Washington Redskins

Quick Links

Need to Know: How much change on the Redskins O-line?

Need to Know: How much change on the Redskins O-line?

Here is what you need to know on this Tuesday, January 12, 63 days before the start of NFL free agency.

Five thoughts on the 2015 Redskins

—We won’t know if the 2015 Redskins had a good season until we see a good chunk of the 2016 season. In isolation, a 9-7 season with no wins over a team that finished with a winning record and a playoff spot by virtue of winning a very down NFC East is not a great accomplishment. But it they are able to consolidate their gains and build on this year and win double-digit games next year then 2015 or at least post a winning record and content for a playoff spot will have been a very valuable stepping stone. Back-to-back playoff seasons have eluded this franchise since 1991-1992. But if they slide back to six wins or worse then 2015 will have been a fluke of a weak schedule and a weak division.

—Both Colt McCoy and Jay Gruden had high praise for quarterbacks coach Matt Cavanaugh. McCoy said that he was the team “MVP” even though he wasn’t a player. Gruden said that his presence “was a big benefit to all of us.” The more I look at the quarterback play this year compared to last year and how much smoother the whole offensive operation was in 2015, I have to wonder why in the world they came up with the idea that they could do without a QB coach in 2014.

—The position I am going to watch very closely is the offensive line. Based on pass protection you could make a case that they should stand pat. But looking at how poorly the run game went, wholesale changes could be in order. On top of that, Gruden and Scot McCloughan need to decide if they are going put Kory Lichtensteiger and Shaun Lauvao, both of whom missed a good chunk of the season with injuries, back in as starters. It will be an interesting puzzle to put together.

—Will DeSean Jackson be back? This is a tough one. In 2015 he was a rare weapon at times and he can be a waste of well over half a million dollars of cap space per game at other times. Cutting him would save a net of $6.75 million in 2016 cap space. What Gruden and McCloughan will have to figure out is how much the presence of Jackson had to do with Kirk Cousins scalding-hot finish to the season. Because if he wasn’t providing some benefits beyond his 30 receptions for 328 yards and five touchdowns for his $9.25 million cap hit then there needs to be a serious cost-benefit analysis applied to his situation. And I don’t want to hear that he was injured; if he hadn’t blown off a lot of OTAs and hadn’t taken it easy in camp after suffering a mild shoulder sprain he probably would not have suffered the hamstring pull a few plays into the season (that’s by his own admission, by the way).

—I’m somewhat skeptical of talk that DeAngelo Hall will be a starting safety next year. He just turned 32 and he has missed more games due to injuries in the last two years (20) than he has played (12). His salary jumps up to $4.25 million next year, giving him a cap hit of just over $5 million. Given that confidence in his ability to be able to make it for the majority of the 16 games has to be fairly low it’s hard to justify that salary cap expense. Perhaps a redone contract with a lower base salary and some per-game roster bonuses would be a better fit.

Timeline

—The Redskins last played a game two days ago. It will be about 243 days until they play another one.

Days until: NFL combine 43; NFL free agency starts 63; 2016 NFL draft 107

In case you missed it

Quick Links

Redskins Playbook: Niles Paul forcing a fourth tight end roster spot?

Redskins Playbook: Niles Paul forcing a fourth tight end roster spot?

Redskins coaches appreciate Niles Paul. Not just for the immense physical skills, a 6-foot-1, 225 lb. college receiver turned NFL tight end and fullback. He works hard every day at practice, and demands the same from his teammates. 

Last season, Paul landed on the injured reserve after an injury in London during a Week 8 tie against the Bengals. Because of that, some speculation emerged that Paul could be the odd man out in the Redskins tight end group, behind Jordan Reed and Vernon Davis and fighting with 2017 draft pick Jeremy Sprinkle, not to mention veteran Derek Carrier. 

RELATED: COULD REDSKINS MAKE RUN AT NICK MANGOLD?

After two preseason games, it's clear Paul is ready to fight for that spot. Against Green Bay on Saturday night, Paul logged a touchdown catch and a fumble recovery on special teams, showing the versatility that makes him so valuable to Washington. 

For Paul, he's just happy to be back on the field. 

"I got my season cut in half last year. I just want to be back on the field by any means necessary. I've just been missing it. I've been missing football in my life," Paul said after the game (full video above).

