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Behind Enemy Lines: Cutler, Forte in, Urlacher out


Behind Enemy Lines: Cutler, Forte in, Urlacher out

Checking out the latest enemy intelligence on the Redskins next opponent, Da Bears...Cutler, Forte set for preseason debuts: After sitting out the Bears opener last week against the Broncos, Chicago's starting quarterback Jay Cutlerand all-everything running back Matt Forte will take to the field for the first time this preseason Saturday against the Redskins. Don't expect offensivecreativity to join them."Were going to keep things pretty basic," said Cutler, the Chicago Sun-Times reported. "What we unroll against the Redskins isnt the final product. We want to get in and out of the huddle. We want to execute plays. But its not going to be the end of the world if were not clicking on all cylinders."The Bears went 7-3 last season with Cutler under center, buta broken thumb ended his season with six game remaining. Without thenot-so cuddly signal caller, who cut down on his turnovers and performed more as heady leader compared to his tempestuous past, Chicago lost five of its final six games and missed the postseason. As for why Cutler missed Bears' most recent game, the birth of his first child came the day before.Chicago's leading rusher and receiver last year, Forte will also make his preseason debut after acting only as an observer last week - a role he also performed throughout much of the season due to a contract squabble. Without the 26-year-old all-purpose back in the lineup against the Broncos, the Bears totaled 36 yards on 21 carries. Free agent Michael Bush brings additional firepower to Chicago's ground game this season.And when Cutler sits...: Former Redskins quarterback Jason Campbell is expected to take over. Though it's still a little surprising the now 30-year-old (wow, 30!) could not land either a starting job or a scenario where he could find move into the lineup without an injury occurring elsewhere, the Bears are certainly better off for with his presence. Campbell, who signed a one-year, 3.5 million deal this offseason, completed 4 of 5 passes for 13 yards against Denver last week.Protecting the offensive line: The group of blockers expected to keep Cutler upright often had their quarterback running for his life last season. Part of new offensive coordinator Mike Tice's attempt at helping the leaky situation? Eliminate all seven-step drops from the Bears passing game and go with three and five step kind. That means rather than simply relying on hiscannon of a passing arm,Cutler now must engage in quicker mental gymnastics to find targets. That in itself is a new dynamic, but one that should helplimitthe hits and sacks.It also should help Tice gets some Z's. After the Denver loss, Tice joked (I think) the team's offensive line woes "causes him to have trouble sleeping at night."The dicey left tackle situation alone surely leads to insomnia. Tice indicated this week the Bears intend on keeping a tight end on the line next to incumbent and suspect starter J'Marcus Webb and challenger Chris Williams in order to fend off the Redskins outside pass rush led by Brian Orakpo. No Urlacher: The one Chicago defender everyone knows underwent arthroscopic surgery on his left knee Tuesday, taking Brian Urlacher out not just for the Redskins game, but the entire preseason. Optimistically the Bears are hoping the perennial Pro Bowl middle linebacker will return for the September 9 opener against Indianapolis. (Chicago Sun-Times).Fantasy focus: Brandon Marshall's reunion with Cutler, his former teammate with the Broncos, provides the Bears with their best wide receiver threat in years. Perhaps as interesting is what's going on at the other receiver role where big-bodied rookie Alshon Jeffery is making a run at the starting spot opposite Marshall. The 6-foot-3, 216-pounder caught four passes in the preseason opener and has been a practice standout throughout the summer. With or without the Week 1 starting job, Jeffery is a fantasy sleeper that should go off the board in the later rounds.

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Need to Know: Why can't the Redskins sign Garcon and Jackson?

Need to Know: Why can't the Redskins sign Garcon and Jackson?

Here is what you need to know on this Wednesday, February 22, 15 days before the March 9 start of NFL free agency.  


Days until:

—NFL Franchise tag deadline (3/1) 7
—NFL Combine (3/2) 8
—Redskins offseason workouts start (4/17) 54
—NFL Draft (4/27) 64
—First Sunday of 2017 season (9/10) 200

Why not both Garçon and DJax?

Today's question is from my Facebook page. 

Thanks for the good words, Dennis. There are a few reasons why the Redskins are unlikely to bring back both Pierre Garçon and DeSean Jackson and why it’s possible that neither wide receiver will be back for the 2017 season.

One factor is age. Garçon will be 31 early in training camp and Jackson will turn the same age on December 1. While both are in great shape, investing fairly big money (more on that in a moment) in even one aging receiver is risky. Investing it in two is asking for major cap problems in a year or two.

Both receivers will get substantial contracts. In a market that is thin at the position, each player will get three- or four-year deals worth around $10 million per year. While either one could be cut prior to the end of the deal, the contracts likely will be structured so that if they are released after a year or two the team letting the player go will have to absorb an uncomfortable salary cap hit.

Having that much money tied up in two aging players at one position is dicey in and of itself. But a complicating factor here is Jamison Crowder. He is the team’s future at the position. This year he will complete the third year of his rookie deal making him eligible for a contract extension. If he continues to improve he will want something in that $10 million per year neighborhood. He might not get that much but he’ll get at least $8 million.

So, looking at 2018, if they signed both Garçon and Jackson this year and extend Crowder next season the Redskins would have three receivers taking up close to $30 million in cap space. That is too much. The Redskins were second in the league in spending on WR’s last year with “only” $23.5 million. The organization would be squeezed when it came to paying players at other positions.

I’ll hit on one more thing quickly, since I’m going to write a full post about it soon. Assuming the Redskins tag Kirk Cousins, they suddenly don’t have a whole lot of cap space. Their $64 million available would shrink to around $40 million. That’s still a pretty good chunk of money but they also must get 1-2 defensive linemen and perhaps a safety in free agency, and be prepared to handle possible extensions for Morgan Moses, Spencer Long, Trent Murphy, and Bashaud Breeland.

They could still squeeze one or both receivers in under the cap this year. That would mean some short-term gain for some long-term (as in the next two or three seasons) pain.

Tandler on Twitter

In case you missed it

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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New #RedskinsTalk Podcast: Is being nice hurting Kirk Cousins?

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New #RedskinsTalk Podcast: Is being nice hurting Kirk Cousins?

JP Finlay and Rich Tandler are back for Episode 52 of the #RedskinsTalk Podcast.

With franchise tag day fast approaching, JP and Rich continue to discuss the Kirk Cousins contract situation. Cousins is a positive guy with a great attitude.

But does his happy-go-lucky demeanor actually hurt him at the bargaining table?

Fire up the podcast below. 


Want more Redskins? Check out @JPFinlayCSN for live updates or click here for the #RedskinsTalk Podcast on iTuneshere for Google Play or press play below. Don't forget to subscribe!