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Need to Know: Free agency may offer more problems than solutions for the Redskins

Need to Know: Free agency may offer more problems than solutions for the Redskins

Here is what you need to know on this Monday, February 9, nine days before the Washington Redskins and the rest of the NFL assemble in Indianapolis for the NFL Combine.

Question of the day

We’re changing up the format of Need to Know for the offseason. Every day I’ll give an in-depth answer to a question submitted by a fan on my Twitter feed, via the Real Redskins Facebook page, or in the comments section here. On Twitter address the questions to me at @Rich_TandlerCSN with the #NTK hashtag. There will be a comment thread set up on the Facebook page and if you’re asking your question here, put “for NTK” at the start of the comment.

Well, let’s see. The Redskins have had one draft pick, Trent Williams, starting the vast majority of their games on the offensive line since the start of the 2013 season. One draft pick, Jarvis Jenkins, has been among the primary starters on the defensive line. They have gone 7-25 in those two seasons. Both lines are aging and expensive.

I think the question of where the Redskins should go to build the lines answers itself. I think we’re at the point where that whole definition of insanity and expecting different results deal has kicked in. That is why the Redskins brought in Scot McCloughan, who is considered to be one of the best draft talent evaluators in the business.

Just to show you what is out there in free agency, let’s look at the top three interior linemen and top three offensive tackles according to our friends at Rotoworld.

Defensive line:

  1. Ndamukong Suh, DET—Would require a Haynesworth-sized contract. He’s not Albert but he is a kick or stomp away from a long suspension.
  2. Nick Fairley, DET—This is the second best available and we’re talking about a guy who has played in only 46 of 64 possible games due to weight problems, off-field issues, and injuries.
  3. Terrance Knighton, DEN—Pretty good run stuffer but provides minimal pass rush and will be 29 before training camp starts.

Offensive tackle:

  1. Bryan Bulaga, GB--The best available tackle missed half of 2012 with a hip injury and all of 2013 with a knee injury. He will want left tackle money and someone, probably the Packers, will give it to him.
  2. Michael Roos, TN—He missed the last 11 games of 2014 with a knee injury and he will turn 33 around Week 3.
  3. Doug Free, DAL—He just turned 31, missed two early 2014 games with a foot injury and the last four of the season, including the Cowboys’ two playoff games, with an ankle injury.

You can look at the Rotoworld list for yourself but trust me when I say that the further down the list it’s more of the same.

Despite the inherent problems with free agency, they may have to find some stopgap free agents to sign. Tarik El-Bashir and I will be closely examining the free agent market in some series we’ll be running on CSNwashington.com. Check there as the start of free agency, which is four weeks from tomorrow.

And here on RealRedskins.com I’ve been running the Countdown to the Combine series, taking a close look at potential Redskins draft picks. And I’m leaving for the combine in Indianapolis a week from tomorrow with the mission of providing you with four days of severe information overload about prospects who could become Redskins.

Timeline

—It’s been 43 days since the Redskins played a game. It will be about 218 days until they play another one.

Days until: NFL free agency starts 29; Redskins offseason workouts start 70; 2015 NFL Draft 81

If you have any questions about what's going on at Redskins Park, hit me up in the comments. And I'm always on Twitter @Rich_TandlerCSN.

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Need to Know: The Redskins week that was-Cousins' value, the Redskins' top pick

Need to Know: The Redskins week that was-Cousins' value, the Redskins' top pick

Here is what you need to know on this Saturday, January 20, 53 days before NFL free agency starts.

Timeline  

Days until:

—NFL franchise tag deadline (3/6) 45
—NFL Draft (4/26) 96
—2018 NFL season starts (9/9) 232

The Redskins week that was

Jags big win could spell bad news for Kirk Cousins—If the Jaguars’ accomplishment of getting to the AFC championship game does indeed make Blake Bortles’ job safe, the laws of economics say that the amount of money that Cousins can command in a free agent contract should go down. It’s the demand part of supply and demand and if demand goes down, prices should, too. But the NFL quarterback market doesn’t follow the laws. If the Lions see fit to pay Matthew Stafford, a quarterback under whom they have had very limited success, a contract with an average annual value of $27 million without any team bidding against them, that sets the price.

