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Need to Know: Will the Redskins make a move at safety?

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Need to Know: Will the Redskins make a move at safety?

Here is what you need to know on this Monday, April 4, 24 days before the NFL Draft.

Timeline

—The Redskins last played a game 85 days ago. It will be about 160 days until they play another one.

Days until: Redskins offseason workouts start 14; 2016 NFL draft 24; Redskins training camp starts 115

Hot topic

A couple of weeks ago, Jay Gruden sounded the alarm bell at the safety position, saying that it is an area of “great concern”. Since then, the Redskins have not done anything to try to bolster the position.

Over the weekend, one additional veteran has hit the free agent market. On Saturday, the Browns released Donte Whitner, who made three straight Pro Bowls in San Francisco (2012-2013) and Cleveland (2014). The former first-round pick of the Bills will turn 31 in July.

Still unemployed are Dashon Goldson, who was cut by the Redskins just before the start of free agency when he and the team were unable to agree on a reduced salary for this year, and Reggie Nelson, formerly of the Bengals.

Of the three veterans, Nelson had the best 2015 season. He intercepted eight passes, tying for the league lead. He’s also the oldest; Nelson will celebrate his 33rd birthday sometime during Week 3 of this season.

There was word that the Redskins had some interest in Nelson early in free agency but nothing has come of it since.

Both Gruden and Scot McCloughan have indicated that the door would be open to Goldson returning and that there have been some talks with his camp but there doesn’t seem to be much happening there at the moment. He might be their top option since he knows the defense and he provided some veteran leadership in the secondary last year.

Reading the tea leaves here, I think that the Redskins are waiting for Goldson’s asking price to drop to what they think his value is. In the meantime, it looks like Nelson is Plan B and they could make a move involving him if interest heats up.

It’s too soon to tell is Whitner is in the picture. One thing that the Redskins might like about him is his durability. He missed two games with a concussion last year but he had gone the previous five seasons with just one missed game.

The Redskins will have an eye on the position in the draft but it's tough to rely on that to fill an area of "great concern". Sooner or later, perhaps in May, they are likely to make a move for a veteran safety.

Fan question of the day

The Redskins will take Treadwell at No. 21 if they believe that he is the best available player. If he is not, they will take another player. The same applies to Thomas and their second-round pick.

Yes, that’s a simplistic answer so let me expand a bit here. If the Raiders had not taken Amari Cooper right before the Redskins make their first-round pick last year, Cooper would have been a Redskin and Brandon Scherff would have been playing elsewhere. So, clearly, they wanted a wide receiver. But despite the fact that there were some pretty talented wide receivers on the board in the second round they didn’t take one. Ditto in the third. They didn’t take a wide receiver until they took Jamison Crowder in the fourth.

So, for the most part, who they take in the second round is independent of who they take in the first. It seems that wide receiver is among the top two needs (it was last year, too) but that doesn’t mean they will use one of their top two picks to address it. So if things don’t fit right to take a wide receiver in the first, they won’t necessarily reach to take one in the second.

If they do bypass Treadwell in the first round because he’s not the best available in their evaluation they may hope in the back of their minds that Thomas will be there in the second and take him if he is. But if Treadwell is the best player on their board they will not leave him there in hopes that they can get their second choice later on.

(Hit me up on Twitter with #NTK @Rich_TandlerCSN or here in the comments to submit a question)

Stat of the day

Here’s record that may never be broken: The 1983 Redskins had a turnover margin of plus-46. That’s the best in NFL history by 12. Only three other teams since the merger, the 2000 Ravens (+33), 1985 Bears (+30), and 1991 Redskins (+30) have been within 16 of that record.

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True or false: The Redskins will carry four tight ends on the roster

True or false: The Redskins will carry four tight ends on the roster

True or false: The Redskins will carry four tight ends on their roster this year.

Rich Tandler: True

The Redskins added a tight end to a roster that had four experienced players at the position already on it. But, make no mistake, fifth-round selection Jeremy Sprinkle was not a “luxury” pick.

Jordan Reed and Vernon Davis are both stone cold locks to make the roster. They are the pass catchers who are expected to combine for perhaps 1,500 yards and at least a dozen touchdowns.

The third tight end could be Niles Paul, a veteran who has battled injuries the last two years. He appears to be healthy and if he stays that way he can play tight end, be the fullback on the six or eight snaps per game the Redskins use one, and be a strong contributor on special teams.

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Sprinkle can fill a role that those three can’t—blocking tight end. Jay Gruden had to put tackle Ty Nsekhe on the field when they needed a three-tight end set. That made the job of the defense easier with essentially four eligible receivers to deal with.

With a well-defined role for each player, it would make perfect sense for the Redskins to carry four tight ends on the 53-man roster rather than the customary three. Of course, if they carry four at tight end they have to go with one fewer player elsewhere. They will find a spot.

Running back seems to be the logical place to go for that spot. If they keep, say, Mack Brown as the fourth running back, you then have a player without a defined role. He’s the backup to the backup to the backup. Sure, he can do special teams, but not as well as Paul.

Perhaps if you want to keep Brown you let go of Paul with his recent injury history and his $2.2 million cap number in mind. Or you can let Sprinkle get some seasoning on the practice squad.

