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Need to Know: Enemy intel—Golden handcuffs for Murray in Philly

Need to Know: Enemy intel—Golden handcuffs for Murray in Philly

Here is what you need to know on this Sunday, March 6, three days before the start of NFL free agency.

Enemy Intel: A look around the NFC East and more

Some nuggets from around the NFC East plus another team on the Redskins’ 2016 schedule.

—It looks like DeMarco Murray has a pair of golden handcuffs that will keep him with the Eagles this year. Everyone knew that Murray was not happy during a 2015 season that saw his rushing production drop from by over 50 percent, from 1,845 yards in 2014 to 702 last year. But Howie Roseman, the Eagles’ head of football operations, told PFT that he had not heard from Murray about any discontent. Perhaps that is because there is no realistic path out of Philadelphia for Murray. The Eagles aren’t going to cut him and incur an $18 million cap hit. Philadelphia could handle a trade financially but no team is going to deal for a contract that carries $9 million in guarantees the next two years. So Murray would have to take less money, perhaps a lot less, to leave. The best bet is that he will be there for both Eagles-Redskins games next year.

—After breaking his left collarbone twice during the past season Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo will undergo something called a Mumford procedure to try to keep it from injuring it again. That involves (ouch!) shaving down part of the bone. He will have the procedure this week. The recovery time is 6-8 weeks, which means that Romo will miss the team’s offseason workouts and perhaps even the beginning of OTAs. That’s not a big deal for Romo, who knows his way around the offense pretty well. In fact, with the Cowboys likely to have at least one new backup on the roster and maybe two and Romo’s absence will give them a chance to get more work.

—Here is a prediction. The Giants have almost $60 million in salary cap space, by far the most in the division. They will be in the mix for virtually every big-name free agent on the market and they will sign more than their share of players like Eric Weddle, Olivier Vernon, Malik Jackson, and Danny Trevathian. The various analysts will look at the “improvements” and immediately declare the Giants to be among the favorites to win the NFC East. But they will be mistaking changes for improvements. A Giants beat writer looked at the top 10 free agents signed in each of the last three years. Of those 30 player signings only 12 were successful. So while New York might have some success there is no more reason to think that an influx of free agents will help them any more than similar free agent sprees like the Eagles’ “Dream Team” in 2011 or Redskins teams from many years past proved to be a boon for their win totals.

Alfred Morris said farewell to the Redskins organization and the fans even though it’s not 100 percent that he is leaving. In an Instagram post Morris said, “No matter what happens I will always be apart of #RedskinsNation and a special thanks to all the fans and their abundance of love, support, and loyalty y'all make this game what is #HTTR.” While the door is not closed to him returning to Washington it seems that he would be best served with a change of scenery and a place in an offense that is more suited to what he does well.

—Joe Flacco did a deal that created $6 million in cap space for the Ravens. Now, after his contract extension he wants to help them spend it. “The one thing is I would say we need to get our O-line solidified, see who’s going to be there for sure,” Flacco told PFT Live. He almost certainly has his eyes on guard Kelechi Osemele, who is set to become a free agent on Wednesday. Osemele also played some left tackle in a pinch for the Ravens last year and retaining him is the Ravens’ top offseason priority. Flacco wants him around to ensure that he will be standing when the Redskins play the Ravens this seasons.

Timeline

—The Redskins last played a game 56 days ago. It will be about 189 days until they play another one.

Days until: NFL free agency starts 3; Redskins offseason workouts start 43; 2016 NFL draft 53

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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.