by Grant PaulsenBy Grant Paulsen

The Redskins filled their biggest defensive need on the opening night of the NFL’s player movement period, agreeing to terms on a six-year contract with former New York Giants defensive tackle Barry Cofield.

According to a league source, the 27-year-old will make $6 million per season while being guaranteed $12.5 million over the life of his contract.

A defensive tackle in a 4-3 scheme in New York, Cofield is expected to anchor the defensive front in the Redskins’ 3-4 defense as the team’s new starting nose tackle.

The 6-foot-4, 306-pound interior lineman is a run-stuffing, block-attracting defender with a tireless motor. He posted career highs with 54 tackles and four sacks in 2010. The sixth-year veteran missed just one game in five seasons with the Giants.

Washington tried to solidify its nose tackle position a year ago by signing Ma’ake Kemoeatu, who had missed the entire 2009 season with an injury. But he wasn’t healthy enough to help the Redskins stuff the run and position became a major area of concern as the season progressed.

The 2010 Redskins’ rushed defense ranked 26th in the NFL as Washington yielded 4.6 yards-per-carry. Cofield’s addition should dramatically improve the club’s chances to better stuff the run.

He’ll also help the Redskins generate a better pass rush from the edges, just like he did in New York over the past five seasons (just ask Justin Tuck, Osi Yumenyora, Mathias Kiwanuka and Jason Pierre-Paul).

There is some curiosity about how true a nose tackle Cofield will be. Having only played in 4-3 schemes in the NFL, those questions will likely linger until games are played.