyterian. That was the pick the Redskins traded to Arizona, along with Vonnie Holliday, last summer for Hightower.

— The Redskins also hold the 23rd pick in this round (No. 194 overall) as a result of the trade with Pittsburgh that moved them down 10 spots in the fourth round earlier today.
Yeah, there was some traffic. Next time I'll take the train so I can work on the way down. Lesson learned. Or I need to hitch a ride with Mortensen on that bus he's got.

Anyway, some stuff happened while I was on the road, and I'm going to start with the Redskins, who made a couple of moves.

They traded 35-year-old defensive lineman Vonnie Holliday and a conditional draft pick to the Arizona Cardinals for 25-year-old running back Tim Hightower. I put the players' ages in there for good reason, since it's the latest illustration of what the Redskins are up to -- namely, getting younger and rebuilding with their eyes more on the future than on 2011. They've been remaking their defensive line with the additions of Barry Cofield and Stephen Bowen and the subtraction of Jeremy Jarmon and now Holliday. More moves might be coming there, and if they do, expect them to fit in with most of the moves the Redskins have been making -- moves for younger, hungry players who are already good and somewhat established but have room to grow as the team moves on into the future. Hightower enters the running back mix with Ryan Torain, Roy Helu and Evan Royster. He's got the most experience of that bunch, and Mike Shanahan likes having depth at the position. Sensible move that gets them younger overall and brings in something of a veteran presence at a position where they lacked it.

They re-signed right tackle Jammal Brown, who started slow last year in his first season with the team but improved in the second half as he became healthier, to a five-year, $27.5 million contract. This move was expected, though there was some thought they'd look elsewhere. (Denver's Ryan Harris had come up in some speculation.) Continuity is good for an offensive line, and Brown will return for a second year in Shanahan's zone-blocking scheme. Left-to-right, the Redskins' starting offensive line right now is Trent Williams, Kory Lichtensteiger, Will Montgomery, Chris Chester and Brown. Everybody but Chester from that group was on the team last year.

They also brought back H.B. Blades, who'll be a special-teamer and a backup for them at the inside linebacker spots. Depth is good, and with Lorenzo Alexander possibly moving inside to make room for first-round draft pick Ryan Kerrigan on the outside, the Skins have it.

The Redskins have had a very busy -- and I think a very good -- first week of free agency. They're not making the kinds of moves that make you think they'll just right into 2011 contention, because they likely won't. But in the second year of a five-year contract, Shanahan is building a team, and trying to do it the right way. And don't look now, but it appears Dan Snyder has been staying out of it. Just like he promised.

Podcast: Redskins Vonnie Holliday

July, 22, 2011
7/22/11
9:31
PM ET
Redskins defensive end and player representative Vonnie Holliday says that players will work through the weekend to get a deal done. Holliday also explains why he was unhappy with the owners' ratification of a CBA proposal.
Our position-by-position look at potential four-year unrestricted free agency rolls along, with a look at the defensive end position and the way the free-agent field could impact the NFC East. Now, with two 3-4 defense teams and two 4-3 defense teams in the division, we could be talking about a wide variety of types of defensive ends. But from here it looks as if the division's 3-4 teams have more of a need at the position than do the 4-3 teams. The Giants, for example, aren't going to need defensive end help unless they trade Osi Umenyiora and lose Mathias Kiwanuka in free agency. I don't expect either of those things to happen, let alone both. So...

NFC East teams in need

Cowboys: Marcus Spears, a starter last season before his injury, will be a free agent. So will Stephen Bowen, who took his place, and Jason Hatcher, who played in 13 games and started one. Even if they're counting on a bounce-back year from Igor Olshansky, the Cowboys will absolutely need to address the other defensive end spot. New defensive coordinator Rob Ryan has said he doesn't want to move nose tackle Jay Ratliff to end. But you have to wonder, if the better options are interior linemen, whether the Cowboys would go that way and rotate Ratliff and one or two new guys in and out of the nose tackle and end spots.

Redskins: Washington likes Adam Carriker at one of the end spots, and it's possible that second-round pick Jarvis Jenkins could emerge at a starter at the other one eventually. But asking Jenkins to start right away might be a bit too much, and if Kedric Golston is leaving as a free agent, they're left with 35-year-old Vonnie Holliday and 38-year-old Phillip Daniels. Depending on what they see out of Jeremy Jarmon and his knee, they could be in the market for some depth at this position.

