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Need to Know: The Redskins' top five offseason moves

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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 

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Terrelle Pryor reportedly working out with special glasses based on Antonio Brown's advice

Terrelle Pryor reportedly working out with special glasses based on Antonio Brown's advice

New Redskins receiver Terrelle Pryor has been working out with Steelers All-Pro Antonio Brown this offseason. 

The pair documented their receiving drills, ladder drills and even yoga on social media. But what you didn't see, according to ESPN's John Keim, is Pryor practicing with special glasses that Brown recommended. 

Based on Brown’s advice, Pryor has also worn special sunglasses during offseason workouts, designed to prevent him from seeing an object – in this case the ball – until it is almost upon him. Sometimes he takes his gloves off, just to get a feel for the ball with his hands.

The glasses Keim describes sound more like blinders, or even tunnel vision, but the idea is to help Pryor get an instinctive feel for running routes. 

Despite putting up 1,007 receiving yards with the Browns last year, Pryor has only played the position since 2015. His first four seasons in the NFL were spent trying to make a roster playing quarterback. 

Now penciled into a starting receiver role for the Redskins, he knows he has a lot of catching up to do. 

"The good ones, they ask questions and never think they’ve got it. They always want to learn," Pryor said, "I’m not calling myself a great one, but I think I can get there."

MORE REDSKINS: Redskins Playbook: Some good news for Kirk Cousins

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Redskins Playbook: 2017 schedule reveals some good news for Kirk Cousins

Redskins Playbook: 2017 schedule reveals some good news for Kirk Cousins

The Redskins offense performed at a high level in 2016, moving the ball well though the unit struggled in the red zone. Much of the success comes from Kirk Cousins' ability to quickly advance through his progressions and release the football before he takes too many hits.

Expect more of that in 2017, especially early in the season.

The Redskins don't face their first Top 5 sack defense until Week 9 when they travel to Seattle. From there, Cousins will face another Top 5 sack team when the Vikings visit FedEx Field in Week 10. 

After that, Washington's schedule doesn't feature a Top 5 sack defense until nearly Christmas. Unfortunately for Cousins, those two teams will come back to back in December when the Redskins host the Cardinals and the Broncos.

Sacks should not drive too much worry for Redskins fans. The Washington offensive line only allowed 23 sacks last season, two less than the Cowboys vaunted offensive line gave up on Dak Prescott. Cousins quick release and mastery of Jay Gruden's offense helps too. 

The Redskins have plenty to worry about in 2017, though facing fierce sack opponents shouldn't be too high on the list. 

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