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Need to Know: What else does Redskins' McCloughan need to do in free agency?

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Need to Know: What else does Redskins' McCloughan need to do in free agency?

Here is what you need to know on this Monday, March 23, 38 days before the Washington Redskins go on the clock at the NFL draft.

Question of the day

A few days a week I’ll give an in-depth answer to a question submitted by a fan on my Twitter feed, via the Real Redskins Facebook page, or in the comments section here. On Twitter address the questions to me at @Rich_TandlerCSN with the #NTK hashtag. There will be a comment thread set up on the Facebook page and if you’re asking your question here, put “for NTK” at the start of the comment.

Today’s question is from Twitter:

It has been a while since the national media came away impressed by the Redskins’ moves in free agency but the opinions seem to be unanimously positive. Here is a sample quick analysis from Chris Burke of SI.com:
New Washington GM Scot McCloughan may have pushed the upper limits of cornerback Chris Culliver's market at four years and $32 million, but at least it was a gamble on a 26-year-old talent. Elsewhere, his work has been measured thus far: retaining Niles Paul, adding Terrance Knighton and Stephen Paea to the defensive line, letting Brian Orakpo walk. On paper, a smart approach across the board.
But McCloughan still has some work to do before we can slap a final grade on his efforts. There is still a glaring hole in the deep middle of the field where a free safety is supposed to go.

It appears that the Redskins may do what they have been doing for years, getting a veteran to fill the role until a permanent solution can be found. They had discussions with Antrel Rolle of the Giants but he ended up going to the Bears. Their next target may be a player that McCloughan drafted.

The Bucs are going to release Dashon Goldson at some point. They want to shed his contract, which carries an $8 million cap number with $4 million guaranteed in 2015. They are trying to trade him but that contract plus the fact that it seems inevitable that they will let him go will make a trade difficult if not impossible.

Goldson, who was drafted in the fourth round in 2007 by McCloughan when he was the 49ers’ GM, is not a long-term solution at free safety. He will turn 31 early in the season and he is not nearly the player he was when he was first-team All-Pro in 2012. That season earned him the big free agent contract that the Bucs are trying to get out of after two seasons.

It could be that McCloughan is just waiting for Goldson to be released and is confident that he can sign the veteran to a deal. There is no particular urgency for the Bucs to let him go immediately since they have plenty of salary cap space to carry that $8 million number.

But their hand will be forced in a few weeks. Offseason workouts start on April 20 and the Bucs probably don’t want Goldson to show up at the team facility for those. If he gets injured while working out the team could be liable for his entire 2015 salary.

There is also the matter of a $500,000 workout bonus clause in Goldson’s contract. Depending on the exact structure of the bonus they could have to start writing checks to Goldson after the first week of workouts.

So some patience may be required here. Even if they do manage to land Goldson he is a temporary solution. They will be trying to find a long-term starter at safety in the draft but there are no guarantees there.

It has taken eight years for the Redskins to get into this mess at safety. It may take more than one offseason for McCloughan to get them out of it.

Timeline

—It’s been 85 days since the Redskins played a game. It will be about 174 days until they play another one.

Days until: Redskins offseason workouts start 28; 2015 NFL Draft 38; Redskins training camp starts 129

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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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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