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Just Shut Up

Just Shut Up

Sometimes what is written here results in great acclaim for the author. Other times the comments are a mix of applause and contempt. The reader reaction to the entry about the Redskins’ limiting of public and press access to training camp practices, though, was something entirely different. I was told, in a variety of ways, and by almost everyone who commented, to shut up about it.

I do plead guilty one of the charges leveled at me by some readers, that I was “selfish” in requesting that Joe Gibbs open more camp time to observation. That is certainly true. The amount of time that the public and press can watch the Houston Texans’ camp practices is of zero interest here and there couldn’t any less interest in how John Gruden chooses to operate access to the Bucs’ camp. I only care about how much I can watch the Redskins’ camp because that affects me and people I know and converse with.

However, there were a few things mentioned about the concept of having fans at camp sessions or not that I thought were off base and I want to comment on them here.

First, there were some comments that the presence of a lot of fans and reporters during camp sessions will distract the team. First of all, it didn’t seem to prevent Gibbs’ teams from focusing enough on practice when they were winning three Super Bowls in ten years. And if you can’t focus in front of a few thousand friendly fans, most of whom are just conversing among themselves while trying to catch a glimpse of what’s happening out there, what’s going to happen on September 19 in front of some 60,000 hostile folks in Dallas who will be trying like crazy to distract you? Trust me, if you can’t block out the training camp crowd, you can’t even block out the friendly home crowd much less a fiercely hostile throng on the road.

Others expressed fears that writers, or fans, or scouts from other teams will reveal secret strategies that the team will be working on during camp. These fears are unfounded. Scouts from other teams are prohibited from going to training camp unless, as the Redskins did a few years ago, the team charges admission. Fans can’t see much. And if someone can find a single instance of a writer revealing a specific strategy that he unearthed while observing Redskins camp practices, before, during, or since Gibbs I, please cite that instance for me, because it will be the first one I’ve ever heard about. Remember, Gibbs always said that he changed about 40 percent of his offense from year to year, so it wasn’t like there wasn’t a lot of new material to be installed every year.

Another line of thinking was that if it leads to more wins, it was the right way to go. That’s would be great if it were that easy. If closing camp practices equals more wins, then why not close all of them? Why not hold them in North Dakota or someplace where only the most sophisticated satellite surveillance could see what’s going on. I’ve beaten the theme of Gibbs’ previous tenure to death here, so let’s skip over that easy one. Look around the league and you’ll find no correlation—zero—between the number of closed camp practices and the number of games a team wins. It’s just nonsense.

That leads in to another chorus of folks who said that if that’s what Joe Gibbs wanted then that’s all they need to know, it was fine with them. Now, anyone who has read what’s been written in this space more than once or twice knows that I am not one who is quick to be critical of the Hall of Fame coach. If anything, I’ve drawn heat for agreeing with his actions too often. I just think that in this particular case Gibbs is doing the team and its fans a disservice and perhaps he wasn’t looking at the whole picture when he decided to have so little of camp open to the press and public.

In what way is Gibbs doing them a disservice? Other than in the ways that I discussed on my original blog, training camp is the only chance that many—make that the vast majority of—Redskins fans have to see their team in person. With preseason tickets now being part of the season ticket package there is no opportunity to see them there. Training camp is the only opportunity.

And this leads to the point about the harm being done to the team. Maybe the Redskins don’t think that they need to attract and keep new fans, but they do. There is constant competition for the dollars and attention of the sports fan everywhere and Washington is no exception. The team has been hit from the south by the Carolina Panthers and from the north by the Baltimore Ravens and internally by the Nationals and Wizards. Many a casual fan has been turned into a lifer with an autograph and a smile from a Redskin player at camp and the loyalties of many impressionable kids have been sealed for life as well with the same.

One of the few readers who tended to agree with my position was a poster on the WarpathInsiders.com board who goes by Tennessee Carl. He summed it up better than I could:
When I was up at Carlisle, there were little ol' couples who'd been to camp with the Redskins since the 1960s. It was their vacation. How do you measure that sort of loyalty in your fan base? And don't you lose something when you close that door?

As I said earlier, give us Ws and nobody will care much. But we aren't winning. So when the franchise goes into seclusion and comes out with another crappy product on the field, it just breeds more fan alienation.
Nobody, and I mean nobody, has more respect for Joe Gibbs than I do. I just respectfully disagree with his stance here. And if I told him my opinion it’s very likely that he, just like most of the readers here, would tell me to just shut up.

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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

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As money skyrockets, don't expect Kirk Cousins to give discounts on open market

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USA TODAY Sports

As money skyrockets, don't expect Kirk Cousins to give discounts on open market

Kirk Cousins repeatedly said his free agent decision will not be just about money. Be clear, however, that money will be a huge factor in this decision. 

After the Redskins traded with Kansas City to acquire Alex Smith before the Super Bowl, it became obvious Washington will move on from Cousins. Whether that means the quarterback simply walks away in free agency or the organization attempts a highly risky tag-and-trade scenario, regardless, Cousins will throw footballs for another franchise in 2018.

Cousins wants to choose where he will play via free agency, and might even file a grievance if the Redskins do deploy a third franchise tag to control his rights.

Assuming Cousins hits free agency, a new report out of New York suggests the Jets will pay "whatever it takes" to land the passer. That could even include a fully guaranteed contract, and will certainly get close to a $30 million a year price tag. 

A notion exists too that Cousins might take less to go to a winner, and many think that could be the Broncos. Denver won five games in 2017, same as the Jets, though the Broncos have a strong defense and have been getting particularly awful QB play. 

The important thing to remember for curious Redskins fans watching the Cousins saga unfold: Don't expect much, if any, discount. 

The quarterback himself made that clear. 

"There’s other quarterbacks that come after you and it would be almost a selfish move to hurt future quarterbacks who get in a position to have a contract," Cousins said last year on 106.7 the Fan.

The quotes came after the 2016 season but before the Redskins again used a franchise tag with Cousins for the 2017 season. Washington wanted to attempt a long-term deal with Cousins at that point, though the quarterback decided to not negotiate and instead play on the tag.

The point remains that Cousins, and his representatives, believe the quarterback has a duty to other players to maximize his earnings. 

"If you don’t take a deal that’s fair to you, then you’re also taking a deal that’s not fair to them and you’re setting them back as well. So there’s different reasons. You just do the best you can."

If he hits free agency, Cousins will likely sign the richest contract in NFL history. Those opportunities don't come around often, and the quarterback should take full advantage. 

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