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Need to Know: Redskins still have more holes to patch in free agency

Need to Know: Redskins still have more holes to patch in free agency

Here is what you need to know on this Friday, March 10, 38 days before Washington Redskins start offseason workouts on April 17  

Timeline

Days until:

—NFL Draft (4/27) 48
—Redskins OTAs start (5/24) 75
—Franchise tag contract deadline (7/15) 127
—First Sunday of 2017 season (9/10) 184

Redskins still have free agency work to do

Ideally, a team should be able fill its basic needs during free agency. They should be able to field a team with 22 competent starters by the end of March. That way they can draft by their board and not because of need. Relying on a draft pick to start is very risky business. The draft should be about depth and the future.

The Redskins still have some work to do in free agency to get there but they got off to a good start on the first day that the marketplace officially was open.

Starting from the back of the defense first, they took care of the hole at safety by signing D.J. Swearinger. They can now line up two safeties in Swearinger and Su’a Cravens. They likely will try Swearinger at free safety, where he played some with the Cardinals last year. If that alignment doesn’t work, they still have Will Blackmon, who started six games at free last year and played reasonably well.

On the line, the Redskins added Terrell McClain and Stacy McGee on a day when Chris Baker signed with the Bucs. You could line up with McClain, McGee. Ricky Jean Francois rotating and end and Phil Taylor at nose tackle if you had to. However, that is not a line that would hold up very well. If they can add another good lineman over the next few days, perhaps Bennie Logan or Jonathan Hankins. They would be off to a good start on the line if they can do that and then add another D-lineman in the first few days of the draft.

While many think the team needs to upgrade at inside linebacker, they could still field experienced players there, at outside linebacker, and at cornerback if the season started today.

On offense, Vernon Davis is back so they have depth at tight end. Their starting offensive line is back as are the top four on the running back depth chart. According to reports Kirk Cousins will drop by Redskins Park to sign his franchise tag soon so QB is set, for this year, anyway.

Wide receiver needs some help with Pierre Garçon and DeSean Jackson gone. Jamison Crowder the only receiver on the roster with as many as 40 career receptions. There is hope that Josh Doctson, last year’s first-round pick, will be healthy and productive. But they need more, which is why Terrell Pryor was visiting with the Redskins last night. There was nothing reported out of Redskins Park last night but it seems likely that the visit will continue this morning.

Whether it’s Pryor or perhaps Terrance Williams of the Cowboys, the Redskins need to add one more experienced wide receiver to the mix.

They are off to a solid start in Day 1 of free agency but they still have a lot of work to do.

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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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Redskins Playbook: With offseason over, what mattered most?

Redskins Playbook: With offseason over, what mattered most?

Things were not dull in Washington this offseason. The team fired general manager Scot McCloughan and failed to reach a long-term contract with quarterback Kirk Cousins. Again. 

Of all the things that happened this offseason, what will make the biggest impact on the field? The results might not correspond to what created the biggest buzz. Going in reverse order, here's what will matter most to the Redskins this season.

ROSTER BATTLES: Left guard | Tight end Nickel cornerback  | Inside linebacker | Running back

  • No. 4 - The Redskins again could not reach a long-term deal with Kirk Cousins, but like in 2016, the quarterback won't allow that to impact his performance on the field. Bruce Allen's public statement about contract talks didn't help matters, but Cousins has possibly one hundred million reasons to stay focused on the field. 
  • No. 3 - Losing Sean McVay was a blow for this team that isn't being properly talked about. McVay's absence will absolutely have more impact on the 2017 season than Cousins' contract situation. An accelerated offensive mind adept at engaging players and running meetings, McVay will be missed. 
  • No. 2 - The Redskins handled the firing of Scot McCloughan about as well as a toddler handles applesauce. It was a mess. The team deserves to be admonished for how things shook out. That said, on the field in 2017, the Redskins won't really feel the affects. The team is in place, including many players of McCloughan's choosing. Some organizational, cultural loss could occur, but that is likely to be felt in the years to come. 
  • No. 1 - The biggest thing that will impact the Redskins on the field in 2017? Losing two of their best players from on the field in 2016. For all of the controversy that surrounded McCloughan's ouster and not getting a deal done with Cousins, not having Pierre Garçon and DeSean Jackson will by far cause the most shockwaves for Jay Gruden's team. Terrelle Pryor and Josh Doctson might, even should, offset much of the loss, but until the proof is on the field this will remain the biggest offseason question in Washington. Jackson and Garçon accounted for more than 40 percent of Cousins' 2016 passing yards. That's a giant hole. 

<<<NFL POWER RANKINGS: WHO GOT BETTER AFTER THE DRAFT>>>

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Need to Know: Five pre-training camp questions for Jay Gruden

Need to Know: Five pre-training camp questions for Jay Gruden

Here is what you need to know on this Wednesday, July 26, one day before the Washington Redskins start training camp in Richmond on July 27.

Timeline

The Redskins last played a game 206 days ago; they will open the 2017 season against the Eagles at FedEx Field in 46 days.

Today’s schedule: Players report to training camp for physicals and conditioning test. Jay Gruden news conference 2 p.m.

Days until:

—Preseason opener @ Ravens (8/10) 15
—Preseason vs. Packers at FedEx Field (8/19) 24
—Roster cut to 53 (9/2) 38

Five pre-camp questions for Jay Gruden

RICHMOND—The media portion of training camp gets underway on Wednesday as Jay Gruden holds his pre-camp presser at 2 pm at the Bon Secours Washington Redskins Training Center (that’s probably the last time I’ll use the full name of the facility).

Here are some questions we will ask of Gruden as he enters his fourth season as the Redskins head coach.

Will Kirk Cousins’ contract situation be a distraction? This must be asked, even though we know that the answer will be no. Yes, Cousins handled a similar situation just fine last year. But a quarterback playing on a second franchise tag is unprecedented. Certainly, Gruden has to guard against things getting out of hand if the season starts to turn sour.

In his fourth training camp, what is he doing now that he wishes he would have done in 2014? One very visible change has been a reduction in the amount of contact that takes place on the field. Will this continue to decline or, give the issues the team had tackling last year, will it ramp up? What used to be the morning practice and afternoon walkthrough were flipped a couple of years ago. Has there been any thought to changing it back?

How has the adjustment process to having so many new coaches gone so far? The Redskins have new coordinators on both sides of the ball and several new position coaches. As happens when any group of co-workers gets added to a workplace, there is an adjustment period. In the NFL, the coaches have to get up to speed with each other in a hurry.

Will Gruden use the season-ending loss to the Giants as a motivational/learning tool or just bury it in the past? It’s a fine line between learning from past mistakes and dwelling on them. While Cousin should make sure that he doesn’t throw another late-game interception like the one he threw in that game, he can’t have it spook him to the point where he can’t pull the trigger on a pass late in a close game. How Gruden handles the 2016 finale could have a major effect on how 2017 unfolds.

After having one of the highest pass ratios in the league, will Gruden look to run the ball more often? Last year, Sean McVay called passes on 62.4 percent of the Redskins’ snaps. The Redskins drafted a fourth-round running back in Samaje Perine and they may team him with starter Rob Kelley and call to keep the ball on the ground a few more times per game.

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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