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Need to Know: The Redskins week that was—Gruden extension, Cousins' status

Need to Know: The Redskins week that was—Gruden extension, Cousins' status

Here is what you need to know on this Saturday, March 11, 37 days before Washington Redskins start offseason workouts on April 17.  

Timeline

Days until:

—NFL Draft (4/27) 47
—Redskins OTAs start (5/24) 74
—Franchise tag contract deadline (7/15) 126
—First Sunday of 2017 season (9/10) 183

The Redskins week that was

This week has been one of the craziest in Redskins history with reports, many of them conflicting, flying around. Because of that I’m doing the week that was a little differently today. Instead of linking the most popular articles of the week I’ll list the top five topics and give you my take on those. These are presented in no particular order.

The end of the road for McCloughan—The McCloughan-Redskins relationship seemed to be doomed from the start. McCloughan was a genius with a fatal flaw and the Redskins were one of few places where he had an opportunity to resume his career. But the atmosphere at Redskins Park—or at many other NFL facilities—is not conducive to handling issues like McCloughan has. While McCloughan had a hand in his own demise the Redskins could not have handled the whole thing any worse.  

Kirk Cousins—Will he sign it or won’t he? Will he get traded or will he stay? Is a long-term deal out of the question? Other than the fact that he did sign the tender we don’t really know a whole lot more about his status for 2017 and beyond than we did a week ago. No matter what happens, we’ll always have the memories of the whacky Ian Rapoport report that said that a trade that would send Cousins to the 49ers, high draft picks to the Cowboys, and Tony Romo to Washington was a possibility.

Gruden extended—Yes, that did happen this week, although it seems like an eternity ago. There was a PR element in the timing, no doubt about it. But it had been in the works for quite some time. The extension does give a sense of stability although it may be a false sense. The money in the additional two years is guaranteed; the job is not. If things go south Dan Snyder will not hesitate to stroke the check and send Gruden packing. Regardless, his power at Redskins Park increased with the new contract; Gruden was one of the few at Redskins Park who ended the week better off than he was when he started it.

Terrelle Pryor signedThe Redskins get to put Pryor on a one-year tryout before deciding if they want to give him a pricier, long-term deal. At 6-5 he gives the Redskins a huge red zone target to send out along with the 6-2 Josh Doctson. Pryor is still learning the position and once he learns the tricks of the trade like using his big body to shield away defenders. At the very least his addition gives the team a year to develop a receiver if they draft one in the middle rounds at the end of next month.

Defensive free agents—D. J. Swearinger isn’t an ideal safety to pair with Su’a Cravens since both are probably better at strong. But Swearinger did play single high with the Cardinals so that’s a possibility. I think you also could see a three-safety look with Will Blackmon playing free. Terrell McClain and Stacy McGee are “just a guy” types with injury histories. They got relatively modest deals and if they can stay healthy they can contribute in a rotation.

Tandler on Twitter

In response to an Adam Schefter tweet saying that FOX is trying to get Tony Romo in a broadcast booth:

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 2017 position outlook: Defensive line

Redskins 2017 position outlook: Defensive line

With the season opener fast approaching, it’s time to put the Redskins’ depth chart under the microscope. Over the coming days, we will look at every position, compare the group to the rest of the NFL, see if the position has been upgraded or downgraded from last year, and take out the crystal ball to see what might unfold.

Defensive line

Starters: Jonathan Allen, Stacy McGee, Phil Taylor
Other roster locks: Terrell McClain, Ziggy Hood, Anthony Lanier
On the bubble: Matt Ioannidis, A.J. Francis, Joey Mbu

How the defensive line compares:

To the 2016 Redskins: The addition of Allen is a boost but the losses of Chris Baker (free agent) and Ricky Jean Francois (released) can’t be overlooked. Second-year players Lanier and Ioannidis should improve and Hood will be a rotational player instead of a starter, a role better suited to his ability. Andi new defensive line coach Jim Tomsula will get the most out of them. The key to improvement will be McClain and McGee. If the two free agents live up to their contracts the line should be better than it was last year. If not, they will struggle again. Slightly better

