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Looking ahead to 2016: Six Redskins starters set to be free agents

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Looking ahead to 2016: Six Redskins starters set to be free agents

The Redskins have already taken care of two significant pieces of their 2016 offseason business. Just before they started training camp they signed linebacker Ryan Kerrigan to a five-year, $57.5 million contract extension. A few weeks later they locked up left tackle Trent Williams with $66 million over six years.

With those two big contracts out of the way the Redskins will be able to get to work on other free agents they want to sign once the season ends with certainty about the cap implications of those big contracts. As we noted yesterday they should have ample cap space to work with so lack of money to spend should not be an object towards them keeping any of their own players they want to keep.

Here is a look at the Redskins’ unrestricted free agents:

Starters

QB Kirk Cousins (age 28 at start of 2016 season, 2015 cap number $778,000)—This could be huge or it could be almost an afterthought, depending on how Cousins plays in the remaining nine games. If his performance is good enough to warrant starter status in 2015, he could get a deal something like Nick Foles’ extension with the Rams. In August, Foles, who was going into the final year of his rookie contract, signed for two years and $24.5 million in new money. $12 million is guaranteed and, in reality, that is the total value of the deal. There is no guaranteed money in the final year of the deal so the Rams could easily cut ties after 2016 with minimal cap pain. Cousins could get something similar if the Redskins want him to be their starter next year.

FB Darrel Young (age 29, $1.5 million)—He has played only 45 snaps on offense this year and although he is also a regular on special teams, you have to think that the organization can find someone younger and cheaper to fill that role. On the other hand, Scot McCloughan is going to keep a few veterans around to set the example for the younger players and Young is perfect for that. I think he’s back on a deal that’s shorter and slightly less lucrative than the one he’s finishing up (that one is 3 years, $3.9 million, $1 million guaranteed).

ILB Keenan Robinson (age 27, $765,000)—Even though he has fallen off from his high level of play he displayed last year, he is still a valuable member of the defense and not a player they want to let get away. Unless he really turns it on the last nine game he should get something in the neighborhood of the three-year, $12 million deal that Perry Riley got in 2014, with a couple of million added on due to cap inflation.

NT Terrance Knighton (age 30, $4.45 million)—This could get sticky. The Redskins are probably willing to give him an average of 4.5 million per year but probably for only a couple of years. Knighton’s camp will point to the deal that Dan Williams got from the Raiders and want more like four years, $25 million. A good solution would be to meet in the middle and go for three years, $17 million.

OLB Junior Galette (age 28, $745,000)—He didn’t start a game, of course, but he would have if not for the torn Achilles he suffered in August. Another “prove-it” deal at minimum salary for him? That’s doubtful. I think they give him a couple of years with a low guarantee that’s loaded with incentives and per-game roster bonuses. Let’s say two years, as low as $1 million per year and as high as $7 million if he stays on the roster for 16 games a year and cashes in on the incentives.

RB Alfred Morris (age 27, $1.6 million)—If I absolutely had to bet I think he plays elsewhere in 2016. The simple fact is that he has more value to a team that is committed to the zone scheme, like perhaps the Falcons. But you never know what will happen in the last nine games and you can’t rule out a re-signing.

Reserves

QB Colt McCoy (age 30) likely will re-sign to back up Cousins or whoever the starter is. I think CB Will Blackmon (age 32), DE Frank Kearse (age 27), TE Anthony McCoy (age 28), and LB Mason Foster (age 27) will be offered minimum-salary type deals to return to compete for jobs as backups. S Trenton Robinson (age 26) is currently a starter due to injury but he should be a backup and special teams performer. But with a safety shortage around the NFL, someone might offer him more money elsewhere. DE Kedric Golston (age 33) is a good locker room leader and capable reserve but the team may want to go the younger and cheaper route. Same with TE Logan Paulsen (age 29), although the shortage of tight ends might prompt the team to make him an offer. Unless Josh LeRibeus (age 27) really turns it on in what remains of his opportunity to start at center, he is likely to leave.

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Redskins offseason questions: Will Scot McCloughan go defense in 1st round?

Redskins offseason questions: Will Scot McCloughan go defense in 1st round?

