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2017 Redskins depth chart preview: Zach Brown adds playmaking element to inside linebackers

2017 Redskins depth chart preview: Zach Brown adds playmaking element to inside linebackers

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. Today the focus turns to inside linebacker

2016 final game starters: Will Compton, Mason Foster

Compton was the Mike linebacker, calling the defensive signals.  

Departures: Terence Garvin (UFA)

Garvin was primarily a special teams contributor, playing only 58 snaps on defense

Projected 2017 starters: Compton, Zach Brown

No coaches have spoken to the media since Brown was signed as a free agent last Monday so this is highly unofficial. Brown and Foster both have called defensive signals from time to time but the coaches are more likely to be comfortable with Compton calling the defense. That makes Brown the starter alongside Compton and Foster playing the nickel role.  

RELATED: NFL Mock Draft Version 7.0

It should be noted that Compton is technically unsigned. He is a restricted free agent and the Redskins tendered him at $1.8 million. Compton hasn’t signed the tender yet and it’s still possible that another team can make him an offer sheet that the Redskins would have the option to match. But his return seems very likely.

2017 reserves: Foster, Martrell Spaight, Chris Carter, Zach Vigil, Steven Daniels

Spaight started one game when Compton was injured and did an adequate job. Vigil will get a shot at showing what he has after the Redskins claimed him on waivers in Week 16. Daniels suffered a shoulder injury in training camp and he spent the season on injured reserve. The Redskins will be Carter’s fifth team in seven NFL seasons; he will compete for Garvin’s reserve/special teams role.

Where can the inside LB’s find improvement?

The biggest boost here should be Brown. He brings speed to a defense that lacks it. In fact, if you go by combine 40 times, Brown is faster than any of the Redskins’ starting four defensive backs. Last year Brown’s playmaking ability helped him make his first Pro Bowl; he posted an interception, two forced fumbles, and 4.5 sacks.

MORE REDSKINS: The Redskins week that was

Brown is on a one-year contract, Foster is in the last season of his contract, and, as noted, Compton is on the one-year tender. The Redskins will not hesitate to consider drafting an inside linebacker such as Haason Reddick (who visited Redskins Park recently) or Zach Cunningham.

Compton won't get faster or more athletic but he does spend a lot of time in the film room. He is the kind of player who could improve as he accumulates more knowledge and makes up for his lack of sheer speed with better anticipation.

Locks and bubble players

Compton, Foster, and Brown are set. Spaight is likely to make the final 53 in September since he has game experience. A high draft pick would also be a lock, of course.

Last year, they kept five inside linebackers on the roster but it’s possible they will keep only four. That would leave Carter, Vigil, and Daniels either fighting for one spot or on the outside looking in.

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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Redskins 2017 position outlook: Wide receiver

Redskins 2017 position outlook: Wide receiver

With the season opener fast approaching, it’s time to put the Redskins’ depth chart under the microscope. Over the coming days we will look at every position, compare the group to the rest of the NFL, see if the position has been upgraded or downgraded from last year, and take out the crystal ball to see what might unfold.

Wide receivers

Starters: Terrelle Pryor, Josh Doctson, Jamison Crowder (slot)
Other roster locks: Ryan Grant, Maurice Harris.
On the bubble: Robert Davis, Brian Quick

How the wide receivers compare:

To the rest of the NFL: This is an unproven group, with Pryor in his second year playing the position and Doctson coming off a lost rookie season. You don’t have to look far to find receiving groups with more proven production. The Giants have added Brandon Marshall to Odell Beckham Jr. and Sterling Shepard to form one of the top groups in the NFL. It’s arguable that the Cowboys have a better corps. But Pryor has produced a 1000-yard season, Crowder improved from his rookie year to last year and Doctson is a recognized talent. They’re outside of the top 10 but not too far down the list, somewhere in the teens.

RELATED: 5 TAKEAWAYS FROM REDSKINS' LOSS TO PACKERS

To the 2016 Redskins: The Redskins became the first team to lose two 1000-yard receivers in a single offseason when both DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garçon left in free agency. They managed to recover about as well as could be expected by signing Pryor and having Doctson in the wings. And maybe the backups could be better than they were last year. Ryan Grant has been catching everything thrown near him in practice and Maurice Harris will have his rookie year out of the way. But the harsh reality is that you don’t easily replace receivers like Garçon and, especially, the speedy Jackson easily. This group must be considered a downgrade until we see production on the field that indicates otherwise.

