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Need to Know: Gruden's extension further increases his power in Redskins organization

Need to Know: Gruden's extension further increases his power in Redskins organization

Here is what you need to know on this Tuesday, March 7, two days before the March 9 start of NFL free agency.  

Timeline

Days until:

—Redskins offseason workouts start (4/17) 41
—NFL Draft (4/27) 51
—Franchise tag contract deadline (7/15) 130
—First Sunday of 2017 season (9/10) 187

Gruden’s influence is growing

When Jay Gruden signed as the Redskins’ head coach, his authority did not extend much beyond the white lines. His power in the draft room and in determining the 90 players on the offseason roster was only in an advisory capacity. That power belonged to Bruce Allen and Scot McCloughan.

It’s not unusual for a first-time head coach to have 90-man roster control. However, many coaches are given power to form the 53-man roster out of those 90 players. Gruden did not have that authority either. Again, he could make his recommendations and fight for what he wanted but if there was a disagreement it was Allen or McCloughan who won.

A year after he came on board his chances of gaining any more power seemed to be greatly diminished on the heels of tumultuous 4-12 season that saw him shuffle Robert Griffin III, Kirk Cousins, and Colt McCoy due to injuries and ineffectiveness. There was talk that he could be one and done in Washington.

RELATED: NFL Mock Draft Version 4.0

That never really was an option as Gruden was only one year into a five-year contract. But a weak showing in 2015 might have led to an early exit.

But Gruden survived because he grabbed control. He benched Griffin, the favorite of upper management, who saw both marketing opportunities and the massive investment of draft capital they had put into Griffin, and made Cousins the starter.

It’s one thing to make a risky move, it’s another if it has good results. The QB change came up aces. The Redskins went 9-7 with Cousins throwing for over 4,000 yards and getting particularly hot down the stretch as the Redskins recovered from a bumpy start to finish hot and take the NFC East title.

Such a decision can go a long way towards establishing yourself as someone in the organization who should be listened to. The move didn’t do anything to Gruden’s contracted power, or lack thereof. But you must believe that his “suggestions” for who should stay and who should go get taken a lot more seriously. If he wants the team to keep a particular free agent or let him go, his word carries more weight than his contract says it does. His voice carries more weight in late April in the draft war room.

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Now with the backdrop of his contract extension through 2020 and the vacuum created by apparent shrinking of Scot McCloughan’s role, it looks like he could gather even more authority, formally or otherwise. Other than Dan Snyder and possibly Allen (nobody really seems to know the length the team president’s contract), only Jordan Reed is tied to the Redskins for longer than Gruden.

But for someone in Gruden’s position, power lasts only as long as the results are good. If the quality of his “recommendations” starts to go south, so will his power. And if bad decisions are being made that is usually reflected on the field, something that would put his employment in jeopardy regardless of how long he has to go on his contract.  

Tandler on Twitter

On a report that DeSean Jackson will be looking for $10-$12 million in free agency:

In case you missed it

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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Redskins Playbook: Niles Paul forcing a fourth tight end roster spot?

Redskins Playbook: Niles Paul forcing a fourth tight end roster spot?

Redskins coaches appreciate Niles Paul. Not just for the immense physical skills, a 6-foot-1, 225 lb. college receiver turned NFL tight end and fullback. He works hard every day at practice, and demands the same from his teammates. 

Last season, Paul landed on the injured reserve after an injury in London during a Week 8 tie against the Bengals. Because of that, some speculation emerged that Paul could be the odd man out in the Redskins tight end group, behind Jordan Reed and Vernon Davis and fighting with 2017 draft pick Jeremy Sprinkle, not to mention veteran Derek Carrier. 

RELATED: COULD REDSKINS MAKE RUN AT NICK MANGOLD?

After two preseason games, it's clear Paul is ready to fight for that spot. Against Green Bay on Saturday night, Paul logged a touchdown catch and a fumble recovery on special teams, showing the versatility that makes him so valuable to Washington. 

For Paul, he's just happy to be back on the field. 

"I got my season cut in half last year. I just want to be back on the field by any means necessary. I've just been missing it. I've been missing football in my life," Paul said after the game (full video above).