Setting the odds on what happens with Kirk Cousins—Despite his happy talk at the 106.7 The Fan event earlier this month, the possibility that Cousins will play in a Redskins uniform in 2018 does not warrant a large bet of imaginary casino chips. If you missed the post, take a look and let me know what you think of my assessment.

Don't freak out about latest Zach Brown tweet—It’s that time of year. A player sends out a tweet with no context and fans assign the worst possible meaning to it. In Brown’s case, a tweet about not getting respect was interpreted as a sign that contract negotiations with the Redskins were not going well. But JP Finlay found out that the tweet was about Brown being upset that another alternate getting selected to the Pro Bowl and not him. It still is unclear if Brown will return to the Redskins but at least there are no indications of rocky negotiations at this point.

Bang for the free agent bucks for the Redskins? Brown was a solid free agent acquisition for the Redskins last year. Terrelle Pryor, not so much. Take a look at the post for the other hits and misses in free agency.

Tweet of the week

Even though the draft is over three months away there are plenty of opinions out there as this tweet drew a ton of reaction. On the offensive side of the ball, the suggestions ran towards quarterbacks Lamar Jackson and Baker Mayfield although some want a running back. It will be interesting to see how those two non-conventional quarterbacks look after they spend the next few months under the microscope of the NFL draft process. The defensive name that kept coming up was Washington defensive lineman Vita Vea, a large specimen who could play the nose in base defense and move to three-technique in nickel.

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.

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Scot McCloughan simply said what plenty of others think about Kirk Cousins

Scot McCloughan simply said what plenty of others think about Kirk Cousins

Redskins fans were frenzied when Scot McCloughan said that Kirk Cousins is a good quarterback, but not a special one. The #KirkHive shuddered and the Kirk Haters celebrated.

McCloughan, the former Redskins GM who's wildly popular with fans, explained what few people will say publicly: Cousins is a skilled player but probably not deserving of the money he might make in free agency. 

Let's start with the obvious: Cousins is good.

He's a durable passer in a league that doesn't have enough of them. He's started the last 49 games for the Redskins and thrown for more than 4,000 yards each of the past three seasons. 

Now more obvious: He isn't great.

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Bleacher Report's Chris Simms, speaking on the #RedskinsTalk podcast, said Cousins ranks about 12th among NFL passers. It's top half of the league, but it's not Top 5 or even Top 10. 

Cousins has had tremendous games with the Redskins, like a near perfect performance against Oakland in 2017 or a dominant performance against Green Bay in 2016. 

Cousins has also been awful, as recently as Week 17 in New York a few weeks ago, or an equally stinky Week 17 game against the Giants two seasons ago. 

While some might view McCloughan's statement as controversial — "He’s a good player. Is he special? I don’t see special," he told Denver radio station 104.3 the Fan — it's not. 

Plenty of people agree with McCloughan, including some in Redskins Park. Last year, a source told NBC Sports Washington that the team believed they could get nearly as much production from Colt McCoy as Cousins provided. 

Even this year, Washington head coach Jay Gruden offered lukewarm praise of his quarterback.

When the season ended, asked to evaluate Cousins' play, the coach said, "When you’re 7-9, it’s hard to say, ‘Wow, this guy really was outstanding.’ There’s a few guys obviously that jump out, Pro Bowlers like Ryan Kerrigan had a solid year. Obviously Trent [Williams] when he played was a Pro Bowl-type and Brandon [Scherff] when he was healthy was a Pro Bowl-type guy. Kirk had his flashes where he was really good. From a consistent standpoint, over the course of 16 games, you know, we’re 7-9."

That quote made headlines when Gruden said it, much like McCloughan's comments now are circulating faster than Beltway traffic. 

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Truth is, it's not new. And it's not news.

There are coaches that think Cousins is only scratching the surface of his capabilities. Kyle Shanahan and Sean McVay come to mind, but both of those coaches have other QBs likely for the long-term future. 

Cousins might end up being paid like a Top 3 quarterback in the NFL, and that might be the right move given the demand at the position. Will that make him a special passer?

Not if special is defined as Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers or Drew Brees. Even Cousins wouldn't argue with that.