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Need to Know: McCloughan, Redskins play 3D chess in free agency

Need to Know: McCloughan, Redskins play 3D chess in free agency

Here is what you need to know on this Saturday, March 26, 33 days before the NFL Draft.

Timeline

—The Redskins last played a game 76 days ago. It will be about 169 days until they play another one.

Days until: Redskins offseason workouts start 23; 2016 NFL draft 33; Redskins training camp starts 124

Hot topics

A look at five of the most popular posts of the week here and on CSNmidatlantic.com.

Robert Griffin III signs with new team—It’s much easier to wish Griffin well in Cleveland, an AFC team. The Browns do appear on the Redskins’ schedule this year, a game that will be at FedEx Field. My prediction is that it would make for a good Week 2 Thursday night game. It has to be scheduled fairly early in the season because if the Browns draft a quarterback Griffin may not start for very long.

NFL Mock Draft 6.0: The two-round version—Our Ben Standig has the Redskins going with back-to-back defensive linemen with their top two picks. Considering the extent to which the team has neglected the defensive line in the draft in recent years decades, it would be hard to object too strenuously. However, I do think that the wide receiver position has been equally neglected so that should be some attention in the first two rounds as well.

You don't know pain until you see Alfred Morris Cowboys jerseys—It was one thing to have Morris leave and join the hated Cowboys. It was another to see No. 46 Dallas Jerseys with Morris’ name on them. It had many fans wishing him well—but not too well.

Saving cap dollars for 2017?—Scot McCloughan doesn’t like to do much in free agency as a rule. But he has been particularly quiet this year, signing just three players from outside of the organization. It appears that the strategy is to save cap money for 2017, when six key players are set to be free agents. It’s indicative of the multi-dimensional game of chess that building a team with a salary cap has become.

Redskins seem confident in Matt Jones as the No. 1 back—At the time this was written, I was reading tea leaves and my take was based on the fact that it looked like Alfred Morris was going to depart and no other back had been brought in as a free agent. Then at the owners meetings, Jay Gruden said that they were going to go with Jones. “We’re taking a bit of a gamble here, but based on our professional opinion, we believe he can handle it and be very, very effective at it, toting the rock,” said Gruden.

Stat of the day

The 2014 Redskins were outscored by 137 points; last year they outscored their opponents by nine points. The year-to-year improvement of 146 net points was the second best in team history.

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Need to Know: Washington Redskins free agency needs—Offense

Need to Know: Washington Redskins free agency needs—Offense

Here is what you need to know on this Thursday, February 23, 14 days before the March 9 start of NFL free agency.  

Timeline

Days until:

—NFL Franchise tag deadline (3/1) 6
—NFL Combine (3/2) 7
—Redskins offseason workouts start (4/17) 53
—NFL Draft (4/27) 63
—First Sunday of 2017 season (9/10) 199

Free agent moves—Offense

Free agency starts two weeks from today. The Redskins have plenty of needs, both big and small. Let’s take a look around and see what offensive positions they might be looking to bolster when things get going. I’ll follow up with the defense in the next few days.

Quarterback—It could be a yawner at this position or there could be plenty of drama. If Kirk Cousins gets franchise tagged or defies current expectations and signs a long-term deal, the depth chart will remain the same. If he is gone via a trade, things could be shaken up. While they may draft a QB in late April they could go for a mid-priced veteran as insurance.

RELATED: NFL Mock Draft Version 3.0

Running back—The Redskins have a depth chart loaded with young, unproven talent at this position. If they want a veteran presence in the meeting room they could look at someone like Robert Turbin (McCloughan had a hand in drafting him in Seattle in 2012) or maybe Knile Davis.

Wide receiver—Things will get very interesting if the word on the street comes to pass and both Pierre Garçon and DeSean Jackson are gone. They have a presumably healthy Josh Doctson in line to replace one but they would need a veteran. Maybe Kenny Stills or Kenny Britt, both young and productive, could be under consideration. If one of the veterans stays they likely will get depth in the draft.

More Redskins: #RedskinsTalk podcast: Is Kirk too nice for his own good?

Tight end—Vernon Davis seems likely to be back. If he’s not, the Redskins probably would rather have an alternative to Niles Paul as Jordan Reed’s primary backup. The probably won’t swim in the deep end of the pool with Martellus Bennett and Jared Cook. But maybe they will look at Jermaine Gresham, who made the Pro Bowl twice in Cincinnati while Jay Gruden was the Bengals’ offensive coordinator.

Offensive line—Yesterday, JP and I discussed what they might do at left guard if they want to upgrade from Shawn Lauvao. Perhaps they could go for Kevin Zeitler, another Bengal who played under Gruden. But he will command a contract in the $8-$10 million range and with Brandon Scherff coming up for an extension next year that might be too much to spend at the guard position. Look for the Redskins to take an eventual Lauvao replacement in the draft.

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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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If Redskins trade Kirk Cousins to 49ers, 5 prospects to consider with No. 2 pick

If Redskins trade Kirk Cousins to 49ers, 5 prospects to consider with No. 2 pick

It still seems like a long-shot the Redskins trade Kirk Cousins, but if there is one persistent rumor, it's that the San Francisco 49ers want the Washington passer. The story is too familiar at this point: New Niners coach Kyle Shanahan was in D.C. when Cousins was drafted and wants the quarterback to come run his offense in San Francisco. With the second overall pick, the 49ers have a tremendous asset they can dangle in trade talks.

<<<CLICK HERE TO SEE 5 PROSPECTS FOR THE REDSKINS AT NO. 2 PICK>>>

Whether or not any of this rumor is true, it sure makes for engrossing speculation. With the NFL Draft Combine next week in Indianapolis, NFL Network analyst Daniel Jeremiah said he wouldn't be shocked to see the trade go down.

That's the backdrop. Beyond the debate of the merits of trading an established QB like Cousins, which is a very serious debate, there's also the notion of what player the 'Skins would select with the second overall pick.  

MORE REDSKINS: 2017 top heavy Cap could be a problem

It's worth examining the impact players available to Washington with the second selection in the 2017 NFL Draft, and the options are varied, including perhaps a new QB. Check it out. 

<<<LOOKING AT REDSKINS DRAFT PROSPECTS>>>

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