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Need to Know: How safe are the Redskins' Riley and Lauvao?

Need to Know: How safe are the Redskins' Riley and Lauvao?

Here is what you need to know on this Monday, May 9, four days before the Washington Redskins hold their rookie minicamp.

Timeline

—The Redskins last played a game 120 days ago. It will be 126 days until they host the Steelers in their 2016 season opener.

Days until: Rookie minicamp 4; OTAs start 15; Redskins training camp starts 81

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The Redskins have two players who may be reserves this season who have salaries of $4 million.

One of them is inside linebacker Perry Riley. He will battle Will Compton and Mason Foster for the two starting inside linebacker jobs. If it looks like he will win the starting job he has had from the middle of the 2011 season until he sustained a foot injury last year then nothing will change.

But if it looks like he is going to be a reserve the team might ask him to cut his pay by 50 percent or more. If they are going to do that, however, they need to be prepared to release him if he balks. Do they want to go into the season with Terence Garvin, who played mostly special teams in his three seasons with the Steelers, first-year player Martrell Spaight and rookie Steven Daniels as the backups at inside linebacker.

The situation is different with the other $4 million man, Shawn Lauvao. For one thing, he is injured. At least he still was ailing at the end of last season when he recovering from surgery on both of his feet. Based on that hard to see him ready for OTAs and the PUP list for the start of training camp is not out of the question.

The big difference here is that left guard is a fairly deep position. Spencer Long started 13 games after Lauvao got injured last year. Arie Kouandjio spent the 2015 season on the 53-man roster and it’s possible that he could win the job outright or at least be able to hold his own if called upon. While you can argue that a healthy Lauvao is the best option at left guard they have viable alternatives if he’s not there.

The point here is that it’s not just a numbers game with the salary cap. A team can’t just say that it won’t pay a backup at a relatively low-value position (which is what guard and ILB are) $4 million. It depends on what the alternatives are. In Riley’s case there are few alternatives and that gets him some security. There is some depth at Lauvao’s spot and that could put him in danger.

Stat of the day

Avoiding throwing interceptions is a key to the Redskins’ success. The fewest interceptions they have thrown in a season since 1990 is eight, in 2012. They won the NFC East. Their second-lowest interception total is 11, and they have done it five times. They made the playoffs in 1990, 2005, 2007, and 2015. In 1996 they went 9-7 and missed the playoffs on tiebreakers.

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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."

<<<LOOKING AT REDSKINS DRAFT PROSPECTS>>>

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Peter King, Ian Rapoport say Redskins can't afford to let Kirk Cousins get away

Peter King, Ian Rapoport say Redskins can't afford to let Kirk Cousins get away

After he signed the franchise tag a couple of weeks ago, the speculation, rumors and, for some fans, panic around Kirk Cousins has largely quieted down.

The Redskins can ink their quarterback to a long-term deal any time between now and July 15, but talks may not pick up until summer rolls around. A trade can also occur, but no recent reports have indicated that one is in the works.

Therefore, it currently looks like Cousins and the franchise that drafted him back in 2012 will be together for at least one more season. And according to Sports Illustrated's Peter King, that's a wise choice by the Burgundy and Gold.

"I think they did the absolute right thing in making sure Kirk Cousins is gonna be their quarterback this year," King told CSN Redskins Insider JP Finlay at the NFL owner's meetings in Phoenix. "I absolutely, unequivocally would not trade him. That's a white flag." 

As for why King wouldn't move on from No. 8, his explanation was very simple.

"You don't get rid of a guy who's got the second-most passing yards in football over the last two years," he said.

MORE REDSKINS: WILL JAY GRUDEN'S ROLE IN DECISION-MAKING EXPAND THIS YEAR?

Finlay also gathered input on the Redskins' and Cousins' relationship from the NFL Network's Ian Rapoport, who's another major voice in the league's media. Rapoport first stated that he would be "beyond stunned" if the 28-year-old was not in D.C. for the 2017 campaign and then laid out how he envisions the year unfolding.

"I do not believe he will sign the extension before the season," he said. "So, he's going to go out there, play on another one-year deal, bet on himself like he did last year. You hope it's the same thing. And then we'll see, because I know there's some talk about him not signing an extension — I'm not so sure about that. Everyone has a price, right?"

"If they offer him $25 [million] a year, Andrew Luck's deal, I would imagine plans would change pretty quickly, right?" Rapoport continued. "So you get to the end of the season, assess where you are, assess the value and see if you can make a business deal. It's terrible to have to pay so much money to your quarterback. The only worse thing is not being able to pay so much money to your quarterback." 

King and Rapoport are clearly both in agreement that losing their rising signal caller would be a huge blow to the Redskins. But while King says Washington should keep Cousins because of his production, Rapoport took a different route when concluding how the negotiations will end up.

"Really good quarterbacks never leave their team. It just never happens," he said. "So I would think there's a way to work this out."

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