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On the fringes of the playoff picture, the Redskins have a chance to make a run

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On the fringes of the playoff picture, the Redskins have a chance to make a run

At the midpoint of their season, the Redskins find themselves where they often do at this time of year.

They are in the playoff picture if you use a wide-angle lens.

They can remain relevant but they don’t have much of a margin for error.

At 4-4, the Redskins are currently the 10th seed in the NFC. The top six make the playoffs so, yes, they have some work to do.

They are behind two other 4-4 teams, the Falcons and Lions, due to their conference record. The Redskins are 3-3 in the NFC, with the three losses coming against the NFC East and the three wins against the NFC West. They can help themselves tremendously in the coming weeks, with games coming up against the Vikings and Saints. If they can notch those two conference wins, they will be sitting in good shape in that tiebreaker category.

MORE REDSKINS: A SCARY HAIL MARY

The Redskins picked up a potentially big tiebreaker with their win over the Seahawks. Seattle currently sits a game ahead of the Redskins at 5-3 but if the two teams do wind up with the same record, the Redskins will have the upper hand with their head-to-head victory. Their earlier win over the Rams could help them in the same way if the Seahawks rise up and take the NFC West and Los Angeles is in the wild card hunt.

None of this will matter if the Redskins can’t take advantage of their softening schedule over the last six games of the season. So far, the Redskins have played eight games and their opponents have won a combined 42 games. That is the second-most in the NFC. That may help them as strength of schedule is on the list of tiebreakers but it is fifth in priority, so it’s unlikely to come into play.

RELATED: UPSET WIN BOOSTS REDSKINS IN POWER RANKINGS

After two more games against the division leading Vikings and Saints, both 6-2, they have one more game against a team that currently has a winning record. That one is against the 5-3 Cowboys in Dallas, a game that shapes up to be big in terms of the standings, head-to-head record, and division and conference records.

The other games are against the 1-7 Giants (twice), the 4-4 Cardinals, and the Broncos and Chargers, both 3-5. Those are not guaranteed wins by any stretch but if they play the second half of the schedule as well as they played the first half against a buzzsaw, they may be in good shape when it comes to sorting out the teams in and out of the playoffs.

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.

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Need to Know: The Redskins week that was—Costly cornerbacks, offseason blueprint

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Need to Know: The Redskins week that was—Costly cornerbacks, offseason blueprint

Here is what you need to know on this Saturday, February 17, 25 days before NFL free agency starts.

The Redskin week that was

My weekly look at some of the most popular posts and hottest topics on RealRedskins.com and NBCSportsWashington.com.

An offseason blueprint for the Redskins—Should the Redskins focus their free agency money on keeping their own? In addition to unrestricted free agents Zach Brown and Trent Murphy, they need to consider extensions for Brandon Scherff, Preston Smith, and Jamison Crowder. That could chew up a bunch of the approximately $31 million of cap space that they have. They may get some help on the market but most of their improvement should come from the draft and from within.

Redskins offseason will hit warp speed soon—With the exception of the Alex Smith trade, which actually hasn’t happened yet, there hasn’t been much going on with the Redskins. That is going to change soon, check out the post for the calendar and how the events matter for the Redskins.

No mixed messages from Alex Smith—In a radio interview, Alex Smith said that he was “jacked” to be a part of the Redskins. Now, the phrase often repeated here is that you shouldn’t listen to what they say, you should watch what they do. And the moment that he signs the reported four-year extension that he has negotiated with the team, a deal that likely would put him in Washington for the rest of his career, we will see his actions backing up his words. Then we will know.

What we know, and what we think, of the Su'a Cravens situation—This will be a true test of the acumen of the front office. It’s a very tricky situation. The Redskins have to decide if they want to keep Cravens. Should they decide to keep him, there will be a lot of smoothing over of ruffled feelings that would need to be done over and trust in Cravens would have to be restored. If they don’t want him around, they have to make it look like they are willing to go into the season with him in order to be able to trade him. Otherwise, teams may just wait for them to cut him and sign him as a free agent. Again, don’t listen to what they say, watch what they do.

Tweet of the week

Quarterback is not the only NFL position with rising salaries. The players teams hire to try to stop opposing QBs, cornerbacks, are getting expensive, too. Bashaud Breeland is a good cornerback, not a great one. His coverage skills are solid, he’s a good team player (if a bit of a hothead at times) and his work ethic is not questioned. For a fourth-round pick who everybody thought left Clemson a year too early, he has done well for himself But he hasn’t made a Pro Bowl and he hasn’t even come close enough to be considered a snub. Breeland has eight interceptions in four years in the league with a high of three in 2016.

The price tag for good at cornerback is likely to be in the vicinity of $10 million per season. And good for him if he gets it. But with the Redskins employing Josh Norman, who has cap hits in the range of $14.5 million-$16.9 million over the next three years, it would be difficult to fit him in. Truth be told, Breeland has probably been destined to leave as a free agent ever since Norman signed his contract in April of 2016.

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.

Timeline  

Days until:

—NFL Combine (3/1) 12
—NFL Draft (4/26) 68
—2018 NFL season starts (9/9) 204

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Cousins would reportedly look to file grievance if Redskins use franchise tag on him

Cousins would reportedly look to file grievance if Redskins use franchise tag on him

The Redskins might try to franchise tag quarterback Kirk Cousins to try to get some compensation for him as he leaves. But Cousins’ camp might not let that happen without a fight.

According to Albert Breer of the MMQB, Cousins might file a grievance if he is tagged, saying that the Redskins would be violating the spirit of the rules regarding the use of the franchise tag. He would be seeking to have the tag voided because the team clearly isn ’t interested in reaching a long-term deal with him given the acquisition of Alex Smith. The tag is supposed to be used to buy time to get an agreement done, not to squat on a player’s rights in order to trade him.

There is precedent for the tag being used in order to facilitate a trade. In 2009, the Patriots tagged quarterback Matt Cassel. They clearly had no intention of keeping him as they had Tom Brady on the roster. But New England pulled it off, shipping Cassel and linebacker Mike Vrabel to the Chiefs for a second-round pick.

But it is up to the player to object to being tagged and for whatever reason Cassel and his agent went along with the tag and trade rather than fighting for free agency.

It looks like Cousins ’camp won’t go as quietly.

It’s up to the Redskins to make the first move. The window to be able to tag a player opens on Tuesday with the deadline coming on March 6. We will see how things play out after that.

MORE REDSKINS: THE EXPECTATIONS GAME

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