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Need to Know: What are the chances that Baker returns to the Redskins?

Need to Know: What are the chances that Baker returns to the Redskins?

Here is what you need to know on this Wednesday, February 15, 22 days before the March 9 start of NFL free agency.  

Timeline

Days until:

NFL Franchise tag deadline (3/1) 14
—Redskins offseason workouts start (4/17) 61
—NFL Draft (4/27) 71
First Sunday of 2017 season (9/10) 207

Wednesday quick hitters

Defining “heat”: It appears that I upset some people yesterday with my tweet promoting the Need to Know post. I said that “The heat is on Scot McCloughan.” Some were wondering (rather angrily I might add) why a GM who helped the team get to consecutive winning seasons for the first time in nearly 20 years would have the heat on him. And the answer is that the heat always is on an NFL GM. If the franchise hasn’t even been to an NFC championship game in about 25 years there is heat on the GM to get the team there. If they just won a Super Bowl, there is heat on the general manager to do it again.

RELATED: #RedskinsTalk Podcast - Upside for Kirk Cousins answering contract questions?

Important work: Having the heat put on him and being under pressure does not mean that McCloughan is on the verge of behind fired. It means just what it says. Aren’t you under pressure in your job from time to time? Does it always mean that you are about to be fired? In most cases, it means that you have very important work to get done and you are on a deadline. That applies to McCloughan regarding free agency and the draft.

Baker’s return a coin toss: It appears that Chris Baker’s status is truly a 50-50 proposition. On the pro side of keeping him, he is a very solid defensive end on a team that desperately needs defensive linemen. Why let him go and have one more hole you need to fill? Also, he is settled in the area and he wants to stay. The other side of the coin is that he will command a three- or four-year deal worth $7-$8 million per year. They may be hesitant to offer that to a player who will be 30 a few games into the season. I’ll say he ends up staying but I say it with no confidence.

Pay the big man: After the Redskins sort out their free agents they need to get down to business with some contract extensions for eligible players. Morgan Moses should be first in line. He has done a solid job since taking over the right tackle spot, the second most important position on the O-line, during training camp in 2015. Last year he would have missed a game or two with a badly sprained ankle he suffered in London but since Trent Williams had gone out on a drug suspension right after he got injured, Moses pushed through it. He should get five years for between $6 and $7 million per year. 

More Redskins: Dysfunction at Redskins Park?

Quality QB’s on tap in ’17: There is a lot of talk about a shortage of quarterbacks in the NFL but don't tell the Redskins that. Of the 13 teams on their 2017 schedule only one, the 49ers, have genuine questions at the position for the coming season. The Broncos also are unsure who will start but they are not in full-scale blowup mode at the most important position on the field with Trevor Simeon and Paxton Lynch in the house. The rest of the QB’s on the slate range from competent (Alex Smith) to rising stars (Derek Carr, Dak Prescott twice, Carson Wentz twice) to established stars (Russell Wilson, Philip Rivers) to sure first-ballot Hall of Famers (Drew Brees). Injuries could change this situation but right now even though the Redskins need to upgrade their rushing defense it looks like they will have to bolster their pass defense as well.

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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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Need to Know: Redskins starters quick hitters, defense—Year 3 huge for Preston Smith

Need to Know: Redskins starters quick hitters, defense—Year 3 huge for Preston Smith

Here is what you need to know on this Monday, March 27, 31 days before the April 27 NFL draft.

Timeline

Days until:

—Offseason workouts begin (4/17) 21
—Redskins rookie camp (5/12) 46
—Redskins OTAs start (5/24) 58
—Franchise tag contract deadline (7/15) 110
—First Sunday of 2017 season (9/10) 158

Redskins starters quick hitters—defense

DE Stacy McGee—He had his best season last year despite missing seven games with a lingering ankle injury. McGee had just half a sack and no forced fumbled in his first three seasons. Last year he got 2.5 sacks and two FF’s. Improving with experience or turning it on for a contract year? We’ll see.

DE Terrell McClain—The Redskins will be his fifth NFL team in seven seasons, an unusual career path for a one-time third-round pick. Like McGee, in 2016 he exceeded his previous career totals in sacks and forced fumbles.

NT Phil Taylor—Yes, he’s the starter if the season began today. Taylor got off to a nice start after the Browns make him a first-round pick in 2011, starting 16 games and registering four sacks as a rookie. But injuries have taken their toll and he hasn’t played a snap since 2014. He is far from certain to play in 2017, either, if the Redskins can get a good nose tackle candidate in the draft.

ILB Will Compton—Compton is a defensive captain and while he doesn’t make a ton of big plays, his interception in London likely prevented a loss to the Bengals. Still, the Redskins gave him the minimum restricted free agent tender, a sign that they think they could recover if another team signed him away.

ILB Mason Foster—Should the Redskins draft an ILB who can start early, Foster likely will go back into the nickel linebacker role he assumed when Su’a Cravens was out injured.

OLB Ryan Kerrigan—Although his income has jumped up to eight-figure territory he still drives the same Chevy SUV he’s had for several years. That sort of attitude will serve him well as his career goes on.

RELATED: NFL Mock Draft Version 6.0

OLB Preston Smith—The third year is huge for Smith, who has had flashes of dominance followed by weeks of near invisibility. If we see the Smith who showed up against the Vikings more often he could be in line for a big contract extension. But if he’s a no-show too often, edge rusher will appear at the top of the Redskins’ needs list in 2018.

CB Josh Norman—Hopefully, Greg Manusky will have Norman on the other team’s No. 1 receiver from the first snap of Week 1 on. The Redskins were 0-2 before Joe Barry started having Norman shadow and that had them behind the eight ball all year.

CB Bashaud Breeland—He always has a “it’s me vs. the world and all the haters” type of mentality, which is good for a cornerback. It will be interesting to see how he performs in a contract year.

SS Su’a Cravens—Some are skeptical that he has the coverage skills to be a quality strong safety. We won’t really know until he does it.

FS D.J. Swearinger—There also is skepticism regarding the free agent signee. Can he play free safety after playing strong for most of his career? He did it some in Arizona last year but we’ll have to see if his aggressive style will work while being the last line of defense week in and week out.

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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Don't believe trade hype: Bruce Allen insists Kirk Cousins will be Redskins quarterback in 2017

Don't believe trade hype: Bruce Allen insists Kirk Cousins will be Redskins quarterback in 2017

PHOENIX--Kirk Cousins will be the Redskins quarterback in 2017. Period. At least that's the word from team president Bruce Allen.

"That's why we franchised him," Allen said of Cousins.

Asked about numerous trade rumors and reports on the Redskins single season passing record holder, Allen dismissed them all.

"I can't keep up with the rumors," Allen said. "Kirk and I have talked almost a dozen times this offseason, and we get to laugh when we hear these different rumors. We haven't talked to anyone."

MORE REDSKINS: 2017 NFL MOCK DRAFT 6.0

Allen has spoken with Cousins representatives a number of times this offseason, and the organization still wants to get a long-term deal done with their passer. 

"Our goal from the beginning has been long-term," the team president said. "I'm still hopeful and confident we'll do it."

The team could again use a tag on Cousins, an option Allen mentioned. 

MORE REDSKINS: Exclusive: Allen answers questions on McCloughan firing