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Need to Know: Bad drafts lead to Redskins free agency needs

Need to Know: Bad drafts lead to Redskins free agency needs

Here is what you need to know on this Thursday, March 10, 49 days before the NFL Draft.

Five thoughts on free agency so far

—It seems that safety is emerging as a big area that needs to be addressed in some form during free agency. As usual. The name of the Bengals' Reggie Nelson, who will be 33 in September, came up as a player the Redskins are interested in. Even though he had eight interceptions last year, at that age he is not the ideal solution. But until they can find solutions in the draft, something that seems to get harder and harder for everyone around the league to accomplish every year, they will have to do the best they can.

—They also could get Dashon Goldson back. There is no talk that there was any bitterness between the player and the team over negotiations to cut his pay from the $8 million his contract called for but that doesn’t mean that there weren’t some hard feelings about it. But it’s possible that Goldson will go out into the market, not find anything to his liking, and come back and sign with the Redskins. We saw this a few years ago with DeAngelo Hall. But Hall had longstanding ties to the Redskins whereas Goldson has been around for only a year. I’d say the odds are against it but we’ll see.

—The Redskins are going to have to fill a few more holes than just safety. And while getting several free agents may run counter to what Scot McCloughan preaches it’s necessary and here’s why. The 2011 and 2012 drafts should be forming the core of the team now. They should have several starters and a number of key contributors on the team working on their second contracts. But from 2011 they have Ryan Kerrigan and Niles Paul. From 2012 they have Kirk Cousins. That’s it. And they had a total of 21 picks in those two drafts. It’s no wonder that there are holes to fill.

—The Redskins may wait until the draft to acquire another running back. The supply has been diminished at top-shelf prices. The top available running back available, James Starks of the Packers, is ranked No. 49 on Rotoworld’s top 50 available free agents list. As I’ve said all along, I think that the plan is to go into the draft and try to pick up a running back on Friday night or sometime early on Saturday. If they can’t land one there—or maybe even if they can—they will look to the May free agent market where there will still be some quality players available for a fraction of the $6.5 million that Chris Ivory got from the Jaguars.

—This is looking way ahead but the Redskins could have two more spots on the 53-man roster up for grabs than they had last year. With Darrel Young gone they are unlikely to sign a fullback. And if they draft a quarterback in the sixth or seventh round or sign one as an undrafted free agent they might keep that player on the practice squad instead of the 53, clearing another spot. Probably one spot would be for an extra tailback so they would carry three or four. And one might go to a fourth tight end if they can find a blocking tight end. Again, just something to tuck away for training camp.

Timeline

—The Redskins last played a game 61 days ago. It will be about 184 days until they play another one.

Days until: Redskins offseason workouts start 38; 2016 NFL draft 47; Redskins training camp starts 148

In case you missed it

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Jay Gruden wants DeSean Jackson, Pierre Garçon back, but 'won't blink' if they're gone

Jay Gruden wants DeSean Jackson, Pierre Garçon back, but 'won't blink' if they're gone

The Redskins face the very real prospect of losing receivers DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garçon via free agency. Head coach Jay Gruden wants both players back, but is prepared to roll with the guys on the team if Jackson and Garçon depart. 

"Obviously DeSean and Pierre had great years. 1,000 yards each. Those are going to be hard to replace," Gruden said to reporters in Indianapolis. 

It's still possible the Redskins keep both Jackson and Garçon, or keep one of the two, just as both players could leave the organization. In his comments, it seemed like Gruden does not expect one or both guys to be back, and that the team will move on without them. That could mean losing Jackson's 1,005 receiving yards or Garçon's 1,041. 

"Coach the guys that we have. Free agency you’re never going to be able to sign everybody you want as a coach," he said. "I’d like to have Alshon Jeffery, Pierre and DeSean. Heck, give them all to me. I know that's not going to happen."

Gruden tends to joke often speaking with the media, and clearly the prospect of signing Jeffery, a star wideout for the Bears that will hit free agency next week, along with Jackson and Garçon isn't going to happen. The receiver market in free agency will be interesting to watch, as a number of top options will be available. Jeffery, Jackson, Garçon along with Cleveland's Terrelle Pryor and younger prospects like Kenny Stills and Kenny Britt. 

Asked if it was "necessary" to bring at least one of Garçon or Jackson back, Gruden bristled. 

"Would never say necessary. I’d love to have them both back, I'd love to have one back. If we are unfortunate enough to lose them both, I'm not gonna blink."

The coach explained the team has a good crop of young pass catchers already on the roster. 

"I do feel very good about Jamison Crowder, Ryan Grant, Josh Doctson. I love the fact that Mo Harris got a lot of work in, he’s gonna develop."

The coach should feel good about the young receivers, their development is part of his job. Crowder looks like a future star in the slot. Still, Jackson and Garçon accounted for more than 40 percent of Kirk Cousins' passing yards in 2016. That's a lot of yardage to lose. 

Of course, Doctson's development will be a major theme this offseason. A first-round pick in 2016, the Redskins got next to nothing from him as a rookie as he dealt with an Achilles injury. A healthy 6-foot-2 Doctson could offset some of the lost productivity that would come with the departure of Jackson or Garçon.

And then there is always free agency. It's entirely possible Washington could sign another, perhaps cheaper, wideout on the marketplace should they lose two the same way. Gruden said the team has 'other free agents' the team could pursue.

"We have Plan B's and Plan C's ready to go," Gruden said. 

<<<LOOKING AT REDSKINS DRAFT PROSPECTS>>>

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The Redskins aren't willing to trade Kirk Cousins unless they are

The Redskins aren't willing to trade Kirk Cousins unless they are

Shortly after Kirk Cousins got the exclusive franchise tag from the Redskins on Saturday, two sort of conflicting reports. One, from Ian Rapoport of NFL.com, was that Cousins “is not going anywhere” and a trade is essentially off the table. Mike Florio of Pro Football talk, quoting “a source familiar with the dynamics of the situation” reported that the Redskins would have to be “blown away” by a trade offer in order to pull the trigger on a deal.

RELATED: NFL Mock Draft Version 4.0

On the face of it, the reports conflict. One says that Cousins is available, the other says that he isn’t. But that valuation of them assumes the sources for these reports were intent on putting out the truth. The fact is that Cousins is very much available for the right offer.

A conversation along the lines of this one could well take place in Indianapolis this week:

“How much do you want for your house?”

“It’s not for sale.”

“No, really, how much do you want.”

“Really, it’s not for sale.”

“I’ll give you $50,000 over whatever it gets appraised for.”

“Sold!”

In short, you don’t need to have a “for sale” sign up in front of something to sell it. In fact, sometimes it’s better to act as though you have no intention of selling whatever it is. That can intrigue potential buyers even more.

The analogy falters a bit as it seems that the Redskins are unlikely to get a premium over whatever Cousins’ valuation on the open market might be. The receiving team will have to give the QB a massive contract. In addition, a team that wants Cousins is likely to be able to get him with no compensation in a year, when Cousins is likely to be an unfettered free agent. But you get the idea.

More Redskins: What happens next with Cousins?

The message from the Redskins is, don’t come at us with a couple of mid rounders. There is some point where the compensation for giving up Cousins a year earlier than they might have to isn’t enough. It literally would be better to rent Cousins for one more season than get, say, a third-round pick with a 2018 fifth thrown in.

That being said, they are not going to get the RG3 type haul—three firsts and a second—in exchange for Cousins. The likely would accept something south of that in exchange for Cousins’ rights.

So, he’s not available at any price—unless the price is right.

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.