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2016 Free Agency Outlook: Inside Linebackers


With free agency set to begin in March,'s Stephen Czarda previews the 2016 NFL free agent class position-by-position. Today's focus is on the inside linebackers.

While the Washington Redskins make a move in free agency to bring back one of their two pending inside linebacker free agents, or will they bring in some new flavor to the position?

That will ultimately be decided by Redskins general manager Scot McCloughan starting this week, but the team will certainly have quite a few options on the market.

As it stands now, both Mason Foster and Keenan Robinson are set to become free agents this week.

Foster entered the starting lineup late during the Redskins' playoff push in place of an injured Perry Riley Jr. and excelled, as he totaled 32 tackles with a forced fumble and a fumble recovery in his five regular season starts.

Signed by the Redskins mid-season, Foster has the qualities McCloughan likes out of players.

"The thing I was lucky with was I always liked Mason when he came out," McCloughan told reporters in January at the Senior Bowl. "He was a football player through and through; a tough guy, big guy, smart guy."

Washington may ultimately re-sign Mason again, but the road back to the Redskins seems unlikely for Robinson.

After dealing with a nagging shoulder injury during the middle of the season, the University of Texas product would be used only sparingly down the stretch as Foster and Will Compton – an exclusive rights free agent to whom the Redskins last week reportedly extended a tender -- meshed well together in the middle of the defense.

"When he did come back that's when Compton was playing very well and we didn't want to take Compton [out]," Redskins head coach Jay Gruden said at the NFL Combine. "Keenan finished off strong for us, was good in the locker room. But I think he's going to hit free agency and probably land somewhere else."

Here are the players that will be unrestricted free agents come this week via

--Chi Chi Ariguzo, San Diego Chargers
--Jasper Brinkley, New York Giants
--Zach Brown, Tennessee Titans
--Donald Butler, San Diego Chargers

--Tank Carder, Cleveland Browns
--Chris Carter, Baltimore Ravens
--Audie Cole, Minnesota Vikings
--Kavell Conner, San Diego Chargers
--Demario Davis, New York Jets
--Dane Fletcher, New England Patriots
--Mason Foster, Washington Redskins
--Jerrell Freeman, Indianapolis Colts
--Erin Henderson, New York Jets
--Derrick Johnson, Kansas City Chiefs
--Steven Johnson, Tennessee Titans
--James-Michael Johnson, Miami Dolphins
--James Laurinaitis, Los Angeles Rams
--Jamari Lattimore, New York Jets
--Casey Matthews, Minnesota Vikings
--Joe Mays, San Diego Chargers
--Rolando McClain, Dallas Cowboys
--Shea McClellin, Chicago Bears
--Spencer Paysinger, Miami Dolphins
--Craig Robertson, Cleveland Browns
--Keenan Robinson, Washington Redskins
--DeMeco Ryans, Philadelphia Eagles
--Kelvin Sheppard, Miami Dolphins

Check out images of fourth-year linebacker Keenan Robinson during the 2015 offseason.

--Sean Spence, Pittsburgh Steelers
--Anthony Spencer, New Orleans Saints
--Andy Studebaker, Indianapolis Colts
--Danny Trevathan, Denver Broncos
--Jason Trusnik, Minnesota Vikings
--Sean Weatherspoon, Arizona Cardinals
--Dekoda Watson, New England Patriots

Trevathan could be the most targeted player among the group, as the 25-year-old is coming off a season in which he totaled 109 tackles with six passes defensed, two interceptions and a touchdown.

In 2013, the University of Kentucky product finished the season with 129 tackles and three fumbles forced.

Laurinaitis was a mainstay on the Rams' defense since being drafted in the second round of the 2009 NFL Draft, as he's started every game over the last seven years and has at least 100 tackles each season.

During the 2011 and 2012 seasons, Laurinaitis finished the season with 142 tackles

If the Redskins are interested in a player with the most experience, Derrick Johnson is available after 12 seasons with the Chiefs.

Johnson, a four-time Pro Bowler, rebounded from a torn Achilles suffered in the 2014 season opener by recording 116 tackles with four sacks, two interceptions and two fumbles forced in 2015.

Butler and Connor both have direct connections to Redskins defensive coordinator Joe Barry, who was at one time their linebacker coach while in San Diego.

2016 Free Agency Outlook

--Inside Linebackers (3/6)

--Tackles (3/7)

--Cornerbacks (3/8)

--Guard/Centers (3/8)

--Safeties (3/9)




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