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Redskins' roster situation requires an active free agency period

Redskins' roster situation requires an active free agency period

Bruce Allen did not talk to the members of the local media who made the trek to Mobile for the Senior Bowl. But he did talk to SiriusXM NFL Radio while he was there and among the topics discussed was free agency.

For the first time since 2011 the Redskins will have the same salary cap limit as the other 31 NFL teams. The salary cap penalty is gone and it sounds like Allen is ready to get to work spending some of the team’s available cap space. By most estimates they are about $29 million under the cap.

“We’ll have some room,” Allen said, (as transcribed by the Washington Post). “We’re gonna have some room to do some things. But we have some players who are free agents, and we’re going to talk to them first, to try to retain them. But we have the ability to maneuver around, and we’ll be active in free agency.”

The word “active” is what has drawn everybody’s attention. But even a cursory glance at the Redskins’ situation tells you that they have no choice but to be active. Sheer numbers tell the story.

Of the 53 players on the roster at the end of the 2013 season, there are about 21 who are under contract and have demonstrated the ability to either be a starter, key reserve, or key special teams performer. About seven more who fit that description ended the season on injured reserve.

There are other players on the roster and on IR who are worth keeping as developmental projects so you can add a few more to the existing core. They have six draft picks and you figure that about four of them will make the roster and that they can pick up an undrafted player or two.

Add those together and subtract out several players who may be released as cap casualties about you probably have about 12 to 15 veteran free agents the Redskins will need to sign. That’s “active” by any definition of the word.

There are some Redskins fans who, for unknown reasons, want the team to repeat what they did in the 1990’s and 2000’s and spend heavily in free agency, bringing in a few big-name, expensive players in the process. That approach has landed the Redskins four playoff spots with zero advances even as far as the conference championship game since 1993. But, to them, “active” means reeling in big names.

The one “big name” the Redskins might sign is their own Brian Orakpo. With a over a dozen holes to fill, there might not be any room for players like WR Eric Decker or S Jairus Byrd. The Redskins’ situation is likely to push them in the direction of signing lesser-know players.

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Need to Know: Redskins look for fifth straight win over Eagles

Need to Know: Redskins look for fifth straight win over Eagles

Here is what you need to know on this Wednesday, December 5, four days before the Washington Redskins play the Philadelphia Eagles.

Timeline

Today's schedule: Practice 1:05; Jay Gruden and Kirk Cousins news conferences and open locker room after practice approx. 3:00

Days until: Panthers @ Redskins 12; Redskins @ Bears Christmas Eve 17; Giants @ Redskins, New Year’s Day 25

Injuries of note vs. Cardinals:
C Spencer Long (concussion), S Will Blackmon (concussion)
Long's concussion could force roster move

First look at Redskins vs. Eagles

The last time: The Redskins won 27-20 at FedEx Field in Week 6 in a game that was not really as close as the score indicated. The Redskins outgained the Eagles 4923 yards to 239 and had the ball for 10 more minutes. Philly scored on a kickoff return and an interception return in a three-minute span in the second quarter and that was about all they had. The Redskins have now beaten the Eagles four straight times. 

The Eagles leaders: Quarterback Carson Wentz got off to a hot start, posting three passer ratings of over 100 in his first four games. In eight games since his passer rating is 70.1 and his high in a game is 91.4. Leading rusher Ryan Matthew had his first 100-yard game in Week 10; he shares the load with Wendell Smallwood and Darren Sproles. Jordan Matthews (57 receptions, 686 yards) is expected back after missing last week with an ankle injury. Sacks leader Brandon Graham (5.0) has only one sack in the last six games.

Be on the lookout: The Eagles have been getting it done on special teams for years. This year they have two kickoff return touchdowns and Darren Sproles averages 13.7 yards per punt return including a 66-yarder.

Hodgepodge: A Washington win would put them 2.5 games ahead of the Eagles with three to play. Barring a Philly win out/Redskins lose out scenario the Redskins would be out of last place in the NFC East in consecutive years for the first time since 2002-2003 . . . The Redskins already are ensured of avoiding double-digit losses in consecutive seasons for the first time since 2001-2002 . . . The Eagles have allowed over 400 yards of offense in two of their last three games.

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When will Jordan Reed return? Jay Gruden says he 'can't predict it'

When will Jordan Reed return? Jay Gruden says he 'can't predict it'

The Redskins best pass cacther did not play in a loss to the Cardinals, and it appears there is still no clear timeline for Jordan Reed's return to the field. 

"Jordan will be day-to-day," Washington coach Jay Gruden said. "You know, we just have to wait and see."

Gruden issued the same statement on Reed last week, and the tight end proceeded to miss all Redskins practices for the week and was announced out for the Arizona game on Friday. Reed's injury came on Thanksgiving in Dallas when he separated his shoulder diving in the end zone for a Kirk Cousins' pass during the first half.

Incredibly, Reed returned in the second half and caught two touchdowns while playing in immense pain. Gruden and Cousins used words like 'stunned' and 'surprised' talking about Reed's return in the Dallas game, but looking forward to Philadelphia, it's hard to know what to expect from the tight end's shoulder.

"Everybody is different with these types of injuries and hopefully he is a fast healer but we’ll take him day-to-day, get him his treatment and go from there," the coach said. "I can’t predict it."

For the season, Reed has 59 catches for 630 yards and five touchdowns in just nine games. Reed missed two games earlier this year after sustaining a concussion against the Ravens.

Without Reed in the lineup against the Cardinals, the Redskins offense dipped in production. Cousins threw for less than 300 yards for the first time in three games, though backup tight end Vernon Davis had five catches for 47 yards. 

If Reed practices Wednesday, even in a limited role, would be a good sign for the 'Skins tight end. 

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