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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

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Will Jay Gruden increase his 'big role' in the Redskins' personnel process?

Will Jay Gruden increase his 'big role' in the Redskins' personnel process?

While it hasn’t been the best offseason for the Redskins organization in many respects it has been a good one for coach Jay Gruden. In the midst of turmoil over the status of general manager Scot McCloughan, Gruden got a two-year contract extension.

Although the final agreement on the deal came on March 4 in a steakhouse in Indianapolis during the NFL Combine, team president Bruce Allen said that talk of extending Gruden started much earlier.

“It was after the season, Dan [Snyder], Jay and I got together and we talked about the game plan because we’d made some changes on the coaching staff as well following the season,” Allen told CSN’s JP Finlay at the owners’ meetings in Arizona.

Gruden became the team’s head coach in 2014. His original five-year contract was set to expire after the 2018 season but now he is in the fold through 2020.

RELATED: NFL Mock Draft Version 6.0

Gruden’s record in Washington is 21-26-1, not the kind of record that normally has an organization rushing to extend a head coach. But after a 4-12 inaugural season, Gruden has led the Redskins to records of 9-7 and 8-7-1 the last two years. While by many standards that is a modest achievement, it marked the first back-to-back winning seasons in Washington since 1996-1997. The hope is that Gruden will keep them moving in the right direction.

The extension is likely to be popular in the locker room as players have come to like Gruden’s style.  

“His directness, his sarcasm and at the same time he gets his coaching point in but the guys do like his sense of humor as well,” said Allen. 

It’s not known if Gruden’s extension gives him more authority over personnel. His original deal gave him very little, with first Allen and then McCloughan having the final say in personnel selection and control over who makes the 53-man roster. Some NFL head coaches have final say in free agency acquisition and in the draft while many have control over who makes the 53.

MORE REDSKINS: 3 takeaways from talking to Allen

Gruden does have some informal influence when it comes to the draft.

“He’s got a big role,” said Allen. “First of all, he coordinates all the coaches’ reports and when we set the draft board, Jay will be up there. He watches every player who will be on the draft board and he will have an opinion.”

There is a power vacuum at Redskins Park with McCloughan gone. A new general manager won’t get hired until after the draft and the authority of that GM will have will be a matter of negotiation. It would not be surprising to see Gruden ending up with roster control.

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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Need to Know: What is the Redskins' plan for QB Kirk Cousins?

Need to Know: What is the Redskins' plan for QB Kirk Cousins?

Here is what you need to know on this Tuesday, March 28, 30 days before the April 27 NFL draft.

Timeline

Days until:

—Offseason workouts begin (4/17) 20
—Redskins rookie camp (5/12) 45
—Redskins OTAs start (5/24) 57
—Franchise tag contract deadline (7/15) 109
—First Sunday of 2017 season (9/10) 157

Tuesday three and out

1. Maybe Bruce Allen and the Redskins have a master plan for saving the whole Kirk Cousins situation but right now it just looks like they’re stuck without a solution to paying $24 million to a quarterback who likely will be gone in a year. That’s money that could either be rolled over into future seasons if Cousins gets traded or used as a down payment on a long-term Cousins deal. Maybe there’s a master plan there somewhere but right now it looks an awful lot like the organization is just stumbling around in the dark, stubbing its toe while trying to find the light switch.

2. WR Brian Quick will cost the Redskins less against the salary cap than they are paying him. That’s because his contract takes advantage of the minimum salary benefit. He gets the sixth-year minimum salary of $775,000 plus an $85,000 signing bonus, a total of $860,000. Because of the minimum salary and low signing bonus the CBA rules allow the team to essentially discount the cap hit for the contract down to $695,000. The rule is designed so that younger players are necessarily cheaper, at least when it comes to the salary cap.

RELATED: NFL Mock Draft Version 6.0

3. Allen hinted that the Redskins won’t necessarily hire a general manager after the draft. While talking to colleague JP Finlay he said, “We’ll talk about what we need after the draft from a staffing standpoint.” Not “we’ll search high and low for the best GM in the business” but that needs will be examined. It’s going to be interesting to see how it all shakes out.

And out—Allen didn’t have much to say when JP asked about the stadium project that was a hot topic a year or so ago, only confirming that talks are ongoing. The fact that he had so little to say, not even some platitudes about the desire to build a great environment for the fans. Reading between the lines, this makes me think that a deal is getting close and the less that is said about it at this point the better. Virginia governor Terry McAuliffe will be term limited out of office next January and the feeling is that he will want to leave a Redskins stadium deal as his legacy.

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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