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Need to Know: Motivations very different for Redskins and Panthers tonight

Need to Know: Motivations very different for Redskins and Panthers tonight

Here is what you need to know on this Monday, December 19, four days before the Washington Redskins visit the Chicago Bears.


Today's schedule: Redskins vs. Panthers, 8:25  

Days until: Redskins @ Bears Christmas Eve 5; Giants @ Redskins, New Year’s Day 13; Wild card playoff round starts 19

Injuries of note:
LB Cravens (elbow/illness)
Doubtful: LB Compton (knee)
Questionable: G Lauvao (groin), C Long (concussion), OT Nsekhe (ankle), TE Reed (shoulder), S Blackmon (concussion/thumb)
Final injury report

Final thoughts on Redskins vs. Panthers

—On the face of it, there couldn’t be more disparate levels of motivation for each team tonight. After the results of Sunday, the Panthers are mathematically eliminated from the playoffs (Correction: The Panthers do have a .0004 chance of making the playoffs. Among the things that would have to happen is the Redskins getting another tie in their last two games). They are now the 15th team to miss the playoffs the year after losing the Super Bowl. After the Cowboys’ win Buccaneers’ loss last night the Redskins can grab control of their own playoff destiny with a win tonight. If they win their last three games they will go to the postseason in two consecutive seasons for the first time since 1991-1992.

—I don’t want to get too deeply in psychoanalysis here but I do wonder what effect being eliminated from the playoffs will have on Cam Newton’s motivation tonight. After last year’s Super Bowl, he was clearly identified as being a bad loser. Even before his abbreviated press conference he chose not to go after a loose ball on the field, showing that when the odds are stacked against him he might just pack it in. Newton and the Panthers have won their division in each of the last three seasons. It will be interesting to see how much enthusiasm Newton has for the proceedings tonight, especially if the Redskins manage to get up by a couple of scores.

—On the team website Panthers coach Ron Rivera suggested that if Carolina is eliminated from playoff contention by kickoff, linebacker Luke Kuechly, probably their best defender, may be rested after missing the last three games with a concussion. Kuechly was cleared to play under the NFL’s concussion protocol but there is concern about his history with concussions. Such an injury forced him to miss three games last season as well. The Panthers defense will be considerably weaker if Kuechly, who was first-team All-Pro in each of the last three seasons, does not play.  

—The Panthers are exceptions to the rule that a good pass rush will lead to a good pass defense. Going into Week 15 they led the league in sacks with 39 but they are 22nd in the league allowing 7.6 yards per pass attempt and 20th in opponent passer rating at 92.5. The passing game is the Redskins’ strength as they get 8.2 yards per pass attempt (3rd), have a passer rating of 100.5 (5th), and have allowed just 18 sacks (3rd).

—This game is there for the taking for the Redskins. They are favored everywhere you look and their motivation for winning is clear. I like the matchup discussed above, the Redskins’ passing offense against the Panthers’ Josh Norman-less pass D. Still, the key could be if Rob Kelley can get 75 yards or so rushing to slow down the Carolina pass rush. I think that he gets is, or something close, and the Redskins come away with an atypical comfortable win.

Redskins 31, Panthers 14

Tandler on Twitter

This was tweeted prior to the Bucs’ loss to the Cowboys last night.

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Paul Richardson's Redskins contract is team friendly early

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Paul Richardson's Redskins contract is team friendly early

The Redskins’ contract with wide receiver Paul Richardson is very team friendly in the first year but it increases over the years to the point where he needs to be a very productive receiver in order to justify staying on the roster.

The big picture of the deal is $40 million over five years. A total of $12.5 million is fully guaranteed at signing, which is comprised of a $10 million signing bonus, his $1.5 million 2018 salary, and $1 million of his $5 million 2019 salary.

More money will become guaranteed if Richardson is on the roster as of five days after the start of the league years in 2019 and 2020. The remaining $4 million of his 2019 salary and $3.5 million of his $6 million 2020 salary become guaranteed on those dates.


