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Need to Know: Bad drafts lead to Redskins free agency needs

Need to Know: Bad drafts lead to Redskins free agency needs

Here is what you need to know on this Thursday, March 10, 49 days before the NFL Draft.

Five thoughts on free agency so far

—It seems that safety is emerging as a big area that needs to be addressed in some form during free agency. As usual. The name of the Bengals' Reggie Nelson, who will be 33 in September, came up as a player the Redskins are interested in. Even though he had eight interceptions last year, at that age he is not the ideal solution. But until they can find solutions in the draft, something that seems to get harder and harder for everyone around the league to accomplish every year, they will have to do the best they can.

—They also could get Dashon Goldson back. There is no talk that there was any bitterness between the player and the team over negotiations to cut his pay from the $8 million his contract called for but that doesn’t mean that there weren’t some hard feelings about it. But it’s possible that Goldson will go out into the market, not find anything to his liking, and come back and sign with the Redskins. We saw this a few years ago with DeAngelo Hall. But Hall had longstanding ties to the Redskins whereas Goldson has been around for only a year. I’d say the odds are against it but we’ll see.

—The Redskins are going to have to fill a few more holes than just safety. And while getting several free agents may run counter to what Scot McCloughan preaches it’s necessary and here’s why. The 2011 and 2012 drafts should be forming the core of the team now. They should have several starters and a number of key contributors on the team working on their second contracts. But from 2011 they have Ryan Kerrigan and Niles Paul. From 2012 they have Kirk Cousins. That’s it. And they had a total of 21 picks in those two drafts. It’s no wonder that there are holes to fill.

—The Redskins may wait until the draft to acquire another running back. The supply has been diminished at top-shelf prices. The top available running back available, James Starks of the Packers, is ranked No. 49 on Rotoworld’s top 50 available free agents list. As I’ve said all along, I think that the plan is to go into the draft and try to pick up a running back on Friday night or sometime early on Saturday. If they can’t land one there—or maybe even if they can—they will look to the May free agent market where there will still be some quality players available for a fraction of the $6.5 million that Chris Ivory got from the Jaguars.

—This is looking way ahead but the Redskins could have two more spots on the 53-man roster up for grabs than they had last year. With Darrel Young gone they are unlikely to sign a fullback. And if they draft a quarterback in the sixth or seventh round or sign one as an undrafted free agent they might keep that player on the practice squad instead of the 53, clearing another spot. Probably one spot would be for an extra tailback so they would carry three or four. And one might go to a fourth tight end if they can find a blocking tight end. Again, just something to tuck away for training camp.

Timeline

—The Redskins last played a game 61 days ago. It will be about 184 days until they play another one.

Days until: Redskins offseason workouts start 38; 2016 NFL draft 47; Redskins training camp starts 148

In case you missed it

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Redskins activate K Dustin Hopkins, waive K Nick Rose

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USA TODAY Sports

Redskins activate K Dustin Hopkins, waive K Nick Rose

After missing the last eight games, the Redskins brought back place-kicker Dustin Hopkins from the injured reserve and waived Nick Rose.

Hopkins became eligible to return from the IR this week and took part in practice all week. Jay Gruden wouldn't commit to one kicker or the other when he spoke earlier in the week, but the decision came down on Saturday.

Rose played well in Hopkins' absence, making 10 of 11 field goals including a 55-yarder. The rookie Rose had some struggles with extra points, missing two of his 20 attempts, though neither snap/hold combination was totally clean either. 

RELATED: REDSKINS-CARDINALS PREVIEW

Hopkins has the stronger leg and is capable of booting the ball out of the end zone on seemingly every kickoff. With Rose as kicker, at times the Redskins deployed a different strategy where kicks were aimed for the goal line, forcing a return. 

Washington's kicker for parts of the last three seasons, Hopkins has a career 84 percent field goal conversion rate and 94.6 percent conversion rate on extra points in 36 games. 

The Redskins sent Hopkins to the IR after a Week 6 win over the 49ers with a right hip rotator muscle injury. 

MORE REDSKINS: SLOW STARTS HAVE BEEN KILLING THE REDSKINS

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Week 15 Redskins vs Cardinals Preview: Show up, or get blown up

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Week 15 Redskins vs Cardinals Preview: Show up, or get blown up

For the second consecutive game, the Redskins got blown out on the road. First in Dallas, then in Los Angeles, Jay Gruden's team is reeling with mounting questions and pressures about 2018 and beyond. 

The best way to calm down the flames? Get a win.

Washington will have that chance on Sunday at 1 p.m. (full coverage on NBC Sports Washington at noon) when they host the Arizona Cardinals. Getting the victory won't be easy, however, no matter how bad the Redskins need it. 

  1. Turn the page - The Redskins have lost their last two games by a combined score of 68-27. The results have been terrible, and the outcome in Los Angeles could have been much uglier had the Chargers not pulled starting QB Philip Rivers. Still, those games are over, and Washington needs to focus on the Cardinals. Gruden spoke this week that his team cannot "wallow" in the past two losses. If the Redskins are looking back at their lost season, instead of looking squarely at Arizona, another blowout loss is likely to come. 
  2. Get it going - Kirk Cousins and the Redskins offense had by far their worst statistical output last week in LA. The offense must get back on track, and that means a better performance from Cousins and the 'Skins run game. Against the Chargers, Washington generated only 201 total yards and just nine first downs. Nine, their second worst total since having only 15 first downs against the Cowboys the week before. At this stage of the season, the Redskins defense will not win this team any games. The offense must do it, and that means improved play from the line, the quarterback and the skill positions. 
  3. Make a play - Turnovers can win or lose games, and in their last two blowout losses, it's no surprise the Redskins have been on the wrong end of the ledger. Washington has five turnovers in their last two games, and has generated only one takeaway in that span. (It can be argued that shouldn't even count, as it came on an interception from Chargers backup Kellen Clemens in the final minutes of a blowout.) Washington ranks dead last in the NFL in points per game allowed, and that won't improve with linebacker Zach Brown out this weekend. Generating turnovers, particularly against Arizona QB Blaine Gabbert, should be the defensive focus. 

Quote of the Week: Jay Gruden, asked about preparation before the Chargers game-

We didn't spend last week playing checkers.

News & Notes:

  • Gabbert has been sacked 15 times in the Cardinals last two games. Washington comes into Week 15 with the 13th most sacks in the league.
  • The Cardinals defense ranks in the Top 10 in yards per play, yards per game, and rush yards per game. Despite that, Arizona's defense ranks 25th in points allowed. 
  • D.J. Swearinger, who played for Arizona last season before signing in Washington as a free agent, is tied for fourth in the NFC in interceptions.
  • Jordan Reed won't be playing this week, or the remainder of the season. Washington moved Reed to the injured reserve this week. 
  • Arizona coach Bruce Arians was a college quarterback at Virginia Tech from 1972 to 1974.

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