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Need to Know: Redskins' D-line depth chart is in flux

Need to Know: Redskins' D-line depth chart is in flux

Here is what you need to know on this Saturday, February 28, 10 days before the Washington Redskins and the rest of the NFL start free agency.

D-line transformation just beginning

In 2011 the Redskins drafted Jarvis Jenkins in the second round and soon after the lockout ended they signed Stephen Bowen and Barry Cofield as free agents. Jenkins missed his rookie season with a torn ACL but since 2012 those three players have been mainstays on the defensive line.

Now Bowen and Cofield are gone, released in a move that saved the team some $9.6 million in salary cap space. Jenkins is a pending unrestricted free agent and his future with the team after free agency gets underway on March 10 is far from certain. The same goes for fellow free agent and 2011 draft pick (7th round) Chris Neild. He is a decent backup nose tackle when he’s on the field but he has missed two of the last three seasons with ACL injuries.

With at least two and possibly three linemen from last year gone, the process of building the line back up started on Thursday when the Redskins signed former Scot McCloughan draft pick Ricky Jean Francois. But obviously they will need more than him to replace Bowen, Cofield, and, if he leaves, Jenkins.

The four holdover defensive linemen the Redskins have under contract are Jason Hatcher, Chris Baker, Kedric Golston, and Frank Kearse. Hatcher is likely to be around this year and Golston might be but neither will around for the long haul. They are temporary placeholders at best.

McCloughan has stated that he will build the Redskins through the draft. Prospects like USC end Leonard Williams and Washington nose tackle Danny Shelton are potential picks for the Redskins with their top draft pick. But immediate help after the first round may be hard to come by. There may be another free agent or two on the way.

It’s impossible to craft a depth chart now because there are too many moving parts. You could start the season tomorrow with Hatcher and Jean Francois at end, Baker at end with Golston and Kearse as backup. Robert Thomas, who was on the practice squad last year, could be the backup nose tackle.

Fortunately the season doesn't start tomorrow. You could get by with a line like that but the goal should be to improve. And the Redskins would be back into a hole again in 2016 with Golston and Hatcher likely gone. Look for more big guys to be added in free agency and the draft to strengthen it for 2015 and beyond.

Timeline

—It’s been 62 days since the Redskins played a game. It will be about 197 days until they play another one.

Days until: NFL free agency starts 10; Redskins offseason workouts start 51; 2015 NFL Draft 61

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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Peter King, Ian Rapoport say Redskins can't afford to let Kirk Cousins get away

Peter King, Ian Rapoport say Redskins can't afford to let Kirk Cousins get away

After he signed the franchise tag a couple of weeks ago, the speculation, rumors and, for some fans, panic around Kirk Cousins has largely quieted down.

The Redskins can ink their quarterback to a long-term deal any time between now and July 15, but talks may not pick up until summer rolls around. A trade can also occur, but no recent reports have indicated that one is in the works.

Therefore, it currently looks like Cousins and the franchise that drafted him back in 2012 will be together for at least one more season. And according to Sports Illustrated's Peter King, that's a wise choice by the Burgundy and Gold.

"I think they did the absolute right thing in making sure Kirk Cousins is gonna be their quarterback this year," King told CSN Redskins Insider JP Finlay at the NFL owner's meetings in Phoenix. "I absolutely, unequivocally would not trade him. That's a white flag." 

As for why King wouldn't move on from No. 8, his explanation was very simple.

"You don't get rid of a guy who's got the second-most passing yards in football over the last two years," he said.

MORE REDSKINS: WILL JAY GRUDEN'S ROLE IN DECISION-MAKING EXPAND THIS YEAR?

Finlay also gathered input on the Redskins' and Cousins' relationship from the NFL Network's Ian Rapoport, who's another major voice in the league's media. Rapoport first stated that he would be "beyond stunned" if the 28-year-old was not in D.C. for the 2017 campaign and then laid out how he envisions the year unfolding.

"I do not believe he will sign the extension before the season," he said. "So, he's going to go out there, play on another one-year deal, bet on himself like he did last year. You hope it's the same thing. And then we'll see, because I know there's some talk about him not signing an extension — I'm not so sure about that. Everyone has a price, right?"

"If they offer him $25 [million] a year, Andrew Luck's deal, I would imagine plans would change pretty quickly, right?" Rapoport continued. "So you get to the end of the season, assess where you are, assess the value and see if you can make a business deal. It's terrible to have to pay so much money to your quarterback. The only worse thing is not being able to pay so much money to your quarterback." 

King and Rapoport are clearly both in agreement that losing their rising signal caller would be a huge blow to the Redskins. But while King says Washington should keep Cousins because of his production, Rapoport took a different route when concluding how the negotiations will end up.

"Really good quarterbacks never leave their team. It just never happens," he said. "So I would think there's a way to work this out."

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Josh Doctson's short tweet delivers good news for Redskins

Josh Doctson's short tweet delivers good news for Redskins

Josh Doctson’s tweet left 136 characters on the table but he didn’t need any more to deliver some good news to Redskins fans.

The wide receiver was the Redskins’ top pick in the 2016 draft. At 6-2 and an ability to high point the ball he repeatedly demonstrated at TCU, it was hoped he would add a different dimension to the Redskins’ fast but relatively short receiving corps.

RELATED: NFL Mock Draft Version 6.0

But it didn’t happen. An Achilles tendon injury flared up during preseason activities and he was very limited in OTAs. He was on the PUP list during training camp and the preseason games. Doctson was on the 53-man roster to start the season but after 31 snaps and one reception in two games he was shut down for the season.

Jay Gruden was apparently frustrated by the injury and throughout the season he wasn’t sure when Doctson would be ready.

MORE REDSKINS: 3 takeaways from talking to Allen

But last month via social media Docston sent out some pictures of him doing some strenuous work at Redskins Park. It appears that he was in Tampa today working with Jon Gruden and some other Redskins. The tweet from Doctson came a short time after this picture from one of Terrelle Pryor’s social media accounts was posted.

It should be noted that doing work in shorts a T-shirts does not equal being effective in an NFL regular season game. But it’s a good first step and considering Doctson barely took any steps last year that’s a good development.

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.