But I think that the Redskins drafted Sprinkle with the plan to keep four tight ends. If they are going to go with their best, most versatile 53 that is what they will do.

JP Finlay: False

Man, this is tough. If you asked me this in May, I thought Niles Paul would be caught in a roster crunch. After watching the guys on the field through OTAs and minicamp, this decision becomes much harder. 

Paul played well in those sessions, showed no rust from the injuries and impressed regardless what quarterback he was paired up with. Sprinkle looked like a rookie with a lot to learn, and while he's really big, he still seemed like his upper body could fill out in the NFL. 

In a vacuum it's easy to say the Redskins should keep four tight ends. Like Tandler laid out above, Reed and Davis are roster locks. Paul can help in a ton of spots, and Sprinkle should evolve into the blocking tight end for the jumbo set. 

But NFL rosters aren't made in vacuums. To keep a fourth tight end, the Redskins will have to make a cut, and Tandler suggested Mack Brown could be the guy. I don't see that happening. Jay Gruden and Randy Jordan speak glowingly about Brown. 

This will be a fun roster spot to watch, but in June, before any injuries or the competition of training camp, I think the Redskins keep Reed, Davis and Paul. Then they really, really hope they can sneak the rookie Sprinkle to their practice squad.

Washington has not kept three healthy tight ends on their roster in the last few seasons, and if that trend continues, Sprinkle would make the NFL roster before the end of the year. Keeping four tight ends just isn't a luxury the Redskins have, especially keeping three quarterbacks like they're expected to do. 

Tandler-Finlay True or False series: Leading rusher | Leading receiver

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Standouts and scrubs: Looking at Bruce Allen's track record with quarterbacks

Standouts and scrubs: Looking at Bruce Allen's track record with quarterbacks

Much can be learned looking to the past, at least that's what thousands of college students hear every fall when they sit down for History 101. Assuming the premise is true, perhaps something can be learned from looking back at Bruce Allen's tenure across the NFL and the quarterbacks that started for those teams. 

A refresher: Allen worked with the Raiders and Bucs before coming to the Redskins. Allen started with the Raiders in 1995, and worked his way up through the front office, earning the NFL's Executive of the Year award in 2002. He left the Raiders to work with Jon Gruden in Tampa in 2004, after the pair experienced much success together with the Raiders. Tampa fired Allen in 2008, and he came to work with the Redskins in 2010. 

His tenure with the Raiders showcased the best QB find in his file: Rich Gannon. Before coming to Oakland, Gannon earned the journeyman title, starting 58 games over 11 seasons for the Chiefs, Vikings and, yes, the Redskins.

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Once Gannon and Gruden worked together, everything clicked. The Raiders started winning games and Gannon started to pile up impressive offensive stats. He was the quarterback when Oakland lost the infamous 'Tuck Rule' playoff game against New England, and won an NFL MVP award in 2002 while guiding the Raiders to the Super Bowl (which they lost to a Jon Gruden coached Tampa team). 

Gannon was a find, undoubtedly. Beyond that, Allen's resume on quarterbacks gets pretty ugly.

In fact, Kirk Cousins would probably rank as the second best QB of all Bruce Allen teams. In Tampa, the quarterback position was a revolving door, and included luminaries (sarcasm font) like Chris Simms, Brian Griese and Bruce Gradkowski. The Bucs added Jeff Garcia in 2007, and he had some success, but was 37 years old at that point. 

Once he got to Washington, the Redskins trotted out a collection of subpar passers like a past-his-prime Donovan McNabb, a-never-actually-good John Beck and Rex Grossman. Rex needs no introduction. 

In 2012, the Redskins quarterback fortunes changed. The team made a very aggressive trade to draft Robert Griffin III. RG3 was supposed to be the franchise savior, and for much of his rookie season, that plan seemed to be working. 

Injuries and infighting ruined Griffin's time with the Redskins, and opened the door for 2012 fourth-round pick Kirk Cousins to emerge. 

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Now, in 2017, Cousins has twice broken the Redskins single season passing yards record and cemented himself as a quality NFL starter. His long-term future with the organization remains uncertain, as Cousins will play this season on a one-year contract and the prospect of a multi-year contract seems slim. 

It's hard to draw too many conclusions looking the quarterbacks throughout Allen's tenure. Before Gannon in Oakland, the Raiders tried a variety of other journeyman QBs (Jeff Hostetler, Jeff George). One could argue they got lucky with Gannon, or that the organization brought out his best tools. Either way it's a positive grade.

In Tampa, the results look much worse. On paper, it seemed the Bucs tried to get cheap, available quarterbacks and make them work, believing strongly in their offensive system. It didn't work. 

In Washington, particularly during the Grossman/Beck season, it seemed the Redskins tried a similar approach. That ended in 2012 with the trade for RG3. The Redskins paid up big time, in the form of draft picks. 

Now it's arguable that a deal with Cousins can even be reached, but if that does happen, it will be because the Redskins pay up. Recent history doesn't suggest it, but this situation has never presented itself either. Cousins is a fourth-round pick that emerged after a few volatile seasons to establish himself as a Top 15 NFL starter.

There's no lesson for that in the history books. 

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