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Need to Know: How much will Redskins' rushing game improve in 2016?

Need to Know: How much will Redskins' rushing game improve in 2016?

Here is what you need to know on this Friday, May 20, four days before the Washington Redskins start OTAs.


—The Redskins last played a game 131 days ago. It will be 115 days until they host the Steelers in their 2016 season opener.

Days until: OTAs start 4; Redskins training camp starts 69; Preseason opener @ Falcons 83

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—The Redskins were 20th in rushing yards last year and 29th in yards per rushing attempt last year. But to me the most damning stat was their No. 32 ranking in rushing DVOA. The rating takes the strength of the opponents into consideration so the ranking indicates that nobody did worse running the ball than the Redskins in terms of the quality of the rushing defenses they faced.

—But it is possible to make big jumps in this category. In 2011 the Redskins were 20th in rushing DVOA; in 2012 they were second. Now, it should be noted that the Redskins aren’t likely to have two dynamic additions to the rushing game like they did in 2012 with Robert Griffin III and Alfred Morris coming on board. But the Raiders were 32nd in rushing DVOA in 2014 and improved to 24th last year. That’s still not where you want to be but it’s a step in the right direction. The Bucs improved from 31st in 2014 to 11th last year. I’d look for the Redskins’ 2016 improvement to be something in between that of last year’s Bucs and Raiders.

—When you stop and count heads at inside linebacker you’re looking at quite a logjam. You have holdovers Perry Riley, Will Compton and Mason Foster. Then there is rookie Steven Daniels and first-year player Martrell Spaight. They signed Terence Garvin as a free agent. And Adam Hayward, a veteran leader who has a relatively light $985,000 cap hit, is still on the roster. If Hayward is healthy that means seven players will be competing for a maximum of five spots. That will be interesting to watch.

—As for Daniels and Keith Marshall, his fellow seventh-round pick, perhaps fans should tap the brakes on their expectations of them. There were 39 seventh-round picks last year. Of those, 20, just over half, did not play in a single game. Only seven even appeared in as many as half of their teams’ games. Six players had at least one start and they started a combined 12 games. That doesn’t mean that Marshall and Daniels will not contribute; Scot McCloughan is certainly capable of finding a late-round gem. But seventh-round picks do face long odds and if they are able to contribute at all it should be viewed as a pleasant surprise and not something that should be expected.

—Many were concerned about Trent Murphy's ability to gain enough weight to be able to survive on the defensive line. Maybe he's not there yet but he's working on it.

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Need to Know: Looking ahead—Key Redskins 2019 free agents

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Need to Know: Looking ahead—Key Redskins 2019 free agents

Here is what you need to know on this Sunday, March 18, 39 days before the NFL draft.  

Looking at next year’s free agents

There is still work that the Redskins can do in free agency and they still have some of their own players they want to retain. But with a lot of the player movement already in the books, we can take a look forward some of the key Redskin who currently are set to be free agents when the 2019 league year opens.

Note: I’m not including Brandon Scherff here because the team has a fifth-year option on him that they surely will activate before the May 2 deadline.

QB Colt McCoy (Week 1 age 32)—Lots of questions here. Will the Redskins want to keep him around for another year as Alex Smith’s backup? Or will they want a younger and cheaper backup? Will McCoy want to move on rather than back up another QB who doesn’t miss many games?

OL Ty Nsekhe (32)—The Redskins gave him a second-round restricted free agent tender this year so it’s possible that he could be gone or on a long-term contract in Washington. If he is a free agent, his value and the difficulty of retaining him could depend on if he ends the season as a reserve tackle (easy) or as a starting guard (hard).

OLB Preston Smith (25)—As we saw with Trent Murphy (three years, $21 million with up to $30 million), pass rushers get paid. Smith also makes big plays. Since Smith came into the NFL, he is the only player with at least 20 sacks, 3 interceptions, and 4 forced fumbles. If the Redskins can’t reach a deal on an extension with him this year the franchise tag is a distinct possibility.

WR Jamison Crowder (25)—This year the supply of quality receivers both as free agents and in the draft sent contract prices skyrocketing. To guard against that happening next year, the Redskin should start talking to Crowder about an extension soon.

ILB Zach Vigil (27)—As I noted here, Vigil went from being cut in September to a very valuable reserve in November. Both Zach Brown and Mason Foster will still be under contract, but the Redskin still should make an effort to retain Vigil for special teams and as a capable backup.

Other Redskins who are slated to be UFA’s next year are DL Ziggy Hood and ILB Martrell Spaight.

It’s also worth noting that WR Maurice Harris and DE Anthony Lanier will both be restricted free agents next year. Both positions were pricey in free agency this year, so both could require at least second-round tenders, which likely will increase to about $3 million in 2019.

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.

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Regarding the reported visit of defensive lineman Jonathan Hankins with the Redskins:


Days until:

—Offseason workouts begin (4/16) 29
—Training camp starts (approx. 7/26) 131
—2018 NFL season starts (9/9) 175

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Scandrick, Hankins both visiting with Redskins soon


Scandrick, Hankins both visiting with Redskins soon

The Redskins will be taking visits from two former NFC East foes in the next few days.

Former Cowboys cornerback Orlando Scandrick will visit Redskins Park on Monday. Scandrick, 31, has been with Dallas since them made him a fifth-round pick in the 2008 draft. He has eight career interceptions and seven forced fumbles.

The Cowboys released Scandrick on Friday in a salary cap move. The Redskins would be attracted to Scandrick’s versatility. He can play either side at corner and, of particular interest to the Redskins, in the slot. That is a position of concern for Washington since they traded Kendall Fuller to the Chiefs as part of the deal for quarterback Alex Smith.

The Redskins have been trying to get former Giants cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie to sign for the past several days, but they can’t come together on money. Scandrick could be a fallback if they need one.

The other visitor will be former Giants defensive lineman Jonathan Hankins, per John Keim of ESPN. Hankins, 25, was a second-round draft pick and played his first four years in New York. Last year he moved on to the Colts as a free agent. They are changing their defense and decided to release Hankins after paying him $10 million last year.

Hankins could bolster a defensive line that still needs young talent. It’s not known if he would be considered a nose tackle in the Redskins’ scheme. The Giants ran a 4-3 defense and in the Colts’ 3-4 he was used as an end.

The Redskins had former Jets defensive lineman Muhammad Wilkerson in for a visit earlier this week, but he decided to sign with the Packers.


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.