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Need to Know: Will McCloughan boost the Redskins' offense through free agency?

Need to Know: Will McCloughan boost the Redskins' offense through free agency?

Here is what you need to know on this Wednesday, February 17, 7 days before the NFL Combine in Indianapolis.

Will McCloughan boost the offense through free agency?

Last week I looked at how much Scot McCloughan might use free agency to bolster the Redskins’ defense. RWJ here has asked me to take a look at what the free agency plan might be on the offensive side of the ball.

My answer is going to be guided by McCloughan’s statement at the Senior Bowl that the Redskins are not going to be “big players” in free agency and by his past statements about the draft being the “lifeblood of the organization” and on having an aversion to signing players over the age of 30 who may not buy into the Redskins’ way of doing things. I don’t know if he will stick to this philosophy or not but he did adhere to it last year.

Let’s take a look at each position group:

Quarterback—Everyone knows that Robert Griffin III is going to be gone and that Kirk Cousins will be the starter after being retained with either the franchise tag or a long-term deal. If Colt McCoy decides that pastures are greener elsewhere and departs, the Redskins will almost certainly be shopping for a veteran free agent quarterback. In any case, I see one spot going to a project quarterback drafted somewhere from the fifth round on.

Running back—There will almost certainly be a need with Alfred Morris likely headed out of town. I think that McCloughan would rather draft one to either compete with or compliment Matt Jones. I doubt he will go for any back in the early stages of free agency so that leaves out players like Matt Forte and Lamar Miller. If he can’t get a suitable back in the draft I think he’ll look to that free agent market in May to pick up a back like Pierre Thomas to share some time with Jones.

Wide receiver—The Redskins already have two receivers who are sort of like free agents in DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garçon. They are getting up there in years (both will be 30 later this year) and they are expensive. They really can’t afford to bring on another big WR contract. With Andre Roberts likely to be cut the Redskins will look for depth—and probably 2017 replacements for Jackson and Garçon—in the draft.

Tight end—The Redskins don’t have any big contracts here yet. But Jordan Reed will get a deal averaging around $10 million per year so they can’t afford to spend too much more here. If they can sign a tight end who is capable of both blocking and providing something of a receiving threat for a million and a half per year they might do that. But such players are getting harder and harder to find.

Offensive line—After taking five offensive linemen in the last two drafts, the Redskins’ most frequent O-line starting combination last year had five players all drafted by the organization. Even though they may want to upgrade from Kory Lichtensteiger I don’t see them all of a sudden going off the rails and getting a free agent center.

Timeline

—The Redskins last played a game 38 days ago. It will be about 207 days until they play another one.

Days until: NFL Combine 7; NFL free agency starts 21; 2016 NFL draft 71

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Need to Know: Another big day on the ground on tap for the Redskins?

Need to Know: Another big day on the ground on tap for the Redskins?

Here is what you need to know on this Sunday, December 11, eight days before the Washington Redskins host the Carolina Panthers.

Timeline

Today's schedule: Redskins vs. Eagles 1 p.m.

Days until: Panthers @ Redskins 8; Redskins @ Bears Christmas Eve 13; Giants @ Redskins, New Year’s Day 21

Injuries of note:
Out:
G Long (concussion), S Blackmon (concussion), DE Lanier (leg)
Limited: TE Reed (shoulder), G Scherff (ankle), DE Jean Francois (knee/foot), DE Baker (ankle), G Shawn Lauvao (groin)
Final injury report

Final thoughts on Redskins vs Eagles

—The Redskins have not stopped a team in a goal to go situation since September. The Eagles are good in such situations, converting TDs 84 percent of the time. If the Redskins can get a stop and force a field goal try when the first time the Eagles get down there that would be a big psychological boost for the visitors. Or, better yet, maybe they can just not let the Eagles get any first and goal opportunities. That’s what happened when the teams played in Week 6.

—In that Week 6 meeting the Redskins rushed for 230 yards, their best performance on the ground this season by 79 yards. Matt Jones picked up 135 yards on 16 attempts, Rob Kelley had 5-59, and Chris Thompson kicked in with 9-37. It’s unlikely that Jones will be active so it will be up to Kelley to get things rolling on the ground.

—For all the talk about Kirk Cousins having the Eagles’ number, he had one of his worst statistical games of the year against them in Week 6. He completed just 52.9 percent of his passes, his lowest completion percentage of the season. Cousins also threw perhaps his worst interception of the year, a pick six that tied the game at 14 in the second quarter. The bottom line was that he made some plays and the Redskins won but he likely will have to play better this time for his team to prevail today.

—Carson Wentz has six interceptions in his last three games, including three last week against the Bengals. Josh Norman is due to get an interception, overdue, in fact. Don’t know what will happen but the chances seem good that a Redskin will get his hands on a Wentz pass today.

—We saw last week that the Redskins are not a lock to go on the road and win against a team that is desperately fighting for its playoff life. Fortunately for the Redskins, the Eagles do not have players who are the equals of David Johnson, Larry Fitzgerald, and Patrick Peterson. While plenty can go wrong I think the Redskins come away with with the win.

Redskins 28, Eagles 24

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Redskins bring former starting center back to active roster

Redskins bring former starting center back to active roster

The Redskins officially brought Kory Lichtensteiger back to the active roster, and while the move is now for depth, it could have other ramifications down the road. 

The move is on the NFL's transaction report for Saturday. To make room for Lichtensteiger, the team released defensive lineman A.J. Francis. 

Dealing with injuries up and down the line of scrimmage, Lichtensteiger's return could give the offensive front more flexibility. When Lichtensteiger got injured Week 3 and sent to the injured reserve, third-year pro Spencer Long stepped in and performed well at center. Last week in Arizona, Long sustained a concussion.

That injury opened the door for John Sullivan, who will start this week in Philadelphia with Long ruled out. Sullivan was brought in as a backup to Long once Lichtensteiger was put on IR. With Long now in the NFL concussion protocol, the Redskins need another center should Sullivan get hurt. Alas, Lichtensteiger's return from the IR. 

Left guard Shawn Lauvao also sustained an injured groin, and that's where things could get interesting. Long is capable of playing guard, as is Lichtensteiger in a pinch. Should Lauvao's injury persist, Lichtensteiger might be able to help there.

Against the Eagles, the plan certainly appears to be second-year man Arie Kouandjio starting in place of Lauvao. Kouandjio made one earlier start this season - Week 4 against Cleveland - and the results were mixed.

If Kouandjio stumbles and Lauvao needs more time, Lichtensteiger's return to the roster gives Jay Gruden and Bill Callahan more flexibility, especially when Long returns from injury.

In fact, once the team has Long, Lichtensteiger and Sullivan healthy, there could be a bit of a logjam roster-wise on the offensive line, but considering all the injuries, bumps and bruises that are part of O-line life by the last four games of the season, the Redskins staff likely won't mind figuring that out. 

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