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Need to Know: Which Redskins free agents will return?

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Need to Know: Which Redskins free agents will return?

Here is what you need to know on this Wednesday, February 25, 13 days before the Washington Redskins and the rest of the NFL start free agency.

Question of the day

We’re going back to the NTK format we’ve been using since last month. Every day 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 the Real Redskins Facebook page.

First, note that this question was submitted over a month ago. I do hold on to questions for a while, so if you put one in a while ago you never know when it could pop up.

I’m answering it now because the time is right. Free agency starts in less than two weeks and the Redskins are nailing down their free agent strategy. They were a little bit behind the curve since they didn’t hire Scot McCloughan until almost two weeks after the season ended. But let’s take a look at the big picture here; there will be plenty of posts with details coming between now and March 10.

Please note that this is reading the tea leaves and looking at what makes sense; it is not based on inside info from Redskins Park. They have managed to keep a very tight lid on what is going on there.

The Redskins have 11 unrestricted free agents, not counting Ryan Clark, who retired. I think they will let the following players walk without putting up much of a fight: WR Santana Moss, OT Tyler Polumbus, CB E.J. Biggers, S Brandon Meriweather and DL Chris Neild.

For the right deals, they might be willing to bring back DL Jarvis Jenkins, WR Leonard Hankerson, RB Roy Helu, and TE Niles Paul.

I’m not sure about what they will do with LB Brian Orakpo and QB Colt McCoy. Perhaps they will make a cursory attempt to keep Orakpo on some sort of an incentive-laden deal with they won’t lose sleep if they get outbid, which they probably will. And although it’s doubtful that McCoy is the prototype of the type of QB that McCloughan wants, options are very limited. Wait and see on Colt.

You will note the lack of any "must have" free agents. There are some they would like to have back but none are close to warranting the franchise tag or any super-aggressive efforts to lock them up before the hit the open market.

As far as letting players go, I think there will be less of that than many think. I can’t see G Chris Chester staying at age 32with a $4.8 million cap number. His job goes to a younger and cheaper Spencer Long.

There is plenty of chatter in the fan base about Stephen Bowen, Barry Cofield, Tracy Porter, and some others. But the approach with them could be to negotiate pay cuts rather than letting them go and then getting a short-term replacement in free agency. When younger players are acquired through the draft and developed, they would be able to take their places.

Timeline

—It’s been 59 days since the Redskins played a game. It will be about 200 days until they play another one.

Days until: NFL free agency starts 13; Redskins offseason workouts start 54; 2015 NFL Draft 64

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: Who are the Redskins' roster locks?

Need to Know: Who are the Redskins' roster locks?

Here is what you need to know on this Tuesday, May 23, 21 days before the Washington Redskins start minicamp on May 22.

Timeline

It’s been 142 days since the Redskins played a game. Their season opener against the Eagles at FedEx Field is in 110 days.

Days until:

—Redskins minicamp (6/13) 21
—Training camp starts (7/27) 65
—Preseason opener @ Ravens (8/10) 79

Who will surprise in 2017?

As OTAs start today, all 90 players on the roster have something to work for. But few dozen of them don’t have to work for a job. These are players who either because of their contracts or draft status or importance to the team who are locks to make the 53-man roster. Here are the 2017 roster locks.

Offense (18)

Backs: QB’s Kirk Cousins, Colt McCoy, and Nate Sudfeld; RB’s Rob Kelley, Chris Thompson, and Samaje Perine.

I’ve had Sudfeld on the bubble ever since the Redskins drafted him but he’s past the point where they are going to give up on him and risk putting him on the practice squad. A year ago, Kelley was on the outside of the bubble and now he is a mortal lock.

WR/TE: WR’s Terrelle Pryor, Josh Doctson, Jamison Crowder; TEs Jordan Reed, Vernon Davis

Receivers Maurice Harris and Robert Davis are close to being locks but there is a lot of competition going on in the bottom of the depth chart. Jeremy Sprinkle is likely to make it as a tight end but he may have to beat out special teams stalwart Niles Paul.

O-line: OT’s Trent Williams, Morgan Moses, Ty Nsekhe, G’s Shawn Lauvao, Brandon Scherff, Arie Kouandjio; C Spencer Long

You can argue about Lauvao but the fact that the team did not draft or sign serious competition for him tells me he is safe. Someone who can back up a center is a lock to make the roster. That could be sixth-round pick Chase Roullier or a veteran plucked off waivers.

Defense (18)

D-line: Terrell McClain, Stacy McGee, Jonathan Allen, Anthony Lanier, Ziggy Hood

Lanier will still be a project but after keeping him last year the Redskins will hang on to him again to see if he can develop into a pass-rushing threat. Matt Ioannidis could be the sixth defensive lineman but he could get beaten out.

Linebackers: OLB’s Ryan Kerrigan, Preston Smith, Junior Galette, Ryan Anderson; ILB’s Will Compton, Zach Brown, Mason Foster

Trent Murphy will be suspended for the first four games so he won’t be on the initial 53. Martrell Spaight is close to being a lock but competition will be fierce for that last inside linebacker spot.

Backs: CB’s Josh Norman, Bashaud Breeland, Kendall Fuller, Quinton Dunbar; Safeties Su’a Cravens, D.J. Swearinger

Five or possibly six positions are up for grabs here. Third-round pick Fabian Moreau is a lock to be with the organization but he could be on the PUP list.  

Specialists (3): LS Nick Sundberg, P Tress Way, K Dustin Hopkins

It would be very surprising if they brought in competition for Hopkins.

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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Jay Gruden views Chris Thompson as the NFL's best third-down running back

Jay Gruden views Chris Thompson as the NFL's best third-down running back

In 2016, Chris Thompson simply needed to prove to Jay Gruden that he could handle 16 NFL games.

Now, looking ahead to 2017, the fifth-year running back hopes to show his head coach he can shoulder 16 NFL games and a larger workload.

"I have a feeling that I might get a little more this year," Thompson said Monday at the Redskins Charitable Golf Foundation. "[Gruden] knows now that I'm healthy and I can stay healthy, which I think that was one of his biggest concerns. So now he sees that I can handle the load, I think that I'll get a lot more opportunities this year."

Last season was by far the best in the 26-year-old's career. He played a full slate of games after playing in just 19 over his first three seasons combined, and he set career highs in rushing attempts (68), yards (356), receptions (49), receiving yards (349) and total touchdowns (5).

MORE REDSKINS: TEAM IS AHEAD OF SCHEDULE WITH PLANS FOR NEW STADIUM

He also held up well in pass protection, a key duty for him as the team's third-down running back. And it's all of those qualities — being able to contribute on handoffs and with catches while also providing help in keeping Kirk Cousins upright — that make him an excellent fit for a popular NFL duty.

The most excellent in that duty, actually, if you ask Gruden. 

"I think Chris Thompson's role is big," he said. "When you're talking about third downs, that's the most important down in football. There's nobody better as a third-down back in my opinion than Chris. He's got a huge role on this football team." 

Gruden went on to indicate that an increase in Thompson's responsibilities is likely coming, though No. 25 will still do the majority of his work when the offense needs him most.

"Whether he does some more stuff on first- and second-down will be determined," he said. "I'm sure he will. But he's so valuable on third-down that I gotta keep him in that role for now."

A 2013 fifth-round pick who came into the league with a history of injuries, Thompson has now fully gained the trust of his coaches and teammates. The 5-foot-8 running back may be small in stature, but the Redskins know he's not small in importance.  

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