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2017 Redskins depth chart preview: Outside linebacker

2017 Redskins depth chart preview: Outside linebacker

The Redskins are part of the way through the process of retooling their 2017 roster. While the major part of free agency is over, they still can add a few veterans all the way through training camp. They have 10 picks in the draft that starts April 27. In this series, we’re going to take a look at what has changed on the Redskins roster since the season ended and what they need to add to remain competitive in the revived NFC East.

We started with the defensive line and then looked at the inside linebackers.  Today the focus turns to the outside linebackers.

2016 final game starters: Preston Smith, Ryan Kerrigan

Smith and Kerrigan both started all 16 games. Kerrigan has now started all 96 games since he was drafted in 2011.   

Departures: None

Projected 2017 starters: Smith, Kerrigan

Kerrigan’s presence is a given. He has four years left on the five-years extension he signed in 2015. Kerrigan made his second Pro Bowl last year with 11 sacks, the second-best total of his career.   

RELATED: NFL Mock Draft Version 7.0

Smith was a model of inconsistency. He was dominant against the Vikings, recording two sacks and getting his first career interception to stop a key Minnesota drive, and against the Bears he blocked a field goal attempt and got a sack. During other games, you rarely heard his name called. He had zero or one tackles in nine games.

2017 reserves: Trent Murphy, Junior Galette, Houston Bates, Lynden Trail

Murphy played about 100 fewer snaps than Smith last year but he had more sacks, QB hits, and hurries. He is likely to miss the first four games of the season due to a PED suspension but an appeal is still pending.

Galette is the wild card in the bunch. He could get double-digit sacks, like he did with the Saints in 2013 and 2014, or he could miss the whole season, like he did the last two years.

MORE REDSKINS: The best picks at No. 17

Trail is huge, 6-7, 270, but still very green. He could benefit from another season on the practice squad although another team could be tempted to sign him away. Bates played just 24 snaps on defense but he was valuable on special teams and he lined up at fullback on occasion as well.

Where can the outside LB’s find improvement?

The Redskins have five picks in the first four rounds and there is a good chance they go with an edge player with one of those picks. The draft has some depth at the position and they could get some immediate production out of someone taken in the third or fourth rounds.

Smith has the highest potential for improvement from within. Even though Greg Manusky have moved up from outside linebackers coach to defensive coordinator he certainly will continue to push Smith as he enters his important third season. And he will no doubt get some tips from respected defensive line coach Jim Tomsula as Smith often will line up in a four-point stance.

As noted, Galette could be a Pro Bowl candidate or he could be totally unproductive. The Redskins probably would be happy with something in between, a half dozen sacks or so.

Locks and bubble players

Kerrigan, Smith, and Galette are locks for the initial 53-man roster. Assuming Murphy’s suspension appeal fails he won’t be on the roster until Week 5.

That would give Trail, Bates, and possibly a draft pick an opening. The Redskins usually keep four but they could go with five if they get someone in the draft. 

Stay up to date on the Redskins! Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page Facebook.com/TandlerCSN and follow him on Twitter @Rich_TandlerCSN.

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Report: 'There isn't a real price that will make Kirk Cousins happy' with Redskins

Report: 'There isn't a real price that will make Kirk Cousins happy' with Redskins

Following a slew of reports that cast doubt on the Redskins reaching a long-term deal with Kirk Cousins, ESPN's Dianna Russini tweeted Tuesday that the impass is not about money. 

If the report is true, then Washington has run out of good options for retaining Cousins in the long term.

It's possible the team could use a third-straight franchise tag to keep him next season, but the price tag around $34 million would be astronomical for one season.

The transition tag would be worth in the neighborhood of $28 million. 

Russini doesn't elaborate on the reasons behind her report that Cousins wouldn't be happy in Washington regardless of price. But it's important to note that both teams and players have incentive to create leverage in contract negotiations through the media. 

The Redskins have until July 17 to reach a long-term deal with Cousins. 

MORE REDSKINS: Backup center again a question mark for the Redskins

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Redskins 2017 depth chart preview: Interior offensive line

Redskins 2017 depth chart preview: Interior offensive line

Over the next few weeks, Rich Tandler will take a position-by-position look at the Redskins’ 2017 depth chart as the team enjoys some R&R ahead of training camp. Some positions are easy to handicap. Others have moving parts and, thus, are more complex. So, who’s in? And who’s in trouble?

Up today…

Position: Interior offensive line

On the roster: Guards Shawn Lauvao, Brandon Scherff, Arie Kouandjio, Tyler Catalina, Kyle Kalis, Isaiah Williams; Centers Spencer Long, Chase Roullier, Ronald Patrick

Locks: Lauvao, Scherff, Kouandjio, Long

As noted here this morning, there seemed to be a pretty good chance that Lauvao would be on his way out. But free agency and the draft went by and no serious challenger for him was acquired. It looks like they will let him play out the last year of his free agent contract and then see what they want to do with him next year when he will be a 30-year-old free agent.

RELATED: 3 Redskins who are up, 3 down

The Redskins might like Kouandjio, going into his third season, to emerge as a viable option as Lauvao’s successor. He was not up to the task in a couple of spot starts last year. But, just like Lauvao, he can take some comfort in the fact that the organization did not expend any major resources on bringing in another guard for competition.

Scherff went to the Pro Bowl in his second year in the league. He will be a fixture at right guard for the next decade or so, provided the Redskins can figure out a way to get a third high-priced offensive lineman under the salary cap (in addition to tackles Trent Williams and Morgan Moses).

Long did a solid job in his first year as the starting center. He will anchor the line again this year. He is eligible for a contract extension and it will be interesting to see if talks heat up between now and training camp.

On the bubble: Roullier

In an ideal Redskins world, the rookie sixth-round pick would be able to learn center and both guard spots well enough to be a workable fill-in on game days. In the real world, that may not work. During minicamp, offensive line coach Bill Callahan told me that while he had been impressed with how well Roullier had picked things up so far, the real test will come with the pads on in Richmond.

MORE REDSKINS: Redskins 53-man roster projection, defense

Long shots: Catalina, Kalais, Williams, Patrick

You never know what will happen during the preseason but it seems that the practice squad is the best hope for any of these guys to be around Ashburn in the fall. If injury or issues with Roullier’s development create a hole in the depth chart in the 53-man roster the organization is likely to go outside to find help off the waiver wire. Two or three on this list are likely to be back for another shot in 2018.  

Redskins 2017 depth chart previews: Offensive tackle | Wide receiver

Stay up to date on the Redskins! Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page Facebook.com/TandlerCSN and follow him on Twitter @Rich_TandlerCSN.