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Free Agency: Who's left, defensive linemen edition

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Free Agency: Who's left, defensive linemen edition

Now that salary cap-gate is over, what's next for the Redskins 53-man roster. According to Rich Tandler - and without factoring in potential savings by cutting certain veterans - there is around 3.8 million left to play with, some of which goes toward signing the remaining draft picks. So, what should the Shanahan's do with that remaining coin? Considering the free agent options remaining are your rank and file types, there are few must-have players. Regardless, you never know what happens between now and the start of training camp and the regular season. That is why we're compiling this list of the viable and rainy day options among remaining NFL free agents. So far, we focused on the available offensive tackleline, running back, defensive back and wide receiver and tight end options. Now the defensive lineman.Based on Tandler's recent depth chart analysis, the only positions likely in play are the deep reserves at end - especially if five are kept - and nose tackle where 2011 seventh round pick Chris Neild backs up Barry Cofield. Should there be a need for more training camp depth or injuries strike,here are some of the names the Redskins could be calling on. In this area, those cut before or during training camp might will dramatically bolster the free agent pool.Andre Carter: The former Redskin pass rusher had a resurgent campaign with the Patriots last season, posting 10 sacks in 14 games before suffering a torn quad. Reports suggest the 33-year-old will be "ready to practice full speed in training camp." There is also a belief the Patriots are open to bringing Carter back.It would be a stunner to see Carter, never a good fit in a 3-4 scheme, return to D.C. "It was no surprise to see Carter thrive in the 4-3 again," the minds at Walter Football wrote, "which makes you wonder why the Redskins installed a 3-4." Let's move on.Aubrayo Franklin: The 31-year-old nose tackle wasslapped with the49ers franchisetag in 2010. After a downer of a season with the Saints in 2011, he nowfalls into the secondary free agent market. Like Cofield, Franklin is not the most massive of nose tackles (317 pounds), but he has played 16 games in four straight seasons.Marcus Thomas: Reportedly was seeking a long-term deal from the Broncos, but so far Denver has not given in to the 26-year-old tackle. The 2007 fourth-round pick started 11 games last season, finishing with 30 tackles.Would likely move outside in a 3-4.Rocky Bernard: With only one start over the past three seasons at defensive tackle for the Giants,adding the 33-year-old would be a pure depth play. Kelly Gregg: Another true veteran of the trenches, the former Ravens mauler still was a force against the run at times last season for the Chiefs. Turns 36 in November.Fred Robbins: Played his career primarily as a 4-3 defensive tackle. At 35, Robbins is obviously much closer to the end than the beginning of his career, but notched six sacks in 2010.Others: Wallace Gilberry, Tim Bulman, Jovan Haye And yes, Albert Haynesworth is available...

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Redskins Playbook: After worst to first in 2016, how strong will NFC East be?

Redskins Playbook: After worst to first in 2016, how strong will NFC East be?

When the Redskins won the NFC East in 2015 with a 9-7 record, most critics dismissed the division as weak. That theory was largely proved right when the Redskins got stomped at home in the first round of the playoffs by the Wild Card Green Bay Packers.

In 2016, however, the NFC East largely looked like the best division in football, or at least among the best divisions. Dallas won 13 games and took the NFC East title, the Giants won 11 and took the NFC's top Wild Card spot. The Redskins had a chance to make the playoffs in Week 17, but unceremoniously lost and fell short.

Still, Washington won eight games and Philadelphia won seven. In fact, the NFC East was the only division in the NFL without a team that lost 10 or more games. The AFC West - a division that some would argue was tougher than the NFC East - still had the Chargers and their 5-11 record.

What does it mean for 2017? If anything the only team expected to regress would be the Cowboys, and their regression could easily still have them looking to win around 10 games. 

The Eagles have improved with young, star QB Carson Wentz. New York will be interesting, as they have some age at various spots on their roster but still feature a two-time Super Bowl winning QB in Eli Manning and one of the best defenses in the NFL.

As for Washington? The defense should be much improved. It almost has to be as the 2016 version struggled significantly. If the defense can just be average (and I'd argue it could push for Top 15) the offense should continue to move the ball well. Producing in the red zone needs to look different than last season too.

The NFC East looks like a beast yet again. It would be no surprise if both NFC Wild Cards come from the division.

Let us know what you think in the comments. 

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Need to Know:Redskins faced one of the toughest schedules in NFL in 2016

Need to Know:Redskins faced one of the toughest schedules in NFL in 2016

Here is what you need to know on this Sunday, May 28, 16 days before the Washington Redskins start their mandatory minicamp on June 13.

Timeline

Days until:

—Training camp starts (7/27) 60
—Preseason opener @ Ravens (8/10) 74
—Season opener Eagles @ Redskins (9/10) 105

Note: I am on vacation this week in the Outer Banks. Need to Know will be a mix of new content and some of the most popular posts of 2017.

Redskins faced one of NFL’s toughest slates in 2016

(originally posted January 28)

As the Redskins came off their 2015 playoff season and looked towards 2016, one thing jumped out. Even before any games were played it looked like their path to a repeat playoff appearance would be difficult, more so than it was when they went 9-7 and took the NFC East title.

The 2015 schedule looked fairly easy when applying the eyeball test. They played just two games against teams that made the playoffs and those teams, the Patriots and Panthers, plus the Jets were the only teams they faced that finished the season with winning records.

The eyeball test was borne out by the numbers. According to the stat gurus at Football Outsiders the Redskins faced the 28th toughest schedule in terms of the DVOA of opposing defenses and the opposing offenses added up to the 24th most difficult.

The going was considerably tougher in 2016. The Redskins played seven games against teams that were in the playoff field. The defenses they faced stacked up as the toughest group of any NFL team. They played nine games against teams that finished in the top 11 in defensive DVOA. The offenses they faced were a little better than average, ranking 13th as a group.

While the Redskins’ season was widely regarded as a disappointment, it would be reasonable to say that given vastly improved quality of the competition that they did well in only having their record drop by half a game.

Of course, the goal is to be good enough to prosper and make the playoffs no matter what mix of teams the luck of the draw happens to put on the schedule. They will need to get there in a hurry. Awaiting the Redskins on their 2017 schedule are seven 2016 playoff teams plus one more that finished the year with a winning record.

The fortunes of NFL teams can’t always be predicted in advance, especially more than seven months before the season kicks off. But it’s safe to say that the 2017 slate will be challenging. If they are going to improve their record they are going to have to improve their level of play dramatically.

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.