Offseason moves: The RG3 deal

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Offseason moves: The RG3 deal

While the offseason has another two and a half weeks to go, its safe to say that offseason personnel and coaching moves are pretty much over. There might be a minor trade or a waiver wire pickup here or there but the cake is mostly baked.So before training camp starts, lets take a look back at the five biggest moves of the offseason. Well count them down in order of how important they were. Earlier, we looked at the hiring of Raheem Morris and the roster decisions made at the start of free agency, the signings of wide receivers Pierre Garon and Josh Morgan, and the re-signing of London Fletcher. Today we wrap up the series examining the biggest move the Redskins made not only this year but one of the biggest in their history, the decision to trade for the draft pick that became Robert Griffin III.By the time the 2011 season ended it was apparent that the Redskins were, once again, in need of a quarterback. The decision to go with Rex Grossman and John Beck at the position was a disaster.Grossman started 13 games and while he had some good moments he turned the ball over at least once in every game. In all, he threw 20 interceptions and lost five fumbles. The Redskins were 5-8 in the games he started.They were 0-3 in Becks starts. The middle game of the three was the worst, a 23-0 whitewashing at the hands of the Bills. It was the first shutout of Mike Shanahans career as a head coach.Not only did the Redskins have issues at quarterback but they also play in a division where the other teams were rolling out top-notch quarterbacks every week. The Giants Eli Manning is a two-time Super Bowl MVP, Tony Romo of Dallas is the king of the fourth-quarter comeback, and Phillys Mike Vick has the deadly combination of a rifle arm and blinding speed.Washingtons 5-11 record earned them the sixth pick of the draft. That was too far back to get either one of the top two quarterbacks in the draft, Andrew Luck or Robert Griffin III. There were some safe options out there, such as staying put in the draft and taking Ryan Tannehill or Brandon Weeden. Free agents like ex-Packers backup Matt Flynn were on the market.But without a bold move, the Redskins again would go into 2012 with the worst quarterback situation in the division and they would be stuck in that position for the foreseeable future.They had two bold moves in mind. One was to make a run at Peyton Manning if, as everyone expected, the Colts released him rather than pay him a 28 million option bonus. For a while in late January and early February many had Manning in burgundy and gold.But he was not the only option. During the NFL Combine in late February, Griffin allayed concerns about his height as he was officially measured 6 2-38 and blazed through the 40 with a time of 4.38. Along with his impressive film from his Heisman Trophy season at Baylor, the combine propelled him to the second pick in the draft behind Luck.The question became, who would draft him? The Rams had the second pick but they were committed to Sam Bradford as their QB. A number of quarterback-needy teams in the top half of the draft were said to be interested in moving up. Along with the Redskins, the Browns, Dolphins and others were mentioned as possible trade partners with the Rams.On March 7, the Colts released Manning and other teams quickly jumped ahead of the Redskins in the competition for the 36-year-old future Hall of Fame QBs services.With all parties wanting to get a deal done before free agency started on March 13, the Rams told any interested parties to make their best offer for the No. 2 pick. There would be no counteroffers; one big, the best one wins.The Redskins won by putting up their first round picks in 2012, 2013, and 2014 and their second round pick in 12. An organization desperate to find a franchise quarterback gambled a good chunk of its future that RG3 was the guy.

Kirk Cousins is excited about Jamison Crowder's growth, Josh Doctson's potential

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Kirk Cousins is excited about Jamison Crowder's growth, Josh Doctson's potential

Kirk Cousins says he's excited about up-and-coming receivers Jamison Crowder and Josh Doctson and what they'll add to the Redskins’ offense in 2016.

Cousins expects Crowder, who turns 23 next month, to make a significant jump in his second NFL offseason following a breakout rookie campaign.

“It’s a little bit of confidence and common sense, but when it’s your second year and you caught [that] many passes in your first year, you come in a little more confident and sure of yourself and you know what it means to be a pro now,” Cousins said.

A year ago at this time, Crowder was competing with veteran Andre Roberts for the slot receiver role. This offseason, all of those reps will belong to Crowder, who finished third on the team in catches (59) and receiving yards (604) in 2015.

The chemistry between Cousins and Crowder was apparent during Wednesday's practice, the first session of the spring open to media. On multiple occassions, Cousins completed tough passes to the shifty, 5 foot 8 playmaker as he was in full stride.

“All of that lends itself to taking another step forward,” Cousins added. “He’s a great teammate, smart player, has a natural sense of how to get open, how to run different option routes and choice routes, great natural hands and is really good after the catch pulling away from people. So, just add him of guys who we are excited about being able to throw to.”

The newest addition to that list, of course, is Doctson. Although Doctson, 23, was limited a bit this week due to a sore Achilles’ tendon, Cousins is already well aware of what the TCU product will bring to the Redskins’ offense.

Last season, tight end Jordan Reed was Washington’s biggest red zone threat. Now, Cousins will have Doctson, who is 6 foot 2, 206-pounds with a 41-inch vertical, as an option, as well.

“I went back and watched some of his highlights from TCU, and he is a special player,” Cousins said. “Looks like he can make the contested catch. It’s very natural for him to go up and catch that type of pass. He can run well. He has got great size. I almost thought he was a tight end when he showed up because if his size …having a guy like Josh could also be a great weapon in the red zone.”

