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Need to Know: Enemy Intel—Can the Cowboys afford to draft Romo's replacement at No. 4?

Need to Know: Enemy Intel—Can the Cowboys afford to draft Romo's replacement at No. 4?

Here is what you need to know on this Sunday, February 28, 10 days before the start of NFL free agency.

Enemy Intel: A spin around the NFC East and more

On Sundays we’re going to take a look around at what is going on the NFC East including an angle on the Redskins plus what’s up with another team that is on Washington’s 2016 schedule. We’ll try it for a while; if it’s fun and you readers find it interesting we’ll keep doing it.

The East

The Eagles made a smart move in re-signing S Malcolm Jenkins—Philadelphia gave Jenkins a four-year extension worth $35 million last week. Jenkins, signed by the Eagles as a free agent in 2014, is coming off of a Pro Bowl selection in 2015. He has five interceptions in his two years in Philly, returning two of them for touchdowns. The drawback to the extension is the wear and tear on Jenkins; he turns 29 before the season is out and he has seven seasons at a very physical position under his belt.

Cowboys’ Jason Garrett doesn’t have much to say about DE Greg Hardy—It’s apparent that the Cowboys coach is counting down the days until March 9, when the names of his team and Hardy are no longer associated with each other. At the NFL Combine, Garrett was asked about the status of Hardy, who had six sacks in 12 games but just 1.5 in the Cowboys’ last six games and created a lot of distractions along the way. The coach’s response was a frosty, “Greg Hardy’s a free agent.” With Hardy gone, at least if Garrett has anything to say about it, and Randy Gregory suspended for the first four games after he failed four (four!) drug tests in 2015, the Cowboys may have to look for a pass rusher with their top draft pick, No. 4 overall, rather than trying to get Tony Romo’s successor.

Giants’ TE Larry Donnell may have career-ending neck injury—When you complain about an NFL player trying to get as much money in a contract as he possibly can, keep this story in mind. Donnell missed the last half of the season with a neck injury and it may end his career at the age of 27. There is no definitive word but Donnell has not yet been cleared for football activities. Giants GM Jerry Reese said that “hopefully” Donnell will be able to play again but only time will tell. The 6-6 tight end has eight touchdown catches in his last 24 games.

Redskins want Matt Jones to step up—When Scot McCloughan and the rest of the organization drew up their plans last year there was hope that at this time they would have full confidence that Jones could move right in to the starting running back job. Four lost fumbles and a couple of injuries later the hope is still there but the full confidence is missing. Both McCloughan and Jay Gruden said that if Jones took care of ball security and health he’d be fine. But even if he fixes those problems he’ll need to improve on his average of 3.4 yards per carry.

Around the NFL

Ravens and QB Joe Flacco making progress in contract talks—Flacco has a 2016 salary cap hit of $28.55 million and it’s causing a sticky situation for Baltimore’s ability to re-sign its own players and shop to improve the team in 2016. The Ravens and Flacco’s agent are in negotiations to reduce that number but it’s not easy. A simple restructure that would reduce his cap hit this year and increase it in future years is dicey because his cap hit is already $31.15 million next year. An extension is the most likely solution, a deal that will have the 31-year-old Flacco under contract well past his 35th birthday. No doubt the Redskins have an eye on this situation; they want to structure a new deal for Kirk Cousins in a way that avoids massive cap hits in the out years.


—The Redskins last played a game 49 days ago. It will be about 196 days until they play another one.

Days until: NFL free agency starts 10; Redskins offseason workouts start 50; 2016 NFL draft 60

In case you missed it

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New free agent Doug Martin unlikely fix to Redskins' woeful run game

New free agent Doug Martin unlikely fix to Redskins' woeful run game

News broke Tuesday that the Tampa Bay Bucaneers released former Pro Bowl running back Doug Martin, and while the name certainly triggers value, his play of the last two seasons should calm the excitement. 

Since a 2015 season where Martin rushed for 1,400 yards and averaged nearly 5 yards-per-carry in 16 games, Martin has been suspended, undergone substance abuse rehab and missed games due to injury.

In the last two seasons, Martin has played in 16 of 32 games, rushed for 827 yards and averaged less than 3 yards-per-carry.

