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Hunkering Down

Hunkering Down

Hunkering Down

The clock is ticking at Redskins Park with a week left to go before free agency. That happens every year in late February, but the difference in 2006 is that nobody knows what’s going to happen when the clock strikes midnight.

Vinny Cerrato said a lot about the Redskins cap situation on Thursday by saying very little on WTEM in Washington.
If there is a Collective Bargaining Agreement, we can answer a lot of our questions in free agency. If there's not a Collective Bargaining Agreement, which we should know hopefully in the next few days, then we'll be doing most of our [player acquisitions] in the draft.
In other words, the Redskins will have plenty of cap room to spend should the CBA get extended. An extension would likely carry the dual benefits of a higher cap, probably in the neighborhood of $110 million, and an easier environment in which to redo contracts. Washington could file a little paperwork, perhaps release a player or two and then start the preflight checklist for Redskin One to start ferrying prospects to Ashburn

Without a new CBA, however, the Redskins will be severely pinched to squeeze in under the cap as we talked about here earlier this week. First the Turk, normally a staple during training camp, will be making premature visits to perhaps as many as a dozen players, telling them that the coach wants to see them and, oh yes, bring your playbook. Players’ agents will be in the lobby and on the phone, as they try to hammer out new deals that will shuffle enough money in the right way so as to provide cap relief but still remain within the guidelines of the CBA. It will take every bit of creative accounting to get the Redskins under the cap and have enough room to sign their draft picks and leave room for an injury replacement or two.

If one were to listen to what NFLPA chief Gene Upshaw said today it’s would appear that the latter scenario is the one that the Redskins will be dealing with. After speaking with a group of player agents today, Upshaw seemed quite pessimistic that a deal would be reached:
Unless something is going on ... that I've not seen in the last day or two, we're just not there yet. I'm not putting a lot of faith in that we're going to reach agreement in the next couple of days.
Of course, all of that talk could be just that, talk, a negotiating tactic. There are rumors that the deal is close and it would take just one breakthrough to get it done

Complicating the matter further is the fact that the NFL has yet to announce exactly what the salary cap for 2006 will be absent a new CBA. It could be anywhere from $92 million to $95 million. Those three million dollars make a big difference for a team that will be needed to squeeze every dime. On top of that, every contract signed and renegotiated will have ramifications through future years. The 2007 season may be uncapped, it may not be if a CBA is reached sometime in the next few months. The Redskins will have to take their best guess at what will happen down the line.

All of this means that the Redskins not only have a Plan A and a Plan B, but because of all of the possible dimensions and permutations their stacks of plans likely run through most of the alphabet. The Excel spreadsheet used to calculate the cap must have entries in Row 782, Column CZ.

And those are just the contingencies dealing directly with the salary cap. Cerrato, Joe Gibbs, and the rest of the scouts and coaches have to evaluate free agents that the Redskins may or may not be able sign and start figuring out how to replace players that they may or may not have to cut.

Some are seeing other teams releasing players and redoing contracts already and wondering why the Redskins have yet to announce anything more than the signing of long snapper Ethan Albright. The complexity of the Redskins’ situation dictates that virtually everything takes place at the last minute. The elements of each plan are intertwined and it’s likely that very few if any potential moves are common to all of the plans. There is no point in playing your cards early when the potential gain is minimal and the possible consequences of making the wrong move are very damaging.

Those of you who have been complaining that it’s been too dull be patient. Things will begin to heat up in the next several days as the clock keeps ticking.

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Need to Know: Redskins' Gruden's fate hinges on Manusky, McCloughan

Need to Know: Redskins' Gruden's fate hinges on Manusky, McCloughan

Here is what you need to know on this Tuesday, January 24, 36 days before the NFL franchise tag deadline.

Timeline

Days until:

NFL free agency starts 44
—NFL Draft 93
First Sunday of 2017 season 229

Gruden's fate rests on Manusky, McCloughan

In his press conference the day after the Redskins lost to the Giants to end their season, Jay Gruden talked about the decision-making process that would unfold if there were changes in the coaching staff.

