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Five observations from the Redskins' loss to the Cardinals

Five observations from the Redskins' loss to the Cardinals

GLENDALE, AZ—Here are my five observations on Cardinals 31, Redskins 23:

—Jay Gruden said that the Redskins “underachieved” against the Cardinals today. He was right but he didn’t go far enough. At 6-5-1, the Redskins have underachieved all year. They have left points on the field with red zone and goal to go problems. With the talent they have on offense they already should have double-digit wins instead of fighting to stay above .500.

—I’m not going to forget the defense here. They have given up 31 points two weeks in a row. One of the touchdowns today came after a turnover so the Cardinals had only 10 yards to go but they did have a chance to get away with just a field goal but they couldn’t make a third-down stop. On their first drive the Cardinals converted on third and 11 and third and 12. That set the tone for a day on which Arizona converted 10 of 16 on third down. The D helped carry the team for a while in late September and in October but the unit is fading when it needs to be getting stronger.

[MORE: ANGRY JAY GRUDEN SAYS REDSKINS 'NOT EVEN CLOSE' TO THINKING ABOUT PLAYOFFS]

—Kirk Cousins probably didn’t cost himself any money in a new contract today but he sure did get off to a bad start. He misfired to a few open receivers when he had time to throw. Some of these plays may have gone down as “drops” since the receiver got both hands on them but they could have been better passes that produced yards after the catch. After he got warmed up he hit on some nice passes, especially a 59-yard bomb to DeSean Jackson early in the second half to set up their first touchdown. But it wasn’t enough to overcome the tough start.

—Back to the defense, the Cardinals came into the game with two viable offensive weapons, RB David Johnson and WR Larry Fitzgerald. The Redskins knew that if they could stop those two the Cardinals would have a tough time scoring. But both made plays, particularly Johnson, who had 175 yards of total offense and had a touchdown rushing and one receiving. Not everyone is Bill Belichick but you have to be able to scheme to take away the team’s most obvious threat.

—The Redskins have lost two straight, the Buccaneers won against the Chargers so for the first time in a few weeks the Redskins are on the outside looking into the NFC playoff picture. That’s not where they want to be and there is a pretty good chance that they can return there next week with a win over the Eagles. But they need to play to their potential.

[MORE: BRIAN MITCHELL RIPS SOME PLAYERS' EFFORT]

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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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