Washington Redskins

Quick Links

Need to Know: The Redskins' top five offseason moves

josh-norman-presser-ap.png

Need to Know: The Redskins' top five offseason moves

Here is what you need to know on this Monday, July 18, 10 days before the Washington Redskins start training camp in Richmond.

Timeline

—The Redskins last played a game 190 days ago. It will be 56 days until they host the Steelers in their 2016 season opener.

Days until: Preseason opener @ Falcons 24; Final roster cut 47; Cowboys @ Redskins 63

—Former Redskins offensive tackle George Starke, the leader of the original Hogs, was born on this date in 1948.

Three and out

Top five offseason moves

When the deadline for Kirk Cousins to sign a long-term contract came and went last Friday the business phase of the Redskins’ offseason came to an end. So with the big deals (and non-deals) in the book, let’s take a look back at the top five moves (and non-moves) so far in 2016.

Instead of ranking them, we'll go chronologically:

Cousins tag saga—This chapter essentially started and ended early March. The team applied the tag on March 1 and Cousins signed it a couple of days later. The Redskins and Cousins’ camp had four and a half months to work on a long-term deal but they never came close to an agreement. It appeared that both sides were perfectly content to let Cousins play the year on the tag. The immediate impact is that Cousins is behind center at a cost of $19.95 million, all of which hits the cap in 2016. Looking forward, it means we could go through the same song and dance in 2017.

Robert Griffin III released—A few days after locking up Cousins, they let go of the quarterback they drafted 100 spots ahead of him in 2012. A year earlier such news would have been shocking but with Griffin not having played a single snap in 2015 and with the team obligated to pay him $16 million to keep him on the fifth-year option letting him go was the only sensible way to go. The moment to move was made the three first-round picks and the second-round pick that it cost to add Griffin officially turned to vapor.

Two defensive starters released—The same day that Griffin was shown the door, DE Jason Hatcher, who started 14 games in 2015, and S Dashon Goldson, who started 15, were released. The moves cleared a lot of cap space but they left the team thinner in some areas where they are not exactly brimming in talent. The Redskins also lost a lot of leadership; Goldson was the defensive captain and Hatcher led the D-line unit.

Josh Norman signed—This one came completely out of the blue. Carolina had him tagged as their franchise player but on April 20 they decided to rescind the tag. That made the All-Pro cornerback a free agent. After a whirlwind recruitment process that lasted about 48 hours, the Redskins signed him to a five-year, $75 million contract. The deal improved an area of weakness for the Redskins but at the cost of some big chunks of cap space including $20 million next year. One ripple effect was the release of CB Chris Culliver on May 2, a move that cleared $8 million in cap space.

Jordan Reed gets a contract extension—The tight end had a year to go on his rookie contract. The news of the extension came out of the blue about two weeks after Norman signed. The deal keeps Reed in Washington through the 2021 season and pays him $46.75 million. Part of Scot McCloughan’s philosophy is to prioritize retaining the team’s draft picks who perform. It started last summer when Trent Williams and Ryan Kerrigan signed extensions.

In case you missed it 

Quick Links

Accentuating the negative leads to positive results for Chris Thompson

Accentuating the negative leads to positive results for Chris Thompson

Some NFL players ooze confidence. They thrive on emphasizing what they do well and not speaking about weaknesses. In a game as tough and physical as pro football, some players need to feel bulletproof to survive.

Chris Thompson is not like that. He was one of the stars in the Redskins’ 27-20 win over the Rams on Sunday. He rushed three times for 77 yards and two touchdowns and caught three passes for 29 yards. And while he enjoyed the win, he did not revel in his performance as he made a glaring mistake.

RELATED: JAY GRUDEN NOT INCREASING THOMPSON'S WORKLOAD

In the third quarter, quarterback Kirk Cousins threw him a perfect pass over the middle. The speedy Thompson had nothing but green grass and white stripes in front of him. But he dropped the pass, turning what likely would have been a 62-yard touchdown into an incompletion.

That play stuck with him despite his touchdown runs of 61 and seven yards.

“I’m not going to lie to you,” he said. “On the plane ride, getting dressed after the game, this morning watching film, when I was outside at practice, I was thinking about that one play. My first thing I wanted to do when I got out there in individuals with the quarterbacks was to run that route again and catch the ball.”

FANTASY: TO START CHRIS THOMPSON OR NOT?

Instead of reliving his glory, he went to work to correct one mistake.