Paul's acrobatic TD grab showed that he still has the explosiveness to help the offense, but his special teams play is what will keep him on the roster. It also helps that head coach Jay Gruden complimented Paul for an outstanding camp and work ethic. 

"His speed looks where it was before the injuries. I mean, I think he's had an outstanding training camp so far. He's done so many different things. And that's one of the toughest positions," Gruden said of Paul. 

The Redskins offense hasn't hit full cylinder yet, but Paul thinks the return of Jordan Reed will help. 

"We're missing a major piece and that's Jordan Reed," he said. "We got some fine tuning to do."

Considering Reed's injury history, and backup tight end Vernon Davis starting the season at 33, a healthy Paul is a luxury for the Redskins. He stands to make nearly $2.5 million this season, but he also brings versatility. Paul is happy to play fullback, a role that seems to be growing, as well as all over the field on special teams. 

Washington will absolutely keep Reed and Davis. With his play this preseason, Paul seems a sure thing too. And if the squad wants to keep their draft pick in Sprinkle, who has tremendous size and has shown promise, four tight ends on the 53-man roster looks like the future. 

<<CLICK HERE FOR PHOTOS FROM REDSKINS TRAINING CAMP>>

Want more Redskins? Click here to follow JP on Facebook and check out @JPFinlayCSN for live updates via Twitter! Click here for the #RedskinsTalk on Apple Podcasts, here for Google Play or press play below. Don't forget to subscribe!

Quick Links

With Spencer Long on the shelf, could Redskins make a run at Nick Mangold?

usatsi_9622427.jpg
USA Today Sports

With Spencer Long on the shelf, could Redskins make a run at Nick Mangold?

News broke late Monday night that Redskins' center Spencer Long underwent a minor knee scope and is expected to miss two weeks. That timetable spells good news for Washington, as that would bring Long back to the team before the first regular season game against the Eagles on September 10th. 

In the meantime, expect rookie Chase Roullier to take over at center for the Redskins. A 6th round draft pick, Bruce Allen and the Washington brass moved up to select Roullier, and the young player out of Wyoming had a strong training camp. 

RELATED: NILES PAUL FORCING HIS WAY TO A ROSTER SPOT?

"He’s done a great job, he really has. For a rookie to come in here and handle all the things he has to handle, it’s been very impressive," Redskins coach Jay Gruden said of Roullier in early August. 

Still, Jay Gruden has been very clear about the need for a backup center on the roster. Last season the team brought in veteran John Sullivan during the year to provide depth at the position after Kory Lichtensteiger went down with injury.  Sullivan ended up starting one game for Washington, and is now playing with the Rams. 

With Long on the mend, the only other center on the Redskins roster is Roullier. Ronald Patrick is listed with the more generic OL designation though he has played center too.

It seems likely the team will move quickly to add another center, and one name that will get suggested is Nick Mangold. An 11-year veteran that played his entire career with the Jets, Mangold has more experience than Long, Roullier and Patrick combined.

He's also played the position at a very high level. Twice named to the NFL's All Pro team, Mangold has made seven Pro Bowls, most recently in 2015.

It's not entirely clear why Mangold isn't on an NFL roster already. He worked out for the Ravens this offseason, though some reports suggested Mangold wanted more guaranteed money than was discussed. 

A quick look at his Twitter feed does not suggest a guy missing the NFL life. A big soccer fan, Mangold seems very dialed in to London's Tottenham Hotspur and the New York City Football Club. (Check his Twitter out here)

If the team truly believes Long should not miss any regular season action, Mangold is probably not a fit. At 33-years-old with an impressive resume, Mangold likely doesn't want to come back just to be a backup, and Gruden has repeatedly talked about Long's ability and potential in the middle of the line. Should Long suffer a setback, the equation could change. 

Other names are likely to pop up for tryouts, as the 'Skins must consider more interior line depth. Making a run at Mangold might be something fans want to do, though it might not make sense at this point.

<<CLICK HERE FOR PHOTOS FROM REDSKINS TRAINING CAMP>>

Want more Redskins? Click here to follow JP on Facebook and check out @JPFinlayCSN for live updates via Twitter! Click here for the #RedskinsTalk on Apple Podcasts, here for Google Play or press play below. Don't forget to subscribe!