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Offseason moves: The RG3 deal

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Offseason moves: The RG3 deal

While the offseason has another two and a half weeks to go, its safe to say that offseason personnel and coaching moves are pretty much over. There might be a minor trade or a waiver wire pickup here or there but the cake is mostly baked.So before training camp starts, lets take a look back at the five biggest moves of the offseason. Well count them down in order of how important they were. Earlier, we looked at the hiring of Raheem Morris and the roster decisions made at the start of free agency, the signings of wide receivers Pierre Garon and Josh Morgan, and the re-signing of London Fletcher. Today we wrap up the series examining the biggest move the Redskins made not only this year but one of the biggest in their history, the decision to trade for the draft pick that became Robert Griffin III.By the time the 2011 season ended it was apparent that the Redskins were, once again, in need of a quarterback. The decision to go with Rex Grossman and John Beck at the position was a disaster.Grossman started 13 games and while he had some good moments he turned the ball over at least once in every game. In all, he threw 20 interceptions and lost five fumbles. The Redskins were 5-8 in the games he started.They were 0-3 in Becks starts. The middle game of the three was the worst, a 23-0 whitewashing at the hands of the Bills. It was the first shutout of Mike Shanahans career as a head coach.Not only did the Redskins have issues at quarterback but they also play in a division where the other teams were rolling out top-notch quarterbacks every week. The Giants Eli Manning is a two-time Super Bowl MVP, Tony Romo of Dallas is the king of the fourth-quarter comeback, and Phillys Mike Vick has the deadly combination of a rifle arm and blinding speed.Washingtons 5-11 record earned them the sixth pick of the draft. That was too far back to get either one of the top two quarterbacks in the draft, Andrew Luck or Robert Griffin III. There were some safe options out there, such as staying put in the draft and taking Ryan Tannehill or Brandon Weeden. Free agents like ex-Packers backup Matt Flynn were on the market.But without a bold move, the Redskins again would go into 2012 with the worst quarterback situation in the division and they would be stuck in that position for the foreseeable future.They had two bold moves in mind. One was to make a run at Peyton Manning if, as everyone expected, the Colts released him rather than pay him a 28 million option bonus. For a while in late January and early February many had Manning in burgundy and gold.But he was not the only option. During the NFL Combine in late February, Griffin allayed concerns about his height as he was officially measured 6 2-38 and blazed through the 40 with a time of 4.38. Along with his impressive film from his Heisman Trophy season at Baylor, the combine propelled him to the second pick in the draft behind Luck.The question became, who would draft him? The Rams had the second pick but they were committed to Sam Bradford as their QB. A number of quarterback-needy teams in the top half of the draft were said to be interested in moving up. Along with the Redskins, the Browns, Dolphins and others were mentioned as possible trade partners with the Rams.On March 7, the Colts released Manning and other teams quickly jumped ahead of the Redskins in the competition for the 36-year-old future Hall of Fame QBs services.With all parties wanting to get a deal done before free agency started on March 13, the Rams told any interested parties to make their best offer for the No. 2 pick. There would be no counteroffers; one big, the best one wins.The Redskins won by putting up their first round picks in 2012, 2013, and 2014 and their second round pick in 12. An organization desperate to find a franchise quarterback gambled a good chunk of its future that RG3 was the guy.

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Redskins draft countdown: Washington safety Budda Baker

Redskins draft countdown: Washington safety Budda Baker

Redskins draft countdown

The NFL draft is 65 days away and there is plenty of speculation as to what players Scot McCloughan 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.

Budda Baker
Safety
Washington

Height: 5-10
Weight: 180
40-yard dash: TBD

Projected draft round: 1

What they’re saying

Tremendously explosive and passionate in his play. Former high school track sprinter with good play speed. Screams off the edge as a blitzer. Always bouncing on balls of his feet just waiting to race to the action on a dead sprint. Plays with smooth backpedal and diagonal shuffle. Has a shiftiness that allows him to mirror change of direction in space . . . Scouts use terms like "winner" and "top notch person" to describe him.

Lance Zierlein, NFL.com

How he fits the Redskins: This doesn’t take a whole lot of explaining. The Redskins have not had a reliable pair of safeties since they lost Sean Taylor 10 years ago. Su’a Cravens is moving into the strong safety spot. A pick line Baker could solidify the position for years to come.

His passion for the game is a big resume enhancer for McCloughan. He wants players who love football and Baker appears to fit that mold.

Baker plays fast, as in fast enough to cover slot receivers when called upon. McCloughan doesn’t much care for 40 times; he will judge a player’s speed off the tape. But it will be interesting to see how Baker runs at the combine.

