The NFLPAs collusion lawsuit against the NFL could provide some fodder for blog posts during the slow summer months but it seems unlikely that it will succeed. And even if the union does prevail, the Redskins will still be stuck with their salary cap penalty.Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk tweeted the following yesterday:Here's my current position on the collusion suit: Was there collusion? Absolutely. Is it too late to do anything about it? Absolutely.And that pretty well sums up the players case. The time for the NFLPA to do something about this was back in March, when they were asked to approve the cap sanctions against Washington and Dallas.Or perhaps long before that. Prior to the uncapped 2010 season I had a conversation with an agent who used to work for an NFL team. He said then that teams had been warned about possible consequences for taking advantage of the absence of a salary cap. So this conspiracy to collude as the union calls it was not a deep dark secret. If agents knew about it, the NFLPA knew about it.The union, Cowboys, and Redskins all would have been better served if the NFLPA had refused to go along with the cap sanctions and, if necessary, go with a 2012 cap number that was from five to 10 percent lower than it was the year before. They would have had a virtual slam dunk collusion case and the potential damaged received likely would have dwarfed the one-year reduction in the cap.But they didnt. De Smith decided to avoid short-term pain (perhaps spurred by the fact that he was up for reelection later in March) at the expense of possible long-term gain. The cap hits delivered to the Redskins and Cowboys were just collateral damage.Even if union-friendly judge David Doty does rule in favor of the players, the Redskins are unlikely to recover the lost cap space. That is not something the union asked for in the suit The best that they can hope for is to be exempted from having to pay into a fund for damages since they clearly did not participate in the collusion.
The Redskins will host Tim Hightower for a visit on Wednesday, ESPN's Mike Triplett reported. Bringing Hightower in at this point represents an impressive story far beyond a mundane free agent visit.
If his career ended today, Tim Hightower's story would already be remarkable. Hightower - a DMV native that played his college ball at the University of Richmond - played for the Redskins in the 2011 season. That season, he tore his ACL, and was limited to five games.
While torn ACL's happen frequently in the NFL, what happened next for Hightower was anything but ordinary. He missed the next three seasons with an undiagnosed infection, before incredibly returning to the NFL in 2015 with the Saints.
His last two years in New Orleans, Hightower has been a solid contributor behind starting RB Mark Ingram. He's rushed for more than 900 yards, gained another 330 yards through the air and hit the end zone nine times in 24 games for the Saints.
In Washington, Hightower would join a backfield of Robert Kelley, Chris Thompson, Mack Brown and Matt Jones. It will be interesting to see if Washington adds any other backs through the draft in April as well.
Born in Waldorf, Hightower went to high school in Alexandria before playing college ball at Richmond. Playing with the 'Skins in 2011, Hightower quickly became a fan favorite, especially with his local ties.
The Redskins run game has not been particularly strong for a few seasons, and questions remain if the current stable of runners will be enough to improve. Hightower doesn't necesarily equal a significant talent boost, but perhaps coaches and front office staff are looking at the group.
Be aware, however, this could be nothing more than a visit. Triplett reported it remains possible Hightower returns to the Saints. He also visited the 49ers last week, and new San Francisco coach Kyle Shanahan was running the 'Skins offense in 2011 when the team originally acquired Hightower.
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Redskins draft countdown
The NFL draft is 36 days away and there is plenty of speculation as to what players the Redskins will select to wear the burgundy and gold. Between now and the draft we’ll look at some of the players who might be of interest to the Redskins and discuss how they might fit in Washington.
40-yard dash: 4.61
Projected draft round: 3-4
What they’re saying
Ford looks the part of a speed merchant with a tight-skinned, athletic frame, including long limbs. He glides off the line of scrimmage, accelerating fluidly to force defenders to respect his ability to go deep and shows very good balance to sink his hips, as well as burst out of his breaks to create separation. Ford shows the initial quickness and lateral agility to avoid defenders in press coverage, occasionally mixing in a hesitation move to get opponents off-balance. He is willing to run across the middle and cut back inside on quick screens, showing the toughness to absorb big hits and still hang on to the ball. Ford was asked to play outside as well as in the slot
How he fits the Redskins: The top of the Redskins’ depth chart at wide receiver looks good with Josh Doctson, Jamison Crowder and Terrelle Pryor. But depth is a concern, especially with Doctson’s durability a question mark. On top of that, Pryor is there on a one-year contract so there must be some succession planning at the position.
Ford was a very productive receiver at Virginia Tech, the first player in school history to surpass 1,000 yards receiving in a season. He has the knack for making the sensational catch and he isn’t afraid to go across the middle.
At 6-1 he has the height that seems to be the trend on the Redskins’ wide receiver corps lately. Ford could be a good mid-round pick for the team to develop in 2017 and be ready to be a full contributor in 2018.
Ford is not afraid to run slants over the middle and is willing to cut back to the center of the field after catching bubble screens.
His run blocking ranged from unimpressive to bad with the caveat that it’s hard to evaluate on the TV camera angles. This is an area that can be improved with NFL coaching. Adding a few pounds to his 194-lb. frame could help, too. It also sometimes appears that he could use more bulk to help him use his height when fighting for a ball.
The good and the bad of Ford was on display in the span of a few minutes during the Pitt game. He made a spectacular catch on a tipped ball that bounced off of both him and the defensive back (view here) while they were on the ground. Ford had the awareness to scoop the ball off the chest of the defender and secure it to make the catch. A little while later he was in a great position to made a catch for a first down but he bobbled the ball as he was falling out of bounds (view here) and the pass was incomplete.
In the games I reviewed Ford showed a good knack to make back shoulder catches, something the Redskins don’t seem to like to try. But the ability is there if they draft him and want to try it.
Potential issues: Ford looks skinny, almost fragile, at 194 pounds. If he does add weight he needs to do so without losing much speed. He ran a 4.61 in the 40 at the combine. Against college defensive backs he looks fast enough but that will be a different story in the NFL.
Bottom line: The Redskins can’t go into the season with a very green Maurice Harris and a very pedestrian Ryan Grant as their backup wide receivers. They need a player who can provide depth in 2017 and be able to step up to have a legitimate shot at starting in 2018.
There will be several prospects in the third- and fourth- round range who could be the guy. If the Redskins think that Ford can add a few pounds without sacrificing speed and brush up on his run blocking a bit, they could take a serious look at him.
In his own words:
On how the coaching change from Frank Beamer to Justin Fuente helped him:
I think it simplified everything for us. It limited the amount of routes that I ran - slants, outs, fades and posts; my first two years, I was running digs, post curls, comebacks, things like that - that was fine. I'm comfortable doing both. The route-running was never a problem for me because I feel that's what I do best. Being able to play primarily 'X' last year, winning those 50-50 balls and running those routes, it helped me.
Previously in Redskins draft countdown:
- Vanderbilt LB Zach Cunningham
- Washington S Budda Baker
- Michigan State LB Malik McDowell
- Miami QB Brad Kaaya