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Big-name RBs set for free agency, but will the Redskins pursue Adrian Peterson or Jamaal Charles?

Big-name RBs set for free agency, but will the Redskins pursue Adrian Peterson or Jamaal Charles?

Fantasy football players from five years ago would be shocked, though in 2017, the pending release of running backs Adrian Peterson and Jamaal Charles should bring with it little surprise. Both players hit incredible highs during their careers, but some time has passed since for both guys, and it makes business sense for their teams to move on. 

Peterson will be 32 when Week 1 comes around this fall, and has basically missed two of the last three seasons for the Vikings. In 2016, he suffered another knee injury, and while he has proven his ability to come back from surgeries, the years are adding up. 

Charles will be 30 for Week 1, and has started just five games over the last two seasons while he dealt with injuries.

At one point, the case could be made for either player as the best running back in football, but that ship has likely sailed.

In Washington,  Robert Kelley emerged as the No. 1 RB last fall, and rushed for more than 700 yards in just nine starts. Jay Gruden said that Kelley will remain the top runner in the 'Skins offense in 2017, and players like Matt Jones, Mack Brown remain on the roster while Chris Thompson is expected back from restricted free agency. 

Still, the Redskins have no dominant running back. Could they make a run for Peterson or Charles?

It seems unlikely. Scot McCloughan has made clear he prefers to add players via the draft instead of free agency. And the GM is known not to like to spend money on players 30 and older. 

Both players have signed large contracts in their careers, so it would seem like they will set their sights on a team with Super Bowl aspirations. Sure, the Redskins could make a deep playoff run, there are always surprises in the NFL, but that would be unexpected, even with Kirk Cousins back at quarterback.

Then there is the offensive system. Peterson is a volume back that's not a great pass blocker. That just doesn't sound like a fit in the Washington system. Charles excelled in the pass game, and would make more sense for the Redskins, but still seems like a long shot.

This offseason is crucial for the Burgundy and Gold. Cementing their quarterback position remains the highest priority. The organization put the exclusive tag on Kirk Cousins, perhaps meaning a long-term deal will get worked out. The team also must really work to rebuild their defense. Spending on a big-name, veteran running back just doesn't seem like it fits the team's list of needs. 

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Ricky Jean-Francois signs with the Packers, per report

Ricky Jean-Francois signs with the Packers, per report

Before last season with the Redskins, Ricky Jean-Francois had made the playoffs five consecutive times, doing so twice with San Francisco, twice with Indianapolis and then once with Washington.

Now, the veteran — who was released by the 'Skins on March 15 — has given himself a strong chance of getting back to the postseason again in 2017 by reportedly signing with the Packers on Thursday.

ESPN's Adam Schefter tweeted that Jean-Francois and Green Bay agreed to a one-year, $3-million contract.

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The 30-year-old lineman visited with the Bears and Seahawks before choosing to sign with Green Bay. Former Redskin Chris Baker, now in Tampa Bay, had also attempted to recruit Jean-Francois on Twitter to join him with the Bucs.

By cutting Jean-Francois last week, Washington will save $3 million toward their 2017 salary cap. Some have also speculated whether his criticism of the franchise was a factor in the transaction.

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DeSean Jackson chose Tampa because he wanted a young QB with 'a lot of upside'

DeSean Jackson chose Tampa because he wanted a young QB with 'a lot of upside'

Kirk Cousins is a 28-year-old quarterback, which is pretty youthful by NFL standards, and he's thrown for 4,100+ and 4,900+ yards in the past two seasons, suggesting that his career is on the rise.

But when DeSean Jackson was evaluating where to ink his next contract during his time on the open market, he saw another passer who is younger than Cousins and, in his mind, has more potential than Cousins, too.

And that is one of the main reasons why Jackson left the Redskins and signed with the Buccaneers.

"I think it was a great fit, a great opportunity, a great up-and-coming, young team," the receiver said during an interview on ESPN's First Take. "Jameis [Winston], obviously, in my decision making, I really wanted to go with a young quarterback, someone who had a lot of upside to him and I think he was the one to fit that position."

Like Cousins, Winston has been a full-time starter for two seasons in the league, and like Cousins, he's posted some gaudy numbers.

Most of the numbers, however, don't stack up to Washington's QB. Cousins edges out Winston in touchdowns, completion percentage and yards, and has also taken fewer sacks and thrown fewer picks than the former Heisman Trophy winner, in the last two years.

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With those stats in mind, it's safe to say the Michigan State product is superior to the Florida State product today. But after hearing Jackson say he valued Winston's "upside," it's not hard to take that a step further and conclude that Jackson believes Winston's ceiling is higher than Cousins' ceiling. On top of that, the latter's contract situation probably was a factor to some extent.

Speaking of Cousins, the pass catcher was asked to talk about his old signal caller. His response was complimentary — but also quite short.

"I think he has what it takes," Jackson said. "At times, we probably needed more out of him and everybody else on the team as well, too. Kirk Cousins, obviously his numbers are off the charts. He had crazy numbers. But moving forward man, we're in Tampa now." 

It was a speedy answer from a speedy player. And while that speedy player did speak highly of Cousins, he's opting to wind down his career with Winston instead, which basically declares that he decided Winston must have "what it takes" more than Cousins.

Jackson is certainly moving forward in Tampa, but whether his production will move upward with Winston isn't as certain.

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