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Need to Know: Enemy Intel—Eagles, Giants may go shopping at key positions

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Need to Know: Enemy Intel—Eagles, Giants may go shopping at key positions

Here is what you need to know on this Sunday, February 21, three days before the NFL Combine in Indianapolis.

Enemy intel: A spin around the NFC East and more

On Sundays we’re going to take a look around at what is going on the NFC East including an angle on the Redskins plus what’s up with another team that is on Washington’s 2016 schedule. We’ll try it for a while; if it’s fun and you readers find it interesting we’ll keep doing it.

The East

Eagles want to keep Sam Bradford but won’t tag him—When free agency starts Philly could be in the market for a quarterback or they may be set for the next several years. They won’t apply the franchise tag to Bradford; GM Howie Roseman said that he hopes that they can find a contract that “makes sense on both sides”. Apparently Roseman thinks that the $19.6 million tag tender doesn’t make sense for his side so if a team offers Bradford something close to that in average income in a long-term deal that it will be bye-bye Bradford and the Eagles will be looking for an alternative to Mark Sanchez, who would be their only quarterback under contract.

Giants’ Prince Amukamara won’t hear from Giants until March 9—New York GM Jerry Reese told the team’s first-round pick in the 2011 draft that he shouldn’t expect any contact from the Giants until free agency starts. That indicates a fairly low level of interest in re-signing him. The Nebraska product, who will be 27 before training camp starts, has played fairly well when he has been in the lineup but due to injuries he has played just one complete season in his five years in the league.

Cowboys’ Sean Lee says team could not overcome adversity—Talking on SiriusXM NFL Radio (via FoxSports.com), the Dallas middle linebacker said that his team went 4-12 because they couldn’t “overcome adversity” created by injuries to QB Tony Romo and WR Dez Bryant. Lee insisted that the Cowboys players had no issues with DE Greg Hardy, who quarreled with teammates and coaches on the sidelines and generally acted like a fool. He’s very believable on both counts. Few teams can do without a quarterback of Romo’s caliber and still thrive and a locker room can ignore one idiot no matter how much the owner is praising him.

Teammates tweet support for Cousins—There is no indication as of yet that the Redskins tend to try to lowball Kirk Cousins in negotiations for a new contract for the Redskins quarterback. Still, teammates WR Pierre Garçon and DE Chris Baker tweeted that the team brass should “pay the man”. That’s a good sign of solidarity although it won’t have much of an effect on the negotiations.

Around the NFL

Steelers TE Heath Miller retires—The team announced that the 11-year veteran is calling it quits. The Redskins won’t have to deal with the Pittsburgh’s all-time leading tight end in catches (592), yards (6,569) and touchdown receptions (45) when they play at FedEx Field. In two games against the Redskins Miller had four receptions for 46 yards and a touchdown. Miller’s retirement does clear $4 million in cap space for Pittsburgh.

Timeline

—The Redskins last played a game 41 days ago. It will be about 205 days until they play another one.

Days until: NFL Combine 4; NFL free agency starts 18; 2016 NFL draft 68

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Need to Know: Redskins' rule change rejected but others will make game safer, move faster

Need to Know: Redskins' rule change rejected but others will make game safer, move faster

Here is what you need to know on this Wednesday, March 29, 29 days before the April 27 NFL draft.

Timeline

Days until:

—Offseason workouts begin (4/17) 19
—Redskins rookie camp (5/12) 44
—Redskins OTAs start (5/24) 56
—Franchise tag contract deadline (7/15) 108
—First Sunday of 2017 season (9/10) 156

Rule changes with commentary

—Prohibits the “leaper” block attempt on field goal and extra point plays.

Tandler: While it’s a fun play when it’s executed properly I can see the player safety angle of it. I’m not sure why teams didn’t just run some placement kicks with delayed snaps to get a free five yards because once a player has committed to the leap he can’t stop.

—Makes permanent the rule that disqualifies a player who is penalized twice in one game for certain types of unsportsmanlike conduct fouls. 

