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Need to Know: Enemy intel—Golden handcuffs for Murray in Philly

Need to Know: Enemy intel—Golden handcuffs for Murray in Philly

Here is what you need to know on this Sunday, March 6, three days before the start of NFL free agency.

Enemy Intel: A look around the NFC East and more

Some nuggets from around the NFC East plus another team on the Redskins’ 2016 schedule.

—It looks like DeMarco Murray has a pair of golden handcuffs that will keep him with the Eagles this year. Everyone knew that Murray was not happy during a 2015 season that saw his rushing production drop from by over 50 percent, from 1,845 yards in 2014 to 702 last year. But Howie Roseman, the Eagles’ head of football operations, told PFT that he had not heard from Murray about any discontent. Perhaps that is because there is no realistic path out of Philadelphia for Murray. The Eagles aren’t going to cut him and incur an $18 million cap hit. Philadelphia could handle a trade financially but no team is going to deal for a contract that carries $9 million in guarantees the next two years. So Murray would have to take less money, perhaps a lot less, to leave. The best bet is that he will be there for both Eagles-Redskins games next year.

—After breaking his left collarbone twice during the past season Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo will undergo something called a Mumford procedure to try to keep it from injuring it again. That involves (ouch!) shaving down part of the bone. He will have the procedure this week. The recovery time is 6-8 weeks, which means that Romo will miss the team’s offseason workouts and perhaps even the beginning of OTAs. That’s not a big deal for Romo, who knows his way around the offense pretty well. In fact, with the Cowboys likely to have at least one new backup on the roster and maybe two and Romo’s absence will give them a chance to get more work.

—Here is a prediction. The Giants have almost $60 million in salary cap space, by far the most in the division. They will be in the mix for virtually every big-name free agent on the market and they will sign more than their share of players like Eric Weddle, Olivier Vernon, Malik Jackson, and Danny Trevathian. The various analysts will look at the “improvements” and immediately declare the Giants to be among the favorites to win the NFC East. But they will be mistaking changes for improvements. A Giants beat writer looked at the top 10 free agents signed in each of the last three years. Of those 30 player signings only 12 were successful. So while New York might have some success there is no more reason to think that an influx of free agents will help them any more than similar free agent sprees like the Eagles’ “Dream Team” in 2011 or Redskins teams from many years past proved to be a boon for their win totals.

Alfred Morris said farewell to the Redskins organization and the fans even though it’s not 100 percent that he is leaving. In an Instagram post Morris said, “No matter what happens I will always be apart of #RedskinsNation and a special thanks to all the fans and their abundance of love, support, and loyalty y'all make this game what is #HTTR.” While the door is not closed to him returning to Washington it seems that he would be best served with a change of scenery and a place in an offense that is more suited to what he does well.

—Joe Flacco did a deal that created $6 million in cap space for the Ravens. Now, after his contract extension he wants to help them spend it. “The one thing is I would say we need to get our O-line solidified, see who’s going to be there for sure,” Flacco told PFT Live. He almost certainly has his eyes on guard Kelechi Osemele, who is set to become a free agent on Wednesday. Osemele also played some left tackle in a pinch for the Ravens last year and retaining him is the Ravens’ top offseason priority. Flacco wants him around to ensure that he will be standing when the Redskins play the Ravens this seasons.

Timeline

—The Redskins last played a game 56 days ago. It will be about 189 days until they play another one.

Days until: NFL free agency starts 3; Redskins offseason workouts start 43; 2016 NFL draft 53

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Need to Know: The best Redskins late-round picks of the last 10 years

Need to Know: The best Redskins late-round picks of the last 10 years

Here is what you need to know on this Saturday, April 29, 25 days before the Redskins start OTAs on May 24.

Timeline

At Redskins Park—Fourth through seventh rounds of the NFL draft; conference calls with players selected; Gruden will speak to media shortly after Redskins’ final pick.

Days until:

—Redskins rookie camp (5/12) 13
—Redskins OTAs start (5/24) 25
—Training camp starts (7/27) 89
—Redskins opener vs. Eagles (9/10) 134

The Redskins’ best late-round picks since of the last 10 years

While no aspect of drafting in the NFL is easy, it is much harder to find key contributors on the last day of the draft than it is in the first three rounds. The Redskins will have seven picks in this afternoon's draft to try to find one or two of them. 

