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Redskins have help wanted sign up at outside linebacker

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Redskins have help wanted sign up at outside linebacker

As free agency plods into its third week, most of the focus has been on the Redskins’ defensive backfield, the safety spot in particular. But there is another area on defense that will need to be shored up prior to the start of the season.

Outside linebacker is a vital position in the 3-4 defense and the Redskins find themselves a bit thin there at the moment. Starters Brian Orakpo and Ryan Kerrigan are in place but the depth is lacking.

There were three backup OLB’s on the depth chart last year. Brandon Jenkins, last year’s fifth-round draft pick, is back. He played on defense in only four games last year, logging 41 snaps. The coaching staff talked him up all year as a player who would have been a first-round draft pick had he not missed his almost all of his senior season with a Lisfranc injury. He had eight sacks as a junior at Florida State.

Jenkins could be lining up with the starters when the offseason workouts start in two weeks. Orakpo hasn’t yet signed his franchise tag tender and he can’t participate until he does so. There has been no word on whether or not he plans to sign.

Chances are that Orakpo eventually will sign and when that happens Jenkins will remain somewhere on the depth chart. But it appears that the Redskins will have to replace the other two backups. Darryl Tapp, who played 86 snaps last year, has signed with the Lions. That’s a relatively minor loss.

The bigger departure would be that of Rob Jackson. He played 186 snaps last year and would have played a larger role had he not been suspended for a violation of the league’s PED policy for the first four games of the season. Although he hasn’t signed anywhere else yet, the word is that he won’t be back.

That leaves the Redskins in search of at least one backup outside linebacker. During the first week of free agency they had Anthony Spencer in for a visit and after some fairly extensive negotiations he left without a contract. He is still a free agent and he remains a possibility. But he is not yet fully recovered from microfracture surgery and the latest information is that he should be ready for training camp.

The Redskins were talking to Spencer in part because the pickings on the free agent market are quite slim. Shaun Phillips is the top 3-4 outside backer on the market and he’ll be 33 in May. Former Steeler and Bengal James Harrison is still a free agent but there hasn’t been any connecting of the dots between him and former Cincinnati offensive coordinator Jay Gruden at this point.

The draft is another possibility. Since the starters are set they likely would shy away from taking an outside linebacker with their top pick. But if someone like Jeremiah Attaochu of Georgia Tech or Dee Ford of Auburn or Louisville’s Marcus Smith is there when their third-round pick rolls around it would not be surprising to see Bruce Allen nab him.

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Redskins interview another former Chargers defensive coordinator

Redskins interview another former Chargers defensive coordinator

The Redskins continue to cast a wide net in their search for a new defensive coordinator. On Thursday, they interviewed John Pagano, who was recently let go as the defensive coordinator of the Chargers.

Pagano, the brother of Colts head coach Chuck Pagano, has been coaching with the Chargers since 2002. That year he started as a quality control coach and then he was the linebackers coach from 2005-2011. The Chargers fired defensive coordinator Greg Manusky, a current Redskins coach and another candidate to run the defense in Washington, after the 2011 season and Pagano was promoted into that job.

Related: Projecting the Redskins' roster--defense

In Pagano’s five seasons with the Chargers, the performance of the defense was respectable. In terms of total yards, San Diego was in the top 10 twice and only once were they ranked worse than 20th.

The Redskins fired defensive coordinator Joe Barry on January 5. The list of candidates they have interviewed includes Mike Pettine, Gus Bradley, Rob Ryan, Manusky, and Jason Tarver. They are expected to interview former Jets and Bills defensive coordinator Dennis Thurman on Friday.

More Redskins: Setting the odds on what will happen with Cousins

None of the candidates they have interviewed have accepted positions with other teams so they are all still in play. There is no timetable for the team to make a decision, although the sense is that the process is coming to a close and will be concluded in the near future.

Stay up to date on the Redskins! Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page www.Facebook.com/RealRedskins and follow him on Twitter @Rich_TandlerCSN.

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Need to Know: How long is too long in the Redskins' defensive coordinator search?

Need to Know: How long is too long in the Redskins' defensive coordinator search?

Here is what you need to know on this Friday, January 20, 97 days before the NFL draft.

Timeline

Days until:
NFL franchise tag deadline 40
NFL free agency starts 48
First Sunday of 2017 season 233

Will Pleasant push the defensive coordinator search to a conclusion?

Is the Redskins’ search for a defensive coordinator taking too long? Joe Barry was fired two weeks ago yesterday. The Redskins have made it clear that they want to be very thorough in their search. But taking time creates problems and one just popped up. Assistant defensive back coach Aubrey Pleasant apparently has the option to follow Sean McVay to Los Angeles. But the Redskins want to hold on to him.

The problem is that they don’t want to sign Pleasant to be, say, the cornerbacks coach and tie the hands of the incoming defensive coordinator. They already would like the new guy to keep OLB coach Greg Manusky and ILB coach Kirk Olivadotti. Locking in a third position coach might made it very hard to persuade a quality coordinator to come on board.

Related: Projecting the Redskins' roster--defense

However, they can’t hold Pleasant, who is a young, energetic coach who relates well to the players, back indefinitely. Presumably McVay and defensive coordinator Wade Phillips have a bigger role in mind for him and they won’t wait forever for him to get things resolved in Washington.

But it’s not like the Pleasant situation will need to be resolved by the close of business today. We’re talking days, not hours. How many days? They could lose him due because of the Redskins’ deliberate process if it stretches into sometime early next week. I think the chances are strong that there will be a decision on the new defensive coordinator by, say, the close of business on Tuesday.

More Redskins: Setting the odds on what will happen with Cousins

I’ll wrap this up with a quick round of laying out the $100 in casino chips on the various defensive coordinator candidates. Things have changed since I did it on Monday. I’ll still make Greg Manusky the favorite but I’ll drop him down five bucks to $35. I’m downgrading Mike Pettine down to a $10 wager; I’ve heard that the organization was not impressed with his interview. I’m more than doubling the wager on Gus Bradley to $25. It’s been a few days since reports that the Chargers were pressing him for a decision and yet he remains in play. I’m going with $10 on Dennis Thurmon, who is from the school of the aggressive style of play that Jay Gruden is looking for. Rob Ryan gets not a cent and the remaining $20, including John Pagao, who interviewed yesterday, goes on the field.

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Stay up to date on the Redskins! Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page www.Facebook.com/RealRedskins and follow him on Twitter @Rich_TandlerCSN.