To the rest of the NFL: But let’s not mistake an improved Redskins D-line for one of the better units in the league. While it’s tough to compare a 3-4 line to a 4-3 front, it still would be quite a leap for the Redskins to move from the bottom of the pack to the lower middle. Tomsula inherited a multi-year rebuild; one draft pick and a couple of free agents are not going to transform the line into a force. Bottom third

RELATED: 2017 OUTLOOK: WIDE RECEIVER

2017 outlook

Biggest upside: Since I used his name in conjunction with that of Dave Butz above, that has to be Allen. He has both the physical ability and the mental makeup to be a very, very good one.

Most to prove: Nearly every player on the line has something to prove but only Phil Taylor has been out of football for the last two years. He has worked his way up from a brief retirement to a futures contract with the Redskins to a roster long shot to a probable starter. But he still only has 21 preseason snaps under his belt and he has a long way to go before he reestablishes himself as a legitimate NFL player.

MORE REDSKINS: REDSKINS-PACKERS MUST-SEE PHOTOS

Rookie watch: The only rookie with a realistic shot at making the roster is Allen. His Nick Saban-Alabama background has him well prepared to handle the scrutiny that comes with being a top draft pick and the expectations that come with playing in a place like Washington.

Bottom line: The best-case scenario here is that Taylor anchors the line in the middle, Allen’s learning curve is short, Lanier contributes six sacks in a nickel role, and the rest of the players make up a good rotation. Anything more would be a big bonus. Anything less would be back to being one of the worst defenses against the run.

Quote-unquote

Jay Gruden on Phil Taylor:

Well, I’ll tell you, I was in Cincinnati for three years when he was at Cleveland and I know what a force he can be at nose. He was tough to deal with, he really was. We had him for a workout, and I didn’t even know he was on the streets. His knee looked better. He was in good shape. He had a whole offseason and did some good things. I think his body is finally back to where he feels really good. He’s moving around, he’s active, he’s strong, so I like where he is right now. He’s just got to continue to maintain 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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Long's injury gives Redskins' backup center Roullier an opportunity

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Associated Press

Long's injury gives Redskins' backup center Roullier an opportunity

Let’s be clear here.

The Redskins’ loss of center Spencer Long for two weeks due to a knee injury is not a good development.

Long is going into his second year as the starter and he still has a lot to learn. Although he should be back for the games that count, he could have benefitted from the 30 or so snaps he would have taken against the Bengals in the team’s third preseason game this Sunday.

Also, the Redskins’ offensive line has struggled this preseason, especially when blocking for the run.

Another half with the full starting unit playing together would have helped them work on those problems. The third preseason game is supposed to be a dress rehearsal and it’s tough to have one of those if you don’t have all your lead actors.

RELATED: COULD REDSKINS PURSUE RETIRED JETS' CENTER?

However, in the NFL one’s player’s bad fortune can be an opportunity for another. Chase Roullier was a sixth-round pick of the Redskins. With Kory Lichtensteiger retired and John Sullivan departed to Rams, Roullier became the backup center by default. While many expected the Redskins to make a move for a veteran backup center, they have kept Roullier running with the second-team offense through OTAs, minicamp, training camp, and the first two preseason games.

He was a bit shaky against the Ravens in the first preseason game but he was solid against the Packers on Saturday. It should be noted that Roullier will be facing the Bengals’ defensive starters on Saturday, not backups and players whose names will soon appear on the waiver wire as he was in the first two games.

MORE REDSKINS: REDSKINS-PACKERS MUST-SEE PHOTOS

The competition that Roullier will face, however, is one of the upsides here. If the Redskins need their backup center during the season, their opponent is not going to pull its starter and line up a reserve player against him. He will be facing starters. The Redskins organization should have a pretty good idea of what they have in Roullier after a half against the Bengals’ front-line players.

Again, it would be better if Long was there for the line to work on its game. But the Redskins will have a chance to make the best of a bad situation by finding out if they are set at backup center or if they will need to pull the trigger on finding a veteran option.

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.