Redskins

Quick Links

Many on Redskins' defense started off as long shots

Many on Redskins' defense started off as long shots

If you like players with chips on their shoulders, you should love the 2016 Redskins defense.

The depth chart is loaded with players who were drafted late or not at all and have had to come into the league earning everything. Let’s take a position-by-position look at the anticipated starters and key contributors who had to fight for everything they got in the NFL.

Defensive line—DE Chris Baker went undrafted out of Hampton, bounced around with the Broncos and Dolphins, and worked his way off of the Redskins’ practice squad. NT Kedric Golston was a sixth-round pick of the Redskins in 2008. When Scot McCloughan was with the 49ers he took DE Ricky Jean Francois in the seventh round.

Linebacker—OLB Junior Galette went undrafted and signed with the Saints out of Division II Stillman College. He collected a second chip for his shoulder after the Saints cut him after some legal issues. The Redskins signed ILB Will Compton as an undrafted free agent out of Nebraska. After spending most of 2013 on the practice squad he made the 53-man roster the next year and his role has steadily increased since then.

Defensive back—The starting cornerbacks, Josh Norman and Bashaud Breeland, were fifth- and fourth-round picks, respectively. Duke Ihenacho, who could start at strong safety, was signed as a undrafted free agent by the Broncos.

These players did not necessarily see their draft stock drop or disappear altogether because they are not talented. Galette was suspended from Temple after a cousin who was staying with him stole two laptops and transferred to Stillman, which is not exactly on the radar screens of most NFL scouts. Norman was similarly in anonymity at Coastal Carolina. Many thought that Breeland needed another year of seasoning a Clemson before turning pro.

Coaches like to say that everyone has an equal shot at making the team but the reality is that it’s much, much harder for late rounders and undrafted players to show what they can do.

“They all had to work for every minute they’ve got and they have taken advantage of the reps,” said Jay Gruden. “When you are a fourth- or fifth-round pick, you don’t get a lot of reps. They are few far and between but when you do get them, you have to take advantage of them . . . You know, if you are a fourth- or fifth-round pick or free agent, the opportunity is there for you. You have to just take advantage of it, and they obviously proved they can do that.””

As long as they continue to want to prove that they belong, the Redskins defense could be in pretty good shape.

Quick Links

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

Quick Links

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

kirk-cousins-gfx-usat.png
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. 

Want more Redskins? Click here to follow JP on Facebook and check out @JPFinlayNBCS for live updates via Twitter! Click here for the #RedskinsTalk on Apple Podcastshere for Google Play or press play below. Don't forget to subscribe!