Here is what you need to know on this Sunday, January 24, 31 days before the NFL Combine in Indianapolis.
Five thoughts on the state of the Redskins
If you were hit by the Blizzard of 2016, I hope all is well and you and yours got through it safely. Here are a few thoughts on the Redskins:
—Should the Redskins sign Jordan Reed, who is slated to be a free agent after the 2016 season, to a contract extension a year early like they did with Trent Williams and Ryan Kerrigan? As of now, Reed is slated to make $685,888 in 2016, a very cheap pride for one of the top five players at his position. There is a lot to consider, including his injury history. Another consideration, however, is the need to avoid letting a grossly underpaid player take the field. The team is likely to ask some players to take pay cuts this year because they are not likely to play up to their salaries. That is a lot easier to do if your track record says you will reward players who over perform their contracts. If you say, “A deal is a deal” to your best offensive player when he is underpaid then why wouldn’t a player say the same when asking him to take a pay cut? Keeping Reed on the cheap this year could prove to be penny-wise and pound-foolish.
—Another factor to consider in the Reed contract situation is the franchise tag. It’s relatively inexpensive for tight ends. Last year only the kicker/punter tag was worth less than the $8.33 million tight end tag. It will be more expensive in 2017 but it is unlikely to top $10 million and it is a very viable option if Reed plays through 2016 and they can’t come to a contract agreement. However, the franchise tag needs to be available and if they can’t come to an agreement with Kirk Cousins this year and need to tag him they will have to make a choice to tag one or the other a year from now. That is one of the dangers of just tagging Cousins rather than working out a contract with him; you lose leverage down the road.
—The time to rehash the Redskins career of Robert Griffin III will come soon enough but one thing, one misstep, sticks out in my mind. It was the week after he was injured against the Ravens, when Griffin scrambled towards the sideline but instead of running out of bounds he cut back to the middle of the field and met up with Haloti Ngata, who hit him and caused his knee to bend in an unnatural direction. A few days later I asked Kyle Shanahan if they told Griffin he should have proceed to go out of bounds. No, said the offensive coordinator, they were fine with him going for the extra yardage. Griffin also said he did not regret going back into the dangerous area of the field. The play was the beginning of the end of RG3 and the coaches, like Griffin, saw no need to have their high-cost asset protect himself.
—Should the Redskins re-sign Terrance Knighton? Teams didn’t test him very often running the ball, running 74 plays up the middle per the NFL. Only five teams faced fewer runs up the gut. But teams saw success when they did go there, averaging 5.1 yards per attempt, 29th in the NFL. Sure, it’s more complex than that and Pot Roast wasn’t necessarily in the lineup for all of those runs. But if you also look at plays off of left guard (30, 4.1 avg., 15th) and right guard (58, 3.8 avg., 15th), you don’t see some sort of impregnable fortress in the middle of the defense. This doesn’t equal letting Knighton walk necessarily but they will need better play from him if he stays.
—During the season I was thinking that there was zero chance that Alfred Morris would be back with the Redskins. I still think the chances are against it but now I’m not so sure. If they let him walk in free agency they would not have a reliable running back on the roster. They would have to sign one in free agency and it’s possible that Scot McCloughan will look around and find that Morris is the best option if they can come to a contract agreement. I still think the chances are against it but at this point I’m not going to rule it out.
—The Redskins last played a game 14 days ago. It will be about 231 days until they play another one.
—Days until: NFL Combine 31; NFL free agency starts 45; 2016 NFL draft 95
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