2017 outlook:

Biggest upside: Doctson was off to a great start in training camp before he suffered a hamstring injury. His talent for high-pointing the ball could make him a favorite red zone and third down target.

Most to prove: Ryan Grant has been a favorite of the coaches since he was a fifth-round pick in 2014. But he had only nine receptions in 16 games last year. If he wants an NFL future here or elsewhere, he needs to catch passes.

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Rookie watch: Sixth-round pick Davis has been targeted 11 times in two preseason games and he has 20- and 31-yard receptions. He is going to have to fight off Quick to remain on the roster but he appears to be ahead in that battle. Davis is helping his case by working as a gunner on the punt team.

Bottom line: There is no doubt that the team will miss the ability of Jackson to go deep, opening things up underneath. But it also is clear that the bigger, more physical receivers will help move the chains and increase red zone productivity. The size does not necessarily compensate for the loss of speed but Kirk Cousins still should find quality targets.

Quote-unquote

Jay Gruden on Ryan Grant:

He’s really strong, he’s in great shape, and he’s Mr. Consistent. Everything we ask him to do he does, and he does it right. No matter where he lines up, no matter what we ask him to do – he can come in the core and block the safety, whatever we want him to do, he can run whatever route from whatever positon and he runs at the right depth, perfect angles coming out of them. He’s just ‘Steady Eddie,’ and that’s why I like him. I like consistent, smart players and that’s what Ryan is.

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: Despite off-field turmoil, NFL close to extension with commissioner Roger Goodell

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USA Today Sports

Report: Despite off-field turmoil, NFL close to extension with commissioner Roger Goodell

Despite off-field turmoil and a seemingly endless list of controversies, the NFL plans to extend the tenure of commissioner Roger Goodell, per a report from the NFL Network's Mike Garafolo. 

Goodell took over the top NFL job in 2006, replacing the long-tenured Paul Tagliabue. The extension reportedly will extend his era as commissioner through 2024, though Garafolo said the league and Goodell have a few "minor issues" to work through.

In 2016, Goodell reportedly made $34 million as commissioner. 

Under Goodell, the league has seen a windfall of cash, but also numerous off-field controversies.

The commissioner's role with player punishments has dramatically increased, and seems to grow more litigious year after year.

RELATED: ALL-PRO WIDE RECEIVER ANNOUNCES RETIREMENT

Things seemed to hit their peak when the NFL suspended New England Patriots QB Tom Brady four games for possibly deflating footballs, though the evidence was far from concrete.

There have been plenty of other major controversies during Goodell's leadership: the ongoing concussion lawsuits and settlements, Ray Rice's domestic violence incident, Michael Vick's dog-fighting ring, Ben Roethlisberger's sexual assault allegations, and more. 

This year — right now — Goodell is in the middle of dealing with an announced six-game suspension of Dallas Cowboys RB Ezekiel Elliott and the ongoing controversy surrounding Colin Kaepernick's inability to land a job in the NFL. 

Ultimately, it appears cash matters most for the league and its commissioner. 

It's also worth adding that the NFL has not lost any games due to labor stoppage under Goodell's leadership. That could change, however, when the next collective bargaining agreement comes up after the 2020 season. NFL Player's Association leader DeMaurice Smith has talked of a possible strike or lockout, and some vocal critics of Goodell and the NFL, like Richard Sherman, have said that the players need to be prepared to strike to elicit actual change. 

There was some speculation that NFL owners, particularly Robert Kraft in New England and Jerry Jones in Dallas, might push for a change at the top as Goodell's autocratic disciplinary style found league stars suspended. Assuming a contract gets done, that speculation appears to be false. 

Goodell was commissioner in 2012 when the NFL penalized the Redskins $36 million against the salary cap for overspending during the uncapped 2010 season.

Redskins officials adamantly denied any wrongdoing, and the penalties had a significant impact on the team's ability to compete for free agents and roster depth. 

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