“Ultimately I would think it is my call – our call,” he said. “Bruce [Allen] will have some input, Dan [Snyder] will have some input, Scot [McCloughan] will have some input, but from a staff standpoint, I like to think I have a lot of pull on that one.”

That doesn’t make it sound like he was completely free to replace the fired Joe Barry and new Rams head coach Sean McVay with whomever he chose. Others could make suggestions and have input and possibly veto power.

The decision to make Greg Manusky the defensive coordinator likely was influenced by and/or had the approval of, McCloughan. Manusky ran the defense in San Francisco when McCloughan was the GM there. McCloughan was instrumental in getting Manusky to come to the Redskins to coach the outside linebackers a year ago, after he was fired as the Colts’ defensive coordinator.

Related: Redskins defensive coordinator resume: Greg Manusky

Having McCloughan’s approval for the hire provides Gruden with some degree of security. If it doesn’t work out, if the Redskins upgrade the talent on defense and still don’t get better results, the heat will be on McCloughan as well as Gruden.

Still, Gruden will be the one in the spotlight this season. When the annual media lists of coaches on the hot season in 2017 come out, Gruden is sure to be atop many of them. It’s simple math, really. In Gruden’s three seasons the team has gone 4-12, 9-7, and 8-7-1. A return to double-digit loss territory would be a regression and there would be legitimate concern over whether Gruden is the guy who can make progress and then maintain it and build on it.

Did Gruden get his first pick for the job? Probably not. It seems that Gus Bradley was the favorite, having built the aggressive Seattle defense and having ties with McCloughan from there and with Gruden and Allen from Tampa Bay. But he decided to head west and take over the Chargers’ defense, perhaps wondering about Gruden’s job security. If Bradley didn’t top the list, then Gruden’s top choice probably was Cincinnati defensive coordinator Paul Guenther. But he is under contract and the Bengals denied permission for him to talk about making a lateral move.

More Redskins: Redskins stay in house

Wade Phillips decided to go to the Rams, who have decidedly better defensive personnel than the Redskins, before he had a chance to meet with Washington. We’re not sure how seriously Gruden pursued Phillips but it’s possible that he would have taken him over Manusky if he had the chance. That means that Manusky was at best Plan C or Plan D.

But that’s water under the bridge. Gruden’s fate now lies in the hands of Manusky and in the hands of McCloughan, who must set out to get the new defensive coordinator a significant talent upgrade. If Gruden gets a better defense and can maintain a top offensive attack (given Kirk Cousins’ contract status, he needs McCloughan’s help there, too) and the Redskins can take the next step he should be expecting to start serious extension talks in 2018.

If the Redskins spin their wheels and end up around .500 again or if they regress and post double-digit losses like they did for five out of six years from 2009-2014 they could be cleaning house and starting over again. That wouldn’t be a good scenario for anyone. The organization is counting on Manusky, who was Plan C, and McCloughan to help Gruden get things on track.

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Stay up to date on the Redskins! Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page www.Facebook.com/RealRedskins and follow him on Twitter @Rich_TandlerCSN.

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The Redskins newest coach has a rap video in his honor

The Redskins newest coach has a rap video in his honor

On Monday morning, the Redskins made several new coaching hires official, including Jim Tomsula as the new defensive line coach.

Tomsula was out of football in 2016 after serving as the 49ers head coach for the 2015 season in which the team finished 5-11.

Despite struggling as a head coach, Tomsula gained an odd, if not heavy cult following. It made little sense considering he has the look and demeanor of someone who was put on this earth to coach football and coach football only. But through the glories of the internet came this:

The Jimmy Tomsula rap song.

RELATED: MOST IMPORTANT REDSKINS' FREE AGENTS

It's just a demo, and I suppose the full version could be out there somewhere since this song is over a year old. But there's something hypnotizing about 60 consecutive seconds of "Open up my shirt like im Jimmy Tom-Sula."

How long before we begin hearing this song at FedEx Field on Sundays?