Washington Redskins  


There's only one place to go for Redskins, and that's up

Sharon Ellman / Associated Press
Despite the much-ballyhooed Donovan McNabb trade, the Redskins opted to start Rex Grossman late last season.

The Washington Redskins enter yet another offseason surrounded by key personnel questions. Improvement will be expected in coach Mike Shanahan's second season, but the reality is for the better part of a decade this franchise has been mired near the basement of the NFC East, unable to sustain any momentum or improvement over any substantial period of time.

In January and February, NFL.com took a look at the five pressing questions facing each team as it heads into the offseason.

AFC East:
» Buffalo Bills: Must remedy draft failures
» Miami Dolphins: Need to overcome awkwardness
» New England Patriots: Issues start on defense
» New York Jets: Rocky road to reach Super Bowl
AFC North:
» Baltimore Ravens: Immense pressure on Flacco
» Cincinnati Bengals: Distractions cloud team's future
» Cleveland Browns: New coach faces no easy fix
» Pittsburgh Steelers: Father Time is biggest hurdle
AFC South:
» Houston Texans: Big issues on defense
» Indianapolis Colts: Big decisions on key players
» Jacksonville Jaguars: Same issues haunt team
» Tennessee Titans: Big void at QB with Young gone
AFC West:
» Denver Broncos: Defense will dictate offseason
» Kansas City Chiefs: Sustaining is next challenge
» Oakland Raiders: Team has hope, questions
» San Diego Chargers: Bolts aim to bounce back
NFC East:
» Dallas Cowboys: More holes to fill than coach
» New York Giants: Many lingering questions
» Philadelphia Eagles: More drama on horizon
» Washington Redskins: Huge problems to tackle
NFC North:
» Chicago Bears: Cutler opens deep bag of issues
» Detroit Lions: Closing in on respectability
» Green Bay Packers: Champs face tricky offseason
» Minnesota Vikings: Uncertainty surrounds team
NFC South:
» Atlanta Falcons: Need help to take next step
» Carolina Panthers: Plenty of room to improve
» New Orleans Saints: Time to tackle backfield, D
» Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Next step won't be easy
NFC West:
» Arizona Cardinals: QB quandary still an issue
» San Francisco 49ers: Must settle QB situation
» Seattle Seahawks: Playoff run can't hide issues
» St. Louis Rams: Reason for optimism

With that in mind, here are five huge questions facing Shanahan and company:

1. Who will be the QB?

The perpetual pursuit of stability at the most critical position continues. Donovan McNabb was devalued as an asset to the point where a trade will be nearly impossible (interested teams will likely wait until he's released) and Rex Grossman over 16 games, much less 18 games, would be ugly. They'll draft a quarterback at some point, but long for quantity and quality.

2. Has Haynesworth left the building?

Players and coaches are sick of the drama regarding Albert Haynesworth, but Shanahan has continued to play hardball with him and only he controls when the lineman is gone. Like with McNabb, trade value has only diminished over time, and teams that could have some interest (like Minnesota, Detroit, Philadelphia and Tennessee) might just be inclined to wait on him to be released. Building a winning program with this massive, almost-daily, distraction might prove impossible and Shanahan faces interesting choices here as well.

3. Where to start on the offensive line?

Short of second-year tackle Trent Williams, this unit remains in disarray. Tackle Jammal Brown remained a perpetual injury concern, Shanahan flip-flopped guards looking for better production and center Casey Rabach is getting close to the end. Again, short on draft picks, the Redskins face a daunting task of trying to get a long-decaying position group up to par. They need help on the interior and the edge.

4. Who stays and who goes?

Long-term veteran starters like corner Carlos Rogers, linebacker Rocky McIntosh and receiver Santana Moss are staring at free agency, while running back Clinton Portis would have to take a massive pay cut to stay. The Redskins must continue to overhaul the skill positions and figure out which of their own free agents, if any, are really part of the future.

5. How much are they paying?

A year ago -- fresh off being burned by Haynesworth and with the free-agent class older and lacking star power -- the Redskins wisely shunned the big-ticket signings that have come to define the franchise. But following another last-place finish in the division, will they return to the heavy-spending ways? And will that include shipping out more draft picks for veterans via trade (another tactic that has let them down regularly through the years)? Shanahan put together the oldest roster in the NFL to start the 2010 season. Simply put, the team lacks young impact players. Acquiring them in ways other than the draft will be tricky, and both Shanahan and owner Dan Snyder have a history of making huge free-agent splashes that have often come up far short.

Follow Jason La Canfora on Twitter @jasonlacanfora.



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