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Need to Know: Looking ahead--Who are the Redskins' priority 2016 free agents?

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Need to Know: Looking ahead--Who are the Redskins' priority 2016 free agents?

Here is what you need to know on this Wednesday, May 20, six days before the Redskins start OTAs.

Question of the day

A few days a week 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:

We have a breather for a few days between rookie camp and the start of OTAs next Tuesday so let’s squeeze in a question that looks forward to 2016. Obviously Trent Williams and Ryan Kerrigan are the top two pending free agents. The Redskins are trying to get both of them locked up before the start of this season.

But they are not the only players who will be in need of new deals if they are going to be Redskins in 2016. Counting Williams and Kerrigan they have 17 players set to be unrestricted free agents and many of them are either starters or play key roles.

Let’s look at who along with Williams and Kerrigan are high priorities to sign, who would be a medium priority and then those who are either low priority or unlikely to be resigned. This is based on the way the team and the depth chart look right now without any projections on how things might play out in 2015.

High priority: OT Williams, OLB Kerrigan, ILB Keenan Robinson, RB Alfred Morris

Williams is the cornerstone of the offensive line and Kerrigan is the team’s top pass rusher. Robinson did a solid job taking over for London Fletcher at the Mike linebacker spot; he should become a fixture there. Morris is the league’s second-leading rusher since 2012, the year he came into the league.

Moderate priority: QB Kirk Cousins, FB Darrel Young, TE Logan Paulsen, PK Kai Forbath, NT Terrance Knighton

We really need the crystal ball to figure out if Cousins will be a big priority or not. For now, we’ll leave him in the middle. Knighton could be a higher priority if he has the kind of season the team thinks he can. Young is versatile and valuable on special teams. Paulsen and Forbath are both replaceable but until a replacement is in house they need to be on the list of players who should be re-signed.

Low priority: DL Travian Robinson, DL Frank Kearse, S Trenton Robinson, OL Josh LeRibeus, DL Kedric Golston, QB Colt McCoy, CB Tracy Porter, OL Chris Chester

As noted, this is just my best guess right now; McCoy could help win a few games and become a higher priority. But the rest are likely to be replaced by younger/better/cheaper players.

Timeline

—It’s been 142 days since the Redskins played a game. It will be 117 days until they play the Dolphins at FedEx Field.

Days until: Redskins minicamp starts 28; Redskins training camp starts 72; Thursday night Redskins @ Giants 128

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!