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Need to Know: Final thoughts on Redskins vs. Giants

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Need to Know: Final thoughts on Redskins vs. Giants

JERSEY CITY, NJ--Here is what you need to know on this Sunday, December 31, 73 days before NFL free agency starts.

Timeline

Today’s schedule: Redskins Kickoff, noon, NBC Sports Washington; Redskins vs. Giants, 1:00, FOX

Days until:

—NFL free agency starts (3/14/18) 73
—NFL Draft (4/26/18) 116
—2018 NFL season starts (9/9/18) 252

Final thoughts on Redskins vs Giants

The Giants are a mess—Their starting right tackle, Bobby Doss, was cut yesterday. Starting left tackle Ereck Flowers has been benched. Both reportedly “checked out” and did not practice on Friday. They also will with without their top two pass catchers. Of course, that refers to the receivers who weren’t already on injured reserve; players like Odell Beckham Jr. and Brandon Marshall have long since been on injured reserve. Sterling Shepard and Evan Engram, who are 1-2 in receiving yards on the Giants this year, have been declared out with injuries. Even Tavarres King, the guy who caught the long pass down the sideline a year ago to set up the game-winning field goal that eliminated the Redskins, is out. That sets up this situation:

It will be hard for Eli Manning to find time to pass and, if he does, find anyone to throw to.

Farewell to Eli, or maybe not—A few weeks ago it looked like Manning was done in New York. But new Giants GM Dave Gettleman has indicated that he might want to keep Manning around next year and beyond. I’ve learned that you never can fully trust what a new GM says since he really hasn’t had a chance to assess his options. So while it might well end up being the end of the line for Eli as a Giant, it’s unlikely that the game will have that feel. 

Redskins will play to win—Every healthy player will be in his usual role. If the Redskins build a significant halftime lead, the coaches may sprinkle in some younger players like Robert Davis, Fabian Moreau and, well, Jeremy Sprinkle. But Jay Gruden is not treating this as a December exhibition game, he wants to win. The feeling around the locker room this week was that winning to finish 8-8 is important to the players as well. 

Keys to winning:

  • The Giants’ rushing defense is 28th in the NFL and they give up 4.2 yards per carry. The last time the Redskins played the Giants was the last time Samaje Perine gained 100 yards in a game. You can put those facts together with the weather forecast, which calls for a high of 18 degrees, and figure out what the Redskins ought to do when they have the ball. 
  • Defensively, the Redskins can’t give them any hope. As noted, the Giants have zero weapons but that doesn’t mean the Redskins can ease up in any way. Remember last year how after Beckham left the game it was King who beat them. As long as they play solid fundamentally and communicate well, the Redskins should be able to keep the Giants out of the end zone. 

Prediction: The Redskins are finishing their season with three straight bad teams (where were these teams earlier in the season when they needed them?). They had to sweat out a final possession to hang on and beat the Cardinals. They started off slowly against the Broncos before pulling away and posting a comfortable win. Things should be even easier today. Perine runs for 125, Cousins gets the three TD passes he needs to get to 30 for the first time in his career, Josh Norman gets his first interception of the year, and the Redskins win easily.

Redskins 28, Giants 6

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: How many starters are left from the Redskins' last playoff game?

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Need to Know: How many starters are left from the Redskins' last playoff game?

Here is what you need to know on this Friday, January 19, 54 days before NFL free agency starts.

Timeline  

Days until:

—NFL franchise tag deadline (3/6) 46
—NFL Draft (4/26) 97
—2018 NFL season starts (9/9) 233

Things change quickly

Two years ago today, the Redskins were in the process of picking up the pieces after their 35-18 home loss to the Packers in the wild-card round of the 2015 season playoffs. How many of the 22 players who started that game for Washington are still with the team? You may be surprised to find out just how few are likely to be with the Redskins when the season opens in September.

Offense:

WR DeSean Jackson—Signed with the Bucs as a free agent last year.
WR Pierre Garçon—Signed with 49ers as a free agent last year.
WR Jamison Crowder—Still with the Redskins
TE Jordan Reed—Still with the Redskins
LT Trent Williams—Still with the Redskins
LG Spencer Long—Set to be an unrestricted free agent
C Kory Lichtensteiger—Retired following the 2016 season
RG Brandon Scherff—Still with the Redskins
RT Morgan Moses—Still with the Redskins
RB Alfred Morris—Signed with the Cowboys as a free agent in 2016
QB Kirk Cousins—Set to be a UFA, you know the story here

Of the 11 offensive starters, five are still with the team, one has retired, three are employed by other teams, and two are headed into free agency. The chances of either Long or Cousins returning currently hover under 50 percent, although things can change.

