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Need to Know: Redskins start free agency on a slow roll

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Need to Know: Redskins start free agency on a slow roll

Here is what you need to know on this Wednesday, March 11, 50 days before the Washington Redskins go on the clock at the NFL draft.

Redskins are slow rolling free agency

When free agency opened in the past the Redskins were frequently among the first to dive into the pool with a big transaction or two. That was not the case on Tuesday.

With trades and huge signings going on all over the league, the Redskins just dipped a foot into the shallow end and tested out the water a bit. They finalized what they had nailed down on Monday when they had agreed to terms with Bears defensive lineman Stephen Paea. But while they stayed on the phone and lined up some visits they were in no rush to hand out huge contracts to players who might sell a few jerseys but would not help the Redskins achieve their goal of becoming a perennial playoff contender.

It’s apparent that there is a new sheriff in town. Scot McCloughan does this differently from how Bruce Allen, Mike Shanahan, Vinny Cerrato, and his other predecessors.

Here’s a look at what happened yesterday:

Paea formally agreed to terms, although the team has not yet announced the signing. He will play all over the line, at 3-4 end, nose tackle and at tackle when they go into a four-man front. There were other teams in pursuit and he said he left some money on the table for a better fit in Washington. “Other teams were offering me a little bit more, but the way Washington would use me in their defense was the reason I chose Washington,” he said via John Keim of ESPN. “But whatever they feel that I would fit best, they’ll put me in there. I’m there to help, not only playing the run but the pass. I’m all for that.”

—They are continuing to look for help on the defensive line. Terrance “Pot Roast” Knighton is set to come in for a visit according to multiple reports including the Twitter account of his good friend Chris Baker, who has be lobbying for Knighton to come to the Redskins.

—They aren’t ignoring the secondary. Perrish Cox, 49ers cornerback, is set to visit on Wednesday as well. He became a starter for the first time in his career in 2014 and he picked off five passes and knocked down 18. Cox could start alongside Bashaud Breeland, pushing David Amerson to a nickel role or possibly to free safety. The team needs to be very wary of Cox’s past which has a record of some very serious sexual assault charges in 2010 (he was acquitted).

—The Redskins re-signed safety Trenton Robinson, who could have been a restricted free agent but he wasn’t likely to get the $1.5 million RFA tender. He may not contribute much on defense but he is a key special teams player; last year he led the team with 15 tackles on coverage units.

—They could be picking up the phone to find a running back as news came out that third-down back Roy Helu Jr. had agreed to terms with the Raiders. The Redskins’ second-leading rusher in the past two seasons signed for a reported two years and $4 million. That’s not a huge contract by any means and an indication that the Redskins did not make keeping Helu a priority. Washington could try to replace Helu in free agency (they have been connected to former Ravens running back Justin Forsett), in a draft that is deep at the running back position, or from within with Chris Thompson and Silas Redd.

—Don’t be surprised if they lose another member of that fast-disappearing draft class of 2011 today. Leonard Hankerson is set to pay a visit to the Falcons and their offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan. If Hankerson leaves only Ryan Kerrigan and Niles Paul would be left from the 11 players to Redskins picked in 2011. Jarvis Jenkins, the second-round pick in that draft, remains an unrestricted free agent who could return.

—Brian Orakpo isn’t completely out of the picture for the Redskins but he is off visiting other teams. First stop is in Tennessee and if nothing is finalized there he will head to Arizona.

Timeline

—It’s been 73 days since the Redskins played a game. It will be about 186 days until they play another one.

Days until: Redskins offseason workouts start 40; 2015 NFL Draft 50; Redskins training camp starts 141

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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Need to Know: Redskins' rule change rejected but others will make game safer, move faster

Need to Know: Redskins' rule change rejected but others will make game safer, move faster

Here is what you need to know on this Wednesday, March 29, 29 days before the April 27 NFL draft.

Timeline

Days until:

—Offseason workouts begin (4/17) 19
—Redskins rookie camp (5/12) 44
—Redskins OTAs start (5/24) 56
—Franchise tag contract deadline (7/15) 108
—First Sunday of 2017 season (9/10) 156

Rule changes with commentary

—Prohibits the “leaper” block attempt on field goal and extra point plays.

Tandler: While it’s a fun play when it’s executed properly I can see the player safety angle of it. I’m not sure why teams didn’t just run some placement kicks with delayed snaps to get a free five yards because once a player has committed to the leap he can’t stop.

