NFC East: will montgmoer

Rich Campbell of the Washington Times says Mike Shanahan's top free-agency priority should be fixing the Redskins' offensive line. Rich even offers a suggestion in the form of Ryan Harris, an oft-injured former Shanahan Bronco who looks as if he'll be free to pursue starting right tackle jobs outside of Denver and said on the radio recently that he'd enjoy playing for Shanahan again.

Fine. The Redskins do need to figure out who's playing right tackle. I think the most likely solution is to re-sign Jammal Brown, who (as Rich points out) improved in the second half of last season once his hip felt better and should be even better this year. But if they don't, Harris is a fine solution and they have some other options out there on the market for right tackle.

But I'm not sure I agree with the idea that offensive line has to be Shanahan's priority once free agency opens. I'd argue that the defensive line, which needs a nose tackle and probably at least one end, is the more important line to address. Further, I'm not sure (other than finding a right tackle) there's all that much work the Redskins can do on their offensive line. Trent Williams may have posted some disappointing sack numbers in 2010, but he was a rookie and the fourth overall pick in the 2010 draft. They're not about to give up on him after one season. They believe he's their future at the most critical line position, and he's going to be allowed to develop there.

Similarly, they like a lot of what they saw from Will Montgomery and Kory Lichtensteiger last year and plan to give them some more time to develop in the interior, either at the guard spots or if one takes over at center for Casey Rabach. Should that happen, they may need to go out and find a free-agent guard with zone-blocking experience, but I don't think it'd be ultra-wise to spend big dollars for a Harvey Dahl or Marshal Yanda when good guard options can likely be had for less and there aren't as many top nose tackles on the market.

The Redskins have a ton of holes, so it's easy to make the case either way. But while the offensive line underperformed last year, it's a work in progress, and Washington has reason to believe the pieces already in place can and will make some more progress in 2011. If it were me, I'd fix the defensive line before the offensive one.

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