Eagles: Trent Cole is a monster on the right side, but the question is on the left, where Juqua Parker is still penciled in as the starter and 2010 first-round pick Brandon Graham likely won't be healthy in time to start the season. There has been lots of talk about the Eagles adding a veteran pass-rusher opposite Cole, and it's possible new defensive line coach Jim Washburn has some ideas for potential targets.

Top five potential unrestricted free-agent defensive ends

1. Ray Edwards. After playing a strong second fiddle to better-known defensive stars Jared Allen and Kevin Williams over the past few seasons, Edwards is looking for a place to shine on his own as a pass-rusher. He'd be a great fit in the Eagles' defensive line rotation and would dramatically upgrade Philadelphia's pass rush.

2. Jason Babin. Lots of talk in Philly about a return for Babin, especially after he posted a career-high 12.5 sacks last season in Tennessee under Washburn. Babin is probably the kind of guy who needs to be in the right system to succeed, and there is concern that 2010 might have been the exception rather than the rule when it comes to Babin's ability to produce.

3. Charles Johnson. Nobody could have expected Johnson to replace Julius Peppers as well as he did in 2010, and for that reason it's probably very important for Carolina to retain him. If he hits the market, his 11.5 sacks from last season will catch plenty of teams' eyes.

4. Kiwanuka. When healthy, he's a versatile, frightening force who can be a pass-rushing 4-3 end or an outside linebacker. He's high on the Giants' priority list, but they have a lot of guys to re-sign and they probably aren't going to be able to get them all. Would Kiwaunka on the Eagles be among Giants fans' worst nightmares?

5. Shaun Ellis. Couldn't do this list for this division without putting a 3-4 end on it. Ellis had a brilliant playoff performance for the Jets and, even at age 33, likely has something to contribute for the short term. Might be a real nice fit in Washington with those younger guys.

Predictions that mean nothing: Eagles sign Edwards, Redskins sign Spears, Cowboys get a couple of guys, including Kansas City's Shaun Smith, who can be a run-stuffing 3-4 end and also rotate inside if they decide to move Ratliff around.
It's been a quarter of a century since Bill Parcells, Phil Simms, Lawrence Taylor and the Giants won their first Super Bowl. They gathered this weekend to celebrate the 25-year anniversary of that title, to mingle with fans and with each other and to marvel in retrospect at what they were able to accomplish together. Mark Bavaro summed it all up for The Star-Ledger:
"Even in 1990, when we won the second Super Bowl, there was the constant feeling that we might lose, we might lose," Bavaro said. "In 1986, it was always we were going to win, just by how much. Somebody pointed out that most of those games were very close. In my memory, I don't remember them being close because I never thought we were going to lose any of those games."

That Giants team and defense won the Super Bowl one year after the Chicago Bears nearly went undefeated and won theirs. They didn't get to knock off the champs themselves, as the Redskins defeated Chicago in the divisional round, but Bavaro's memory is better than that of whoever told him the games were close. The Giants beat the 49ers 49-3 in the divisional playoff round, whipped the Redskins 17-0 in the NFC Championship Game and then rolled the Broncos 39-20 in the Super Bowl. That's a combined 105-23 over three playoff teams. You can see why they might not have thought it was possible to lose.

More Giants

George Martin wasn't the happiest guy at the reunion. He's pouting because NFLPA chief DeMaurice Smith won't give him a meeting to discuss the role of retired players in the current labor dispute. Martin is the head of NFL Alumni, which is a retired player organization that is funded and supported by the NFL. Because of that association, Smith and the NFLPA, who hosted quite a few retired players at their annual meetings each of the past two years, do not trust or particularly like Martin's group. Martin made an appearance at the NFLPA meetings this year, but it wasn't a face-to-face meeting with Smith. It was an address to the group of retired players affiliated with the NFLPA, and word is they all gave him an earful about his connections to Roger Goodell and the league. It sounds like, if Martin's looking for a supportive ear, he's looking on the wrong side of the labor fight.

Dallas Cowboys

Rainer Sabin looks at the Cowboys' internal options at cornerback in case they get rid of one of their starters and don't sign Nnamdi Asomugha. Not a pretty picture, though Sabin agrees with the prevailing opinion that the team should and will address the safety position first.

