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Need to Know: Are the Redskins done in free agency?

Need to Know: Are the Redskins done in free agency?

Here is what you need to know on this Monday, March 14, 45 days before the NFL Draft.

Are the Redskins done in free agency?

—Will the Redskins sign any more free agents this week? Or do they intend to go into the draft with what they have? I don’t think that they are done. In fact, I heard that there may be a signing this week, although I can’t confirm. But I see Scot McCloughan and the Redskins doing a near imitation of Ted Thompson and the Packers and staying away from free agent activity for the most part.

—Yes, there are still some needs. I can’t see them starting the season with DeAngelo Hall, Duke Ihenacho, and Kyshoen Jarrett at safety. If the whole draft is a crap shoot then landing a quality safety who can contribute right away is a Mega Millions kind of shot. They cashed that ticket with Jarrett last year and they can’t count on getting another one. They could benefit from upgrade at center. Another defensive line pickup is a possibility.

—McCloughan may wait a couple of months if he wants to do some free agent bargain hunting. Starting in mid May, players signed as free agents do not count against the compensatory picks the team can acquire in 2017. It doesn’t look like they are in line for a treasure trove of picks anyway as none of the free agents the Redskins lose will command a high draft pick. But if they lose a few and can massage it so that they can maybe pick up a fifth and a seventh, hey, those are a couple of picks that McCloughan can find players with.

—If you think that May is too late for the Redskins to find a quality free agent, just think back to last year. Two of their best free agent signings last year didn’t come until September. The defense was shaky as it was but it would have been worse without Will Blackmon and Mason Foster. They helped the Redskins survive the rash of injuries that hit at linebacker and cornerback. Foster will be back and while there apparently is competition for Blackmon’s services the chances of him returning look pretty good.

—I am going to expand on this in an article sometime in the next couple of weeks but I think that the Redskins defensive is not going to be a whole lot better this year than it was last year. They are going to have to win games with Cousins throwing the Jackson, Garçon, and Reed and, they hope, with a better rushing attack. They will draft a couple of defensive linemen and a couple of defensive backs and go through some growing pains. The unit will be competitive and improve as the year goes on but there will be plenty of growing pains.

Timeline

—The Redskins last played a game 64 days ago. It will be about 181 days until they play another one.

Days until: Redskins offseason workouts start 35; 2016 NFL draft 45; Redskins training camp starts 136

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Kirk Cousins breaks down the terribleness of FedEx Field grass

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Kirk Cousins breaks down the terribleness of FedEx Field grass

For years, the Redskins struggle with their home field as the fall turns to winter. It's been happening so long it's become an expected passing of the seasons, like the transition from Halloween jack-o-lanterns to Christmas lights dotting people's front yards. 

Well, on Thanksgiving night, the turf at FedEx Field again showed how bad it can be. On a second half interception returned for a New York Giants touchdown, replay showed that Kirk Cousins' foot got stuck on the dirt, and it played a role in his sailing a ball to the sideline. The bad turf was not the only reason for the interception, but it was definitely a reason. 

Beyond the pick, the field was just ugly. Twitter blew up making fun of the Redskins home grass, and the national broadcast showed just how unsightly the long brown patch between the hash marks looked. 

On Friday, the normally diplomatic Cousins opened up about the grass.

"It probably doesn't look like a professional NFL field should," the quarterback said on 106.7 the Fan (full audio here). "If you think the field is rough now on Thanksgiving, we've got two more home games in mid-to-late December. That's probably going to be a bigger challenge."

Asked about the field's impact on the interception on Thursday night, Cousins ignored it. But plenty of other players have suggested the field is a known problem in the second half, and something they just must deal with. 

"I don't know why it is that way or what causes it," Cousins said. "I've kind of learned to accept it and understand it's part of the deal. Playing here on the field has never been that great in the second half of the season for whatever the reason."

[h/t @BenStandig for the Cousins quotes]

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When Samaje Perine got going, so did the Redskins' offense

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Bob Youngentob for NBC Sports Washington

When Samaje Perine got going, so did the Redskins' offense

At halftime of the Redskins’ Thanksgiving night game against the Giants, Samaje Perine had three yards rushing and his team had three points. Washington had racked up all of 113 yards.

Coincidence? Not entirely. Although the Redskins are primarily a passing team they need to run the ball to pass effectively.

“We had to get the running game going,” said Jay Gruden after the game.

In the second half, Perine and the offense did get it going. Perine ran for 97 yards and Redskins put up 210 yards and 17 points. It’s safe to say that it wasn’t a coincidence.

The Redskins didn’t make any halftime adjustments to get the ground game in gear.

“We just had to stay the course,” said Perine. “We knew they were going to come out fired up, they just came off a big win. We just had to stay the course and then things started going our way.”

MORE REDSKINS: MUST-SEE PHOTOS OF THE WIN

Perine was more steady than spectacular. His longest run was 16 yards. He came out of the locker room and ran for six and 10 yards on his first two carries. Later in the third quarter the Redskins were backed up at their own 10. Perine ran four straight plays for 39 yards and the Redskins were near midfield.

Although they didn’t score on that drive they did change field position. That was part of the Redskins’ strategy playing with an injury-depleted offense.

“If you had to punt in a game like this and play field position, it’s not the end of the world because our defense was playing so good,” said Gruden.

Not only did the running game flip the field, it flipped the time of possession. In the first half, the Giants had the ball for 17:40 compared to 12:20 for the Redskins.

“We had to get on the field and control some of the clock,” said tackle Morgan Moses. “We had to give our defense a rest. Samaje put his foot in the ground and got extra yards when needed and we were able to move the chains.”

Moses wasn’t the only one enjoying seeing Perine pile up some yards.

“As a defensive player, you want to see that,” said safety D.J. Swearinger. “We say, keep running it. Keep running him. Let him keep getting those carries, put a dent in the defense. It was a good sight to see.”

RELATED: FIVE KEY MOMENTS IN RESKINS VS GIANTS

Swearinger got to watch a lot of Perine. The Redskins piled up 22:17 in possession in the second half, while Swearinger and his defensive mates had to defend for just 7:43.

Last night was the second time in four days that Perine has rushed for 100 yards or more; he had 117 in New Orleans on Sunday. No Redskin has rushed for 100 yards in consecutive games since Alfred Morris did it in November of 2013.

He will have a chance to extend that streak to three on Thursday against the Cowboys, who are ranked 17th in rushing defense. That would put him in some elite company in Redskins history, including Larry Brown (twice) and Stephen Davis.  A steak of three straight 100-yard games was last done by Morris in 2012.

It may be a little early to look forward, but the Redskins record is five straight 100-yard games, held by Clinton Portis (twice) and Ladell Betts.  

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.