A few questions will be answered as the Redskins start up their OTAs today in Ashburn. At a handful of positions, it will be interesting to see who lines up with the first team. While jobs that are up for grabs are not won in May with the opening game 111 days away, lining up with the first team sends a signal that it is the players job to lose.That can be the case even when the job is a backup role. Left guard Kory Lichtensteiger will be sitting out as he rehabs his injured knee. Does Maurice Hurt, who filled in there for the last half of the season, line up at left guard in Lichtensteigers absence? Or will it perhaps be rookie Josh LeRibeus?There is no question about who we will see with the first unit at quarterback. And it is likely that Robert Griffin III will be handing the ball off to Roy Helu Jr. The anticipated battle for the starting running back job between Helu and Tim Hightower will not take place until training camp as Hightower recovers from a knee injury.One third of the teams trio of top receivers will be sidelined today. Leonard Hankersons surgically-repaired hip isnt recovered enough for football activities so hell watch Pierre Garon and Josh Morgan catch passes from RG3. Santana Moss should be the third wide receiver but that spot will bear watching. If Anthony Armstrong or Aldrick Robinson gets significant time there, that could be a sign that the team is looking at moving on without Moss. That is not expected but there is always a surprise or two during this part of the year.Adam Carriker has been the staring left defensive end for the past two years. Jarvis Jenkins was drafted in the second round a year ago to take his place. Jenkins suffered a torn ACL in a preseason game so the plans were put on hold for a season. Will Jenkins line up with the first team today?The rest of the defensive front seven is pretty well set as are the starting cornerbacks. But when they line up with three corners, who goes in with Josh Wilson and DeAngelo Hall? Will it be Kevin Barnes, who held the nickel corner job las year? Or Cedric Griffin, the veteran free agent signed in March?Finally, who does secondary coach Raheem Morris line up at safety? It seems likely that Tanard Jackson, who followed Morris here from the Bucs, will get one of the spots. Will the other safety be be free agent Brandon Meriweather? Or will DeJon Gomes get the first crack at holding on to the job he had at the end of last season?Again, nothing is set in stone in May. But any player would rather be working with the first team than not.
It seems likely the Redskins stand to lose one or both of receivers DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garçon in free agency. That could mean more than 2,000 yards receiving exiting the offense, a significant blow.
Could Bears wideout Alshon Jeffery come to Washington and cushion the blow?
Multiple reports say that Chicago will not put the franchise tag on Jeffery, which means the 6-foot-4 receiver will hit the open market when free agency opens in a little more than a week. Coming off consectuive injury-marred seasons, still expect the market to be ripe for the former South Carolina star.
A five-year veteran that will turn 28 in August, Jeffery posted more than 2,500 receiving yards in the 2013 and 2014 seasons to go with 17 touchdowns. An extremely gifted red zone receiver, Jeffery is one of the best in the league at high-pointing the football and coming down with circus catches. His last two seasons, however, the Bears wideout only played in 21 of 32 games and his numbers dipped dramatically: just over 1,600 yards and six TDs combined.
Though Washington will likely lose at least one of Garçon or Jackson, and very possibly both, that does not necessarily make Jeffery a prime target.
Expect cost to be a major factor as the Chicago receiver will likely command the top free agent payout at the position. And his recent injury history could be a factor as well.
Further, the Redskins must believe they have a No. 1 receiver already in house in Josh Doctson. The No. 22 overall pick in 2016, Doctson hardly played as a rookie due to an Achilles injury but appears to be progressing well in his rehab. At 6-foot-2 and extremely athletic, Doctson was drafted to be a prime red zone target with the ability to go up and get TDs.
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Many Redskins fans have been keeping a close eye on the Chiefs all offseason. Kansas City has two pending free agents in positions that are of great need to Washington. Fans have been watching since January to see what the Chiefs would do with safety Eric Berry and defensive lineman Dontari Poe. They may have their answer.
The organization’s hope was that they could sign one and use the franchise tag on the other. But with the deadline for the tag two days from now and with free agency starting in 10 days, it appears that plan is not going to happen. They are forced to decide and per Ed Werder of ESPN they are going to tag Berry and let Poe test free agency.
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Poe is a load at 6-3, 348. His impact is hard to measure in numbers; he has just 13 sacks in his five NFL seasons including two in the last two years. The Chiefs first-round pick out of Memphis in the 2012 draft has forced two fumbles and recovered one. But he is exactly what a defense like the Redskins’ 4-3 scheme needs in the middle to eat up double teams and keep blockers off the linebackers. They would go from having had no credible nose tackle in the seven seasons they have been in the 3-4 base defense to having one who at age 26 is of the very best in the league.
The problem with acquiring the best in the business is that you must pay top dollar. The contracts signed by Marcell Dareus of the Bills, a six-year deal with an average annual value of $15.8 million and Fletcher Cox of the Eagles, who signed a six-year extension with an AAV of $17.1, will be used as guidelines for a Poe free agent deal.
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The Redskins possibly could make that work but it would be a stretch. They already have a top-heavy salary structure with their top three players taking up 35 percent of the salary cap. Another cap hit in the $15 million range would put them in a precarious spot.
It seems unlikely that the Redskins will be real players in the Poe sweepstakes but given that he would be a perfect solution to a long-standing problem area it’s worth keeping an eye on the situation.