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Need to Know: Who will really hold the power in free agency for the Redskins?

Need to Know: Who will really hold the power in free agency for the Redskins?

Here is what you need to know on this Thursday, February 12, six days before the Washington Redskins and the rest of the NFL assemble in Indianapolis for the NFL Combine.

Question of the day

We’re changing up the format of Need to Know for the offseason. 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 Twitter:

Even though Scot McCloughan got all of the authority that a GM traditionally gets when Bruce Allen hired him and yielded that title last month, he needs the help of others to get things done. Any GM in the league is in the same situation.

Salary cap and contracts are not part of McCloughan’s areas of expertise and he will rely on Allen and cap guru Eric Schaffer to take care of contracts. For rookies, that’s easy; you basically just fill in the name, the numbers are set by the draft slot. But when it comes to free agents, it gets more complex.

From what we know, a free agent acquisition has to start with McCloughan wanting the player to come to the Redskins. He has final say on the 53-man roster so nobody is added to it without his OK. So he brings his list to Allen and Schaffer to take care of the money part of it.

Here is where the matter of trust and the crux of your question comes in. They need to have a discussion about what they think the player is worth and come to a consensus as to how high they will go to get that player. That is more Allen’s and Schaffer’s area of expertise than McCloughan’s so he is going to have to trust the cap guys’ estimates and evaluations.

Could Allen torpedo the process by overstating what a player might fetch on the market? Could he not negotiate in good faith if he really doesn’t like a player that McCloughan wants to bring on board? The answer to both is yes. But the NFL is a small world and word would get back to McCloughan, potentially poisoning the well at Redskins Park. We’ve seen it before but Allen is too savvy to do something like that.

The bottom line is that McCloughan has the final say. If Allen says I can get you Player X for Y dollars, McCloughan has the authority to tell Allen to pull the trigger or pass on the player. But if things work out the way they should, they all should be on the same page and in agreement on the decision.

Let me make one more point here. Fans roll their eyes when they hear about GM’s or coaches hiring guys that they know. But trust is a big thing whether we’re talking about matters like this or decisions made on the coaching level. It’s much easier to get to work and get up to speed when there is a pre-established relationship there. That’s one reason why these hires often work out the way that they do.

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Timeline

—It’s been 46 days since the Redskins played a game. It will be about 215 days until they play another one.

Days until: NFL free agency starts 26; Redskins offseason workouts start 67; 2015 NFL Draft 78

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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Trent Murphy had offseason foot surgery to repair broken bone, per source

Trent Murphy had offseason foot surgery to repair broken bone, per source

Redskins outside linebacker Trent Murphy underwent surgery this offseason to repair a broken bone in his foot, per a source with knowledge of the situation. Murphy has completely healed and is a full participant at training camp. 

The injury came late in the 2016 season and he played the Redskins final game of the season with the broken foot. He was listed on the injury report for that game as limited with a foot injury. He was not listed on the Week 16 injury report against the Bears.

Hit with a four-game suspension for performance enhancing drugs this offseason, Murphy won't suit up for the Redskins until Week 6. He will be forced to miss the first four games, and then the Redskins have a bye in Week 5. 

Murphy had a breakout season in 2016, finishing the year with nine sacks and 47 tackles. A second round pick in 2014, Murphy had a combined six sacks in the two seasons prior. Last offseason, Murphy was tasked with gaining weight for a position switch to defensive end. After he gained the weight, outside linebacker Junior Galette was lost for the season, and Murphy was moved back to outside linebacker. 

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Redskins' Gruden will readjust to calling plays by going off script

Redskins' Gruden will readjust to calling plays by going off script

RICHMOND—The Redskins offense is dealing with some challenges on the field. Their top two wide receivers from last year left as free agents and replacements Terrelle Pryor and Josh Doctson have little game experience with quarterback Kirk Cousins. Tight end Jordan Reed (toe) was a surprise entry on the PUP list. Running back Rob Kelley needs to prepare to get ready to carry the load for 16 games.

There is one other change the team must deal with. Sean McVay, the team’s offensive coordinator, left in January to become the head coach of the Los Angeles Rams. He had been calling the plays for the past two years. That duty will now fall on head coach Jay Gruden.

RELATED: Reed one of four to start camp on PUP

Play calling is not new to Gruden. He did it from 2011-2013 for the Bengals when he was the offensive coordinator in Cincinnati. Gruden also made the play calls in 2014, his first season as the Redskins head coach.

Still, he wants to make sure that he’s ready to retake the play caller’s headset. The method he will use is to throw away the script.

“I think early on we’re going to have scripted practices, and once we get going, get our main core of plays in there, I think we’ll have a lot of unscripted practices where I can call plays,” he said. “So I think that’s the most important thing, the unscripted practice. Whether it’s two -minute, whether it’s drives down the field, whether it’s third downs, all that good stuff, do a lot of unscripted work, red zone and go from there, but I feel pretty comfortable already.”

That certainly makes sense. Games are not scripted and the successful play callers who can adjust to the ebb and flow of the game. You can’t duplicate the dynamic but you can come close in 11 on 11 work on the practice field.

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Another key to making this work will be trusting his defensive and special teams coaches. If Gruden can’t delegate to them he will be getting pulled in too many directions on game days.

“How well I handle that will be how successful I will probably be as a coordinator calling plays and as a coach,” he said. “I feel good about the staff that I have around me. Coach [Greg] Manusky and Jim Tomsula and Torrian Gray on the defensive side of the ball, I don’t think I have to worry so much about that, Ben Kotwica, Bret Munsey on the special teams. The big thing is I have got to be involved in the football game, make sure I’m ready for the red flag tosses and all that good stuff, but for the most part I have confidence in the defense and special team coaches and players.”

We will see how well it works out. As a rookie coach he occasionally seemed to be overwhelmed by all that he had piled on his plate (the situation was complicated by his curious decision not to hire a quarterbacks coach). But now, with three years under his belt and an exponentially better understanding of what is involved in coaching an NFL game, there should be more confidence that he can handle it.

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.