On the same day the NFL distributed a memo informing teamsthat replacement referees will work games in Week 1, a source with knowledge ofthe locked-out officials thinking said the union remains strong.The sides have not had a formal bargaining session sincelate July, according to the source, and none are currently scheduled.Wednesdays memo is another one of their tactics to try andbreak the union, the source said. When a deal was not reached last week, thesource added, the NFL Referees Associations 120 members realized the league hadno intention of using them in the opening week of the regular season, which kicksoff next Wednesday when the Cowboys visit the Giants.Replacement referees, many of whom are from second-tiercollege conferences, have officiated the preseason occasionally withembarrassing results.One of the latest slipups came Wednesday night at FedExField. After a lengthy review to determine the correct spot of the ball, thereferee returned to the review monitor for a second time, saying over the P.A.system, Were going to look at it one more time to groans and boos from the spectators.In the Redskins preseason opener in Buffalo, there also werea number of miscues, including a botched touchback ruling on a punt.Theyve been put in an unfair position, the source said.They are not professional officials and it shows. It takes three or four yearsto get comfortable officiating the game at this level. The replacements havehad one preseason as on the job training.The NFLRAs members were locked out in early June when thesides reached a stalemate on salary, pension and other issues. Another stickingpoint was the NFLs desire to add three seven-member officiating crews to therotation.They want to add officials but not add any money to thepot," added the source, who also pointed out that officials are now being asked to do more, such as identifying potentially concussed players.Despite being locked out, the referees have continued towork out, review film and conduct a weekly conference call, led by veteranreferee Ed Hochuli, to discuss rules and other matters, the source said.But with six days remaining before the season opener in NewYork, theres no end to the lockout in sight.There could be a happy medium if the NFL comes to thetable, the source said. The league wants to divide the union and its notgoing to be divided.
The good news for the 2016 Redskins was that they didn’t collapse after winning the division the previous season as has been their pattern in the past. The bad news was that they didn’t take the next step and improve from a franchise that can compete to make the playoffs into one that is playing multiple postseason games year in and year out.
That work begins right now for Jay Gruden, Scot McCloughan and the players. In the coming weeks, Redskins reporters Rich Tandler and JP Finlay will examine the biggest questions facing the Redskins as another offseason gets rolling.
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Will the Redskins go with a defensive player in the first round of the 2017 Draft?
Finlay: The Redskins haven't drafted a defensive player in the first round since 2011 when the franchise grabbed Ryan Kerrigan with the 16th pick. In fact, the team has only drafted five defensive players in the first round over the last 15 years.
History suggests Washington will stay away from a defensive player, but sources in Ashburn have suggested otherwise. Assuming the talent is there when the 'Skins pick at No. 17, Scot McCloughan would like to bolster the team's defensive line specifically.
Things will get complicated should Leonard Fournette or Dalvin Cook slide to 17. Rich Tandler certainly would like to see the Burgundy and Gold add a top-flight running back.
Tandler: Many fans believe that conducting a draft is like going into a grocery store with a list. Defensive lineman is at the top of the list so you go to aisle 12 and put a DL in the cart. Safety is next on the list so you push the cart over to that aisle and pick out one of those.
No, a draft is much more unpredictable. There might not be a defensive lineman who is close to worthy of the No. 17 pick when the Redskins are on the clock. Talk of taking the best available player is like fingernails on a chalkboard to some. But if you’re reaching for need in a draft, you’re losing that draft. Sure, if a player in a position of need is just a spot or two down from the best available you think about it. Still, staying true to your board is the way to build a team.
The other thing to consider here is that we haven’t gone through free agency yet. Needs will shift after that. Suppose the Redskins sign two starting-caliber D-linemen and lose both Pierre Garçon and DeSean Jackson in free agency? Defensive line is no longer a five-alarm priority and receiver will be.
More offseason questions:
Want more Redskins? Check out @JPFinlayCSN and @Rich_TandlerCSN 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!
Twice in the last five seasons Pierre Garçon logged more than 1,000 yards receiving as a member of the Washington Redskins, including the 2016 season. He's caught 376 passes in Washington for 21 touchdowns over 74 games.
Outside of a foot injury that cost his six games in 2012, Garçon has been arguably the Redskins most durable wide receiver, and he's known to be a hard worker in the weight room and the practice field.
Despite all that, Garçon doesn't know that he will be back with the Burgundy and Gold once free agency opens. In fact, that uncertainty led the 30-year-old wideout to post a simple question on his Instagram page.
The top of the Redskins offseason questions remains QB Kirk Cousins. Garçon and fellow wideout DeSean Jackson are headed for free agency, as is standout defensive lineman Chris Baker. Reports show that the team has made little to no contact with any of the players or their representatives, though many conversations could be planned for the NFL Draft Combine in Indianapolis later this month.
Garçon's question seems simple, but the answer remains a mystery.
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!