Tandler: One of the few times that this came into play was in Week 3 when Giants center Weston Richburg got the boot for multiple penalties against the Redskins. I suppose most Redskins fans will be fine with it until a Washington player gets kicked out of a key game. Last year the rule was experimental and this makes it permanent

—Changes the spot of the next snap after a touchback resulting from a free kick to the 25-yard line for one year only. 

Tandler: I think this is kind of a dumb rule but it's designed to reduce kickoff returns and they did go down from 1,138 in 2015 to 1,012 last season. That’s an 11 percent drop and they want to give the experimental rule another year to see if that was just a statistical anomaly. It should be noted here that the Redskins’ proposal to place a kickoff that goes through the uprights at the 20-yard line did muster 11 votes but that’s far short of the 24 needed to pass it. The No Fun League indeed.

—Gives a receiver running a pass route defenseless player protection. Makes crackback blocks prohibited by a backfield player who is in motion, even if he is not more than two yards outside the tackle when the ball is snapped. 

Tandler: These are two different rules but I’m combining them into once comment—good for player safety, not sure why it took them so long to pass these rules.

RELATED: NFL Mock Draft Version 6.0

—Replaces the sideline replay monitor with a hand-held device and authorizes designated members of the Officiating department to make the final decision on replay reviews. 

Tandler: This is good for so many reasons. We should get better, more consistent decisions (although there’s no guarantee that my evergreen “Siri, what is a catch” tweet will be retired permanently). And the time that replay uses up should be greatly reduced.

—Makes it Unsportsmanlike Conduct to commit multiple fouls during the same down designed to manipulate the game clock. 

Tandler: This keeps teams from grabbing multiple receivers to prevent a Hail Mary attempt at the end of half or a game and prevents them from holding multiple players on a punt attempt to run out the clock at the end of a game. It’s a loophole that was closed, forcing a team to play defense or execute a punt instead of committing intentional penalties. The key is that the clock is reset to where it was when the ball was snapped.

—Makes actions to conserve time illegal after the two-minute warning of either half.

Tandler: This just takes the penalties that result in 10-second runoffs in the last minute of a half, mostly false starts when the clock is running, and makes them illegal any time after the two-minute warning.

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.

Tandler on Twitter

Responding to a tweet saying that the rule to put replay in the hands of official at the NFL offices:

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Jay Gruden disappointed by firing of Scot McCloughan, yet optimistic for 2017

Jay Gruden disappointed by firing of Scot McCloughan, yet optimistic for 2017

It's never easy to say goodbye to a well-liked coworker, especially when that employee has been fired. In the NFL, that's no different. Redskins head coach Jay Gruden opened up about the departure of former GM Scot McCloughan while speaking with reporters at the NFL Owners Meetings in Phoenix.

"I was disappointed. I liked Scot. I liked working with Scot. He’s a good person, and a great talent evaluator," Gruden said.

The highly publicized demise of McCloughan as Redskins general manager made plenty of headlines, but as far the organization goes, Gruden believes the team is still in good shape.

"Any time you lose somebody that you become close with, whether it’s a coach or a GM or a player it's disappointing but at the end of the day in pro football, anybody that’s been around it long enough understands, change is going to happen and you have to react and adjust to it and move forward with a positive outlook," Gruden said.

Part of that positive outlook stems from moves the team has made this offseason.

Offensively the franchise brought in a big new weapon in receiver Terrelle Pryor. Paired with 2016 first-round pick Josh Doctson, assuming he's healthy, the Redskins could have two dynamic pass catchers to offset the loss of DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garçon. On the defensive line, Gruden thinks new players Terrell McClain and Stacy McGee can emerge as solid players with high upside. Further, Gruden made clear he thinks new defensive line coach Jim Tomsula will make the players on the 'Skins roster into better defensive linemen.

For many fans it's hard to remain optimistic after the controversy that surrounded McCloughan's ouster, but on the field, there's little reason to expect the 'Skins to slide.

In 2016, the team finished one game out of a playoff berth, losing a disappointing final game to the Giants to seal that fate. In 2017, Gruden expects to be right back in the playoff hunt.

"I think everybody in this organization has a positive outlook," Gruden said. "We are going to miss Scot, obviously, but we’re also positive that we can get things we need to get done to be successful."

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