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Need to Know: Are the Redskins done in free agency?

Need to Know: Are the Redskins done in free agency?

Here is what you need to know on this Monday, March 14, 45 days before the NFL Draft.

Are the Redskins done in free agency?

—Will the Redskins sign any more free agents this week? Or do they intend to go into the draft with what they have? I don’t think that they are done. In fact, I heard that there may be a signing this week, although I can’t confirm. But I see Scot McCloughan and the Redskins doing a near imitation of Ted Thompson and the Packers and staying away from free agent activity for the most part.

—Yes, there are still some needs. I can’t see them starting the season with DeAngelo Hall, Duke Ihenacho, and Kyshoen Jarrett at safety. If the whole draft is a crap shoot then landing a quality safety who can contribute right away is a Mega Millions kind of shot. They cashed that ticket with Jarrett last year and they can’t count on getting another one. They could benefit from upgrade at center. Another defensive line pickup is a possibility.

—McCloughan may wait a couple of months if he wants to do some free agent bargain hunting. Starting in mid May, players signed as free agents do not count against the compensatory picks the team can acquire in 2017. It doesn’t look like they are in line for a treasure trove of picks anyway as none of the free agents the Redskins lose will command a high draft pick. But if they lose a few and can massage it so that they can maybe pick up a fifth and a seventh, hey, those are a couple of picks that McCloughan can find players with.

—If you think that May is too late for the Redskins to find a quality free agent, just think back to last year. Two of their best free agent signings last year didn’t come until September. The defense was shaky as it was but it would have been worse without Will Blackmon and Mason Foster. They helped the Redskins survive the rash of injuries that hit at linebacker and cornerback. Foster will be back and while there apparently is competition for Blackmon’s services the chances of him returning look pretty good.

—I am going to expand on this in an article sometime in the next couple of weeks but I think that the Redskins defensive is not going to be a whole lot better this year than it was last year. They are going to have to win games with Cousins throwing the Jackson, Garçon, and Reed and, they hope, with a better rushing attack. They will draft a couple of defensive linemen and a couple of defensive backs and go through some growing pains. The unit will be competitive and improve as the year goes on but there will be plenty of growing pains.

Timeline

—The Redskins last played a game 64 days ago. It will be about 181 days until they play another one.

Days until: Redskins offseason workouts start 35; 2016 NFL draft 45; Redskins training camp starts 136

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Over/under: Redskins running backs in 2017

Over/under: Redskins running backs in 2017

Redskins running backs over-under

The Redskins’ running backs depth chart looks quite different from how it did a year ago. Rob Kelley, who was “ninth-string” back last year per Jay Gruden, is the starter. Samaje Perine enters the mix with expectations that exceed those normally assigned to a fourth-round pick. Chris Thompson is the constant as the third-down back. What kind of numbers will they put up this year? Redskins Insiders Rich Tandler and JP Finlay go over-under on some Redskins running back stats. 

Rob Kelley, 1,000 rushing yards

Tandler: If you project Kelley’s production in the nine games he started over 16 games it comes to about 1,050 yards. He had his ups and downs in those nine starts and he will have them this year. But he should have enough ups to be able to average the 62.5 yards per game needed to hit the thousand-yard mark. Over

Finlay: Unlike wide receivers, where 25 guys broke the 1,000 yard mark in 2016, it's getting harder and harder for a running back to hit four-figures. In 2016, only 12 RBs ran for more than 1,000 yards, and only eight got over 1,100 yards. As the NFL becomes more and more of a passing league, less backs are getting the carries sufficient for a 1,000 yard season. The Redskins haven't had a 1,000 yard rusher since Alfred Morris in 2014. While I think Kelley gets the bulk of the yardage, I think it caps out about 900 yards and Chris Thompson and Samaje Perine creep into the total. Under

RELATED: Who's next at QB for the Redskins?

Kelley, 10 rushing touchdowns

Tandler: He scored six as the starter last year and doing the math that comes to 11 over 16 games. But last year there wasn’t a player like Perine, who could come into the game and vulture some touchdowns after Kelley did the work to get the ball in goal to go position. Under

Finlay: Sorry to keep going back to stats, but last year only seven running backs got to 10 TDs or more. Only seven! Hard to see Kelley getting there on a team that didn't run all that much, or all that well either, in 2016. Under

Samaje Perine, 500 rushing yards

Tandler: It tough to set a line for a guy who hasn’t played. I’ll go off Matt Jones’ 2015 rookie season when he gained 490 yards while sharing time with Alfred Morris. If Perine averages four yards per carry, which is not hard to do, he’ll need about eight carries per game to get to 500. It’s close but if Kelley is effective, as I believe he will be, Perine might not get enough carries to have a chance. Under

Finlay: Tandler's Matt Jones comp pretty much works for Perine, but Jones had explosive speed that Perine doesn't have. A better comp for me was Derrick Henry last year as a rookie with the Titans. DeMarco Murray was established as the top dog, and Henry worked for a productive 490 yards. Under

MORE REDSKINS: Offer to Cousins not nearly enough

Chris Thompson, 60 pass receptions

Tandler: His role is beyond just third down. If the Redskins are behind in the fourth quarter, Thompson is usually in there to try to help spark a rally. Along with TE Jordan Reed and WR Jamison Crowder, Thompson will benefit from Kirk Cousins’ familiarity with him. Over

Finlay: Thompson should be a strong contributor in 2017, but 60 catches is a lot for a running back. Only David Johnson (80) and Le'Veon Bell (75) went over that number in 2016, while James White had exactly 60 catches. Thompson grabbed 49 balls in 2016, an impressive total. I could actually see Thompson getting a bigger percentage increase in carries, he had 68 rushes last season with a very solid 5.2 YPC, than catches. Under

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

Want more Redskins? Check out @JPFinlayCSN and @Rich_TandlerCSN for live updates or click here for the #RedskinsTalk Podcast on iTunes, here for Google Play or press play below. Don't forget to subscribe!

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

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#RedskinsTalk Podcast: Final refresh before 2017 season truly begins

redskins_talk_podcast-ep76-16x9.png

#RedskinsTalk Podcast: Final refresh before 2017 season truly begins

Rich Tandler and JP Finlay wrap up the Redskins offseason and prepare for what will be the most intriguing and the most overplayed storylines at training camp in Richmond.

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

Want more Redskins? Click here to follow JP on Facebook and check out @JPFinlayCSN for live updates via Twitter! Click here for the #RedskinsTalk on Apple Podcasts, here for Google Play or press play below. Don't forget to subscribe!

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