Here is my prediction for the 53-man roster that will emerge from the final round of cuts:SpecialistsIn (3):P Sav Rocca, LS Nick Sundberg, PK Billy CundiffObviously Cundiff beating out both Neil Rackers and Graham Gano without making a single kick in a Redskins uniform was a surprise to most.DefenseDefensive backsCornerback (5): DeAngelo Hall, Josh Wilson, Cedric Griffin, Richard Crawford, Brandyn ThompsonSafety (4): Brandon Meriweather, Tanard Jackson, Madieu Williams, DeJon GomesJordan Bernstine goes to the practice squad. Reed Doughty may give you more than Gomes this year but I think that last years draft pick stays with an eye towards 2013 and beyond.LinebackersOutside (4):Brian Orakpo, Ryan Kerrigan, Rob Jackson, Chris Wilson,Inside (5):London Fletcher, Perry Riley, Lorenzo Alexander, Keenan Robinson, Bryan KehlIts hard to cut an athlete like Markus White but Wilson is a more polished player and can be a huge asset on special teams.Defensive lineIn (6): Stephen Bowen, Jarvis Jenkins, Adam Carriker, Kedric Golston, Barry Cofield, Chris BakerThis has been set since Chris Neild went out with a torn ACL. Golston stays because the blocking in the middle of the line on field goals fell apart when he got injured last year. Doug Worthington goes to the practice squad.For a look at mypre-training camp 53-man prediction, go here.OffenseRunning backsIn (5):Roy Helu Jr., Tim Hightower, Evan Royster, Darrell Young, Alfred MorrisNone of the four tailbacks is a stud but it would be hard to cut any of them, so Shanahan wont.Tight endsIn (3):Fred Davis, Niles Paul, Logan PaulsenThis was set when Chris Cooley was released on Tuesday.Wide receiversIn (6):Pierre Garon, Leonard Hankerson, Josh Morgan, Santana Moss, Aldrick Robinson, Dez BriscoeYes, Anthony Armstrong plays special teams and Briscoe doesnt or at least not very much or very well. But in 2010 Armstrong caught seven passes. Briscoe caught sixtouchdownpasses. Briscoe has been the better player in camp and in preseason games since learning the offense. Briscoe has to stay.If Brandon Banks staysand I dont think he willhe wont take a job away from one of the six wide receivers. If he does stay it will be as a return specialist and his roster slot will come from the offensive line or from a linebacker.QuarterbacksIn (3):Robert Griffin III, Rex Grossman, Kirk CousinsRex stays. Period.Offensive lineIn (9):Trent Williams, Kory Lichtensteiger, Will Montgomery, Chris Chester, Tyler Polumbus, Josh LeRibeus, Jordan Black, Adam Gettis, Maurice HurtAs noted above, the Redskins could decide to keep Banks and trim back an offensive lineman. They got burned last year keeping eight linemen when a rash of injuries hit so I think they will play it safe this year and keep nine.If they do decide to go with eight, Gettis seems to be the most vulnerable. Black is the swing tackle, LeRibeus can play guard or center, and Hurt can play guard or tackle. Gettis may develop versatility but for now he seems likely to learn on the practice squad.Willie Smith does have a shot at getting Blacks spot. He started camp and the preseason games slowly, something the coaching staff made no secret of. But he has performed better lately. But it looks like Black will get the nod.Breakdown: 26 offense, 24 defense, 3 specialistsAgree? Disagree? Hit me up in the comments or on Twitter @Rich_Tandler
It seems likely the Redskins stand to lose one or both of receivers DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garçon in free agency. That could mean more than 2,000 yards receiving exiting the offense, a significant blow.
Could Bears wideout Alshon Jeffery come to Washington and cushion the blow?
Multiple reports say that Chicago will not put the franchise tag on Jeffery, which means the 6-foot-4 receiver will hit the open market when free agency opens in a little more than a week. Coming off consectuive injury-marred seasons, still expect the market to be ripe for the former South Carolina star.
A five-year veteran that will turn 28 in August, Jeffery posted more than 2,500 receiving yards in the 2013 and 2014 seasons to go with 17 touchdowns. An extremely gifted red zone receiver, Jeffery is one of the best in the league at high-pointing the football and coming down with circus catches. His last two seasons, however, the Bears wideout only played in 21 of 32 games and his numbers dipped dramatically: just over 1,600 yards and six TDs combined.
Though Washington will likely lose at least one of Garçon or Jackson, and very possibly both, that does not necessarily make Jeffery a prime target.
Expect cost to be a major factor as the Chicago receiver will likely command the top free agent payout at the position. And his recent injury history could be a factor as well.
Further, the Redskins must believe they have a No. 1 receiver already in house in Josh Doctson. The No. 22 overall pick in 2016, Doctson hardly played as a rookie due to an Achilles injury but appears to be progressing well in his rehab. At 6-foot-2 and extremely athletic, Doctson was drafted to be a prime red zone target with the ability to go up and get TDs.
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Many Redskins fans have been keeping a close eye on the Chiefs all offseason. Kansas City has two pending free agents in positions that are of great need to Washington. Fans have been watching since January to see what the Chiefs would do with safety Eric Berry and defensive lineman Dontari Poe. They may have their answer.
The organization’s hope was that they could sign one and use the franchise tag on the other. But with the deadline for the tag two days from now and with free agency starting in 10 days, it appears that plan is not going to happen. They are forced to decide and per Ed Werder of ESPN they are going to tag Berry and let Poe test free agency.
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Poe is a load at 6-3, 348. His impact is hard to measure in numbers; he has just 13 sacks in his five NFL seasons including two in the last two years. The Chiefs first-round pick out of Memphis in the 2012 draft has forced two fumbles and recovered one. But he is exactly what a defense like the Redskins’ 4-3 scheme needs in the middle to eat up double teams and keep blockers off the linebackers. They would go from having had no credible nose tackle in the seven seasons they have been in the 3-4 base defense to having one who at age 26 is of the very best in the league.
The problem with acquiring the best in the business is that you must pay top dollar. The contracts signed by Marcell Dareus of the Bills, a six-year deal with an average annual value of $15.8 million and Fletcher Cox of the Eagles, who signed a six-year extension with an AAV of $17.1, will be used as guidelines for a Poe free agent deal.
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The Redskins possibly could make that work but it would be a stretch. They already have a top-heavy salary structure with their top three players taking up 35 percent of the salary cap. Another cap hit in the $15 million range would put them in a precarious spot.
It seems unlikely that the Redskins will be real players in the Poe sweepstakes but given that he would be a perfect solution to a long-standing problem area it’s worth keeping an eye on the situation.