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Need to Know: The top five Redskins free agents in 2015

Need to Know: The top five Redskins free agents in 2015

Here is what you need to know on this Saturday, April 19, 19 days before the NFL draft.

Nickel coverage

(Note: I’m going to be out of action for a few days here. I’m bringing back a few of the most popular Nickel Coverage posts from the last few months to give you a chance to rehash them. Back on Monday.)

Yes, it’s only 2014 but the way the NFL salary cap works you have to look into the future when deciding who to sign and how much to pay them. You also acquire players one year with an eye on who might be leaving the next year. Here are the Redskins’ top five free agents for 2015:

LB Brian Orakpo—After his one-year franchise tag he will be looking for a long-term contract. But the Redskins will have the option of tagging him again so they hold the upper hand (although the tag salary will be over $13 million).

LB Ryan Kerrigan—This is only a technicality, really. His rookie contract will be up but since he was a first-round draft pick the Redskins will have an option year they can exercise. It is almost certain that Kerrigan will be back for a salary of about $4-$5 million.

DE Jarvis Jenkins—Injury and a suspension have plagued Jenkins’ career. The 2011 second-round pick has not been anything special. If he plays like he has he’s probably someone the Redskins would like to have back but not a must-sign by any means.

WR Leonard Hankerson—His career has been somewhat similar to Jenkins’ although he hasn’t been suspended and his high moments have been a little bit higher. Still, he has yet to produce with any consistency and barring a major breakout he won’t be a priority signing a year from now.

RB Roy Helu Jr.—We will see how Helu fits into Jay Gruden’s offense. If he can find a role, he is the kind of guy the team would like to have back on a fairly inexpensive contract.

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Timeline

—It’s been 111 days since the Redskins played a game; it will be about 141 days until they play another one.

Days until: First veteran minicamp 10; NFL Draft 19; Training camp starts 95

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Where does Stefon Diggs' remarkable catch rank among some of the best NFL playoff walk-offs?

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USA Today Sports/AP Images

Where does Stefon Diggs' remarkable catch rank among some of the best NFL playoff walk-offs?

There is nothing quite like January playoff football and Sunday night's Vikings vs. Saints game further proved this point.

In case you have been off the grid the past 12 hours, the Minnesota Vikings literally got a last second win against the New Orleans Saints.

With 10 seconds left in the fourth and facing a 3rd and 10, quarterback Case Keenum heaved the football near the sideline to wide receiver Stefon Diggs, who dodged two defenders while managing to stay inbounds for a 61-yard touchdown as the clock expired. 

It was one of the most remarkable playoff walk-off wins, if not the most remarkable one, in football.

So, where does it stand among the others?

RELATED: FORMER TERP PLAYS HERO IN VIKINGS' MIRACLE PLAYOFF WIN

Broncos vs. Steelers 2011 AFC Wild Card game: Remember Tim Tebow's 80-yard overtime touchdown to Demaryius Thomas during the 2011 Broncos vs. Steelers AFC Wild Card game? It was the first and last snap of overtime and it was wild.

Mile High Miracle: On third and three with 43 seconds left in the game, Ravens' Joe Flacco launched one towards wide receiver Jacoby Jones, who got in front of the Broncos receiver and ran the ball in for a 70-yard game-tying touchdown. The Ravens would eventually go on to win the game in double overtime. Some could argue it was the defining moment in the Ravens' Super Bowl run. 

Cardinals vs. Steelers Super Bowl XLIII: Under the brightest lights of all, Ben Roethlisberger found Santonio Holmes with 43 seconds in the fourth in the back of the end zone for a toe-dragging, Super Bowl-winning catch. 

RELATED: WHAT REDSKINS CAN LEARN FROM THIS WEEKEND'S PLAYOFF GAMES

Saints vs. 49ers 2012 NFC Divisional game: Sunday's loss wasn't the first time the Saints have experienced a fourth quarter letdown. Back in 2012, Alex Smith threw one to the endzone on 3rd-and-three with 14 seconds left that sealed a win.

While these are only a few, we can't wait to add more to the list in years to come.

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Redskins can't base Kirk Cousins decision on the makeup of the final four

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USA Today Sports Images

Redskins can't base Kirk Cousins decision on the makeup of the final four

For many fans who would like to see the Redskins move on from Kirk Cousins, the case was closed by the results of the divisional playoff round.

When the dust settled from the weekend, three of the four winning quarterbacks were Nick Foles, Blake Bortles, and Case Keenum. In Foles and Keenum, two journeymen who were free agents last March, available to any team that had a million bucks or so of salary cap space. Bortles was the third overall pick of the 2014 draft but he was widely viewed as a big-time bust.

MORE REDSKINS: WHAT CAN THE REDSKINS LEARN FROM THE PLAYOFFS?

So, to some the lesson was that you can roll any random quarterback out there and if you have some other pieces in place you can get to the final four.

Not so fast, my friend. Such thinking is based on a small sample size. This year is very much an outlier in terms of the quarterbacks who make the conference championship games. Let’s expand the sample size and look at the final four QBs standing in the previous six seasons.

2016: Matt Ryan, Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady, Ben Roethlisberger

2015: Cam Newton, Carson Palmer, Peyton Manning, Brady

2014: Russell Wilson, Rodgers, Brady, Andrew Luck

2013: Wilson, Colin Kaepernick, P. Manning, Brady

2012: Kaepernick, Ryan, Joe Flacco, Brady

2011: Brady, Flacco, Eli Manning, Alex Smith

There are 13 different quarterbacks here. Ten of those, Ryan, Rodgers, Brady, Roethlisberger, Newton, Palmer, Wilson, the two Mannings, and Luck, are true franchise type quarterbacks. Of those, five were first overall picks in the draft, Ryan was the third pick, and Roethlisberger was the 11th, and Rodgers went later in the first round. Only Wilson and Brady were late-round finds.

Of the three others, Smith (1st overall) and Flacco (18th) were first-round picks. Kaepernick was a high second-rounder.

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.

At the time of their playoff games, all of the 13 quarterbacks were on the teams that drafted them. None of them were looking for work the previous March, or at any time, for that matter.

As the Redskins decide if they should make a desperation attempt to retain Cousins or let him walk and start over at the most important position on the field, which data point should they consider? The most recent season in front of them, or the six prior years (and many more before that)?

Let’s say you’re looking to sell your house and you want to figure out a fair price. One comparable house down the street recently had sold for $200,000. But the previous six houses that sold in the last couple of months all went for around $300,000, Are you going to price your house based on the most recent sale? Or are you going to factor that in but pay much more attention to the six previous sales?

You have to step back and look at the larger sample size before using a particular set of facts as even a partial basis for a major decision with far-reaching ramifications.

With all that said, there are other factors at play besides what other teams have been able to accomplish. There are plenty of valid reasons for moving on from Cousins and those may outweigh the case for keeping him. But pointing to three quarterbacks on four teams and saying, “case closed” is way too simplistic an approach.

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