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Offseason Forecast: Washington Redskins

With the offseason officially under way, Around The League will examine what's next for all 32 teams. The series continues with the Washington Redskins.

What's Changing

The biggest change in Washington is that the team finally has a winner again. It was a tale of two seasons in 2012; after a 3-6 start, the Redskins were all but done. Then, they reeled off a seven-game winning streak and won the NFC East -- in my mind, the NFL's biggest rivalry division -- for the first time since 1999.

In 2013, the team's fortunes hinge squarely on whether Robert Griffin III can be the same player he was before tearing his ACL for a second time and injuring his LCL. Griffin, 23, should be ready for Week 1, but it's anyone's guess at this point. Kirk Cousins has proven to be a fine backup in his stead, but Cousins isn't going to put up 4,015 total yards and 27 overall touchdowns like Griffin did in 2012. The coaching staff remains largely unchanged outside of new special teams coordinator Keith Burns, who played on the Broncos' two Super Bowl-winning teams, coached by Mike Shanahan, and later coached under him after his playing days ended.

Biggest Free Agents

»*TE Fred Davis:* Coming off a season-ending Achilles tear on the field and being one strike away from feeling NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell's wrath off the field, questions abound regarding Davis. Fewer teams will have an interest in pursuing Davis, but he's proven to be an important piece in the franchise's young offense. Will the Redskins ink him to a long-term deal?

»*LB Lorenzo Alexander:* You would think that Alexander would be rewarded for his Pro Bowl season as a special teamer with a new contract. He strengthened his case for a bigger deal by handling the transition to inside linebacker well.

»*DT/DE Kedric Golston:* Golston played in every game last season as a backup, and his durability provides the defensive line with needed consistency. Plus, he's versatile enough to play both the end and tackle spots. I don't see any reason why the team wouldn't keep him.

»*Other key free agents:* LB Rob Jackson, TE Logan Paulsen, S Madieu Williams, P Sav Rocca, CB Cedric Griffin, LB Chris Wilson.

What They Need

The Redskins need to fix the defense. Their pass defense ranked 30th in the NFL and 31st overall in touchdowns allowed. On third downs, they struggled to stop anybody. While defensive line is the Redskins' deepest position right now, their biggest offseason need is at safety. Sitting at roughly $4.7 million over the cap and without a first-round pick after giving up the farm to take Griffin at No. 2 in last year's draft, GM Bruce Allen and Shanahan will have to get creative in addressing that position.

The Redskins have long needed a true No. 1 receiver. Last season's combined production of Pierre Garcon, who had injury problems, and Santana Moss makes for a nice No. 1 wideout, but individually, they're not among the league leaders. Fans are clamoring for a big playmaker at receiver who can attract double teams and take the pressure off Griffin. The defensive backfield needs big-time help and talent, especially at safety, as does a thin offensive line.

Protecting RG3 is paramount. Look for the Redskins to draft an offensive lineman or two to shore up depth and versatility. The Redskins led the league in rushing at 169.3 yards per game, a high bar to set in year one of this new-look offense.

Offseason Crystal Ball

As they enter the second offseason of an $18 million cap hit hindering their plans, it's up to Allen and Shanahan to get resourceful with the roster. An interesting subplot to follow is whether the team extends a long-term offer to Brian Orakpo, who went down with a season-ending pectoral injury in Week 2. Orakpo's absence was noticeable, but given his injury history, the team likely has doubts about his long-term future.

Combine the team being $4.7 million over the cap with the league's $18 million reduction plus the lack of a first-round pick, and it's easy to say the Redskins won't be their typically aggressive selves this offseason. Still, this is Dan Snyder's team, and as long as he's running it, the Redskins are liable to make a big splash in free agency.

Follow Khalil Garriott on Twitter @khalilgarriott.

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