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Beyond Kirk Cousins, some large questions remain for Redskins

Beyond Kirk Cousins, some large questions remain for Redskins

What happens next with Kirk Cousins will determine much of the Redskins focus for 2018, but there are plenty of other issues the team might look to resolve in the remaining four games of 2017. 

Like what? Let's take a look:

  • There are no linebackers - A report showed that the Redskins are talking with Zach Brown about a contract extension, but as of right now, the 2018 depth chart at inside linebacker looks barren for Washington. Brown, Mason Foster and Will Compton all have expiring contracts once the 2017 season ends. As it stands today, the Redskins have Josh Harvery-Clemons and Martrell Spaight under contract next season. The Redskins have enough tape on Spaight to know what he is as a player, a complementary piece, not an every down player. Could Harvey-Clemons develop into something more? Maybe, but that would be a big gamble to count on for next season. Obviously, much can happen in the offseason, and it's possible one or both of Compton and Foster return. They're well-liked by the staff and front office. Negotiations with Brown will be most interesting, as the NFL's leading tackler will be looking for at least $20 million guaranteed in a long-term deal. Can the Redskins afford that? Much of that will be decided by what happens with Cousins. 
     
  • What happens at left guard? Since Shawn Lauvao signed with the Redskins in 2014, he's started 41 games. His performance has been largely uneven, and with an expiring contract after this year and his current spot on  injured reserve (for the second time in three seasons) few would expect Lauvao to return next year. The question then becomes if Washington can make Ty Nsekhe work at left guard, as the big man will be a restricted free agent in 2018. If not Nsekhe, does Washington look to bring back Spencer Long and have him play guard with Chase Roullier at center? The Redskins, like every NFL team, will look to add depth to their offensive line next offseason. They might need to add a starter as well. 
     
  • Who's number 1? The Redskins rolled the dice a bit in the 2017 offseason, allowing trusted veteran wideouts DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garçon walk via free agency. Instead, the team expected increased production from 2016 first-round pick Josh Doctson and free agent addition Terrelle Pryor. It hasn't worked. Pryor had one TD catch in nine games and is now on injured reserve. Doctson has shown some extremely encouraging signs, but is it enough to assume he can be a No. 1 receiver next season? Maybe. Can the Redskins count on that? Probably not. Now would be the time for the Redskins to force feed Doctson to get a better understanding of his ability. The second-year WR from TCU has not gotten more than seven targets in a game all season. Jay Gruden would be wise to get Doctson double-digit targets in each of the final four games of the year to get a full evaluation.
     
  • Be prepared - Washington faces losing two key defensive free agents this offseason. One name you know: Bashaud Breeland. The other you might have forgotten: Trent Murphy. Breeland is having a strong 2017, and while it would be a luxury to bring him back in 2018, the math will be tough. The Redskins are on the hook for $17 million due to Josh Norman and depending what type of contract Breeland commands in free agency, it would be hard to commit $30 million or so to two cornerbacks. Behind Breeland, the Redskins have Kendall Fuller and Fabian Moreau. Fuller proved this season he's a strong player in the slot and should be able to move outside. Is Moreau ready to play nickel corner? That remains a question. Murphy is a different situation. Last year he had nine sacks, second most on the team, and looked poised for a big season this fall before a knee injury in training camp. Junior Galette will be a free agent after this year, and Preston Smith will be in the final year of his rookie deal in 2018. It will be tough to gauge the market for Murphy after not playing all of 2017, but teams will be interested in the 2013 second-round pick. There is also 2017 second-round pick Ryan Anderson, who has shown very little as a rookie. Perhaps if he can finish the season strong, the Redskins front office will have a better clue what to do in the offseason at outside linebacker. 
     

Plenty more questions remain, none bigger than quarterback, but that will get investigated. Plenty. 

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Devin Hester deserves to be in the Hall of Fame, and Brian Mitchell is why

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Devin Hester deserves to be in the Hall of Fame, and Brian Mitchell is why

Devin Hester officially announced his NFL retirement on Tuesday after 11 years as the most feared return specialist in NFL history. 

