It is likely (but not certain) that Alfred Morris is going to move on from Redskins after four years of taking the lion’s share of the rushing attempts. His contract is up and Scot McCloughan indicated last month that Morris will not be signed before free agency starts. That usually means a ticket out of town.
The logical move to replace Morris, who started all 64 games during his four years in Washington, would be to elevate Matt Jones, a third-round pick a year ago, into the starting lineup. Talking to reporters at the NFL Combine in Indianapolis, McCloughan said that likes the idea but he has some reservations.
“I think so,” he said when asked if Jones could be the starter. “But he’s got to do it. He’s got to hold onto the ball. That’s huge for a running back. He’s a young guy that’s got a lot of talent. He’s got some really good ball skills but he’s got to stay healthy and hold onto the ball. But I feel really comfortable about him going into the season fighting for the [starting] job for sure.”
Holding on to the ball is at the top of the list of issues that Jones needs to fix. He fumbled five times in 163 touches last year, an alarming rate of 3.4 percent. The opponents recovered four of those fumbles.
He will work on ball security and he will take a proactive approach to staying healthy.
“I learned this year that the training room is a good thing to be in,” said Jones the day after the Redskins season ended. “Even if you're not hurt you have to go in there and get treatment on your body. So I learned a lot this year.”
Jones figured out that going into the facility worked better than lounging on the couch at home.
“Coming in on off days just to get in the ice tub to have my body feel right for the next day of practice,” said Jones. “Early in the season I was just going home laying down, think that my body would be cool later in the week.”
His methods may have helped but he ended the season with an injury problem. A hip pointer sidelined him for the last two regular season games and the playoff game against the Packers. Jones had what Jay Gruden described as a minor surgical procedure done in the area of the injury. According to Gruden, the back should be ready for the start of OTAs in May.
Here is what you need to know on this Saturday, March 17, 40 days before the NFL draft.
The Redskins week that was
A look at some of the most popular posts and hottest topics of the week on Real Redskins and NBC Sports Washington.
Redskins and NFL free agency tracker—I started this a week ago today and it grew to 3,500 words. The problem was there wasn’t much to add by the time that free agency actually started at 4 p.m. on Wednesday. The legal tampering period or, as I dubbed it to avoid an oxymoron being used, the “permitted tampering-like activities period” was when all of the news happened. By the time actual free agency opened on Wednesday afternoon it pretty much was all over. Thanks to those of you who followed along.
Zach Brown agrees to terms with Redskins, per source—Since Kirk Cousins’ departure was a foregone conclusion, Brown was the Redskins’ most important free agent. His retention provides continuity in the defense and that will benefit both the team and Brown. His contract (preliminary numbers three years, $24 million) showed that the Redskins are willing to invest some money in the inside linebacker spot for the first time since Joe Gibbs brought in London Fletcher to play middle linebacker in 2007.
Report: Kirk Cousins to sign epic new deal with Vikings—We heard you, folks. The collective voice of the fans who visit NBC Sports Washington on a regular basis let us know that you were not interested in a lot of posts about the Cousins saga that was unfolding in Minnesota. So this was one of very few articles on Cousins that we posted even though Cousins posts have been popular, but with the vast majority of traffic coming from out of town. So, you’re welcome. It should be noted that we will write about Cousins in the future but infrequently.
Redskins officially announce 5-year deal with WR Richardson—He was the opening act for the Alex Smith press conference, and he handled himself very well. If Richardson is even moderately successful I think he will be a major fan favorite.
Tweet of the week
Here is what fans need to know—a team can afford to do virtually anything it wants in free agency in a given year. If they wanted to the Redskins could restructure deals and sign all of their free agents to contracts that have very small first-year cap hits, creating room to sign the Honey Badger or Suh. The problems come in later years when the cap space you pushed back starts to pile up. The Redskins generally do squeeze free agent contracts into relatively small cap spaces. For example, Richardson’s deal average $8 million per year but the 2018 cap hit is just $4 million. But they don’t like to restructure deals to push money back into later years. That created problems during the Vinny Cerrato years.
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.
—Offseason workouts begin (4/16) 30
—Training camp starts (approx. 7/26) 132
—2018 NFL season starts (9/9) 176
In case you missed it
The Redskins had to say good bye to several key players as the 2018 NFL free agency period began.
Cornerback Bashaud Breeland was one of those players.
On Tuesday, Breeland reported agreed to a 3-year, $24 million deal with the Carolina Panthers.
But on Friday afternoon it was reported that Breeland failed a physical, which means he won't be signing with the Panthers, per Panthers reporter Bill Voth.
2018 NFL MOCK DRAFT: REDSKINS OPTIONS AT NO. 13?
If this sounds familiar, it's because it is familiar.
Redskins wide receiver Ryan Grant intended on signing a four-year, $29 million deal with the Ravens. But a failed physical just a day before his introductory press conference meant a voided contract and back to the drawing board.
According to multiple reports, Breeland's failed physical was due to a recent non-football injury. Breeland and the Panthers could still come to an agreement, but the former Clemson star is now back to being a free agent and will have to pass a physical before officially signing with a new team.
According to ESPN's David Newton, Breeland injured his foot on vacation in the Dominican Republic and will need his skin grafted in order to repair the injury.
The Redskins were one of the NFL's most injured teams in 2017, and that trend appears to have extended to the offseason.
NFL FREE AGENCY: TRACKING THE LATEST MOVES