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Need to Know: Only a handful of starters will be left from 2012 Redskins team

Need to Know: Only a handful of starters will be left from 2012 Redskins team

Here is what you need to know on this Friday, February 5, 19 days before the NFL Combine in Indianapolis.

Five thoughts on the Redskins with free agency a month away

—Although it wasn’t particularly surprising, it was noteworthy that we got the first words uttered by a Redskins official saying that Robert Griffin III and Alfred Morris are likely to be gone in 2016. Actually, Griffin is certain to be gone and Allen predicted that he will get a chance to succeed elsewhere. Allen didn’t close the door on a Morris return but they aren’t going to offer him a contract before free agency starts and they will applaud if he goes elsewhere. The 2012 season was a long, long time ago.

—I don’t get the feeling that Scot McCloughan and Joe Barry are as hopped up to bring in a stud inside linebacker as some fans and media members are. I think they would be perfectly content to bring back Mason Foster, start him alongside Will Compton, possibly cut Perry and save his $4 million salary, and go with Martrell Spaight and perhaps a relatively cheap veteran. If the right guy is there early in the draft I think they would take him but it’s not on their “gotta have” list.

—If Riley does end up leaving there will be five players who started 10 or more games in 2012 who are under contract for this year—Pierre Garçon, Trent Williams, Kory Lichtensteiger, Ryan Kerrigan, and DeAngelo Hall. Lichtensteiger is no sure bet to be on the team in 2016 so there could be just four starters left. In addition, Logan Paulsen, who started 10 games, is slated to be a free agent and may or may not be back.

—In a post on Kirk Cousins yesterday I look a bit at the lack of depth at wide receiver. Andre Roberts is sure to be cut and Ryan Grant played 425 snaps and he caught just 21 passes and dropped four. Rashad Ross is fast but he needs to learn how to play receiver. And let’s not forget that DeSean Jackson and Garçon both turn 30 this year. The situation could get ugly quickly. I get the need to bolster the defense but if there is a quality receiver on the board in any round, including the first, McCloughan will seriously consider taking him.

In my post here yesterday I did not list Duke Ihenacho when I was sketching out a possible safety depth chart for 2016. I didn’t include him for a few reasons, the primary one being his problems staying healthy. He’s been on the Redskins’ payroll for two years but he’s been on the field for just four games. He’s a restricted free agent and it’s not certain that they will offer him an RFA tender, which would be a one-year contract worth about $1.6 million. That’s probably more than they want to pay him. If they don’t tender him, he becomes an unrestricted free agent. On the positive side, he did compete for and win a starting safety job last year. So he does have a shot at returning and contributing.

Timeline

—The Redskins last played a game 26 days ago. It will be about 219 days until they play another one.

Days until: NFL Combine 19; NFL free agency starts 33; 2016 NFL draft 83

In case you missed it

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Jay Gruden wants DeSean Jackson, Pierre Garçon back, but 'won't blink' if they're gone

Jay Gruden wants DeSean Jackson, Pierre Garçon back, but 'won't blink' if they're gone

The Redskins face the very real prospect of losing receivers DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garçon via free agency. Head coach Jay Gruden wants both players back, but is prepared to roll with the guys on the team if Jackson and Garçon depart. 

"Obviously DeSean and Pierre had great years. 1,000 yards each. Those are going to be hard to replace," Gruden said to reporters in Indianapolis. 

It's still possible the Redskins keep both Jackson and Garçon, or keep one of the two, just as both players could leave the organization. In his comments, it seemed like Gruden does not expect one or both guys to be back, and that the team will move on without them. That could mean losing Jackson's 1,005 receiving yards or Garçon's 1,041. 

"Coach the guys that we have. Free agency you’re never going to be able to sign everybody you want as a coach," he said. "I’d like to have Alshon Jeffery, Pierre and DeSean. Heck, give them all to me. I know that's not going to happen."

Gruden tends to joke often speaking with the media, and clearly the prospect of signing Jeffery, a star wideout for the Bears that will hit free agency next week, along with Jackson and Garçon isn't going to happen. The receiver market in free agency will be interesting to watch, as a number of top options will be available. Jeffery, Jackson, Garçon along with Cleveland's Terrelle Pryor and younger prospects like Kenny Stills and Kenny Britt. 

Asked if it was "necessary" to bring at least one of Garçon or Jackson back, Gruden bristled. 

"Would never say necessary. I’d love to have them both back, I'd love to have one back. If we are unfortunate enough to lose them both, I'm not gonna blink."

The coach explained the team has a good crop of young pass catchers already on the roster. 

"I do feel very good about Jamison Crowder, Ryan Grant, Josh Doctson. I love the fact that Mo Harris got a lot of work in, he’s gonna develop."

The coach should feel good about the young receivers, their development is part of his job. Crowder looks like a future star in the slot. Still, Jackson and Garçon accounted for more than 40 percent of Kirk Cousins' passing yards in 2016. That's a lot of yardage to lose. 

Of course, Doctson's development will be a major theme this offseason. A first-round pick in 2016, the Redskins got next to nothing from him as a rookie as he dealt with an Achilles injury. A healthy 6-foot-2 Doctson could offset some of the lost productivity that would come with the departure of Jackson or Garçon.

And then there is always free agency. It's entirely possible Washington could sign another, perhaps cheaper, wideout on the marketplace should they lose two the same way. Gruden said the team has 'other free agents' the team could pursue.

"We have Plan B's and Plan C's ready to go," Gruden said. 

<<<LOOKING AT REDSKINS DRAFT PROSPECTS>>>

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The Redskins aren't willing to trade Kirk Cousins unless they are

The Redskins aren't willing to trade Kirk Cousins unless they are

Shortly after Kirk Cousins got the exclusive franchise tag from the Redskins on Saturday, two sort of conflicting reports. One, from Ian Rapoport of NFL.com, was that Cousins “is not going anywhere” and a trade is essentially off the table. Mike Florio of Pro Football talk, quoting “a source familiar with the dynamics of the situation” reported that the Redskins would have to be “blown away” by a trade offer in order to pull the trigger on a deal.

RELATED: NFL Mock Draft Version 4.0

On the face of it, the reports conflict. One says that Cousins is available, the other says that he isn’t. But that valuation of them assumes the sources for these reports were intent on putting out the truth. The fact is that Cousins is very much available for the right offer.

A conversation along the lines of this one could well take place in Indianapolis this week:

“How much do you want for your house?”

“It’s not for sale.”

“No, really, how much do you want.”

“Really, it’s not for sale.”

“I’ll give you $50,000 over whatever it gets appraised for.”

“Sold!”

In short, you don’t need to have a “for sale” sign up in front of something to sell it. In fact, sometimes it’s better to act as though you have no intention of selling whatever it is. That can intrigue potential buyers even more.

The analogy falters a bit as it seems that the Redskins are unlikely to get a premium over whatever Cousins’ valuation on the open market might be. The receiving team will have to give the QB a massive contract. In addition, a team that wants Cousins is likely to be able to get him with no compensation in a year, when Cousins is likely to be an unfettered free agent. But you get the idea.

More Redskins: What happens next with Cousins?

The message from the Redskins is, don’t come at us with a couple of mid rounders. There is some point where the compensation for giving up Cousins a year earlier than they might have to isn’t enough. It literally would be better to rent Cousins for one more season than get, say, a third-round pick with a 2018 fifth thrown in.

That being said, they are not going to get the RG3 type haul—three firsts and a second—in exchange for Cousins. The likely would accept something south of that in exchange for Cousins’ rights.

So, he’s not available at any price—unless the price is right.

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.