The heart attack Godfrey Miles had last Wednesday took his life. He played six years with the Cowboys and was a starter during their run to the Super Bowl XXX title. RIP.

Philadelphia Eagles

The life of a free agent is a weird one during this lockout. At a charity softball game in Camden, N.J., Eagles safety Quintin Mikell mused on his future thusly to the Philadelphia Daily News: "We're so deep in the lockout I don't even care. I'm just worried about staying in shape and making sure I'm ready to go. Obviously, I would like to be back here with the Eagles, but at this point I'm not sure what their thinking is. I am fairly sure that there's going to be a lot of people interested in me if I hit the market so either way I'll be fine." Mikell isn't super-likely to be back in Philly, but his name has come up as an option for the Cowboys in their hunt for a safety.

Michael Vick gave the commencement speech at a school for at-risk kids and handed out a couple of $5,000 college scholarships. Again, think what you want, but...

Washington Redskins

Redskins.com looks at the recent success of rookie wide receivers in the league and what that might mean for draft picks Leonard Hankerson, Niles Paul and Aldrick Robinson. It's an interesting point, with guys like Dez Bryant, Mike Williams, Percy Harvin, Austin Collie and Jeremy Maclin as strong examples from the past two years. And given the Redskins' current situation at WR, the rookies are likely to get an opportunity to show what they can do. It's just...well, I don't want to be accused of being negative or anything, but ... isn't it tough for a receiver, rookie or otherwise, to do much without a quarterback?

And Vonnie Holliday joined the piling-on-Albert-Haynesworth party during a recent radio appearance. Question: Do you think it's possible that the piling on of Haynesworth will ever get to the point where he's a remotely sympathetic figure? I kind of thought it might last summer during the conditioning-drill fiasco, but the way the guy carried himself throughout the season prevented that. I doubt he's at all redeemable in the eyes of Washington fans, but you tell me.

All right. The kids need to eat before they go to school. You know I'll be back later, though. You can count on me.

Breaking down the DLs: Washington

April, 22, 2011
4/22/11
1:00
PM ET
Scouts Inc.'s Matt Williamson examines the defensive lines of each NFC East team. Today: Washington Redskins.

I am not going to include Albert Haynesworth as part of this defensive line because it seems unlikely that he will be on Washington’s roster next season.

Here is what the Redskins do have … and they need more.

It is possible that nose tackle is the biggest need on this team. Maake Kemoeatu was a raging failure after being signed as a free agent a year ago. Washington desperately needs a difference-maker in the middle of the defensive front. Anthony Bryant did show some promise finishing out the season in the middle.

The Redskins do have a solid starter in Adam Carriker, who fits Washington’s 3-4 scheme very well. Carriker could be primed for improvement next season. The Redskins also milked a fair amount of production from Vonnie Holliday and Phillip Daniels, but age is obviously a big factor with these two. Holliday was the superior player of the two, so if there is only room for one of these veterans, he would be the one to keep. Youngster Jeremy Jarmon has ability, but was drafted with the intent of using him as a strong-side end in a 4-3 scheme instead of Washington’s odd front. He might warrant snaps on passing downs. Kedric Golston could leave via free agency, and the Redskins might be better off letting him go after a poor 2010 campaign. The Redskins need to add at least one starter to their defensive line.

Scouts Inc. watches games, breaks down film and studies football from all angles for ESPN.com.

NFC East links: Newton to visit Redskins

March, 25, 2011
3/25/11
9:50
AM ET
Dallas Cowboys

What has been the Cowboys' biggest draft blunder since 2000?

Bob Sturm says LSU cornerback Patrick Peterson is one player he could see the Cowboys trading up to take in next month's draft.

New York Giants

Eli Manning's wife, Abby, gave birth on Monday to the couple's first child.

Former Giants coach Bill Parcells has taken a job as a draft analyst for ESPN.

Philadelphia Eagles

USA Today's Jim Corbett: "Instead of a placard bearing his name and organizational logo designating his table, Philadelphia Eagles coach Andy Reid might have been better served posting a sign at this week's owners meetings coaches breakfast that advertised: 'Gently-used starting quarterback. Best offer.'"

Running back LeSean McCoy is doing anything but endearing himself to Eagles fans during the lockout.

Washington Redskins

Vonnie Holliday is doing what he can to keep his teammates updated on the current labor situation.

Auburn quarterback Cam Newton is expected to take a pre-draft visit to Redskins Park next month.

