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Cruz: Redskins not 'legitimate' contenders

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Cruz: Redskins not 'legitimate' contenders

Victor Cruz is going from being nice, feel-good story to being someone who is getting to be, well, annoying.

He was an undrafted free agent whose first attempt to make the Giants was lost due to injury. Last year he broke through in spectacular fashion, catching 82 passes for 1536 yards and nine touchdowns and the Giants won the Super Bowl.

But then, he decided that this one season was great enough for him to write a book about it. Then he filmed the soup commercials, which are aggravating no matter who does them (looking at you, Donovan). And now the salsa dance he does after scoring a touchdown has become a “thing” to the point where NBC piped the dance music they play at the stadium into our TV speakers after Cruz scored against the Packers Sunday night.

And now he thinks he is some sort of NFL personnel evaluator.

When New York reporters asked him if the Redskins were legitimate contenders for the playoffs, he said this:

They’re still a couple pieces away from actually being a contender, them being in legitimate talks for playoffs and things like that. They’re still a few pieces away whether it be defensively or wherever they are missing some pieces.

He did go on to say that the Redskins are “in the conversation” for the playoffs but apparently that talk is not “legitimate” in his eyes.

The Redskins, as anyone who watches them can see, are not a team without flaws. They do have some major holes. But Cruz really has no business judging whether or not the Redskins are a complete team. They beat his team twice last year and were within a minute and change of beating them again this year. If they are “a few pieces away” then one might conclude that the Giants are missing a few vital parts as well.

In fact, they are. New York won the Super Bowl last year with a sub-mediocre offensive line and with linebackers and defensive backs who wouldn’t be starters for many other NFL teams. They ranked 27th in yards allowed, 25th in points allowed, and were the only Super Bowl champs ever to be outscored during the regular season. Nobody is saying that they are not “legitimate” champions.

The 2012 Redskins are not the 2011 Giants but they are only one game out of the playoffs and one game behind where New York was after 11 games last year. Again, if the Redskins are not legitimate then you have to wonder if the Giants are.

I’m not sure why Cruz would choose to talk down his team’s upcoming opponent. One can only hope that his words come back to haunt him. Perhaps then he will go back to being the happy, humble guy who was such a great story a year ago.

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With receiver group in flux, might Redskins make run at Alshon Jeffery?

With receiver group in flux, might Redskins make run at Alshon Jeffery?

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.

RELATED: Could FA Dontari Poe fix the Redskins nose tackle issue?

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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Could likely free agent Dontari Poe be the Redskins' answer at nose tackle?

Could likely free agent Dontari Poe be the Redskins' answer at nose tackle?

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.

RELATED: NFL Mock Draft Version 4.0

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.

More Redskins: #RedskinsTalk podcast: Is Kirk too nice for his own good?

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.

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.