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Need to Know: Free agency may offer more problems than solutions for the Redskins

Need to Know: Free agency may offer more problems than solutions for the Redskins

Here is what you need to know on this Monday, February 9, nine days before the Washington Redskins and the rest of the NFL assemble in Indianapolis for the NFL Combine.

Question of the day

We’re changing up the format of Need to Know for the offseason. Every day I’ll give an in-depth answer to a question submitted by a fan on my Twitter feed, via the Real Redskins Facebook page, or in the comments section here. On Twitter address the questions to me at @Rich_TandlerCSN with the #NTK hashtag. There will be a comment thread set up on the Facebook page and if you’re asking your question here, put “for NTK” at the start of the comment.

Well, let’s see. The Redskins have had one draft pick, Trent Williams, starting the vast majority of their games on the offensive line since the start of the 2013 season. One draft pick, Jarvis Jenkins, has been among the primary starters on the defensive line. They have gone 7-25 in those two seasons. Both lines are aging and expensive.

I think the question of where the Redskins should go to build the lines answers itself. I think we’re at the point where that whole definition of insanity and expecting different results deal has kicked in. That is why the Redskins brought in Scot McCloughan, who is considered to be one of the best draft talent evaluators in the business.

Just to show you what is out there in free agency, let’s look at the top three interior linemen and top three offensive tackles according to our friends at Rotoworld.

Defensive line:

  1. Ndamukong Suh, DET—Would require a Haynesworth-sized contract. He’s not Albert but he is a kick or stomp away from a long suspension.
  2. Nick Fairley, DET—This is the second best available and we’re talking about a guy who has played in only 46 of 64 possible games due to weight problems, off-field issues, and injuries.
  3. Terrance Knighton, DEN—Pretty good run stuffer but provides minimal pass rush and will be 29 before training camp starts.

Offensive tackle:

  1. Bryan Bulaga, GB--The best available tackle missed half of 2012 with a hip injury and all of 2013 with a knee injury. He will want left tackle money and someone, probably the Packers, will give it to him.
  2. Michael Roos, TN—He missed the last 11 games of 2014 with a knee injury and he will turn 33 around Week 3.
  3. Doug Free, DAL—He just turned 31, missed two early 2014 games with a foot injury and the last four of the season, including the Cowboys’ two playoff games, with an ankle injury.

You can look at the Rotoworld list for yourself but trust me when I say that the further down the list it’s more of the same.

Despite the inherent problems with free agency, they may have to find some stopgap free agents to sign. Tarik El-Bashir and I will be closely examining the free agent market in some series we’ll be running on CSNwashington.com. Check there as the start of free agency, which is four weeks from tomorrow.

And here on RealRedskins.com I’ve been running the Countdown to the Combine series, taking a close look at potential Redskins draft picks. And I’m leaving for the combine in Indianapolis a week from tomorrow with the mission of providing you with four days of severe information overload about prospects who could become Redskins.

Timeline

—It’s been 43 days since the Redskins played a game. It will be about 218 days until they play another one.

Days until: NFL free agency starts 29; Redskins offseason workouts start 70; 2015 NFL Draft 81

If you have any questions about what's going on at Redskins Park, hit me up in the comments. And I'm always on Twitter @Rich_TandlerCSN.

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Redskins offseason questions: Can Kirk Cousins take the next step in 2017?

Redskins offseason questions: Can Kirk Cousins take the next step in 2017?

The good news for the 2016 Redskins was that they didn’t collapse after winning the division the previous season as has been their pattern in the past. The bad news was that they didn’t take the next step and improve from a franchise that can compete to make the playoffs into one that is playing multiple postseason games year in and year out.

That work begins right now for Jay Gruden, Scot McCloughan and the players. In the coming weeks, Redskins reporters Rich Tandler and JP Finlay will examine the biggest questions facing the Redskins as another offseason gets rolling.

RELATED: #RedskinsTalk podcast: Is Kirk too nice?