Richardson will get salaries of $7.5 million in 2021 and 2022. Each year of the contract he can earn $500,000 in per-game roster bonuses ($31,250 for each game he is on the 46-man game day roster).

It all adds up to the following salary cap numbers:

2018: $4 million
2019: $7.5 million
2020: $8.5 million
2021: $10 million
2022: $10 million

The average annual value of the contract is $8 million, which is tied for 24th among NFL receivers.

The first window the Redskins have to terminate Richardson’s contract without taking a negative cap hit would be in 2020 as long as they do it prior to the fifth day of the league year when the partial salary guarantee kicks in. They would take a $6 million deal cap hit but they would save a net of $2.5 million.

The last two years, when the cap numbers are at their highest, the Redskins could easily move on, saving $6 million in cap space in 2021 and $8 million in 2022.


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


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Need to Know: Redskins player quick hitters—Offensive starters

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Need to Know: Redskins player quick hitters—Offensive starters

Here is what you need to know on this Wednesday, March 21, 36 days before the NFL draft.  

Redskins starters quick hitters—offense

The last couple of days here I looked at how the depth charts are shaping up with a little bit of commentary (offense, defense). Today and tomorrow I’ll take a closer look at the starters with some quick hitters about each one, starting today with the offense.

QB Alex Smith—The deal is done, and the Redskins have their man for five years at $22.2 million per year or, if they prefer, three years at $23.7 million per. It seems like most fans are behind him but there will have to be a few more wins than losses this fall for that to become permanent.

RB Samaje Perine—He got better as the year went on, averaging nearly a half yard per carry more in the last seven games compared to the first nine. But the 3.4 average per carry certainly did not stop both Doug Williams and Jay Gruden from talking about drafting a running back early.

TE Jordan Reed—According to reports, he is rehabbing well from the hamstring and toe injuries that severely limited him last year. Still, expect him to be kept in bubble wrap until training camp and even then, his action may be limited.

WR Josh Doctson—Did Kirk Cousins look away from Doctson too often, lacking the confidence in him to let him go get the 50-50 balls? Will Smith have more confidence in Doctson? The answers to those questions may determine if the third-year receiver breaks out in 2018 or he continues to tease with flashes of ability.

WR Paul Richardson—He’s capable of the acrobatic catch, which should be fun to watch. Richardson was good with Russell Wilson on the off-schedule plays, maybe he can do the same with Smith.

WR Jamison Crowder—I guess it’s fair to say he had an off year in 2017 but his receiving yardage only dropped by 60 yards from 2016. It will be interesting to see if they keep him in as the punt returner after he averaged 6.3 yards per return (23rd of 25 qualifiers) last year.

LT Trent Williams—The six-time Pro Bowler is still in the relatively early stages of recovering from surgery to the knee that kept him from practicing from about Week 6 on. Don’t look for him until training camp and even then, the early workload is likely to be light.

LG Arie Kouandjio—This is the one offensive position that remains up in the air. Kouandjio has shown some grit as a spot starter but I don’t think the organization views him as a 16-game starter.

C Chase Roullier—Shortly after Roullier got the starting job when Spencer Long went out injured, Jay Gruden said that Roullier would be the Redskins’ center “for a long time”. There is no reason to doubt that at this point in time.

RG Brandon Scherff—His concern no longer is trying to live up to having been the fifth pick of the draft. Scherff has to play well enough to justify his 2019 option-year salary, which will be in the vicinity of $13 million.

RT Morgan Moses—He had surgery to repair his ankles, which were an issue most of last season. Still, he didn’t miss a start. Like Williams, even if he’s ready for training camp, don’t expect to see a whole lot of him.

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

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Days until:

—Offseason workouts begin (4/16) 27
—Training camp starts (approx. 7/26) 129
—2018 NFL season starts (9/9) 173

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