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Need to Know: Gruden says Redskins defense better on paper but must prove it on the field

Need to Know: Gruden says Redskins defense better on paper but must prove it on the field

Here is what you need to know on this Sunday, May 7, 17 days before the Redskins start OTAs on May 24.

Timeline

Welcome to the midpoint of the Redskins offseason. It’s been 126 days since the Redskins played a game. Their season opener against the Eagles at FedEx Field is in 126 days.

Days until:

—Redskins rookie camp (5/12) 5
—Redskins OTAs start (5/24) 17
—Training camp starts (7/27) 81

Quick post-draft thoughts on the state of the Redskins

—Although the Washington defense certainly seems to be improved, Jay Gruden warned against irrational exuberance. “You feel like you're better, everybody does at this time,” he said shortly after the draft ended. “It's how we gel as a unit that is the important thing – how they buy into Coach Manusky's scheme and Coach Tomsula's coaching, how they work well together and how they make each other better. That's a challenge that we have.”

—Earlier this week I assessed the chances that each of this year’s 10 draft picks have of making the team. I was not bullish on the chances of fourth-round safety Montae Nicholson sticking around on the 53-man roster. But looking back at how Gruden spoke more in terms of when he is on the roster and not if, perhaps I should take another look. “I think he ran a 4.4 at the Combine, and worst-case he’s going to help out our special teams and that’s important,” said Gruden when asked why they drafted Nicholson. “That’s one of the big three phases so that’s a good add for us.”

—Usually when you ask a player who was just drafted where he wants to play in the NFL, he just says wherever they want line me up. But Chase Roullier, who played by guard and center at Wyoming, was definitive in his preference. “I think I’ll do very well at center,” he said. “Being up there in front of the rest of the offensive line, being able to see that defense and really play to my strengths of being able to see the defense and read things I think will really help me a lot in the NFL.” He got his degree in mechanical engineering from Wyoming so the thinking part of the job shouldn’t be a great challenge for him.

—The Redskins announced the signings of eight undrafted players, bringing their roster up to 90. They can sign more after rookie minicamp next week, or at any time for that matter, but they would have to release a player for each one they sign. I’m interested in what 325-pound NT Ondre Pipkins out of Texas Tech can do as there is plenty of opportunity at his position. The same can be said of FS Fish Smithson, who also has to coolest name. But, honestly, it will be difficult to get a handle on which of these players has a realistic shot at sticking around until getting a look at them in pads in Richmond.

—As of now, the Redskins have seven 2018 draft picks, their own pick in each round. They did not trade for any future picks last week and it doesn’t look like they will get any compensatory picks next year. Yes, even though they lost key players in DeSean Jackson, Pierre Garçon, and Chris Baker, according to Over the Cap the picks that may have come from the loss of those players were cancelled out by signing Terrelle Pryor, Zach Brown, Terrell McClain, and Stacy McGee. This is unofficial but the OTC guys seem to have the NFL’s super-secret formula figured out.

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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Report: 'There isn't a real price that will make Kirk Cousins happy' with Redskins

Report: 'There isn't a real price that will make Kirk Cousins happy' with Redskins

Following a slew of reports that cast doubt on the Redskins reaching a long-term deal with Kirk Cousins, ESPN's Dianna Russini tweeted Tuesday that the impass is not about money. 

If the report is true, then Washington has run out of good options for retaining Cousins in the long term.

It's possible the team could use a third-straight franchise tag to keep him next season, but the price tag around $34 million would be astronomical for one season.

The transition tag would be worth in the neighborhood of $28 million. 

Russini doesn't elaborate on the reasons behind her report that Cousins wouldn't be happy in Washington regardless of price. But it's important to note that both teams and players have incentive to create leverage in contract negotiations through the media. 

The Redskins have until July 17 to reach a long-term deal with Cousins. 

MORE REDSKINS: Backup center again a question mark for the Redskins

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Redskins 2017 depth chart preview: Interior offensive line

Redskins 2017 depth chart preview: Interior offensive line

Over the next few weeks, Rich Tandler will take a position-by-position look at the Redskins’ 2017 depth chart as the team enjoys some R&R ahead of training camp. Some positions are easy to handicap. Others have moving parts and, thus, are more complex. So, who’s in? And who’s in trouble?

Up today…

Position: Interior offensive line

On the roster: Guards Shawn Lauvao, Brandon Scherff, Arie Kouandjio, Tyler Catalina, Kyle Kalis, Isaiah Williams; Centers Spencer Long, Chase Roullier, Ronald Patrick

Locks: Lauvao, Scherff, Kouandjio, Long

As noted here this morning, there seemed to be a pretty good chance that Lauvao would be on his way out. But free agency and the draft went by and no serious challenger for him was acquired. It looks like they will let him play out the last year of his free agent contract and then see what they want to do with him next year when he will be a 30-year-old free agent.

RELATED: 3 Redskins who are up, 3 down

The Redskins might like Kouandjio, going into his third season, to emerge as a viable option as Lauvao’s successor. He was not up to the task in a couple of spot starts last year. But, just like Lauvao, he can take some comfort in the fact that the organization did not expend any major resources on bringing in another guard for competition.

Scherff went to the Pro Bowl in his second year in the league. He will be a fixture at right guard for the next decade or so, provided the Redskins can figure out a way to get a third high-priced offensive lineman under the salary cap (in addition to tackles Trent Williams and Morgan Moses).

Long did a solid job in his first year as the starting center. He will anchor the line again this year. He is eligible for a contract extension and it will be interesting to see if talks heat up between now and training camp.

On the bubble: Roullier

In an ideal Redskins world, the rookie sixth-round pick would be able to learn center and both guard spots well enough to be a workable fill-in on game days. In the real world, that may not work. During minicamp, offensive line coach Bill Callahan told me that while he had been impressed with how well Roullier had picked things up so far, the real test will come with the pads on in Richmond.

MORE REDSKINS: Redskins 53-man roster projection, defense

Long shots: Catalina, Kalais, Williams, Patrick

You never know what will happen during the preseason but it seems that the practice squad is the best hope for any of these guys to be around Ashburn in the fall. If injury or issues with Roullier’s development create a hole in the depth chart in the 53-man roster the organization is likely to go outside to find help off the waiver wire. Two or three on this list are likely to be back for another shot in 2018.  

Redskins 2017 depth chart previews: Offensive tackle | Wide receiver

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.