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Need to Know: Redskins free agency notes—Chiefs S Berry unlikely to be available

Need to Know: Redskins free agency notes—Chiefs S Berry unlikely to be available

Here is what you need to know on this Friday, February 17, 20 days before the March 9 start of NFL free agency.  

Timeline

Days until:

NFL Franchise tag deadline (3/1) 12
—Redskins offseason workouts start (4/17) 59
—NFL Draft (4/27) 69
—First Sunday of 2017 season (9/10) 205

Free agency quick hitters

—Redskins fans who are getting pumped about dreams of seeing Chiefs safety Eric Berry in burgundy and gold should get ready to be disappointed. I heard Chiefs beat writer Terez Paylor on Sirius XM NFL radio yesterday. He said that both the owner and the GM of the team assured him that Berry will be back. Berry is the leader of the team on both sides of the ball and if they can’t come to a contract agreement they will use the franchise tag on him. Berry has said that he won’t play on the tag again (he was franchised last year, too) but the Chiefs will cross that bridge when the get to it. It seems certain that even if the Redskins may be willing to pay what Berry would command on the open market they won’t get a chance to bid.

More Redskins: Are they afraid of making the wrong choice with Cousins

—The Redskins may want to upgrade the running back position in free agency but there doesn’t appear to be a prime back who will be on the market. Le’Veon Bell is likely to be tagged and the quality drops off significantly after him. I know that ex-Cowboys aren’t necessarily popular among fans but Darren McFadden rushed for 1,089 yards with the Cowboys in 2015 and he can catch the ball out of the backfield. Yeah, he did have that weird elbow injury he suffered while trying to catch his phone last year but if the Redskins are in the market for a veteran back he’s worth a look.

—As JP Finaly wrote here yesterday, former agent Andrew Brandt, talking on ESPN 980, said that he didn’t see the Redskins stepping up and giving him the kind of offer that it will take to sign Kirk Cousins to a long-term deal. It should be noted that Brandt was not reporting this from a source, just giving his read on the situation. You can’t rule out anything happening but there is nobody in the business who believes that a deal will get done by March 1.

Related: #RedskinsTalk podcast: The tag window is open

—Backup center John Sullivan is down on the list of free agents who get discussed much but he is one to keep an eye on. When the Redskins had to stick Josh LeRibeus into the lineup when Kory Lichtensteiger got hurt in 2015, Gruden said that he wanted to keep a true center around as a backup. With Lichtensteiger now retired the value of Sullivan to the Redskins went up several notches. He’s an eight-year veteran who turns 32 early in training camp. He may want to find a team that will have him penciled in as the starter rather than backing up Spencer Long. But if there are no such opportunities perhaps the Redskins will be able to persuade him to stay around.

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Kirk Cousins round table - fire away with questions!

Posted by JP Finlay on Thursday, February 16, 2017

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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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In talking 2018 NFL draft, Doug Williams actually explained Redskins' free agency

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USA TODAY Sports

In talking 2018 NFL draft, Doug Williams actually explained Redskins' free agency

The Redskins spent modestly in 2018 free agency, and plenty of fans thought the team should have shelled out much bigger bucks. Talking with sources around the Ashburn facility, a prevaling notion became clear that the Washington brass believed they had a strong team in 2017, but they lost their chance to compete because of injuries. 

Well, the secret is out. Doug Williams said as much on Tuesday. 

"Coming out of Richmond last year, I liked this football team. I think we’ve got a tough football team, a smart football team. Some things you can’t control," Williams said Tuesday in a pre-draft media session. "We were very competitive up to a certain point, and when you have the injuries that we have, at a certain point, that competitive edge, you lose it because your best players are not playing."

Williams' words were true, and telling. 

First the true part:

  • In Washington's first five games of 2017, the team went 3-2. The Redskins only lost to eventual the Super Bowl champs Philadelphia and AFC West champs Kansas City. Washington only gave up more than 100 yards rushing once in those first five games, before rookie Jonathan Allen got hurt and the defense began to look much different. After Week 5, the Redskins only held one team under 100 yards rushing and finished the year dead last in rush defense.

Now the telling part:

  • The Redskins signed free agent WR Paul Richardson, and kept free agent LB Zach Brown. Beyond that, the team added inexpensive veterans in OLB Pernell McPhee and CB Orlando Scandrick. No splash moves, and recurring speculation that Washington was not offering top dollar to free agents. Bruce Allen acknowledged as much during NFL League Meetings when he explained that his team identified exactly how much they would offer free agents, their own and otherwise, and wouldn't go beyond that dollar figure. 

That means the focus of the offseason, at this point, is about this weekend's NFL Draft.

That also means the focus of the offseason, at this point, is not about Johnathan Hankins or any other free agent. 

"We’re going to deal with the draft now, and the second wave of free agents, if it’s somebody out there we feel like can help the Redskins,that’s what we’re going to do," Williams said. 

Throughout the offseason, Redskins fans wanted more action from their front office. It didn't happen, and Williams' basically explained why on Tuesday. The brass likes their team, and by default, expects better health and luck in 2018. 

When Williams talks about drafting the best player available, it's not just the typical NFL front office tripe. Right or wrong, the Redskins believe they have a team ready to compete in 2018, and any rookies that come in will only supplement that position.

"At the end of the day, I like this football team we’ve got. Like, last year when I walked out of camp, I thought we had a pretty good football team and I still feel the same way today," Williams said.

"At the end of the day, you get the best football player, and if that best football player is the guy that you want to plug and play, that’s all right. But if that’s the best football player that’s going to help your team overall, I think that’s the route you have to go."

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Doug Williams says Redskins will listen to draft trade offers but a trade up is unlikely

Doug Williams says Redskins will listen to draft trade offers but a trade up is unlikely

The Redskins aren’t in the quarterback business, so it’s highly unlikely that they will look to trade up in the first round of the draft on Thursday. But their phones will be open for business to move down. 

Speaking at the team’s pre-draft press conference, Doug Williams didn’t rule out trading up from the team’s first-round spot at 13thoverall but he doesn’t think it’s likely. 

“The chances of trading up might be a little slimmer than trading down,” he said. 

Williams said that the phones in the room will be ringing and that they will listen to any offers. But usually the team that wants to move up initiates the call and because the Redskins are set at one particular position they probably won’t pick up the phone. 

“If we were in the quarterback business, which is what this league is about, if we were in the heavy quarterback business we’d talk about moving up,” he said. “At this time, we can sit back and see what comes up if we stay at 13.”

The Redskins are set at quarterback after they traded their third-round pick and cornerback Kendall Fuller for veteran Alex Smith to replace the departed Kirk Cousins. Williams thinks that the Redskins already got good value from the pick. 

“When I think about Alex Smith, I say we got the best third-round pick in the draft,” he said. “I don't care what nobody says. You can't get a better third-round pick.”

Because they think they got a good player, albeit an older one, with that pick, the Redskins are not necessarily looking to make a deal to move back and recoup that pick on draft day. 

Williams emphasized that in order to move back, you have to have a team that wants to trade up. Often that is easier said than done. 

“They don’t just call you to ask you, they have to get a player that they want,” said Williams. “At that particular time, they’re afraid that somebody else might pick him. They might call you to ask you if you want to move back . . . If we move back, that’s because somebody called us to see if we want to move back.”

More Redskins

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.