I'm in the beginning stages of preparing for my first NFL season as a beat reporter. So where did I start? Same place as any sportswriter: with the Las Vegas odds, obviously.I was not stunned to learn that the Redskins check in as long shots -- 60 to 1, to be exact -- to win Super Bowl XLVII, according to the most recent odds.Not great. But, hey, at least they're not the Jags, whose odds of hoisting the Lombardi Trophy are 125 to 1. Or the Browns and Colts, each of whom are currently 80 to 1.And it's better than it was when the lines opened not too long after the Super Bowl. The Redskins were 75 to 1 to win it all then. Although we don't know for sure, I have to think that the acquisition of that new quarterback, that kid who goes by RG3, has something to do with that. I have to doubt that the signing of Brandon Meriweather could move the needle like that.Within the NFC East, the 'Skins rank last, which isnot all that surprising given last year's 5-11 record and the fact that they're starting a rookie quarterback. The Giants and Eagles, meantime, are both 12 to 1, while the Cowboys are 20 to 1.Is this the wrong place to remind folks that Vegas bookmakers are, generally speaking, pretty good at their jobs?
Here is what you need to know on this Thursday, February 23, 14 days before the March 9 start of NFL free agency.
—NFL Franchise tag deadline (3/1) 6
—NFL Combine (3/2) 7
—Redskins offseason workouts start (4/17) 53
—NFL Draft (4/27) 63
—First Sunday of 2017 season (9/10) 199
Free agent moves—Offense
Free agency starts two weeks from today. The Redskins have plenty of needs, both big and small. Let’s take a look around and see what offensive positions they might be looking to bolster when things get going. I’ll follow up with the defense in the next few days.
Quarterback—It could be a yawner at this position or there could be plenty of drama. If Kirk Cousins gets franchise tagged or defies current expectations and signs a long-term deal, the depth chart will remain the same. If he is gone via a trade, things could be shaken up. While they may draft a QB in late April they could go for a mid-priced veteran as insurance.
RELATED: NFL Mock Draft Version 3.0
Running back—The Redskins have a depth chart loaded with young, unproven talent at this position. If they want a veteran presence in the meeting room they could look at someone like Robert Turbin (McCloughan had a hand in drafting him in Seattle in 2012) or maybe Knile Davis.
Wide receiver—Things will get very interesting if the word on the street comes to pass and both Pierre Garçon and DeSean Jackson are gone. They have a presumably healthy Josh Doctson in line to replace one but they would need a veteran. Maybe Kenny Stills or Kenny Britt, both young and productive, could be under consideration. If one of the veterans stays they likely will get depth in the draft.
More Redskins: #RedskinsTalk podcast: Is Kirk too nice for his own good?
Tight end—Vernon Davis seems likely to be back. If he’s not, the Redskins probably would rather have an alternative to Niles Paul as Jordan Reed’s primary backup. The probably won’t swim in the deep end of the pool with Martellus Bennett and Jared Cook. But maybe they will look at Jermaine Gresham, who made the Pro Bowl twice in Cincinnati while Jay Gruden was the Bengals’ offensive coordinator.
Offensive line—Yesterday, JP and I discussed what they might do at left guard if they want to upgrade from Shawn Lauvao. Perhaps they could go for Kevin Zeitler, another Bengal who played under Gruden. But he will command a contract in the $8-$10 million range and with Brandon Scherff coming up for an extension next year that might be too much to spend at the guard position. Look for the Redskins to take an eventual Lauvao replacement in the draft.
Tandler on Twitter
The first Sunday of the 2017 NFL season gets underway 200 days from right now. pic.twitter.com/0ZPanyAq8S— Rich Tandler (@Rich_TandlerCSN) February 22, 2017
In case you missed it
- Redskins' 2017 cap is top heavy—is that a problem?
- Will the Redskins stick with Lauvao at left guard?
- Why can't the Redskins sign Garcon and Jackson?
- If Redskins trade Cousins to 49ers, 5 prospects to consider
- Cousins trade to 49ers could happen at combine, per NFL analyst
It still seems like a long-shot the Redskins trade Kirk Cousins, but if there is one persistent rumor, it's that the San Francisco 49ers want the Washington passer. The story is too familiar at this point: New Niners coach Kyle Shanahan was in D.C. when Cousins was drafted and wants the quarterback to come run his offense in San Francisco. With the second overall pick, the 49ers have a tremendous asset they can dangle in trade talks.
Whether or not any of this rumor is true, it sure makes for engrossing speculation. With the NFL Draft Combine next week in Indianapolis, NFL Network analyst Daniel Jeremiah said he wouldn't be shocked to see the trade go down.
That's the backdrop. Beyond the debate of the merits of trading an established QB like Cousins, which is a very serious debate, there's also the notion of what player the 'Skins would select with the second overall pick.
MORE REDSKINS: 2017 top heavy Cap could be a problem
It's worth examining the impact players available to Washington with the second selection in the 2017 NFL Draft, and the options are varied, including perhaps a new QB. Check it out.
Want more Redskins? Check out @JPFinlayCSN for live updates or click here for the #RedskinsTalk Podcast on iTunes, here for Google Play or press play below. Don't forget to subscribe!