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EL-BASHIR: 5 questions I'd ask at Super Bowl Media Day

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EL-BASHIR: 5 questions I'd ask at Super Bowl Media Day

When Super Bowl Opening Night (previously known as Super Bowl Media Day) kicks off at 8 p.m. in San Jose, unfortunately I won’t be among the hundreds of reporters there. My boss told me that it had something to do with the team I cover not being involved. So here we are, blogging from a basement in Ashburn, Va., about the five questions I would ask tonight at SAP Center if, you know, my boss had sent me:

  1. I’d ask Peyton Manning how much Sunday’s outcome will influence his plans for next season. He probably won’t say much; he’s already sidestepped the subject like a blitzing linebacker in recent days. But he’s got to say something—and you can be sure whatever he says will be among the top stories in sports sections and newscasts across the country.
  2. I’d also ask Manning what he and his teammates learned from their shocking loss to the Seahawks in Super Bowl XLVIII. If you recall, Manning and the center had a miscommunication on a shotgun snap and the Seahawks seized a 2-0 lead just 12 seconds in. Seattle never looked back, cruising to a 43-8 victory. Will they approach game week any differently this time around? Can they do a better job of tuning out the hype and dialing in on their preparation? Because on Super Bowl Sunday two years ago, the Broncos looked anything by focused and prepared.
  3. And before I left Manning’s podium, I'd try to squeeze in one more: I would ask him how much thought he's given to what’s next. He turns 40 in March, so the finish line is in sight, even if he’s not ready to acknowledge it. Whenever he does hang up the cleats, he’ll have opportunities in coaching, management, ownership and broadcasting, among other things. I personally think he’d be an outstanding color commentator, given his wit and extensive knowledge of the game. I'm curious to see what he does in the next phase of his life, and I'm sure others are, as well.  
  4. I’d ask Cam Newton how he’s come to be one of the most polarizing figure in sports today. I wouldn’t mention his recent comments about race. Or his much-criticized end zone celebrations. I’d let him steer the answer in any direction he decided. Someone’s going to ask that (or something similar) tonight, and I bet the answer will be an interesting one.         
  5. One storyline that absolutely fascinates me is the tale of Demaryius Thomas and his mom, Katina, who was locked up on drug trafficking charges when Demaryius was just 11. Last month, she watched her now 28-year-old son play (at any level) for the first time against the Steelers. I presume she’ll attend the Super Bowl, too. I’d ask Demaryius about making up for lost time with Katina, and what she thinks of him growing up to be a wealthy star athlete while she did hard time.

MORE NFL: CHECK OUT THE REDSKINS ALL-TIME SUPER BOWL TEAM 

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New free agent Doug Martin unlikely fix to Redskins' woeful run game

New free agent Doug Martin unlikely fix to Redskins' woeful run game

News broke Tuesday that the Tampa Bay Bucaneers released former Pro Bowl running back Doug Martin, and while the name certainly triggers value, his play of the last two seasons should calm the excitement. 

Since a 2015 season where Martin rushed for 1,400 yards and averaged nearly 5 yards-per-carry in 16 games, Martin has been suspended, undergone substance abuse rehab and missed games due to injury.

In the last two seasons, Martin has played in 16 of 32 games, rushed for 827 yards and averaged less than 3 yards-per-carry.

Over his six year NFL career with the Bucs, Martin has only played two full seasons. Those two seasons were great, in 2012 and 2015, but the other four have been largely disappointing. 

RELATED: WHAT SHOULD THE REDSKINS DO AT RUNNING BACK?

The Redskins averaged just 3.6 yards-per-carry last season, and could definitely use a boost in the run game. It's entirely possible Washington might look to upgrade their offensive backfield this offseason, either in free agency or in the 2018 NFL Draft, but Martin does not look like the player to help. 

Early in the 2017 season, it appeared the Redskins run game might be a strength for the offense. After a disappointing effort on the ground to open the year in a loss to the Eagles, the Redskins rushed for at least 111 yards in their next three contests, including nearly 230 yards on the ground in a Week 2 win over the Rams. 

Injuries undid the run game, however, as Rob Kelley got hurt and the offensive line lost players, too. Over the course of the season, rookie Samaje Perine sustained minor injuries and Chris Thompson was lost for the year with a broken leg. 

Going into 2018, Kelley, Perine, Thompson and Kapri Bibbs are all on the roster and expected for now to stay with the team. That's yet another reason why the Redskins are likely to stay away from Doug Martin.

RELATED: 2018 NFL MOCK DRAFT 5.0

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Need to Know: Redskins' Junior Galette will be a valued free agent

Need to Know: Redskins' Junior Galette will be a valued free agent

Here is what you need to know on this Tuesday, February 20, 22 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.

Galette to be a valued free agent

Originally published 12/13/17

Like the Redskins, the Broncos are no longer relevant in 2017. Both teams’ fan bases have started to look towards the coming offseason.

To give their readers what they want, the Denver Post published an article by Mike Renner of Pro Football Focus that discussed some of the top pending free agents who have done the most to increase their values in the past year. There were two Redskins named, one you would expect to see on such a list and one that might surprise some people.

Kirk Cousins is at the top of the list. “The Washington signal-caller is grading as a top-10 quarterback (82.8), and soon he’ll have the long-term contract of one,” Renner wrote. “Only this time its value will be exponentially higher than any one he would have signed back when he first became a free agent in 2016.”

But the surprising name is that of Junior Galette. After missing the last two seasons with two torn Achilles tendons, he played this year on a one-year, $800,000 deal. And while he hasn’t been on fire in the sack department with just two on the year, he has been getting pressure on the passer.

“He’s accumulated the 27th-highest pass-rushing grade of any edge defender this season, but in only 264 snaps,” wrote Renner. “At 29 years of age, it’s doubtful he ever gets back to the level of the contract that he once had on the table with New Orleans. With how he’s played this season though, some pass-rush-needy team will pay handsomely for his services.”

One team that could be considered to be pass rush needy is the Redskins. Preston Smith is the starter and supposedly one of the Redskins’ top pass rushers. But in 100 fewer pass rush snaps this year, Galette has only three fewer quarterback hits than Smith and six more hurries.

And after missing those two seasons, Galette has remained healthy. Although he was limited with a hamstring during much of the preseason, he has not missed a practice or appeared on an injury report this year.

But would the Redskins be willing to pay him “handsomely”? Perhaps a good comp would be Connor Barwin, who moved from the Eagles to the Rams this past offseason at the age of 31. He had five sacks in Philly in 2016. That got him a one-year deal worth $3.5 million.

Barwin likely will have more sacks on his ledger going into free agency so let’s say Galette could command around $3 million. Perhaps he could offer Washington a bit of a hometown discount and agree to something in the $2.75 million range. If that is the case, the Redskins would be smart to keep him around for another year.

Plenty of things could alter the equation. If Galette gets hot in the last three games and posts a few more sacks his price could rise. With Smith and Ryan Kerrigan both back next year, perhaps Galette will want to go somewhere that he might get more playing time.

The details need to be sorted out but don’t be surprised if Galette gets a lot of attention in free agency, as much as teams need pass rush, and if the Redskins have to make a very tough decision about how much he is worth.

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) 9
—NFL Draft (4/26) 65
—2018 NFL season starts (9/9) 201