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Need to Know: Norman deal will force tough choices for Redskins in 2017

Need to Know: Norman deal will force tough choices for Redskins in 2017

Here is what you need to know on this Sunday, April 24, four days before the NFL Draft.

Timeline

—The Redskins last played a game 105 days ago. It will be 141 days until they host the Steelers in their 2016 season opener.

Days until: 2016 NFL draft 4; Rookie minicamp 19; Redskins training camp starts 95

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A look at a few more aspects of the Josh Norman signing:

—I think that the deal increases the likelihood that the Redskins will draft a wide receiver early. They had the 2017 cap room to be able to re-sign one or both of Pierre Garçon and DeSean Jackson. Now they may have to choose to let both of them go. It generally takes a season for a receiver to become productive. If both of their starters are going to be departing McCloughan may want to get a head start on finding their replacements.

—By making this deal the Redskins are gambling that they will be able to get Kirk Cousins under contract this year or at least prior to the start of the 2017 league year. If they need to franchise tag him again it will cost $24 million. With Norman set to carry a $20 million cap hit, that would mean that two players would be taking up 26 percent of a cap that should be around $165 million.

—No matter how the Cousins contract situation unfolds, the Redskins will have to make some tough choices in 2017. It will be very difficult to get Cousins, Jordan Reed, Junior Galette, the two receivers, and Chris Baker signed. It might have been hard before Norman signed but now it may be too much to ask. Of course, perhaps McCloughan never intended to keep all of them anyway. But it seems almost certain that some fan favorites will be heading elsewhere next year.

—I might do an article looking at this in a little more depth but I saw one NFL analyst compare how the Redskins are building their defense to the way that the Broncos did—from the outside in. The keys to Denver’s Super Bowl winning unit were edge rushers DeMarcus Ware and Von Miller and cornerbacks Chris Harris and Aqib Talib. Certainly, the Broncos had some strong players on the inside such as DT Maik Jackson and the Redskins don’t have anyone like that. But they have potential matches on the edges with Norman and Breeland at corner and edge rushers Ryan Kerrigan, Preston Smith, and Junior Galette.

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Long injury list hampers Redskins practice

Long injury list hampers Redskins practice

As Jay Gruden stepped to the podium to read the injury report, he warned, “This will be a while.”

He was right, as he rattled off one the longest injury reports of the season.

Out were G Spencer Long (concussion), S Will Blackmon (concussion), DE Chris Baker (ankle), DE Ricky Jean Francois (knee/foot), DE Anthony Lanier (lower leg), G Shawn Lauvao (groin), OT Ty Nsekhe (ankle), and S Donte Whitner (illness).

Of that group, all but Jean Francois, Lanier, and Nsekhe are starters. Between them and the limited players listed below it was difficult for the Redskin to conduct a normal practice.

“It was a challenge,” said Gruden of getting through it. “Practice was modified quite a bit today. We did more walkthrough today than we ever have on a Wednesday.”

“Sometimes you have to taper back just a hair to make it through practice, try to get the mental reps in with walkthrough and then hopefully the physical part will come maybe tomorrow. Friday we can open them up a bit.”

Limited in practice were TE Jordan Reed (shoulder), OLB Preston Smith (groin), ILB Will Compton (hip), G Brandon Scherff (ankle), and TE Derek Carrier (knee).

Reed returned to practice for the first time since suffering a Grade 3 sprain to the AC joint in his left shoulder in the game against the Cowboys on Thanksgiving. He missed the game in Arizona. While his limited participation was a good sign for his return it’ is way too early in the week to say with any degree of certainty that he will be playing against the Eagles.

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Robert Griffin III set to start Sunday for Browns vs. Bengals

Robert Griffin III set to start Sunday for Browns vs. Bengals

RGIII is finally getting another chance to play.

Plagued by injury after injury — most recently breaking a bone in his left shoulder in the Brown’s 29-10 loss to the Eagles in their season opener — the former Redskin is set to start for Cleveland against the Bengals on Sunday, ESPN’s Dan Graziano reports.

Griffin was cleared for contact last week after missing the majority of the Browns’ 0-12 season, and the team is coming off a bye week after its last loss to the Giants over Thanksgiving weekend.

In 2015, Kirk Cousins replaced Griffin as starting quarterback, and the Redskins released him at the end of the season. He signed a two-year, $15 million contract with Cleveland in March.  

In Griffin’s absence, the Browns have relied on Cody Kessler and Josh McCown, who boast a 65.5 and 54.5 completion percentage, respectively. The two combine for just 12 touchdowns this season.

Will Griffin be the key to ending the Browns’ winless season? We’ll find out Sunday.

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