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Need to Know: Gruden may have to be the one to persuade Cousins to stay

Need to Know: Gruden may have to be the one to persuade Cousins to stay

Here is what you need to know on this Thursday, March 9, 40 days before Washington Redskins start offseason workouts on April 17  

Timeline

Days until:

—NFL Draft (4/27) 49
—Redskins OTAs start (5/24) 76
—Franchise tag contract deadline (7/15) 128
—First Sunday of 2017 season (9/10) 185

Can Gruden convince Kirk Cousins to stay?

After two years with the focus mostly on football, with relatively quiet offseasons and moderate success on the field in the falls, Redskins have crashed back into dysfunction.

Scot McCloughan, whose arrival marked the start of the Redskins behaving like a normal football operation, appears to be on the way out. The company line is that he is out dealing with family issues and his date of return to Redskins Park is unknown. But some solid reporting by the Washington Post reveals that McCloughan was frustrated by being overruled on personnel matters and that is why the end is in sight.

Besides McCloughan, the other individual who gave Redskins some hope in the past two years is quarterback Kirk Cousins. But he may be on the way out, too. He is on the franchise tag for the second straight year. The Redskins are trying to sign him long term but besides not offering close to what most agree Cousins’ fair market value is. And even if they get there, the feeling at Redskins Park is that he just doesn’t want to be there.

The Redskins’ only chance of persuading Cousins to stay may be for Jay Gruden to do the sales job of his life. While the other decision makers in Ashburn have waffled about supporting Cousins, Gruden has steadfastly been in his corner.

<<<LOOKING AT REDSKINS DRAFT PROSPECTS>>>

If not for Gruden, Cousins would not be on the verge of getting a contract that will pay him over $100 million. The coach stuck his neck on the line in 2015 when he fought to bench management favorite Robert Griffin III and make Cousins the starter. Gruden stuck by his guy when Cousins struggled early in the year. But he finished the season strong and the Redskins won the NFC East title. He was the perfect fit for Gruden’s offense and he broke every major team passing record.

That season got Cousins on the road to million-dollar paydays. Had Gruden not stuck his neck out for Cousins and if Gruden didn’t have the ideal offense for Cousins’ skill set, the quarterback could well still be struggling to gain a foothold in the NFL.

So if anyone can persuade Cousins to remain with the Redskins, it’s Gruden. And maybe with the dumpster fire spreading in Ashburn, it’s too late already. But at some point, I would expect Gruden to give it a go and we will see what happens.

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Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page Facebook.com/TandlerCSN and follow him on Twitter @Rich_TandlerCSN.

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Need to Know: Five safe draft picks for the Redskins

Need to Know: Five safe draft picks for the Redskins

Here is what you need to know on this Sunday, April 22, four days before the 2018 NFL draft.  

Five safe picks for the Redskins

Sometimes teams try to hit home runs with their draft picks. They may hit a few but they also will strike out a lot. Teams often are better off trying to hit solid singles and doubles. Here are five picks who would are unlikely to make many Pro Bowls but the Redskins would not regret the pick if they turned in the cards with their names on it. 

RB Kerryon Johnson, Auburn—I’m starting off here with a player who would be a safe pick in the third round. Of course, the Redskins don’t have a third right now but if they do swing a trade and get one, Johnson would be a good pick. He doesn’t have breakaway speed, which is one reason why he might be available in the third. He is a grinder who will be an upgrade over Samaje Perine and Rob Kelley. 

DL Vita Vea, Washington—There is plenty of hand wringing over whether Vea is a three-down player or just a base defense nose tackle. But even if he can’t rush the passer very well his floor is a player who can go a long way towards helping the Redskins stop the run, a chronic weakness. This is why a lot of fans and media are urging the Redskins to not overthink this and take a player that will, at a minimum, bolster one of their weakest areas. 

OL Billy Price, Ohio State—He started 55 games for the Buckeyes, the most of any player in the storied history of the program. He did suffer the partial tear of a chest muscle in the combine but that will be fully healed by training camp. When he’s ready, he’s an explosive, smart, and powerful player. Just plug him in at left guard and the Redskins’ O-line is set with all home-grown talent. 

LB Leighton Vander Esch, Boise State—He doesn’t have the ceiling that the more heralded Roquan Smith and Tremaine Edmunds have. However, he may have a higher floor. Smith is undersized, and Edmunds will be highly drafted based more on potential than on production. At 6-4, 256, Vander Esch has plenty of size, and he racked up 141 tackles last year on his way to defensive player of the year honors in the Mountain West. 

 CB Isaiah Oliver, Colorado—The All-Pac-12 selection has the size and athleticism that add up to a safe pick in the second round. He needs some work on technique, but he has enough natural athletic ability—he competed in the decathlon—to be a productive cornerback right out of the gate. One other plus that fans will appreciate is that his strength is press coverage, not off man. 

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page, Facebook.com/TandlerNBCSand follow him on Twitter  @TandlerNBCS.

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Timeline  

Days until:

—OTAs start (5/22) 30
—Training camp starts (7/26) 95
—Redskins @ Cardinals (9/9) 140

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Need to Know: The Redskins week that was—All-Redskins mock, fast-fading interest in Dez

Need to Know: The Redskins week that was—All-Redskins mock, fast-fading interest in Dez

Here is what you need to know on this Saturday, April 21, five days before the 2018 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

Should the Redskins pursue Dez Bryant? This topic was one like a meteor, very hot for a short period of time before it quickly faded out. It started to heat up as soon as the Cowboys cut Dez (about a month too late) and when it was reported that he wanted to play against Dallas twice a year it really picked up steam. But then people started to actually think and figured out that signing Bryant didn’t make much sense for the Redskins. Add to that the reports that the Redskins had no interest and would not look into signing Dez in the future and the Redskins fans quickly lost enthusiasm for the topic.

Seven-round Redskins mock draft—I think that most Redskins fans would be happy with this mock. Well, I’ll say some Redskins fans, most is a pretty strong word in this case. 

Is the draft pool deep enough for the Redskins to trade back? There is plenty of talk about the Redskins trading down in the first round to recoup the third-round pick they gave up in the Alex Smith trade. But they need to be careful. Many consider the draft to be top heavy and they may lose their chance to pick up an impact player if they trade back too far. The question then becomes one of quality vs. quantity. 

Three questions as offseason workouts get underway—There will be plenty more questions that we can ask about this team. But we don’t really know what to ask before the draft, particularly when it comes to the defensive line and running back. One the personnel settle into place we will know what we don’t know. 

Tweet of the week

On Chris Cooley’s thought that the Redskins might try to trade back and get Da’Ron Payne in the draft and the use the assets obtained to move up to get Derrius Guice. 

This is related to the questions about trading back. On paper it looks like a good idea, assuming the Redskins want Payne. We’re pretty sure they would like to have Guice but we haven’t heard as much about the Alabama defensive lineman. 

I had many reply that Guice won’t be there in the second round. It’s possible, perhaps even likely, but you just don’t know. There was zero chance that Jonathan Allen would be there at No. 17 last year, right? 

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:

—OTAs start (5/22) 31
—Training camp starts (7/26) 96
—2018 NFL season starts (9/9) 141

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