This is not a lone instance of Thompson focusing on negative plays that he made. He said that mistakes stick in his mind more than good plays. During a few minutes talking to reporters on Wednesday, he recalled going the wrong way on a choice route against the Dolphins in 2015, costing a possible touchdown, making a similar mistake against the Browns last year, and errors that led to sacks of Cousins last year and of Robert Griffin III a few years ago.

“All of those things that I look back at that I did wrong, it helped me become a better player this year,” said Thompson. “I’ve been able to go back and look at that and see what went wrong and fix it now. As of late as I’ve become more confident in what I’m doing and more confident in my abilities I’m able to play better.”

Whatever Thompson is doing to become a better player is working. He signed a two-year contract extension earlier this month. Jay Gruden sings his praises whenever he’s asked about him. His teammates almost universally admire and respect him. In his fifth NFL season, many analysts around the league are starting to recognize him as a main cog in the Redskins’ offense.

It is unlikely that he will change his approach.

“I had to mess up a lot in order to get where I am now,” he said. Thompson will continue to perfect his game by putting his imperfect moments under the microscope. 

MORE REDSKINS: FIVE UNDER PRESSURE VS. RAIDERS

Quick Links

Redskins Playbook: Cousins, Gruden remain quite confident in offense. Maybe they're right

Redskins Playbook: Cousins, Gruden remain quite confident in offense. Maybe they're right

One of the best offenses in 2016, the Redskins early returns so far in 2017 rank somewhere between underwhelming and underachieving. That does not mean good games aren't coming in the future, however, at least according to head coach Jay Gruden and quarterback Kirk Cousins. 

"I would like to think that as the year goes on the offense gets better and better," Cousins said Wednesday. "Hopefully we take those steps going forward and we just hit our stride and play much better than we have the first two weeks."

RELATED: FIVE REDSKINS UNDER PRESSURE VS. RAIDERS

In the first two games of the season, a loss at home to the Eagles in Week 1 and a win in Los Angeles over the Rams, Cousins hasn't played particularly well. Against Philadelphia, he played poorly, accounting for three turnovers and completing just 57 percent of his passes. In LA, he showed progress. No turnovers and his completion percentage jumped up nearly 10 points. 

More importantly, Cousins shined on the final drive of the game, going 3 for 3 and throwing the game-winning touchdown. It was that drive, and a number of near misses in both games, that has Gruden optimistic. 

The coach called the Redskins passing game "very, very close" to hitting on all cylinders.

"There is a lot we can improve on in the passing game, from Kirk to the routes to the protection. It’s a work in progress, but we will get there," Gruden said Monday. "We have total faith that we will get it done and his numbers will get better."

Considered in a certain way, he's right. 

In Week 1, the Redskins offensive line struggled and Cousins was sacked four times. The run game got nothing going, generating just 64 yards on the ground. Cousins was able to throw for 240 yards, and despite all the turnovers, the offense still had a chance to steal a win late in the fourth quarter. 

In Week 2, the Redskins line blocked better and the run game produced at a high level. Cousins' yardage total was quite low, only 179 yards, but a big gainer got dropped and a few other opportunities were missed. 

Cousins supporters will scream about passes being dropped in Weeks 1 and 2. Cousins detractors will scream about passes missed in Weeks 1 and 2.

READ MORE: KIRK COUSINS' HITS AND MISSES FROM WEEK 2

The truth is likely in the middle. There is a solid baseline of production from Cousins from the last two seasons, and clearly Gruden expects that to come. Perhaps Week 3 against Oakland will be the opportunity. 

"We’re just going to keep sticking with the plan, getting these guys open the best way we can and hopefully we give Kirk the protection and he sees the throws and makes the throws," Gruden said. "But we’re right there, really. I like the group that we have."

The 2016 Redskins finished third in the league in total yards gained. Obviously the team lost a ton of production with the exits of DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garçon. Don't discount that, or the departure of former offensive coordinator Sean McVay. 

Despite all that, Cousins still has weapons. And talent. He knows he can be better, and knows he needs to be better.

"We have still done some really good things the first two weeks and have moved the ball, but I think there is more in the tank there that we have got to bring out,” Cousins said. 

To beat the Raiders, the Redskins will need to bring everything out of the tank. That likely means a 300-yard passing game from Cousins along with multiple touchdowns. 

The quarterback and the coach think the offense is ready, and close to a breakout game. Maybe they're right. 

Want more Redskins? Click here to follow JP on Facebook and check out @JPFinlayCSN for live updates via Twitter! Click here for the #RedskinsTalk on Apple Podcastshere for Google Play or press play below. Don't forget to subscribe!