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Need to Know: How will Redskins' GM McCloughan handle free agency?

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Need to Know: How will Redskins' GM McCloughan handle free agency?

Here is what you need to know on this Tuesday, February 3, 15 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.

Today's question is from Twitter:

https://twitter.com/Redskinsmeme/status/562349107088355328

Let’s approach this question from two angles. First, let’s look at what Scot McCloughan said.

“I honestly think the draft is the lifeline of your organization, but also you’ve got to understand with free agency that’s a tool that you can use and you can use it in a positive manner,” he said at his introductory press conference. “You know, you start dabbling too much in free agency sometimes, you’re getting older guys; you’re getting medical history . . . “

“See, in Washington, we’re going to draft these guys and we are going to draft them and mold them as Redskins. We’re not going to have to go out to other organizations and bring in 32 and 33 year olds who have different plans. I think the best-case scenario is you draft and mold your own and re-sign your own. But free agency is still there to be used to make your roster stronger too. You can’t lose sight of that.”

He specifically mentioned Ron Wolf, who was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame on Saturday, and Ted Thompson, his mentors when he was a scout with the Packers. They are purists when it comes to free agency, rarely bringing in talent from outside of the oranization. It doesn’t sound like McCloughan plans to have a roster almost completely stocked with home-grown talent like the Packers do but his vision is to have a team that is built mostly through the draft.

But you should watch what he does and not what he says. In order to get an idea of what he might do, let’s take a look back at 2005, when he took over personnel decisions for the 49ers as their vice president of player personnel. San Francisco had gone 2-14 the previous year so it obviously was a roster that was in just as bad a shape as is the current Redskins’ roster.

McCloughan, however, did not go on a spending spree to pump up the Niners’ roster. He brought in two free agents who found their way into the starting lineup. Johnny Morton, a 35-year-old receiver, was signed away from the Loins and defensive end Marques Douglas, 28, came from the Ravens. Neither was a big splash signing. That was it. All of the other starters were either holdovers or McCloughan draft picks from 2005.

One other note here: McCloughan had come to the 49ers from the Seahawks and, as noted, started with the Packers. He did not sign any players who had been with his previous employers. So those of you trying to connect the dots and bring Frank Gore or Vernon Davis to Washington should think twice.

Putting what McCloughan said and what he has done together it looks like the Redskins will not be big players in the free agent market but they won’t be sitting on the sidelines either. Look for them to plug a few holes with some younger players who won’t break the bank or perhaps with an older player on a one-year deal.

Free agency starts five weeks from today so we will see what he does starting then.

Timeline

—It’s been 37 days since the Redskins played a game. It will be about 222 days until they play another one.

Days until: NFL free agency starts 35; Redskins offseason workouts start 76; 2015 NFL Draft 87

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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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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