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Need to Know: The Redskins' free agency focus should shift to bringing back their own

Need to Know: The Redskins' free agency focus should shift to bringing back their own

Here is what you need to know on this Wednesday, March 13, 43 days before the April 27 NFL draft.

Timeline

Days until:

—Offseason workouts begin (3/17) 33
—Redskins rookie camp (5/12) 58
—Redskins OTAs start (5/24) 70
—Franchise tag contract deadline (7/15) 122
—First Sunday of 2017 season (9/10) 179

Three and out

1. Why no interest in Hankins?

Johnathan Hankins of the Giants has drawn very little interest in free agency. He is young (24), large (320 lb.) and one of the main reasons the Giants turned around from being one of the worst defenses in the NFL in 2015 to one of the best last year. But not only is his phone not ringing with a 703 area code on the caller I.D., it’s not ringing from anywhere. That usually means that the player is looking for too much money. It seems to be taking a while for Hankins’ to come down to where teams are interested.

RELATED: NFL Mock Draft Version 5.0

We’ll see what happens as the rest of this week unfolds. He can’t wait too long. Although there is a lot of cap money out there, teams will go elsewhere to fill their needs.

2. I’ve been asked several times over the last couple of days if the Redskins were done in free agency.

With that said, they could be done. Perhaps they have squeezed all that they can out of this lemon of a free agent class. Last month I wrote that free agency is not the cure for what ails the Redskins. The pool of quality free agents was extremely thin. Add to that a lot of teams having a lot of cap space and you have a lot of inflated prices for players who won’t deliver sufficient bang for the buck. The Redskins should use their remaining cap resources to lock up their own players who are eligible for extensions such as Morgan Moses and Spencer Long and then turn the organization’s attention to the draft.

MORE REDSKINS: Pryor 'assumes' Cousins will be the QB

3. The Redskins’ next move in free agency may be to bring back some of their own. I’m not sure if all the starting center jobs around the league are filled but there aren’t many left. If John Sullivan can’t find a starting job, look for the Redskins to try to bring him back to back up at center. They could try to go the veteran minimum salary benefit route with some guaranteed money tacked on and have have his cap number count for less than his actual salary. I also wonder if Duke Ihenacho will be back for some safety depth.

Out—Inside/middle linebacker not a valued position in Washington

I thought this was the case and I went and looked it up on the indispensable Pro Football Reference and I was right. They also have only spend major free agency dollars on London Fletcher and that was a nice deal, not a blockbuster of any sort. Anyone thinking that the Redskins are going to go hard after Don’t’a Hightower should realize this. It’s just odd how some organizations through different owners, GMs, coaches, and defensive schemes just don’t value certain positions enough to spend major resources on them.

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Ricky Jean-Francois signs with the Packers, per report

Ricky Jean-Francois signs with the Packers, per report

Before last season with the Redskins, Ricky Jean-Francois had made the playoffs five consecutive times, doing so twice with San Francisco, twice with Indianapolis and then once with Washington.

Now, the veteran — who was released by the 'Skins on March 15 — has given himself a strong chance of getting back to the postseason again in 2017 by reportedly signing with the Packers on Thursday.

ESPN's Adam Schefter tweeted that Jean-Francois and Green Bay agreed to a one-year, $3-million contract.

MORE REDSKINS: DESEAN JACKSON ON WHY HE CHOSE TAMPA BAY

The 30-year-old lineman visited with the Bears and Seahawks before choosing to sign with Green Bay. Former Redskin Chris Baker, now in Tampa Bay, had also attempted to recruit Jean-Francois on Twitter to join him with the Bucs.

By cutting Jean-Francois last week, Washington will save $3 million toward their 2017 salary cap. Some have also speculated whether his criticism of the franchise was a factor in the transaction.

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DeSean Jackson chose Tampa because he wanted a young QB with 'a lot of upside'

DeSean Jackson chose Tampa because he wanted a young QB with 'a lot of upside'

Kirk Cousins is a 28-year-old quarterback, which is pretty youthful by NFL standards, and he's thrown for 4,100+ and 4,900+ yards in the past two seasons, suggesting that his career is on the rise.

But when DeSean Jackson was evaluating where to ink his next contract during his time on the open market, he saw another passer who is younger than Cousins and, in his mind, has more potential than Cousins, too.

And that is one of the main reasons why Jackson left the Redskins and signed with the Buccaneers.

"I think it was a great fit, a great opportunity, a great up-and-coming, young team," the receiver said during an interview on ESPN's First Take. "Jameis [Winston], obviously, in my decision making, I really wanted to go with a young quarterback, someone who had a lot of upside to him and I think he was the one to fit that position."

Like Cousins, Winston has been a full-time starter for two seasons in the league, and like Cousins, he's posted some gaudy numbers.

Most of the numbers, however, don't stack up to Washington's QB. Cousins edges out Winston in touchdowns, completion percentage and yards, and has also taken fewer sacks and thrown fewer picks than the former Heisman Trophy winner, in the last two years.

RELATED: A LOT OF ROSTER TURNOVER COULD BE COMING IN D.C.

With those stats in mind, it's safe to say the Michigan State product is superior to the Florida State product today. But after hearing Jackson say he valued Winston's "upside," it's not hard to take that a step further and conclude that Jackson believes Winston's ceiling is higher than Cousins' ceiling. On top of that, the latter's contract situation probably was a factor to some extent.

Speaking of Cousins, the pass catcher was asked to talk about his old signal caller. His response was complimentary — but also quite short.

"I think he has what it takes," Jackson said. "At times, we probably needed more out of him and everybody else on the team as well, too. Kirk Cousins, obviously his numbers are off the charts. He had crazy numbers. But moving forward man, we're in Tampa now." 

It was a speedy answer from a speedy player. And while that speedy player did speak highly of Cousins, he's opting to wind down his career with Winston instead, which basically declares that he decided Winston must have "what it takes" more than Cousins.

Jackson is certainly moving forward in Tampa, but whether his production will move upward with Winston isn't as certain.

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