Hester who spent a majority of his career with the Bears and Falcons finished with 20 return touchdowns, the most in NFL history. His 14 punt return touchdowns is also an NFL record. Hester also returned a missed field goal for an 108-yard touchdown. He became just one of eight men to score a kick return touchdown in the Super Bowl. 

It wasn't just what he did, but how he did it, and that matters. Hester was explosively and entertaining, sometimes taking a route well longer than the official length of his return touchdown. Hester had the combination of speed and quickness you only see once in a generation. 

Devin Hester is worthy of a spot in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, and Brian Mitchell is why.

Hester is the greatest return specialist in NFL history. But Mitchell is the best return specialist in NFL history.

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There's a difference too, between greatest and best. Hester was feared. He was revered. But nobody did it better than Mitchell. Nobody has ever fielded more returns than Mitchell (1,070), and nobody has ever compiled more return yards (19,013) than he. Only Hester has more career return touchdowns than Mitchell (13).

While Hester was boom-or-bust on many of his returns, Mitchell always got yardage. He averaged at least 10 yards per punt return in nine seasons and led the NFL in 1994 with 14.1 yards per punt return. He played in 223 of 224 possible games. Nobody did it better.

Mitchell has still yet to get the call from Canton, Ohio for enshrinement. Mitchell was a nominee for the 2017 class, but did not receive enough votes. But with Hester now officially on the clock for enshrinement, one things become clear: A return specialist will head to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. 

Hester will get his name called, and when he does, it will be because of Mitchell. Nobody did it better than Mitchell. The omission of Mitchell has been a contentious point recently, and if the Hall of Fame has not been able to add Mitchell to their hallowed halls, what would it take?

Devin Hester. That's what.

Hester had to do things pro football world had never seen before. He had to do truly great things. Things that you couldn't do in the Madden video games.

If the Hall of Fame has been reluctant to add Mitchell, only a player like Hester would be able to budge them off their archaic line.

Make no mistake about it: Brian Mitchell deserves to be in the Hall of Fame.

So does Devin Hester, and when he makes it, he'll have B-Mitch to thank. 

 

 

 

 

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Jordan Reed's unsatisfying 2017 season has come to an official end

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USA Today Sports

Jordan Reed's unsatisfying 2017 season has come to an official end

The Redskins made a roster move that many have anticipated for the last few weeks.

The team announced that 2016 Pro Bowl tight end Jordan Reed, who has missed the last six games with a hamstring injury, has been placed on injured reserve. That ends a very disappointing season for the five-year veteran.

It seemed that Reed was never fully healthy all year. He was placed on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list with a toe injury when he reported to camp in late July. Reed remained on PUP until a week before the start of the regular season, when he was activated.

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In six games, Reed’s production was running well below his career averages in receptions, yards, and touchdowns. He was averaging just 7.8 yards per catch after averaging 10.5 per reception prior to the season.

It seemed like he was on the verge of breaking out in Week 7 against the Eagles, when he caught eight passes for 64 yards and his first two touchdowns of the season. But the following week against the Cowboys he suffered the hamstring injury early in the game and he hasn’t played since.

Reed was close to returning a few weeks ago but he suffered a setback and he just couldn’t get the hamstring healthy enough to play. With the Redskins now officially out of playoff contention, the decision apparently was made to put him on the shelf and start getting him ready for next year.

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In other moves announced by the Redskins, they put RB Byron Marshall (hamstring) and LB Chris Carter (broken fibula) on IR. Both were injured during the loss to the Chargers on Sunday. Carter will have surgery and face a long rehab. Perhaps Marshall could return after a few weeks but the Redskins needed to get a third running back on the roster.

That running back is Kapri Bibbs, who has been on the Redskins’ practice squad. Also signed to the active roster were practice squad linebackers Pete Robertson and Otha Peters.

Added to the practice squad were LB Alex McCalister, RB Dare Ogunbowale, and S Orion Stewart.

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