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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' decision on Su'a Cravens doesn't change much immediately

Redskins' decision on Su'a Cravens doesn't change much immediately

When the Redskins announced that safety Su’a Cravens has been placed on the reserve/left team list, ending his 2017 season, some things changed. But mostly, in the short term anyway, things stayed the same.

Before diving into this, let’s acknowledge that Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk is reporting that Cravens was going to show up at Redskins Park today and the Redskins put him on the reserve/left team list “out of the blue” and without the five-day notice that the team is required to give the player before putting him on that list. A grievance is a possibility. We will follow that aspect of it carefully but for now, we don’t know much about it and will let Florio’s report stand on its own.

What does not change now is the Redskins’ roster. Since he was on the exempt/left team list he did not count against the 53-man roster. The Redskins started Deshazor Everett at strong safety Week 1 against the Eagles and rookie Montae Nicholson got the nod Sunday against the Rams. It is likely that one of those two gets the start for the rest of the year.

RELATED: MUST-SEE PHOTOS FROM REDSKINS' WIN IN LA

Had Cravens reported the Redskins would have had to make a roster move to make room for him. When he left the team right after final cuts were made, offensive tackle T.J. Clemmings was picked up on waivers. He presumably is the 53rd man on the roster but he is safe for now.

So, what changes? The Redskins save some money. Cravens was slated to make $651,408 in salary this year. The money was guaranteed; however, leaving the team voided that guarantee. The team also could send him a bill for $335,631, the one-year prorated portion of his $1.422 million signing bonus he got last year.

It should be noted that the financial aspects of this are pending any grievance proceedings. If the Redskins did not give Cravens proper notice and he reports for work, he could make the case that he is entitled to his money. But, again, that is something that we’ll see about in the coming days and weeks.

MORE REDSKINS: INJURY LIST LONG, PAINFUL BUT NONE SERIOUS

Cravens’ status will be a topic of discussion during Jay Gruden’s podium session and in the locker room on Wednesday. But after that, the focus will return to playing the Raiders and the whole saga will go on the back burner.

What happens after this year? As far as I can gather, the reserve/left team list only applies to the 2017 season. If Cravens follows the terms of his contract and reports for work when required in 2018 the Redskins would have to either let him play, release him, or trade him.

But that is down the road. For now, the Redskins will move on as though he is out for the season with an injury and play with the guys they have.

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.

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Need to Know: Last look at Redskins vs. Rams

Need to Know: Last look at Redskins vs. Rams

Here is what you need to know on this Tuesday, September 19, five days before the Washington Redskins play the Raiders at FedEx Field.

Timeline

Today’s schedule: No media availability

Days until:

—Monday night Redskins @ Chiefs (10/2) 13
—Monday night Redskins @ Eagles (11/23) 24
—Cowboys @ Redskins (10/29) 40

Last look at Redskins vs. Rams

—Before the game, I confidently told someone on Twitter that Ryan Grant would get about as many targets (6) against the Rams as he did against the Eagles. But as it turned out, Grant was targeted just twice. The second time was on the game-winning touchdown in the last two minutes. A big difference between this week and last was that Kirk Cousins attempted just 27 passes against LA compared to 40 vs. the Eagles. That led to fewer opportunities for receivers and Grant was one of those who saw his chances drop the most.

—Cousins started well and finished strong but he didn’t do much in the middle. It seems that he was rolling along well until he misfired on a fade pattern to Josh Doctson and then on another throw to Chris Thompson. That ended a goal to go opportunity in a situation where a touchdown would have given the Redskins a commanding 17-0 lead. The next time the Redskins had the ball Cousins was sacked on his first passing attempt and he fumbled a snap a little later. In the third quarter and early in the fourth he completed some passes but many of them were for a minimal gain. To his credit, he didn’t panic and force a turnover. And, of course, he came through on the final drive, completing three of three passes for 42 yards including the 11-yard game winner to Grant.

—During the week leading up to the game, Jay Gruden emphasized the importance of getting to the quarterback. It didn’t play out as well as I’m sure Gruden would have liked. They got two sacks of Jared Goff, one by Preston Smith and one by Ryan Kerrigan, both in the Rams’ possession late in the first half. They pressured Goff on other occasions but overall their pass rush possibly was not as good as it was against the Eagles. Then, they at least got to Carson Wentz even though they had issues bringing him down. Too often, Goff had plenty of time to operate and that helped keep the Rams in the game until near the end.

—Chris Thompson has been the Redskins’ offensive MVP so far. He has improved each year and yesterday he was at his peak. What you really had to like on the 61-yard touchdown run on the draw play was his patience. He was almost standing still as he took the handoff from Cousins as he carried out the pass-blocking fake and chose his path for when he got the ball. He said that the play was designed for him to go one way but his read took him someplace else. It took him to the end zone for the second time that game.

—One surprise early in the game was that Montae Nicholson started at strong safety in place of DeShazor Everett. Nicholson made no glaring errors before he left the game with an AC joint sprain. The depth chart here apparently is set after the team announced that Su'a Cravens, the starter until he left the team to contemplate retirement, will not return this season. 

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.

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