Since the 2007 draft the Redskins have taken 56 players from the fourth round on. Of those, 45 played in at least one NFL game but only 12 of them were the Redskins’ primary starter at their positions for at least one season. Here are the five best of those players.

QB Kirk Cousins (round 4, 2012)—He was probably the most controversial pick on this list since the Redskins had just drafted Robert Griffin III a couple of days earlier. History proved Mike Shanahan right.

RB Alfred Morris (6, 2012)—This pick came a few hours after and with much less noise than the Cousins pick did. Many believed that the Redskins were set a running back with Roy Helu and Evan Royster. Morris not only surprised many by making the team but he lined up as the Week 1 starter. He went on to break the team’s single-season rushing record by piling up 1,613 yards rushing.

LB Perry Riley (4, 2010)—He didn’t get into the lineup until midway through his second season. Riley was always solid for four-plus seasons as the starter but never spectacular. The team let him go last year in training camp and he played well for the Raiders after they picked him up.

CB Bashaud Breeland (4, 2014)—Breeland started 15 games as a rookie. At first he was in the slot but after DeAngelo Hall was injured in Week 3, Breeland moved to the outside and he has stayed there ever since. He has seven career interceptions and seven forced fumbles.

WR Jamison Crowder (4, 2015)—At 5-9, many teams thought Crowder was undersized and he didn’t run a great 40 at the combine. But he was big enough and fast enough to break the Redskins rookie record for receptions in a season and then to lead the team in touchdowns with eight last year.

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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Jay Gruden squashes perception that Alabama defenders don't produce in NFL

Jay Gruden squashes perception that Alabama defenders don't produce in NFL

Alabama dominates college football in a way few teams ever have. In the last two seasons, the Crimson Tide has lost just two games, winning one national title and narrowly missing a second.

The strength of 'Bama, year after year, is their defense. Nick Saban coaches it, Nick Saban knows it, and Nick Saban demands the best from his players. 

Oddly, however, a few recent Alabama defenders drafted to the NFL have not produced. Or at least their production did not match their draft status. 

It's not too hard to pick names that fit that perception. Rolando McClain. Terrance Cody. Dre Kirkpatrick. And at running back, Trent Richardson didn't help.

Still, the Redskins invested heavily in the Tide during the 2017 draft. Their top two picks played for Saban's defense last year, and Washington coach Jay Gruden does not buy any part of the perception that 'Bama products regress in the NFL.

"I don’t see any negative whatsoever with them going to Alabama," Gruden said late Friday night.

The 'Skins selected Jonathan Allen in the first round and Ryan Anderson in the second. Both guys started on the Tide's front seven, and both players dominated.

"They come there and they are well coached. Anytime you watch college football, and you watch other defenses, no disrespect, and then you flip on an Alabama game, it’s different," Gruden said. "The speed is different. They are well-coached, they are in their gaps, they play hard, they play physical, and that’s from Week 1 until the end. That has to appeal to you as a coach. They are using their hands, they are physical, they are chasing the ball, they are running to the ball."

The perception, right or wrong, has two main positions. The first is that the Alabama defense looks so good because it is full of five-star recruits. When everyone is good, or great, on the college level, it's hard to truly judge any singular player's game tape. The second is that Saban is so exhausting, so demanding of his players, they arrive to the NFL with too many reps.

For those around the NFL, both theories are laughable. Pro scouts know game tape. How else can they judge a future first rounder when he matches up against a walk-on? And for every alleged 'Bama bust, think about Haha Clinton-Dox or Landon Collins or C.J. Mosley or Dont'a Hightower. 

Might some Tide players get overdrafted because of their success and high profile? That's a different conversation. What's certain is the Redskins are quite confident in both of their Alabama draft picks.

"We know they are both highly intelligent guys. They understand football, understand X’s and O’s and they both play very hard with a high motor and they are well-coached."

<<<LOOKING AT REDSKINS DRAFT PROSPECTS>>>

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