—Makes permanent the rule that disqualifies a player who is penalized twice in one game for certain types of unsportsmanlike conduct fouls. 

Tandler: One of the few times that this came into play was in Week 3 when Giants center Weston Richburg got the boot for multiple penalties against the Redskins. I suppose most Redskins fans will be fine with it until a Washington player gets kicked out of a key game. Last year the rule was experimental and this makes it permanent

—Changes the spot of the next snap after a touchback resulting from a free kick to the 25-yard line for one year only. 

Tandler: I think this is kind of a dumb rule but it's designed to reduce kickoff returns and they did go down from 1,138 in 2015 to 1,012 last season. That’s an 11 percent drop and they want to give the experimental rule another year to see if that was just a statistical anomaly. It should be noted here that the Redskins’ proposal to place a kickoff that goes through the uprights at the 20-yard line did muster 11 votes but that’s far short of the 24 needed to pass it. The No Fun League indeed.

—Gives a receiver running a pass route defenseless player protection. Makes crackback blocks prohibited by a backfield player who is in motion, even if he is not more than two yards outside the tackle when the ball is snapped. 

Tandler: These are two different rules but I’m combining them into once comment—good for player safety, not sure why it took them so long to pass these rules.

RELATED: NFL Mock Draft Version 6.0

—Replaces the sideline replay monitor with a hand-held device and authorizes designated members of the Officiating department to make the final decision on replay reviews. 

Tandler: This is good for so many reasons. We should get better, more consistent decisions (although there’s no guarantee that my evergreen “Siri, what is a catch” tweet will be retired permanently). And the time that replay uses up should be greatly reduced.

—Makes it Unsportsmanlike Conduct to commit multiple fouls during the same down designed to manipulate the game clock. 

Tandler: This keeps teams from grabbing multiple receivers to prevent a Hail Mary attempt at the end of half or a game and prevents them from holding multiple players on a punt attempt to run out the clock at the end of a game. It’s a loophole that was closed, forcing a team to play defense or execute a punt instead of committing intentional penalties. The key is that the clock is reset to where it was when the ball was snapped.

—Makes actions to conserve time illegal after the two-minute warning of either half.

Tandler: This just takes the penalties that result in 10-second runoffs in the last minute of a half, mostly false starts when the clock is running, and makes them illegal any time after the two-minute warning.

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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Responding to a tweet saying that the rule to put replay in the hands of official at the NFL offices:

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Jay Gruden disappointed by firing of Scot McCloughan, yet optimistic for 2017

Jay Gruden disappointed by firing of Scot McCloughan, yet optimistic for 2017

It's never easy to say goodbye to a well-liked coworker, especially when that employee has been fired. In the NFL, that's no different. Redskins head coach Jay Gruden opened up about the departure of former GM Scot McCloughan while speaking with reporters at the NFL Owners Meetings in Phoenix.

"I was disappointed. I liked Scot. I liked working with Scot. He’s a good person, and a great talent evaluator," Gruden said.

The highly publicized demise of McCloughan as Redskins general manager made plenty of headlines, but as far the organization goes, Gruden believes the team is still in good shape.

"Any time you lose somebody that you become close with, whether it’s a coach or a GM or a player it's disappointing but at the end of the day in pro football, anybody that’s been around it long enough understands, change is going to happen and you have to react and adjust to it and move forward with a positive outlook," Gruden said.

Part of that positive outlook stems from moves the team has made this offseason.

Offensively the franchise brought in a big new weapon in receiver Terrelle Pryor. Paired with 2016 first-round pick Josh Doctson, assuming he's healthy, the Redskins could have two dynamic pass catchers to offset the loss of DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garçon. On the defensive line, Gruden thinks new players Terrell McClain and Stacy McGee can emerge as solid players with high upside. Further, Gruden made clear he thinks new defensive line coach Jim Tomsula will make the players on the 'Skins roster into better defensive linemen.

For many fans it's hard to remain optimistic after the controversy that surrounded McCloughan's ouster, but on the field, there's little reason to expect the 'Skins to slide.

In 2016, the team finished one game out of a playoff berth, losing a disappointing final game to the Giants to seal that fate. In 2017, Gruden expects to be right back in the playoff hunt.

"I think everybody in this organization has a positive outlook," Gruden said. "We are going to miss Scot, obviously, but we’re also positive that we can get things we need to get done to be successful."

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