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With division foes' seasons in tatters, can the Redskins take advantage?

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With division foes' seasons in tatters, can the Redskins take advantage?

Some doors opened up for the Redskins yesterday. On Sunday we will see if they can walk through them.

Thanksgiving started off well for the Redskins when the Lions thumped the Eagles 45-14. The Eagles have now given up 45 points in two consecutive games and quarterbacks Jameis Winston of the Bucs and Matthew Stafford of the Lions each threw five touchdown passes. Chip Kelly used to be the smartest guy in the room. Now he’s “confused, tormented, forlorn,” according to one Philly columnist.

The loss dropped the Eagles out of a tie with the Redskins for second place in the NFC East. At 4-7 Philadelphia is a half game behind Washington. As another Philly.com columnist put it, “now their season lies in irrevocable tatters.”

The Eagles have plenty of problems but they are in much better shape than the Dallas Cowboys are. Like the Eagles, they were not competitive in losing on Thanksgiving Day. Kurt Coleman got a pick six of Tony Romo on Dallas’ first possession and it was downhill from there. The final score of Panthers 33, Cowboys 14 did not indicate how thoroughly Dallas was dominated.

Rock bottom for Romo came in the third quarter when linebacker Thomas Davis slammed him into the AT&T Stadium turf, injuring the QB’s left collarbone. That’s the same one that he just spent eight weeks rehabbing. Early reports are that Romo reinjured his clavicle and will be out for the season.

The Cowboys won Romo’s first game back last Sunday against the Dolphins and Cowboys fans (and many Dallas cheerleaders in the media) had visions of Romo leading a winning streak that would carry his team into the playoffs. The fervor got to the point where the 3-7 Cowboys actually were favored over the 10-0 Panthers.

Dallas is now 3-8, alone in last place in the division.

So where does all of this leave the Redskins? In the short term, the picture is pretty simple. If they beat the 5-5 Giants on Sunday they will be tied for first place in the NFC East. The teams will have split their head-to-head series and the Redskins will have the edge in the next tiebreaker, division record. Beating New York would move the Redskins to 2-1 in the NFC East while the Giants would be 2-3.

Looking a little further down the road, the Redskins will have two games against the Cowboys, who presumably will be without Romo, and one against the lifeless Eagles. They also have a road trip to play the Bears, who upset the Packers on the road last night, and a home game against the Bills. The Giants’ remaining opponents include a Week 15 game against the Panthers, who won’t be resting their starters by then, and a trip the next week to play the 7-3 Vikings in Minnesota.

The Giants are currently ahead and would have to be considered the favorites. But if the Redskins do win on Sunday it becomes a legitimate two-team race.  

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Need to Know: The five highest-paid 2018 Redskins

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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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