The good news for the 2016 Redskins was that they didn’t collapse after winning the division the previous season as has been their pattern in the past. The bad news was that they didn’t take the next step and improve from a franchise that can compete to make the playoffs into one that is playing multiple postseason games year in and year out.

That work begins right now for Jay Gruden, Scot McCloughan and the players. In the coming weeks, Redskins reporters Rich Tandler and JP Finlay will examine the biggest questions facing the Redskins as another offseason gets rolling.

RELATED: #RedskinsTalk podcast: It's tag day

Will the Redskins go with a defensive player in the first round of the 2017 Draft?

Finlay: The Redskins haven't drafted a defensive player in the first round since 2011 when the franchise grabbed Ryan Kerrigan with the 16th pick. In fact, the team has only drafted five defensive players in the first round over the last 15 years. 

History suggests Washington will stay away from a defensive player, but sources in Ashburn have suggested otherwise. Assuming the talent is there when the 'Skins pick at No. 17, Scot McCloughan would like to bolster the team's defensive line specifically. 

Things will get complicated should Leonard Fournette or Dalvin Cook slide to 17. Rich Tandler certainly would like to see the Burgundy and Gold add a top-flight running back.

Tandler: Many fans believe that conducting a draft is like going into a grocery store with a list. Defensive lineman is at the top of the list so you go to aisle 12 and put a DL in the cart. Safety is next on the list so you push the cart over to that aisle and pick out one of those.

No, a draft is much more unpredictable. There might not be a defensive lineman who is close to worthy of the No. 17 pick when the Redskins are on the clock. Talk of taking the best available player is like fingernails on a chalkboard to some. But if you’re reaching for need in a draft, you’re losing that draft. Sure, if a player in a position of need is just a spot or two down from the best available you think about it. Still, staying true to your board is the way to build a team.

The other thing to consider here is that we haven’t gone through free agency yet. Needs will shift after that. Suppose the Redskins sign two starting-caliber D-linemen and lose both Pierre Garçon and DeSean Jackson in free agency? Defensive line is no longer a five-alarm priority and receiver will be. 

More offseason questions: 

What are reasonable expectations for Josh Doctson?

— Will there be a surprise salary cap cut?

— Should the Redskins defense switch to the 4-3?

— Is Spencer Long the answer at center?

— How many D-linemen do the Redskins need?

— Should the Redskins draft another QB? 

— With Sean McVay gone, will the Redskins run the ball more?

— Can Cravens handle the transition to safety? 

— Will the Redskins re-sign Pierre Garçon? 

— Will Rob Kelley be the lead running back in 2017?

<<<LOOKING AT REDSKINS DRAFT PROSPECTS>>>

Want more Redskins? Check out @JPFinlayCSN and @Rich_TandlerCSN for live updates or click here for the #RedskinsTalk Podcast on iTunes, here for Google Play or press play below. Don't forget to subscribe!

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Redskins free agent WR Pierre Garçon has simple question: 'Y'all hiring?'

Redskins free agent WR Pierre Garçon has simple question: 'Y'all hiring?'

Twice in the last five seasons Pierre Garçon logged more than 1,000 yards receiving as a member of the Washington Redskins, including the 2016 season. He's caught 376 passes in Washington for 21 touchdowns over 74 games.

Outside of a foot injury that cost his six games in 2012, Garçon has been arguably the Redskins most durable wide receiver, and he's known to be a hard worker in the weight room and the practice field. 

Despite all that, Garçon doesn't know that he will be back with the Burgundy and Gold once free agency opens. In fact, that uncertainty led the 30-year-old wideout to post a simple question on his Instagram page.

#YallHiring?

A post shared by Pierre Garcon (@pierregarcon) on

The top of the Redskins offseason questions remains QB Kirk Cousins. Garçon and fellow wideout DeSean Jackson are headed for free agency, as is standout defensive lineman Chris Baker. Reports show that the team has made little to no contact with any of the players or their representatives, though many conversations could be planned for the NFL Draft Combine in Indianapolis later this month. 

Garçon's question seems simple, but the answer remains a mystery. 

<<<LOOKING AT REDSKINS DRAFT PROSPECTS>>>

Want more Redskins? Check out @JPFinlayCSN for live updates or click here for the #RedskinsTalk Podcast on iTunes, here for Google Play or press play below. Don't forget to subscribe!