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Need to Know: Redskins start free agency on a slow roll

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Need to Know: Redskins start free agency on a slow roll

Here is what you need to know on this Wednesday, March 11, 50 days before the Washington Redskins go on the clock at the NFL draft.

Redskins are slow rolling free agency

When free agency opened in the past the Redskins were frequently among the first to dive into the pool with a big transaction or two. That was not the case on Tuesday.

With trades and huge signings going on all over the league, the Redskins just dipped a foot into the shallow end and tested out the water a bit. They finalized what they had nailed down on Monday when they had agreed to terms with Bears defensive lineman Stephen Paea. But while they stayed on the phone and lined up some visits they were in no rush to hand out huge contracts to players who might sell a few jerseys but would not help the Redskins achieve their goal of becoming a perennial playoff contender.

It’s apparent that there is a new sheriff in town. Scot McCloughan does this differently from how Bruce Allen, Mike Shanahan, Vinny Cerrato, and his other predecessors.

Here’s a look at what happened yesterday:

Paea formally agreed to terms, although the team has not yet announced the signing. He will play all over the line, at 3-4 end, nose tackle and at tackle when they go into a four-man front. There were other teams in pursuit and he said he left some money on the table for a better fit in Washington. “Other teams were offering me a little bit more, but the way Washington would use me in their defense was the reason I chose Washington,” he said via John Keim of ESPN. “But whatever they feel that I would fit best, they’ll put me in there. I’m there to help, not only playing the run but the pass. I’m all for that.”

—They are continuing to look for help on the defensive line. Terrance “Pot Roast” Knighton is set to come in for a visit according to multiple reports including the Twitter account of his good friend Chris Baker, who has be lobbying for Knighton to come to the Redskins.

—They aren’t ignoring the secondary. Perrish Cox, 49ers cornerback, is set to visit on Wednesday as well. He became a starter for the first time in his career in 2014 and he picked off five passes and knocked down 18. Cox could start alongside Bashaud Breeland, pushing David Amerson to a nickel role or possibly to free safety. The team needs to be very wary of Cox’s past which has a record of some very serious sexual assault charges in 2010 (he was acquitted).

—The Redskins re-signed safety Trenton Robinson, who could have been a restricted free agent but he wasn’t likely to get the $1.5 million RFA tender. He may not contribute much on defense but he is a key special teams player; last year he led the team with 15 tackles on coverage units.

—They could be picking up the phone to find a running back as news came out that third-down back Roy Helu Jr. had agreed to terms with the Raiders. The Redskins’ second-leading rusher in the past two seasons signed for a reported two years and $4 million. That’s not a huge contract by any means and an indication that the Redskins did not make keeping Helu a priority. Washington could try to replace Helu in free agency (they have been connected to former Ravens running back Justin Forsett), in a draft that is deep at the running back position, or from within with Chris Thompson and Silas Redd.

—Don’t be surprised if they lose another member of that fast-disappearing draft class of 2011 today. Leonard Hankerson is set to pay a visit to the Falcons and their offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan. If Hankerson leaves only Ryan Kerrigan and Niles Paul would be left from the 11 players to Redskins picked in 2011. Jarvis Jenkins, the second-round pick in that draft, remains an unrestricted free agent who could return.

—Brian Orakpo isn’t completely out of the picture for the Redskins but he is off visiting other teams. First stop is in Tennessee and if nothing is finalized there he will head to Arizona.

Timeline

—It’s been 73 days since the Redskins played a game. It will be about 186 days until they play another one.

Days until: Redskins offseason workouts start 40; 2015 NFL Draft 50; Redskins training camp starts 141

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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Everybody thinks the intentional grounding call against Kirk Cousins was wrong, except Troy Aikman

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Everybody thinks the intentional grounding call against Kirk Cousins was wrong, except Troy Aikman

The referees made a fairly obvious mistake last week in the Redskins loss to the Saints when they flagged Washington quarterback Kirk Cousins for intentional grounding late in the game. 

Let's be honest: the call was terrible.

Cousins never felt a pass rush on the play, and was very obviously throwing the ball away. Jay Gruden talked about the play on Monday, and could not figure out how a flag came out in that situation. 

