Can the Redskins go from worst to first in the NFC East?That was a question posed on NFL.com. They took the four teams that finished in last place in their respective NFC divisions last year and ranked them in order of their chances of finishing in first place in 2012. Blogger Daniel Jeremiah thinks the Redskins have a shot but they face some serious obstacles.I have to quibble with the pick for the team that Jeremiah has the best chance of the ultimate turnaround, the Tampa Bay Bucs. Among the reasons he cites are their new coach, Greg Schiano, who is fresh from the college ranks, and free agent signees Vincent Jackson and Carl Nicks. Anyone who has followed the Redskins in the last decade know that a new coach, especially one straight from the NCAA, and high-priced free agents are not guarantee of a turnaround. Washington would have won the NFC East on multiple occasions if that was the magic formula.The Redskins are his second pick and Jeremiah cites what should be a vast improvement in quarterback play with Robert Griffin III at the helm and the pass rushing duo of Brian Orakpo and Ryan Kerrigan as reasons for optimism.But in the not so fast department there is the strength of the NFC East and the fact that while RG3 may be a special rookie he still will be a rookie quarterback with the accompanying growing pains that will come with learning on the job.The Rams and Vikings have the third- and fourth-best chances per Jeremiah.It seems like there is a worst to first occurrence every year in the NFL but it seems unlikely to happen this year, at least in the NFC. Of course, that is what it looks like in June just about every year.The Redskins could pull it off but a lot would have to go right for them and a lot would have to go wrong elsewhere around the division for that to take place.
Here is what you need to know on this Thursday, February 23, 14 days before the March 9 start of NFL free agency.
—NFL Franchise tag deadline (3/1) 6
—NFL Combine (3/2) 7
—Redskins offseason workouts start (4/17) 53
—NFL Draft (4/27) 63
—First Sunday of 2017 season (9/10) 199
Free agent moves—Offense
Free agency starts two weeks from today. The Redskins have plenty of needs, both big and small. Let’s take a look around and see what offensive positions they might be looking to bolster when things get going. I’ll follow up with the defense in the next few days.
Quarterback—It could be a yawner at this position or there could be plenty of drama. If Kirk Cousins gets franchise tagged or defies current expectations and signs a long-term deal, the depth chart will remain the same. If he is gone via a trade, things could be shaken up. While they may draft a QB in late April they could go for a mid-priced veteran as insurance.
RELATED: NFL Mock Draft Version 3.0
Running back—The Redskins have a depth chart loaded with young, unproven talent at this position. If they want a veteran presence in the meeting room they could look at someone like Robert Turbin (McCloughan had a hand in drafting him in Seattle in 2012) or maybe Knile Davis.
Wide receiver—Things will get very interesting if the word on the street comes to pass and both Pierre Garçon and DeSean Jackson are gone. They have a presumably healthy Josh Doctson in line to replace one but they would need a veteran. Maybe Kenny Stills or Kenny Britt, both young and productive, could be under consideration. If one of the veterans stays they likely will get depth in the draft.
More Redskins: #RedskinsTalk podcast: Is Kirk too nice for his own good?
Tight end—Vernon Davis seems likely to be back. If he’s not, the Redskins probably would rather have an alternative to Niles Paul as Jordan Reed’s primary backup. The probably won’t swim in the deep end of the pool with Martellus Bennett and Jared Cook. But maybe they will look at Jermaine Gresham, who made the Pro Bowl twice in Cincinnati while Jay Gruden was the Bengals’ offensive coordinator.
Offensive line—Yesterday, JP and I discussed what they might do at left guard if they want to upgrade from Shawn Lauvao. Perhaps they could go for Kevin Zeitler, another Bengal who played under Gruden. But he will command a contract in the $8-$10 million range and with Brandon Scherff coming up for an extension next year that might be too much to spend at the guard position. Look for the Redskins to take an eventual Lauvao replacement in the draft.
Tandler on Twitter
The first Sunday of the 2017 NFL season gets underway 200 days from right now. pic.twitter.com/0ZPanyAq8S— Rich Tandler (@Rich_TandlerCSN) February 22, 2017
In case you missed it
- Redskins' 2017 cap is top heavy—is that a problem?
- Will the Redskins stick with Lauvao at left guard?
- Why can't the Redskins sign Garcon and Jackson?
- If Redskins trade Cousins to 49ers, 5 prospects to consider
- Cousins trade to 49ers could happen at combine, per NFL analyst
It still seems like a long-shot the Redskins trade Kirk Cousins, but if there is one persistent rumor, it's that the San Francisco 49ers want the Washington passer. The story is too familiar at this point: New Niners coach Kyle Shanahan was in D.C. when Cousins was drafted and wants the quarterback to come run his offense in San Francisco. With the second overall pick, the 49ers have a tremendous asset they can dangle in trade talks.
Whether or not any of this rumor is true, it sure makes for engrossing speculation. With the NFL Draft Combine next week in Indianapolis, NFL Network analyst Daniel Jeremiah said he wouldn't be shocked to see the trade go down.
That's the backdrop. Beyond the debate of the merits of trading an established QB like Cousins, which is a very serious debate, there's also the notion of what player the 'Skins would select with the second overall pick.
MORE REDSKINS: 2017 top heavy Cap could be a problem
It's worth examining the impact players available to Washington with the second selection in the 2017 NFL Draft, and the options are varied, including perhaps a new QB. Check it out.
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