At Washington, they sent him after the quarterback on occasion and I could see the Redskins doing that as well. Baker had three sacks last season and in a game I watched him play against USC he had two quarterback hurries that led to interceptions by his teammates.

Potential issues: At 5-10, 180 he is on the small side for a safety, at least one that McCloughan might prefer. His size gives him trouble if he must tackle a tight end or a big running back.

His play against the run is inconsistent. At times, he takes bad angles, can’t get off blocks and misses tackles. But at other times he sniffs out a play and makes a tackle in the backfield.  

Baker might grade out to be more of a late first- or early second-round pick. McCloughan will stick to his draft board for the most part and if the value isn’t there in his opinion he could bypass Baker in favor of a higher graded player despite the need. Or perhaps he can execute a trade and end up with Baker with a pick somehwere in the twenties. 

Bottom line: Right now Baker is Mike Mayock’s fourth-ranked safety. Malik Hooker of Ohio State and Jamal Adams of LSU are likely to be gone by the time the 17th pick is on the clock. Jabrill Peppers, Mayock’s No. 3 safety, is too similar to Cravens and many think he might be a better fit on offense. If they want to get a first-round safety it appears that Baker is the guy.

Certainly, Baker’s size will give McCloughan pause. They can bulk him up some but he could have a problem carrying as many as 200 pounds. Not only could he have problems dealing with bigger players, he could deal with injury problems.

In Baker’s NFL.com profile they compare him to former Colts safety Bob Sanders. Every season in which Sanders played more than 10 games he was a first-team All-Pro. Problem was, he only managed to play in double-digit games in two seasons. The Redskins will be wary of the possibility of getting bursts of great play from someone like Baker with some stints on injured reserve. 

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Redskins position Outlook: Su'a Cravens will help, but safety needs more

Redskins position Outlook: Su'a Cravens will help, but safety needs more

Over the next few weeks, JP Finlay and Rich Tandler will grade each position group’s performance in 2016, break down the current personnel situation and evaluate the unit's outlook for 2017.

Safety

Starters: Duke Ihenacho, Will Blackmon

Backups: Deshazor Everett, Josh Evans

Injured/Reserve/Waived: Donte Whitner, DeAngelo Hall, David Bruton

Free Agents: Duke Ihenacho, Whitner 

Rewind: The Redskins tried to get by in 2016 without a serious investment in the safety position. In August the plan was for Washington to start DeAngelo Hall and David Bruton at the safety spots. Hall suffered an injury in Week 3, Bruton in Week 4, and neither player would return. 

Bruton's play was never starter level, and his replacement for many snaps came in the form of Donte Whitner. Once a great player, Whitner was past his prime, and though he got a ton of action for the 'Skins, was often a liability. Ihenacho missed tackles, but curiously got fewer snaps than Whitner. Deshazor Everett flashed in his few opportunities with the defense, but also rarely got snaps. Blackmon made some plays and gave some up, but fought injuries and was converting to the saftey position from corner for the first time in his 10-year career. 

Fast forward: One big piece of the safety puzzle should come with Su'a Cravens' move from linebacker to safety. A physical, intelligent player, as a rookie Cravens proved a nose for the ball and a sure tackler. He will help the 'Skins in the back of the defense. What player lines up next to him will be a major question. Cravens does not have elite speed, and Washington will need to pair him with a safety that can handle deep middle coverage. 

It's very hard to see Bruton or Whitner back on the roster in 2017, and Ihenacho seems like a long shot as well. After dealing with injuries for multiple seasons, Hall will need to rework his deal to stay with the 'Skins, something the veteran admitted in his locker clean out interview with the media. 

Blackmon has another year left on his deal, and is a versatile option for the 'Skins defense. His natural position, however, is corner, and the 'Skins should effort to get Blackmon back on the outside of their defense. Everett deserved to play more than Whitner late in 2016, but didn't, which creates questions. Everett should at least get a chance to compete for more playing time in 2017. There is also speculation that Bashaud Breeland could transition to safety, but that seems far fetched.

It's important the Redskins look to bolster the safety position this offseason, be it in free agency or the draft. After the defensive line, safety may be the greatest position of need for Washington. Cravens has all the tools to be great, but he still is a young player with zero NFL experience in the secondary. Scot McCloughan should take steps to cement a solid player next to Cravens, as well as more depth at the position to sustain injuries, like what happened in 2016.

Redskins Position Outlook: Running back | Defensive line | Outside linebackers | Inside linebackers Cornerbacks