Over his six year NFL career with the Bucs, Martin has only played two full seasons. Those two seasons were great, in 2012 and 2015, but the other four have been largely disappointing. 


The Redskins averaged just 3.6 yards-per-carry last season, and could definitely use a boost in the run game. It's entirely possible Washington might look to upgrade their offensive backfield this offseason, either in free agency or in the 2018 NFL Draft, but Martin does not look like the player to help. 

Early in the 2017 season, it appeared the Redskins run game might be a strength for the offense. After a disappointing effort on the ground to open the year in a loss to the Eagles, the Redskins rushed for at least 111 yards in their next three contests, including nearly 230 yards on the ground in a Week 2 win over the Rams. 

Injuries undid the run game, however, as Rob Kelley got hurt and the offensive line lost players, too. Over the course of the season, rookie Samaje Perine sustained minor injuries and Chris Thompson was lost for the year with a broken leg. 

Going into 2018, Kelley, Perine, Thompson and Kapri Bibbs are all on the roster and expected for now to stay with the team. That's yet another reason why the Redskins are likely to stay away from Doug Martin.


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Need to Know: Redskins' Junior Galette will be a valued free agent

Need to Know: Redskins' Junior Galette will be a valued free agent

Here is what you need to know on this Tuesday, February 20, 22 days before NFL free agency starts.

I’m out this week so I’ll be re-posting some of the best and most popular articles of the past few months. Some may have slightly dated information but the major points in the posts still stand. Thanks for reading, as always.

Galette to be a valued free agent

Originally published 12/13/17

Like the Redskins, the Broncos are no longer relevant in 2017. Both teams’ fan bases have started to look towards the coming offseason.

To give their readers what they want, the Denver Post published an article by Mike Renner of Pro Football Focus that discussed some of the top pending free agents who have done the most to increase their values in the past year. There were two Redskins named, one you would expect to see on such a list and one that might surprise some people.

Kirk Cousins is at the top of the list. “The Washington signal-caller is grading as a top-10 quarterback (82.8), and soon he’ll have the long-term contract of one,” Renner wrote. “Only this time its value will be exponentially higher than any one he would have signed back when he first became a free agent in 2016.”

But the surprising name is that of Junior Galette. After missing the last two seasons with two torn Achilles tendons, he played this year on a one-year, $800,000 deal. And while he hasn’t been on fire in the sack department with just two on the year, he has been getting pressure on the passer.

“He’s accumulated the 27th-highest pass-rushing grade of any edge defender this season, but in only 264 snaps,” wrote Renner. “At 29 years of age, it’s doubtful he ever gets back to the level of the contract that he once had on the table with New Orleans. With how he’s played this season though, some pass-rush-needy team will pay handsomely for his services.”

One team that could be considered to be pass rush needy is the Redskins. Preston Smith is the starter and supposedly one of the Redskins’ top pass rushers. But in 100 fewer pass rush snaps this year, Galette has only three fewer quarterback hits than Smith and six more hurries.

And after missing those two seasons, Galette has remained healthy. Although he was limited with a hamstring during much of the preseason, he has not missed a practice or appeared on an injury report this year.

But would the Redskins be willing to pay him “handsomely”? Perhaps a good comp would be Connor Barwin, who moved from the Eagles to the Rams this past offseason at the age of 31. He had five sacks in Philly in 2016. That got him a one-year deal worth $3.5 million.

Barwin likely will have more sacks on his ledger going into free agency so let’s say Galette could command around $3 million. Perhaps he could offer Washington a bit of a hometown discount and agree to something in the $2.75 million range. If that is the case, the Redskins would be smart to keep him around for another year.

Plenty of things could alter the equation. If Galette gets hot in the last three games and posts a few more sacks his price could rise. With Smith and Ryan Kerrigan both back next year, perhaps Galette will want to go somewhere that he might get more playing time.

The details need to be sorted out but don’t be surprised if Galette gets a lot of attention in free agency, as much as teams need pass rush, and if the Redskins have to make a very tough decision about how much he is worth.

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.


Days until:

—NFL Combine (3/1) 9
—NFL Draft (4/26) 65
—2018 NFL season starts (9/9) 201