Defense:

DE Chris Baker—Signed with the Bucs as a free agent last year.
DE Jason Hatcher—Retired following the 2015 season
NT Terrance Knighton—Signed with the Patriots following the 2015 season but was cut and he hasn’t played and subsequently retired
ILB Will Compton—Set to be an unrestricted free agent
ILB Mason Foster—Set to be an unrestricted free agent
OLB Ryan Kerrigan—Still with the Redskins
OLB Trent Murphy—Spent 2017 in injured reserve, set to be an unrestricted free agent
CB Bashaud Breeland—Set to be an unrestricted free agent
CB Will Blackmon—Released last September, currently unsigned
S DeAngelo Hall—Set to be an unrestricted free agent, likely to retire
S Dashon Goldson—Released after 2015 season, currently unsigned

Only one starter, Ryan Kerrigan, is under contract for 2018. Of the free agents, Breeland is likely to depart and things are up in the air regarding Foster, Compton, and Murphy.

To sum it up, out of 22 starters in that game played 740 days ago, only six are certain to be with the team in 2018 while nine have either signed elsewhere, spent 2017 out of football, or have retired (10 if you count Hall).

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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Looking at cheap, reasonable and expensive wide receiver scenarios for Redskins

Looking at cheap, reasonable and expensive wide receiver scenarios for Redskins

Most NFL teams usually carry at least six wide receivers, but going into the 2018 season, only Jamison Crowder, Josh Doctson, Maurice Harris and Robert Davis hold signed contracts with the Redskins.

That means Washington must consider adding receiver help via free agency, especially considering Harris and Davis rarely played in 2017. Terrelle Pryor and Ryan Grant both played with the Burgundy and Gold in 2017, and while Grant has a solid chance to return, it would seem Pryor will head elsewhere after a disappointing season in D.C. 

Like every year, a number of receivers will be available via free agency, but what guys make sense for Jay Gruden's team? Let's take a look at three different scenarios, knowing Washington likely needs to add at least one free agent wideout. 

RELATED: MOCK DRAFTS LINKING 'SKINS TO BAKER MAYFIELD

  • Expensive: Jags WR Allen Robinson - A second-round pick in 2014, Robinson posted a 1,400-yard season in 2015 and has shown the ability to be a true No. 1 wideout in the NFL. He's 6-foot-3 with speed and leaping ability. In 2016, his numbers dipped to less than 900 yards receiving, but that season the Jacksonville QB Blake Bortles struggled significantly. Here's the thing: Robinson blew out his knee in the NFL opener in 2017, and that might make his price tag drop a bit. Word is the former Penn State star should be fully cleared by early March from the injury, and just 24 years old, he will be intriguing. Washington showed they would spend for a wideout in 2017 with the Pryor signing, but they did so on a one-year deal. If Robinson finds the free agent market not as robust as he wants, maybe a similar short-term deal could be reached?
  • Reasonable: Colts WR Donte Moncrief - A third-round pick in 2014, Moncrief also had a big sophomore season in 2015. He grabbed 64 catches for 733 yards and six touchdowns. That was his only full 16-game season, as injuries have continued to be an issue for the 6-foot-2, 220 lbs. wideout out of Ole Miss. In 2016, only playing in nine games, he still contributed with seven touchdowns. In 2017, his numbers slipped big-time, and he posted less than 400 yards receiving in 12 games. Moncrief's problem isn't talent, it's health. That means he could be relatively cheap, and at just 24 years old, that contract might bring a strong return. 
  • Wild Card: Jets WR Eric Decker -  The Redskins have lacked a true veteran wideout since DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garçon left the team following the 2016 season. Decker will turn 31 in March and would give Washington a different presence in the WR meeting room. He posted two 1,000 yard seasons playing with Peyton Manning in Denver and went to the Super Bowl in 2013. In 2015, while teamed up with Ryan Fitzpatrick playing for the Jets, Decker again hit the 1,000-yard mark and hit the end zone 12 times. Throughout his career, Decker has been a solid red zone threat and has shown the ability to win on tough routes. He will need to take a big pay cut from the $4.5 million, one-year deal he signed in Tennessee in 2017, but that has to be expected considering his paltry production. In 16 games with the Titans, Decker logged 563 yards and only one TD. Decker might make sense, though the cost would need to be low. 

There are plenty of other names to watch, guys like Seattle's Paul Richardson or Buffalo's Jordan Matthews. Free agency opens in mid-March, and some connections between the Redskins and wideouts will start prior to that.

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