Redskins resign OT Jammal Brown, acquire RB Tim Hightower via trade

Even as the “Wild West-esque free agency period seems to be slowing down, the Redskins seemingly spent the weekend shoring up a couple of key spots on their roster.

First, the Redskins took care of “one of their own” – almost a novelty in comparison to the days when the team was run by Vinny Cerrato – re-signing Offensive Tackle Jammal Brown to a 5 year, $27.5 million deal. Even while drawing interest from Arizona, Kansas City, and Chicago, Brown wanted to remain in Washington, and the Redskins obliged.

“My heart was here with the Washington Redskins and I believe in the chemistry Mike Shanahan is building,” Brown said in a telephone interview Sunday evening. “He’s a Super Bowl coach and I think we can win a Super Bowl, too. We started something special last year. I want to be a part of that.”

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After coming off an injury to the labrum in his left hip, causing him to miss a large portion of the 2009 season, Brown struggled for a good portion of 2010, continuing to experience discomfort in that hip while learning to push off from it as part of playing Right Tackle. Still, as the season went on, and Brown became better acquainted with the Redskins offense and playing Right Tackle within the offense, his play noticeably improved towards the end of the season.

Having a healthier Brown, in addition to newly signed guard Chris Chester, gives the Redskins a completely revamped look on the right side of their offensive line. Chester is already familiar with offensive line coach Chris Foerster’s scheme (Foerster was the offensive line coach for the Ravens from ’05-’07), and Brown obviously has a year of experience within the scheme as well, one of the biggest reasons Mike Shanahan wanted to bring Brown back.

If Brown really is healthy, the Redskins could be getting an outstanding player for a relatively modest price, given what is current market value for stalwart offensive tackles. Brown was a Pro Bowl selection in 2006, and was once considered one of the game’s true up-and-coming tackles. He’s an absolute mauler with a mean streak when healthy, so even though the transition to the right side has been somewhat difficult for him, it’s a position where he fits very well.

In addition to re-signing Brown, the Redskins also acquired Running Back Tim Hightower from the Arizona Cardinals, in exchange for Defensive End Vonnie Holliday and a conditional late-round draft pick that’s based upon playing time.

Hightower is entering his fourth season in the NFL. He lead the Cardinals in rushing in 2010 with 736 yards on 153 attempts (4.8 avg.), and had five rushing touchdowns. He was overlooked coming out of the University of Richmond (he wasn’t even invited to the NFL Scouting Combine) due to being somewhat of a a “tweener” (at 6’0 & 222lbs, too big for a running back and too small for a fullback), but he’s been a productive runner in his short NFL career to date. In 48 career games (including 36 starts), Hightower has rushed for 1,733 yards and 23 touchdowns on 439 carries, and also has 118 receptions for 801 yards.

Hightower is a more no-nonsense, “three yards and a cloud of dust”-type runner. He’s not going to wow anyone with his speed or moves in the open field, but he’s the type of running back who will take what’s given to him, instead of dancing around and ending up taking a loss. However, he’s also been known to put the ball on the ground a bit more often than coaches would like, which also briefly found him a place in Cardinals’ coach Ken Wisenhut’s “doghouse” last season; over the past two years, Hightower has had nine fumbles, with eight of them being recovered by the other team.

Similar to the situation at Wide Receiver, the acquisition of Hightower, coupled with the addition of a couple of players through the draft, creates a bit of a logjam at the running back position. The Redskins already have Ryan Torain as the incumbent starter, and draft picks Roy Helu Jr. and Evan Royster as Torain’s back-up; Keiland Williams was moved to fullback during this this training camp. So adding Hightower to this mix (via trade, no less) means that Helu and Royster will likely be fighting for the 3rd running back spot, with the loser of the battle likely ending up on the practice squad.


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