Paul's acrobatic TD grab showed that he still has the explosiveness to help the offense, but his special teams play is what will keep him on the roster. It also helps that head coach Jay Gruden complimented Paul for an outstanding camp and work ethic. 

"His speed looks where it was before the injuries. I mean, I think he's had an outstanding training camp so far. He's done so many different things. And that's one of the toughest positions," Gruden said of Paul. 

The Redskins offense hasn't hit full cylinder yet, but Paul thinks the return of Jordan Reed will help. 

"We're missing a major piece and that's Jordan Reed," he said. "We got some fine tuning to do."

Considering Reed's injury history, and backup tight end Vernon Davis starting the season at 33, a healthy Paul is a luxury for the Redskins. He stands to make nearly $2.5 million this season, but he also brings versatility. Paul is happy to play fullback, a role that seems to be growing, as well as all over the field on special teams. 

Washington will absolutely keep Reed and Davis. With his play this preseason, Paul seems a sure thing too. And if the squad wants to keep their draft pick in Sprinkle, who has tremendous size and has shown promise, four tight ends on the 53-man roster looks like the future. 

<<CLICK HERE FOR PHOTOS FROM REDSKINS TRAINING CAMP>>

Want more Redskins? Click here to follow JP on Facebook and check out @JPFinlayCSN for live updates via Twitter! Click here for the #RedskinsTalk on Apple Podcasts, here for Google Play or press play below. Don't forget to subscribe!

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With Spencer Long on the shelf, could Redskins make a run at Nick Mangold?

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USA Today Sports

With Spencer Long on the shelf, could Redskins make a run at Nick Mangold?

News broke late Monday night that Redskins' center Spencer Long underwent a minor knee scope and is expected to miss two weeks. That timetable spells good news for Washington, as that would bring Long back to the team before the first regular season game against the Eagles on September 10th. 

In the meantime, expect rookie Chase Roullier to take over at center for the Redskins. A 6th round draft pick, Bruce Allen and the Washington brass moved up to select Roullier, and the young player out of Wyoming had a strong training camp. 

RELATED: NILES PAUL FORCING HIS WAY TO A ROSTER SPOT?

"He’s done a great job, he really has. For a rookie to come in here and handle all the things he has to handle, it’s been very impressive," Redskins coach Jay Gruden said of Roullier in early August. 

Still, Jay Gruden has been very clear about the need for a backup center on the roster. Last season the team brought in veteran John Sullivan during the year to provide depth at the position after Kory Lichtensteiger went down with injury.  Sullivan ended up starting one game for Washington, and is now playing with the Rams. 

With Long on the mend, the only other center on the Redskins roster is Roullier. Ronald Patrick is listed with the more generic OL designation though he has played center too.

It seems likely the team will move quickly to add another center, and one name that will get suggested is Nick Mangold. An 11-year veteran that played his entire career with the Jets, Mangold has more experience than Long, Roullier and Patrick combined.

He's also played the position at a very high level. Twice named to the NFL's All Pro team, Mangold has made seven Pro Bowls, most recently in 2015.

It's not entirely clear why Mangold isn't on an NFL roster already. He worked out for the Ravens this offseason, though some reports suggested Mangold wanted more guaranteed money than was discussed. 

A quick look at his Twitter feed does not suggest a guy missing the NFL life. A big soccer fan, Mangold seems very dialed in to London's Tottenham Hotspur and the New York City Football Club. (Check his Twitter out here)

If the team truly believes Long should not miss any regular season action, Mangold is probably not a fit. At 33-years-old with an impressive resume, Mangold likely doesn't want to come back just to be a backup, and Gruden has repeatedly talked about Long's ability and potential in the middle of the line. Should Long suffer a setback, the equation could change. 

Other names are likely to pop up for tryouts, as the 'Skins must consider more interior line depth. Making a run at Mangold might be something fans want to do, though it might not make sense at this point.

<<CLICK HERE FOR PHOTOS FROM REDSKINS TRAINING CAMP>>

Want more Redskins? Click here to follow JP on Facebook and check out @JPFinlayCSN for live updates via Twitter! Click here for the #RedskinsTalk on Apple Podcasts, here for Google Play or press play below. Don't forget to subscribe!