Will Kirk Cousins take the next step in 2017?

Finlay: The better question might be what constitutes the next step for Cousins? And going one step further, will it be with the Redskins? Answering the second part first, Cousins will be the 'Skins quarterback in 2017. Taking the next step is trickier, since the passer has thrown for more than 9,000 yards in the last two seasons.

For me, Cousins can still get much better, particularly in the red zone. If the Redskins scored at the same pace they pile up yards, this team would have won 11 games in 2016. 

In 2016, Cousins ranked 3rd in the NFL in passing yards, yet outside of the Top 10 in TDs with 25. To really enter the next phase of his career, Cousins needs to lead an offense that scores more, and that means 30+ touchdowns. He can do it. 

Tandler: I don’t look at the next step for Cousins being about numbers. Sure, maybe he can throw for 5,000 yards and 30-plus touchdowns on year. But being a top quarterback is more than that.

I want to see him go into Seattle next year and rally the Redskins from a 10-point deficit in the fourth quarter. I want to see him go into a playoff game and, unlike what happened against the Packers after the 2015 season, will the team to a win when the Redskins aren’t playing their best and when a QB like Aaron Rodgers is on the other side. I want to see him glare at a lineman who missed an assignment and correct a receiver who went the wrong way on a route.

To be sure, he has led the team to some comeback wins and he has played very well in some key games, like the division-clinching win in Philadelphia in 2015. But a top-flight quarterback can’t essentially negate one of those with a play like the season-ending pick against the Giants. Sure, any quarterback is going to have an off day. But you have to have more pluses than minuses on the ledger.

Cousins has been a starter for just two years so maybe he can develop into a top-shelf quarterback. Putting up good stats is part of the picture but he won’t be there until he elevates and motivates those around him. Maybe he can take that next step but until he does there is no way of knowing if he will. 

More offseason questions: 

What are reasonable expectations for Josh Doctson?

— Will there be a surprise salary cap cut?

— Should the Redskins defense switch to the 4-3?

— Is Spencer Long the answer at center?

— How many D-linemen do the Redskins need?

— Should the Redskins draft another QB? 

— With Sean McVay gone, will the Redskins run the ball more?

— Can Cravens handle the transition to safety? 

— Will the Redskins re-sign Pierre Garçon? 

— Will Rob Kelley be the lead running back in 2017?

— Defense in the first round?

— Will they make a change at left guard?

<<<LOOKING AT REDSKINS DRAFT PROSPECTS>>>

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

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Some good news from Redskins Park: Josh Doctson running, catching football (VIDEO)

Some good news from Redskins Park: Josh Doctson running, catching football (VIDEO)

There hasn't been much good news out of Redskins Park lately, as the team deals with pending free agency for QB Kirk Cousins and others combined with rumors of infighting among the front office. So video of 2016 first round pick Josh Doctson running and cutting comes at a great time for beleaguered 'Skins fans. 

Doctson posted the video to his Snapchat account. When he last spoke after the Washington season ended, Doctson made clear he was feeling much better and that '100 percent health' is his main goal this offseason.

His rookie year, however, was a different matter.

The receiver out of TCU missed all but the first two games of the year. Even in those games, he played a very reduced role. Drafted 22nd overall, he had just two catches all year as an obscure Achilles' injuries landed him on the injured reserve. His plight could not be figured out by a slew of doctors and specialists, and the team finally decided to sit down their prized rookie.

A breakout year in 2017 would serve Jay Gruden's squad well, as the team stands to lose DeSean Jackson and/or Pierre Garçon to free agency. It looks likely the 'Skins will lose at least one of their starting WRs, and losing both is a distinct possibility. That could result in more than 2,000 receiving yards leaving the Redskins offense, and the team will need Doctson to pick up a good chunk of that production.

<<<LOOKING AT REDSKINS DRAFT PROSPECTS>>>

Want more Redskins? Check out @JPFinlayCSN 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!