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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

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Oddsmakers give Kirk Cousins favorable shot at 2017 NFL MVP

Oddsmakers give Kirk Cousins favorable shot at 2017 NFL MVP

There continues to be a (ridiculous) debate on whether or not Kirk Cousins can continue to be a successful starting quarterback for the Washington Redskins.

In the betting industry, there is not much debate with Cousins being listed with 50/1 odds to win the NFL MVP award this upcoming season from Bovada. Among all the other players listed, he is in a tie for 14th. 

He is coming off back-to-back seasons with seven 300 yard passing games, a team record, and has an abundance of fresh, young wide receivers to compliment his passing style. Last year he was third in the league in passing yards with 4,917, trailing only Drew Brees (5,208) and Matt Ryan (4,944). 

The team may not be poised for a Super Bowl run in 2017-18, but if the team makes a post-season run, who will it be on the back of? Jordan Reed? Rob Kelley? Ryan Kerrigan?

No, it will be Kirk Cousins. 

RELATED: Ex-GM outlines staggering contract for Kirk Cousins

Entering this season at 40-years-old, and defending Super Bowl MVP, Tom Brady is the overall favorite at 4/1. He is closely followed by Aaron Rodgers, and young quarterbacks Derek Carr and Dak Prescott. 

BOVADA 2017-18 NFL MVP ODDS:

Tom Brady, NE — 4/1
Aaron Rodgers, GB — 7/1
Derek Carr, OAK — 9/1
Dak Prescott, DAL — 12/1
Ben Roethlisberger, PIT — 12/1
Russell Wilson, SEA — 12/1
Matt Ryan, ATL — 16/1
Ezekiel Elliott, DAL — 20/1
Drew Brees, NO — 25/1
Andrew Luck, IND — 25/1
Cam Newton, CAR — 25/1
David Johnson, ARI — 33/1
Marcus Mariota, TEN — 33/1
Sam Bradford, MIN — 50/1
Antonio Brown, PIT — 50/1
Kirk Cousins, WAS — 50/1
Julio Jones, ATL — 50/1
Eli Manning, NYG — 50/1
Carson Palmer, ARI — 50/1
Adrian Peterson, NO — 50/1
Philip Rivers, LAC — 50/1
Matt Stafford, DET — 50/1
Odell Beckham Jr., NYG — 66/1
Rob Gronkowski, NE — 66/1
Alex Smith, KC — 66/1
Ryan Tannehill, MIA — 66/1
J.J. Watt, HOU — 66/1
Jameis Winston, TB — 66/1
Blake Bortles, JAX — 100/1
Andy Dalton, CIN — 100/1
Joe Flacco, BAL — 100/1
T.Y. Hilton, IND — 100/1
Marshawn Lynch, OAK — 100/1
LeSean McCoy, BUF — 100/1
Von Miller, DEN — 100/1
DeMarco Murray, TEN — 100/1
Carson Wentz, PHL — 100/1

RELATED: After Derek Carr deal, Cousins' best option may be short-term

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True or False: Rob Kelley will be Redskins leading rusher

True or False: Rob Kelley will be Redskins leading rusher

Robert Kelley emerged as the Redskins top running back in 2016, an incredible story of an undrafted guy working his way to the top. Of course, Matt Jones' problems with fumbling helped push Kelley to the top. 

Redskins coach Jay Gruden speaks highly of Kelley, particularly his fluidity and vision, but the team drafted Samaje Perine in the fourth round this year to provide additional competition in the backfield.

Here's the crucial statement: Rob Kelley will lead the Redskins in rushing yards in 2017.

Finlay: True.

Kelley averaged 4.2 yards-per-carry last season and the Redskins ground game is very much centered on a "4 or more" philosophy. Washington running backs coach Randy Jordan joined the #RedskinsTalk podcast and explained that the team wants a runner it can count on for positive yards more than creating big plays. The Redskins offense, as designed by Gruden, sets up for big plays in the pass game, and the run should allow for proper use of play action. 

In just nine starts last year, Kelley gained more than 700 yards. Project that out over 16 games, and he would be over 1,000 yards rushing. Perine has much to learn about the NFL, and understanding pass protections will take time for the rookie out of Oklahoma. Chris Thompson will be a key part of the offense, but much of his yardage will come via the pass game. 

Kelley will lead this team in rush yards. He's looked great in OTAs and minicamp while the coaching staff believes Kelley is in much better shape this year than he was as a rookie. Write it down in pen. 

RELATED: How will Kelley and Perine share the carries?

Tandler: True.

After the draft and during rookie camp I was saying that there was a chance that Perine could lead the team is rushing this year. But after seeing Perine playing with the big boys in OTAs and minicamp it’s apparent that he has a long way to go to become a consistently productive running back.

One thing Kelley seems to have going in his favor is that he has a very sensible outlook on the NFL. As JP noted, Kelley showed up to Redskins Park in better shape than he did as a rookie. This indicates to me that he understands that being an NFL players is a year-round job. Staying in great shape is important in the league but at running back it’s vital. Kelley gets that and because he does, his chances of being available for 16 games are much higher.

In turn, that improves his chance of being the team’s leading rusher. I’m not sure if he’ll get 1,000 yards—Perine will get things figured out enough to take some carries before the season gets too old—but Gruden will make sure that he gets fed plenty as long as he is available. 

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