The challenge for Docston over the remaining seven OTA practices will be getting more comfortable with the playbook so he can hit the ground running in Richmond. The challenge for Cousins will be identifying Doctson’s strengths and weaknesses, so he can develop the type of connection he already has with the other pass-catchers on the roster. 

“We’ll try to build that chemistry as he’s here and as we can work together and just learn what he does well and what fits him, what he is natural at and try to get him the football,” Cousins said. “We certainly can spread it around with all the talent at the outside positions.”

Which, obviously, is another challenge for Cousins, who now must find a way to keep Crowder, Doctson, Reed, DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garcon happy. That, however, is an issue for another blog post. 

Redskins teammates give Jordan Reed a hard time for new big-money contract

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Redskins teammates give Jordan Reed a hard time for new big-money contract

It all happened for Jordan Reed in 2015. He mostly stayed healthy - able to start 14 of 16 games - and played every game with the same quarterback in Kirk Cousins. The results broke Redskins records, as Reed hauled in 87 passes for nearly 1,000 yards and 11 touchdowns.

Reed put up elite numbers for the tight end position, and in early May, the team paid Reed like an elite tight end. He signed a five-year, $46.5 million extension that will run through 2021, numbers that place Reed with the third-highest annual salary in the NFL.

His Redskins teammates noticed. It's common practice around the NFL for players to congratulate a new contract, and then promptly go into razz mode. It's part of the deal with getting a large contract extension, and Reed was no exception.

Asked if he had heard about his new contract during the Redskins OTA sessions this week, Reed smiled and confessed (full video above).

"I fell down yesterday and they were talking junk, ‘We ain't pay you 50 to fall down’ and things like that," Reed said on Wednesday. "They all over me man but it’s all fun."

The "50" in reference would be $50 million, so looks like the Redskins players are rounding up on Reed's deal. Plus, saying 50 is a lot easier than 46.5. More importantly, Reed knows the extra attention is meant in a fun way, and as other players have been asked about Reed's deal, all say the young tight end deserves it all.

"With Jordan Reed, you know he was so talented last year I mean how do you build on a season where you were as successful as he was?" Cousins said. "We would love to be able to develop sustained success where it is not just a one year flash in the pan and I think that is the challenge and message not just to Jordan but a lot of people."

Cousins' statement echoed the voices of many at Redskins Park. This team wants to prove that the success of 2015 was not a fluke, from GM Scot McCloughan and head coach Jay Gruden all the way down to the bottom of the roster.

And Reed is no different. On Wednesday Reed went deep on a wheel route, at least 30 or 40 yards downfield, and Cousins threw to him. The ball was slightly out of reach, yet Reed still fully extended and dove for the ball. In May. In OTAs.

"I can’t help it," Reed said when asked if the coaches and front office would want their new highly compensated tight end laying out for a ball in the offseason.

"I see the ball in the air and my instincts take over," he said. "I'm gonna go hard in practice."

Certainly Reed's size and skill were key to his new contract, but that attitude played a large role as well. 

 

 

Redskins' David Bruton excited to get 'first crack' at starting safety job

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Redskins' David Bruton excited to get 'first crack' at starting safety job

Safety David Bruton Jr. had options on the free agent market, but he ultimately chose Washington for one big reason: with the Redskins, he'd get the opportunity to compete for a starting job.

“We definitely have some competition back there, but I am blessed enough to have the first crack at it,” Bruton said this week. “Being in my eighth year, I was definitely looking to be more than just special teams ace and defensive role player. I felt like this was the best opportunity [to start], and I’m happy to be here.“

“I’m here to make this a new home,” he added, “and make my name known here.”

Well, so far, so good.

During Wednesday’s OTA practice, DeAngelo Hall occupied one safety position with the first-team defense and Bruton lined up at the other. The other player in the mix, Duke Ihenacho, worked with the second team.

Coach Jay Gruden hinted that Hall has been penciled in as one starter and that Bruton and Ihenacho are in competition at the other spot. Gruden, though, also made it clear that it’s awfully early in the offseason and that a lot can change.

“I always say that’s the beauty of a pencil—you got an eraser,” Gruden said. “We had to start somewhere.”

Listed at 6 foot 2, 225-pounds, Bruton, who spent the past seven seasons as a backup/special teams standout in Denver, is biggest defensive back on the roster. In 104 games with the Broncos, he made eight starts, including a career-high three last season. Ihenacho, meantime, won the starting job in Washington last offseason but suffered a season-ending wrist injury in the opener. Interestingly, Bruton and Ihenacho were teammates in Denver from 2012-13.   

“Bruton is doing a good job and Duke is in that mention,” Gruden added. “We [also] moved [cornerback] Will Blackmon back to safety; he’s learning, feeling his way through there. [Deshazor] Everett is doing a good job. Geno [Matias] Smith from Alabama, he’s learning it. So we’re going to have some people out there to compete. But right now, as a starting point, Bruton/Nacho are doing fine.”

For now, Bruton's got the first crack at it. But as Gruden said, there’s a lot of offseason left. This, indeed, could be a position to monitor throughout the spring and summer.