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Need to Know: Redskins free agency notes—Chiefs S Berry unlikely to be available

Need to Know: Redskins free agency notes—Chiefs S Berry unlikely to be available

Here is what you need to know on this Friday, February 17, 20 days before the March 9 start of NFL free agency.  

Timeline

Days until:

NFL Franchise tag deadline (3/1) 12
—Redskins offseason workouts start (4/17) 59
—NFL Draft (4/27) 69
—First Sunday of 2017 season (9/10) 205

Free agency quick hitters

—Redskins fans who are getting pumped about dreams of seeing Chiefs safety Eric Berry in burgundy and gold should get ready to be disappointed. I heard Chiefs beat writer Terez Paylor on Sirius XM NFL radio yesterday. He said that both the owner and the GM of the team assured him that Berry will be back. Berry is the leader of the team on both sides of the ball and if they can’t come to a contract agreement they will use the franchise tag on him. Berry has said that he won’t play on the tag again (he was franchised last year, too) but the Chiefs will cross that bridge when the get to it. It seems certain that even if the Redskins may be willing to pay what Berry would command on the open market they won’t get a chance to bid.

More Redskins: Are they afraid of making the wrong choice with Cousins

—The Redskins may want to upgrade the running back position in free agency but there doesn’t appear to be a prime back who will be on the market. Le’Veon Bell is likely to be tagged and the quality drops off significantly after him. I know that ex-Cowboys aren’t necessarily popular among fans but Darren McFadden rushed for 1,089 yards with the Cowboys in 2015 and he can catch the ball out of the backfield. Yeah, he did have that weird elbow injury he suffered while trying to catch his phone last year but if the Redskins are in the market for a veteran back he’s worth a look.

—As JP Finaly wrote here yesterday, former agent Andrew Brandt, talking on ESPN 980, said that he didn’t see the Redskins stepping up and giving him the kind of offer that it will take to sign Kirk Cousins to a long-term deal. It should be noted that Brandt was not reporting this from a source, just giving his read on the situation. You can’t rule out anything happening but there is nobody in the business who believes that a deal will get done by March 1.

Related: #RedskinsTalk podcast: The tag window is open

—Backup center John Sullivan is down on the list of free agents who get discussed much but he is one to keep an eye on. When the Redskins had to stick Josh LeRibeus into the lineup when Kory Lichtensteiger got hurt in 2015, Gruden said that he wanted to keep a true center around as a backup. With Lichtensteiger now retired the value of Sullivan to the Redskins went up several notches. He’s an eight-year veteran who turns 32 early in training camp. He may want to find a team that will have him penciled in as the starter rather than backing up Spencer Long. But if there are no such opportunities perhaps the Redskins will be able to persuade him to stay around.

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Kirk Cousins round table - fire away with questions!

Posted by JP Finlay on Thursday, February 16, 2017

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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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Jay Gruden squashes perception that Alabama defenders don't produce in NFL

Jay Gruden squashes perception that Alabama defenders don't produce in NFL

Alabama dominates college football in a way few teams ever have. In the last two seasons, the Crimson Tide has lost just two games, winning one national title and narrowly missing a second.

The strength of 'Bama, year after year, is their defense. Nick Saban coaches it, Nick Saban knows it, and Nick Saban demands the best from his players. 

Oddly, however, a few recent Alabama defenders drafted to the NFL have not produced. Or at least their production did not match their draft status. 

It's not too hard to pick names that fit that perception. Rolando McClain. Terrance Cody. Dre Kirkpatrick. And at running back, Trent Richardson didn't help.

Still, the Redskins invested heavily in the Tide during the 2017 draft. Their top two picks played for Saban's defense last year, and Washington coach Jay Gruden does not buy any part of the perception that 'Bama products regress in the NFL.

"I don’t see any negative whatsoever with them going to Alabama," Gruden said late Friday night.

The 'Skins selected Jonathan Allen in the first round and Ryan Anderson in the second. Both guys started on the Tide's front seven, and both players dominated.

"They come there and they are well coached. Anytime you watch college football, and you watch other defenses, no disrespect, and then you flip on an Alabama game, it’s different," Gruden said. "The speed is different. They are well-coached, they are in their gaps, they play hard, they play physical, and that’s from Week 1 until the end. That has to appeal to you as a coach. They are using their hands, they are physical, they are chasing the ball, they are running to the ball."

The perception, right or wrong, has two main positions. The first is that the Alabama defense looks so good because it is full of five-star recruits. When everyone is good, or great, on the college level, it's hard to truly judge any singular player's game tape. The second is that Saban is so exhausting, so demanding of his players, they arrive to the NFL with too many reps.

For those around the NFL, both theories are laughable. Pro scouts know game tape. How else can they judge a future first rounder when he matches up against a walk-on? And for every alleged 'Bama bust, think about Haha Clinton-Dox or Landon Collins or C.J. Mosley or Dont'a Hightower. 

Might some Tide players get overdrafted because of their success and high profile? That's a different conversation. What's certain is the Redskins are quite confident in both of their Alabama draft picks.

"We know they are both highly intelligent guys. They understand football, understand X’s and O’s and they both play very hard with a high motor and they are well-coached."

<<<LOOKING AT REDSKINS DRAFT PROSPECTS>>>

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Redskins focus on defense through three rounds in the NFL Draft

Redskins focus on defense through three rounds in the NFL Draft

Coming into the offseason, there was plenty of talk coming from the Redskins organization that the team needed to upgrade the defense. Those who have been following the team for a while have heard this for many years now. However, usually the talk is just that, with more draft capital and free agency money going to the offense year in and year out.

But this year things are different.

The lion’s share of free agent spending went to the defense. They added linemen Terrell McClain and Stacy McGee, linebacker Zach Brown, and safety D.J. Swearinger. Now they have started off their draft with a laser focus in the defensive side of the ball.

RELATED: Redskins add cornerback with first round talent, but injuries pushed him to the third round

In the first round, they were delighted to take Jonathan Allen, the top-rated defensive lineman on their board. In the second round they went with outside linebacker Ryan Anderson, a teammate of Allen’s at Alabama. Then in the third round the pick was cornerback Fabian Moreau out of UCLA.

It’s been 20 years since the Redskins have gone so heavy with defensive picks at the top of the draft. Not since 1997 have they taken defensive players in the first three rounds of the draft. That year they took DE Kenard Lang, LB Greg Jones, and LB Derek Smith in rounds one, two, and three, respectively.

We will see how much impact the three draft picks have on the defense and, as Redskins fans have learned over the years, an influx of free agents on defense doesn’t guarantee improvement on that side of the ball.

But at least the Redskins organization is putting its money, and its draft picks, where its mouth is and that has be considered a positive development.

MORE REDSKINS: Redskins make it two Alabama defenders in the 2017 draft class so far

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.