NFC East links: Learning Ryan's scheme

March, 14, 2011
3/14/11
10:00
AM ET
Dallas Cowboys

Getting acquainted with new defensive coordinator Rob Ryan's scheme was a priority heading into the lockout.

Mickey Spagnola looks ahead to next month's draft.

New York Giants

Giants center Shaun O'Hara says he believes the players union was left with no choice but to decertify.

Osi Umenyiora reportedly "jumped at the chance" to be included in the lawsuit against the NFL owners.

Philadelphia Eagles

Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie and president Joe Banner in a letter to Eagles fans: "We want you to know our focus is on preparation for the 2011 season and we are going to continue to do everything we can to strengthen our football team."

Washington Redskins

Vinny Cerrato continues to break down film of potential draft picks, although he isn't currently working for an NFL team.

Redskins defensive end Vonnie Holliday expects players to get together during the lockout to work out.

Cost-cutting options for the Redskins

December, 22, 2010
12/22/10
11:53
AM ET
Former Washington Redskins salary cap specialist J.I. Halsell has analyzed the club's roster and come up with a list of players who could possibly be released or traded this offseason. Halsell also notes that Washington will be saving some money by demoting Donovan McNabb to third-string for the last two games:

"What is absolutely certain is that if McNabb is listed as the team's third quarterback for the final two games of the season, he will lose $31,250 for each of those games, because his contract contains a per-game roster bonus provision that is contingent upon him being on the 45-man active roster," writes Halsell.

Just think of all the wonderful moves the Skins can make if they're able to squirrel away an extra $62,500. It's the type of fiscally responsible decision that we can all celebrate during this blessed holiday season. Here's a look at the list Halsell provided in his blog item for the Washington Post. (The amounts are what the Redskins could save on a possible salary cap).

RB Clinton Portis: -$5,645,500

LB London Fletcher: -$4,900,000

QB Donovan McNabb: -$4,750,000

CB DeAngelo Hall: -$4,400,000

DT Albert Haynesworth: -$3,400,000

C Casey Rabach: -$3,000,000

NT Ma'ake Kemoeatu: -$2,500,000

OG Derrick Dockery: -$1,565,000

DE Adam Carriker: -$1,420,000

OG Artis Hicks: -$1,400,000

DE Phillip Daniels: -$1,250,000

DE Vonnie Holliday: -$1,250,000

TE Fred Davis: -$555,000

DE Andre Carter: $2,909,998

Thursday Morning Beastlines

November, 18, 2010
11/18/10
11:07
AM ET
Let's take a quick tour around the most fascinating division in the NFL this morning:

Cowboys
  • New York Giants defensive end Justin Tuck had some kind words for Dez Bryant: "He's just one of those players that every time he touches the ball, you have to have an account of where he is in every situation -- special teams, as a wide receiver, even when he's running a reverse. He's one those players that can beat you. They're going to do their best to get him the ball, but however they do it, he becomes the most dangerous person on the field when he has the football. But we knew that, we understand that he's a great talent."
Eagles
  • Les Bowen of the Daily News says we never saw it coming with quarterback Michael Vick back in training camp.
  • As the Daily News' talented NFL man Paul Domowitch knows, it never hurts to lead with a Rodgers and Hammerstein reference. For the under-40 crowd, go rent "Oklahoma!" and try to figure out what the hell's going on during that dream sequence.
Giants
Redskins

Monday Beastlines: Hurd's uncertain future

May, 17, 2010
5/17/10
10:35
AM ET
Dallas Cowboys

Sam Hurd's future with the Cowboys seems a little bit unclear.

Patrick Crayton won’t be in attendance for this week's voluntary OTAs.

David Moore of The Dallas Morning News shares his thoughts on why the Cowboys are taking their time before giving Miles Austin a new deal.

New York Giants

Giants chairman Steve Tisch touches on a variety of topics in a Q&A with the New York Post.

Philadelphia Eagles

DeSean Jackson hosted a speed camp for kids over the weekend.

Sheil Kapadia of Philly.com weighs in on the Eagles' best offseason move so far.

Washington Redskins

Redskins owner Daniel Snyder says the changes have the team pointed “in the right direction.”

The Redskins are hoping Brian Orakpo can increase his sack total from a year ago.

The Redskins have come to terms on a contract with veteran defensive end Vonnie Holliday.

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