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How many new starters for the 2016 Redskins?

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How many new starters for the 2016 Redskins?

Even though the Redskins went 9-7 and made the playoffs last year they are not standing still in terms of personnel. There will be a number of new starters, particularly on defense. In fact, you might be surprised at how many new starters they are likely to have.

Before we dive into this, let’s look at how we’re defining “starters”. In official terms, the 11 players who are on the field for the first snap on the game on each side of the ball are the starters. But we will loosen that definition a bit so that we are talking about front line players.

For example, cornerback Justin Rogers was a starter in the season opener against the Dolphins in 2015. But after that one game he was inactive for two weeks and then waived in Week 5. Rogers is not a player most would think of as a “starter”.

On the other side of the coin, Jordan Reed played in 14 games but he only started in nine of them. I don’t think that there is any question that Reed is a front-line starter.

With that said, let’s look at the anticipated 2016 front-line players compared to 2015.

There will be two new starters on offense. Matt Jones will start at running back in place of the departed Alfred Morris and Jamison Crowder will play slot receiver replacing Andre Roberts, who was waived last month.

Both were 2015 draft picks. Crowder started six games and played 474 snaps while Jones did not have a start and played 349 snaps.

On defense there will be several new starters. Last year, Terrance Knighton started 15 games at nose tackle and Jason Hatcher started 14 at right defensive end. They are both gone so there will be new starters at those positions. For right now the nose tackle is Kedric Golston and the right DE is Stephen Paea but that lineup is written with a dry erase marker, nothing permanent.

At linebacker, either Preston Smith or Junior Galette will start opposite Ryan Kerrigan on the outside, replacing Trent Murphy, who converted to defensive end. On the inside, it looks like Will Compton and Mason Foster have the, well, inside track to starting jobs. They started nine and five games, respectively, last year. Of the other two inside backers who started games in 2015 one, Keenan Robinson (8 starts) has gone to New York and the other, Perry Riley (9) is still around with a shot at winning back the starting job.

Cornerback Josh Norman replaces Chris Culliver (who started the season) or Will Blackmon (who had 10 starts), depending on how you want to look at it. At safety, DeAngelo Hall, who started five games at safety last year, and David Bruton, who was a reserve with the Broncos in 2015, are now the starters. If it’s not Bruton at strong it will be Duke Ihenacho, who started the opener last year but went out early in the game with a wrist injury that landed him on injured reserve. Last year Trenton Robinson, who is no longer with the team, started the most games at strong safety (7).

To count up the changes it’s easier to look at who is staying put. There are three returning solid starters and they all play on the left side—DE Chris Baker, LB Ryan Kerrigan, and CB Bashaud Breeland. At the other eight positions there will be at least six new starters (two each on the DL and S, one each at OLB and CB) and depending on how things shake out and how you want to define new starters, two more possible changes at the inside linebacker spots.

So taking the low number and adding in the offense there will be a minimum of eight new starters for the Redskins this year. That looks like a lot of disruption to a team that seemed to be on its way up but it really isn’t. The way it looks right now only two of the new starters, Norman and Bruton, are new to the team in 2016. All of the others either started some games or played a substantial role with the exception of Galette, who was on injured reserve all of last year.

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Wanting increased playing time, Junior Galette intends to pursue free agency, per source

Wanting increased playing time, Junior Galette intends to pursue free agency, per source

Redskins outside linebacker Junior Galette intends to pursue free agency to find a team that will give him plenty of snaps, per a source with knowledge of the situation.

Galette's contract will expire once the 2017 regular season ends, and while the 29-year-old pass rush specialist appreciates the Redskins organization and fans, he wants to play. 

After suffering season-ending Achilles injuries in 2015 and 2016, Galette has stayed healthy throughout the 2017 season. 

Still, he hasn't been on the field much.

Ryan Kerrigan leads the Redskins with 358 snaps in pass rush situations, and Preston Smith ranks second with 297, according to Pro Football Focus. 

Galette has played only 197 snaps this season in pass rush situations. 

For comparison, rookie Jonathan Allen logged 112 snaps in pass rush situations. Allen played in just five games before heading to the injured reserve with a Lisfranc injury. Galette has played in all 13 Redskins games this year, and hasn't appeared on the injury report once. 

Compounding the issue, Galette has been effective when on the field. 

Pro Football Focus rated him the third best defender on the Redskins this season, behind only Kerrigan and cornerback Kendall Fuller. 

As Rich Tandler noted, there will be a market for Galette. All NFL teams need pass rushers, and it appears Galette still has plenty left after his two-year layoff. Remember, in 2013 and 2014 Galette had 22 sacks for the New Orleans Saints.  This season, he has two sacks. 

The Redskins deserve credit for sticking with Galette after two lost seasons, though Galette deserves credit too for working back from not one but two Achilles injuries. 

Washington's coaches and front office speak highly of Galette, and there haven't been off field issues. For whatever reason, the playing time just hasn't been there. 

Looks like that will change next year. 

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Robert Griffin III listed the best places for Kirk Cousins to end up, and he left off the Redskins

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Robert Griffin III listed the best places for Kirk Cousins to end up, and he left off the Redskins

Of course this was going to happen. 

The moment it became known that Robert Griffin III was going to be on ESPN's shows for a few appearances this week, you knew he was going to be asked about Kirk Cousins at some point.

And, surely enough, come Wednesday afternoon, the stars aligned and the question was asked on NFL Live: Where, in Griffin's opinion, was the best place for Cousins to land this offseason?

"I think it depends on what he's trying to do," Griffin began.

"If he's trying to make the most money, he goes to Cleveland," he said. "If he's trying to be in the best situation, he goes to one of these teams that have a great defense that isn't gonna put it all on his shoulders."

MORE: POWER RANKINGS - REDSKINS FALL LOWER THAN THEY HAVE ALL 2017

Don't worry, he doesn't stop there. In fact, he saved the good stuff for the latter half of his answer.

"He's had it all on his shoulders in Washington, and we've seen the result," Cousins' draft classmate continued. "But if he's got a great defense like, say, Denver, say, Jacksonville, it makes it easier for him as a quarterback. Whereas in Cleveland, he's gonna have to go in and he's gonna have to do more of the workload."

So, the Browns, Broncos and Jaguars are among the teams Griffin considers options for Cousins. But, uh, what about the one he's on right now?

"I don't think it's Washington, just because of, you've seen what's been going on," he said. "Do they want him there? Does he want to be there?"

This isn't to say that the former rookie of the year doesn't bring up valid points; Cousins has had to play with below-average defenses for much of his career in D.C. and the franchise hasn't exactly shown a ton of admiration for him.

But nevertheless, it was interesting to see Griffin declare wish such confidence that his old backup needs to bolt from the Redskins and head elsewhere.

And thus concludes another chapter of the Griffin-Cousins-Redskins saga. You can leave your comments about how you don't care about it below, even though you made the choice to click on the story in the first place.