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Camp preview: LB's are the team's strength

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Camp preview: LB's are the team's strength

The Redskins start training camp on Thursday. Were going around the team to let you know what were looking for when practice gets underway. Yesterday we looked at the offense (line, backsreceivers). We start the defense today with the line and linebackers.Anticipated starters:LDE Adam Carriker
NT Barry Cofield
RDE Stephen Bowen
ROLB Brian Orakpo
LOLB Ryan Kerrigan
MLB London Fletcher
JLB Perry RileyCarriker might get challenged for his starting job (see Jarvis Jenkins below) but otherwise this group is set in stone. The linebacking corps is the strength of the team and that group is set up for success by the workmanlike guys up front. This will be their second full season playing as a unit (Riley played for half of the year) and should only get better. Their task during training camp will be to stay healthy and fine tune.Key reserves:DE Jarvis Jenkins
NT Chris Neild
OLB Rob Jackson
LB Lorenzo AlexanderJenkins has the talent to start but the versatility he showed in camp last year before he got injured may make him more valuable in a reserve role. He can rotate to give Bowen and Carriker a rest and play nose tackle on passing downs to provide some rush up the middle. Alexander can play inside or outside linebacker but even if he doesnt play a snap on defense his role on special teams makes him one of the teams key players.On the bubble:DE Kedric Golston, Kentwan Balmer, Darrion Scott, Doug Worthington
NT Chris Baker
LB Markus White, Chris Wilson, Keenan Robinson, Jonathan Goff, Bryan Kehl,The DEs listed are fighting for one or two spots. It seems like the coaches would like to see Balmer succeed as they are impressed with his size (6-5, 315) and the ability that made him a first-round pick of the 49ers. Robinson is not really on the bubble but he is unlikely to see many defensive snaps as he trains to be Fletchers eventual replacement. While it seems that Neild is safe, Baker could sneak up and steal his spot.Three things to watch:Will Riley take the next step? Riley did a lot of learning on the job last year, mixing some big plays with some obvious errors. If he can keep making the good plays while drastically reducing the mistakes the defense will be that much better.Can Cofield master the position? He came into camp last year right after signing as a free agent with little time to learn his new position. At about 310 lb., Cofield is quite a bit lighter than the typical 3-4 nose tackle but he managed the position last year by using leverage and quickness. With the offseason program behind him and a full training camp to work on his techniques he might be able to go from being adequate at the position to being pretty good.How long can London keep on keeping on? In a way, thats a dumb question as Fletcher shows no signs of slowing down. But all football players hit the wall at some point; its not a question of if, its a question of when. Chances are that he will play virtually every snap this year and lead the team in tackles again. But at some point . . .What do you want us to watch? Who do you think is on the bubble? Let us know in the comments or on Twitter with the hashtag RedskinsTalk.

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Need to Know: The five highest-paid 2018 Redskins

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Usa Today Sports Images

Need to Know: The five highest-paid 2018 Redskins

Here is what you need to know on this Saturday, February 24, 18 days before NFL free agency starts.

I’m out this week so I’ll be re-posting some of the best and most popular articles of the past few months. Some may have slightly dated information but the major points in the posts still stand. Thanks for reading, as always.

The five highest-paid Redskins in 2018

Originally published 1/12/18

This is how the five highest-paid Redskins per their 2018 salary cap numbers stack up as of now. The list could change, of course during free agency and if a particular quarterback returns. Cap numbers via Over the Cap.

CB Josh Norman, $17 million—The Redskins do have a window which would allow them to move on from Norman. His $13.5 million salary for this year doesn’t become guaranteed until the fifth day of the league year so it would be “only” a $9 million cap charge to move on from Norman, who turned 30 in December. Don’t look for that to happen but the possibility is there.

OT Trent Williams, $13.86 million—He is one of the best left tackles in the business. Those of you out there who have advocated moving him to left guard should look at this cap number, which is way out of line for what a team can afford to pay a guard. At his pay, he needs to be playing on the edge.

OLB Ryan Kerrigan, $12.45 million—He has delivered double-digit sacks in each of the two seasons that his contract extension has been in effect. That’s good value in a league that values the ability to get to the quarterback.

TE Jordan Reed, $10.14 million—The Redskins knew that he might have a year like last year when he played in only six games when they agreed to Reed’s five-year, $50 million extension. They can live with one such season. If he has another one in 2018 they may rethink things.

G Brandon Scherff, $6.75 million—The fact that a rookie contract is No. 5 on this list is a good sign that, as of now, the Redskins’ cap is not top heavy like it was last year. The top three cap hits from Norman, Williams, and Kirk Cousins totaled $59 million, which was about 35 percent of the cap. This year the total cap numbers of the top three come to $43.3 million, 24.3 percent of the estimated $178 million salary cap.

Next five: OT Morgan Moses ($5.4 million), TE Vernon Davis ($5.33 million), DL Stacy McGee ($4.8 million), DL Terrell McClain ($4.75 million), S D.J. Swearinger ($4.33 million)

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) 5
—NFL Draft (4/26) 61
—2018 NFL season starts (9/9) 197

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Martavis Bryant could make sense for the Redskins, at the right price

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USA TODAY Sports

Martavis Bryant could make sense for the Redskins, at the right price

A 2017 midseason trade for Martavis Bryant made no sense for the Redskins. A 2018 offseason trade for Martavis Bryant, however, might make sense for the Redskins. 

Bryant is on the trade block, per NFL Network's Ian Rapoport, and will be an intriguing prospect for receiver-needy teams across the NFL. In parts of three seasons with the Steelers, Bryant has 17 touchdowns and a 15.2 yards-per-reception average. 

A big play threat from any place on the field, Bryant would immediately make the Redskins receiving unit more athletic and explosive. 

It's not all good news with Bryant, though.

He was suspended for the entire 2016 season after repeated drug violations and caused some distraction for Pittsburgh during the 2017 season when he asked for a trade via social media. 

MORE: CAN YOU GUESS THESE REDSKINS BASED ON THEIR COMBINE NUMBERS?

Is the talent enough to overcome the off-field distractions? Many would say it is. 

Last year, in just eight starts, Bryant grabbed 50 catches for more than 600 yards and three TDs. In their lone playoff loss to the Jaguars, Bryant caught two passes for 78 yards and a TD. 

Remember, too, the Steelers have an explosive offense, and Bryant is coupled with Antonio Brown on the receiver front along with Ben Roethlisberger at quarterback and Le'Veon Bell at running back. The Pittsburgh offense is loaded. 

Washington's offense is not nearly the prolific unit that the Steelers send out, but Jay Gruden does design a good offense. 

The real question surrounding any talk of trading for Bryant is the cost.

The Redskins are not in a position to send away any more draft picks this offseason after giving up a third-round pick, in addition to Kendall Fuller, to acquire Alex Smith. Bruce Allen and the Redskins front office need to improve their team in plenty of spots, and the team's draft picks are quite valuable. 

Bryant only has one year remaining on his rookie deal, and it's hard to balance that sort of short-term investment with the value of adding a rookie committed to the team for at least four years. Perhaps a late-round pick would make sense, but it would need to be a sixth-rounder. 

This could be one of those rare situations in the NFL where a player for player swap could work, though pulling that type of maneuver requires a lot of moving parts. 

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