We had two receivers in the area. Quarterbacks throws it away all the time that are uncatchable balls whether they are in the pocket or not. As long as there is a receiver in the area, you can throw it whether they are looking or not. Guys run bad routes – one guy runs a hitch and he’s supposed to run a go and the quarterback throws the go ball, it’s not grounding. So I don’t know why the confusion.

The NFL even reached out and apologized to Redskins team president Bruce Allen for the blown call, a hollow gesture that did not generate much excitement from Cousins (via 106.7 the Fan). 

Whatever they do to say, ‘we’re sorry, wrong call,’ it’s tough because there’s nobody bringing that up in February or March when we're making decisions about which direction to go with the organization. We appreciate the clarification but you know it really doesn’t do much.

If you're keeping score, the NFL, the Redskins head coach and the Redskins quarterback all know the call was wrong. 

You know who doesn't think the call was wrong? Fox analyst, and former Cowboys Hall of Fame QB, Troy Aikman.

Grounding? Free rusher? Decide for yourself below.

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Fantasy Football -- Thanksgiving Day plan

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Fantasy Football -- Thanksgiving Day plan

The Week 12 fantasy football rankings are out -- but when it comes to Thanksgiving Day, everyone wants some player regardless of where they slot overall. Don't overthink it and take a lesser player, but for those on the fence or simply looking for Thursday action, here are some recommendations for all three games.

Vikings @ Lions

Obvious: Vikings -- Wide receivers Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs... running backs Latavius Murray and Jerick McKinnon are in the RB2/Flex discussion for most, but good luck picking between them; Lions -- Wide receiver Golden Tate and ... wide receiver Marvin Jones works in three-WR formats while quarterback Matthew Stafford is No. 14 among passers this week.

Start: Case Keenum averaged 19.3 points over the last four games while the Lions have allowed ample points to fantasy quarterbacks in that stretch, though only three touchdown passes. Having Thielen and Diggs up the potential for Keenum, who is QB17 in the Week 12 rankings. That's comparable with Matthew Stafford (QB14), Andy Dalton, Jacoby Brissett and ahead of Derek Carr.

Add: Not sure there's any fringe skill player worth taking a flyer on so take a look at Vikings kicker Kai Forbath. He's attempted at least three field goals in four of his last five games and he kicked five extra points in the lone exception. ... Some will start Ameer Abdullah based on their options, but just know the Vikings allow the second fewest points to fantasy tight ends this season.

Chargers @ Cowboys

Obvious: Chargers -- running back Melvin Gordon and wide receiver Keenan Allen; Cowboys -- Wide receiver Dez Bryant, running back Alfred Morris and... quarterback Dak Prescott, though his production is down without running back Ezekiel Elliott and left tackle Tyron Smith.

Start: This hasn't been a vintage Philip Rivers season, but he's coming off his best performance (251 yards, two touchdown passes) since Week 5. The Cowboys aren't that special in the secondary and have surrendered two touchdown passes in three consecutive games. At QB13, he's on the cusp of QB1 status in 12-team leagues. 

Add: Kickers Nick Novak (Chargers) and Mike Nugent (Cowboys) are 15th and 16th respectively. So, there's that. 

Giants @ Redskins

The obvious: Giants -- tight end Evan Engram and... running back Orleans Darkwa is a viable RB2 option against a Redskins defense giving up gobs of yards on the ground; Redskins -- quarterback Kirk Cousins, tight Vernon Davis and...running back Samaje Perine is RB12 this week, though listed as questionable on the injury report with a finger issue.

Start: Jordan Reed is out for a fourth consecutive game, meaning Vernon Davis once again is Washington's main tight end. While he hasn't provided wow performances like Reed at his Pro Bowl best, Davis has been good for a solid 8-11 since taking on a larger role starting in Week 3. This could be his best statistical week of the season. The Giants allow the most points to fantasy tight ends on the season. Opposing tight ends scored a touchdown in each of the first 10 games before the streak snapped Sunday.

RELATED: NEW AND IMPROVED WEEK 12 FANTASY RANKINGS

Add: Josh Doctson is only owned in 55 percent of leagues on CBS even though he's moved into the role of Washington's top outside receiver. The second-year player had four receptions for 81 yards in Sunday's overtime loss, though all the production came in the first half. Consistency is the next step, but Kirk Cousins is showing more and more confidence in the 6'3" target especially on 50-50 balls. Doctson is WR36 in my Week 12 rankings, meaning he's worth starting consideration in three-WR formats regardless.