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Need to Know: What else does Redskins' McCloughan need to do in free agency?

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Need to Know: What else does Redskins' McCloughan need to do in free agency?

Here is what you need to know on this Monday, March 23, 38 days before the Washington Redskins go on the clock at the NFL draft.

Question of the day

A few days a week 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.

Today’s question is from Twitter:

It has been a while since the national media came away impressed by the Redskins’ moves in free agency but the opinions seem to be unanimously positive. Here is a sample quick analysis from Chris Burke of SI.com:
New Washington GM Scot McCloughan may have pushed the upper limits of cornerback Chris Culliver's market at four years and $32 million, but at least it was a gamble on a 26-year-old talent. Elsewhere, his work has been measured thus far: retaining Niles Paul, adding Terrance Knighton and Stephen Paea to the defensive line, letting Brian Orakpo walk. On paper, a smart approach across the board.
But McCloughan still has some work to do before we can slap a final grade on his efforts. There is still a glaring hole in the deep middle of the field where a free safety is supposed to go.

It appears that the Redskins may do what they have been doing for years, getting a veteran to fill the role until a permanent solution can be found. They had discussions with Antrel Rolle of the Giants but he ended up going to the Bears. Their next target may be a player that McCloughan drafted.

The Bucs are going to release Dashon Goldson at some point. They want to shed his contract, which carries an $8 million cap number with $4 million guaranteed in 2015. They are trying to trade him but that contract plus the fact that it seems inevitable that they will let him go will make a trade difficult if not impossible.

Goldson, who was drafted in the fourth round in 2007 by McCloughan when he was the 49ers’ GM, is not a long-term solution at free safety. He will turn 31 early in the season and he is not nearly the player he was when he was first-team All-Pro in 2012. That season earned him the big free agent contract that the Bucs are trying to get out of after two seasons.

It could be that McCloughan is just waiting for Goldson to be released and is confident that he can sign the veteran to a deal. There is no particular urgency for the Bucs to let him go immediately since they have plenty of salary cap space to carry that $8 million number.

But their hand will be forced in a few weeks. Offseason workouts start on April 20 and the Bucs probably don’t want Goldson to show up at the team facility for those. If he gets injured while working out the team could be liable for his entire 2015 salary.

There is also the matter of a $500,000 workout bonus clause in Goldson’s contract. Depending on the exact structure of the bonus they could have to start writing checks to Goldson after the first week of workouts.

So some patience may be required here. Even if they do manage to land Goldson he is a temporary solution. They will be trying to find a long-term starter at safety in the draft but there are no guarantees there.

It has taken eight years for the Redskins to get into this mess at safety. It may take more than one offseason for McCloughan to get them out of it.

Timeline

—It’s been 85 days since the Redskins played a game. It will be about 174 days until they play another one.

Days until: Redskins offseason workouts start 28; 2015 NFL Draft 38; Redskins training camp starts 129

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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No tension between Jay Gruden and Kirk Cousins, but the coach wants improvement 

No tension between Jay Gruden and Kirk Cousins, but the coach wants improvement 

MOBILE -- Jay Gruden is making jokes about Kirk Cousins again, and that's good news for Redskins fans that worried about a fracture between coach and quarterback. 

It all started in the weeks following the Redskins dreadful Week 17 loss to the Giants as Gruden and Cousins seemed to be throwing slight jabs at one another.

Gruden, in his end of year press conference, explained that while Cousins "showed flashes" in 2017, when the team goes 7-9, the coach can't say any player was outstanding: 

You know when you’re 7-9, you know it’s hard to say, ‘Wow, this guy really was outstanding.’ You know there’s a few guys obviously that jump out, Pro Bowlers like Ryan Kerrigan had a solid year. Obviously Trent when he played was Pro Bowl type, Brandon when he was healthy was 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. He did some great things, threw for over 4,000 yards and 29 touchdowns I believe. So, I think he’s a very, very good quarterback without a doubt, but as far as getting us over the hump from 7-9 to winning a division with all the injuries that we had, I think he competed and did some good things.

Cousins, in his year-end radio appearance with 106.7 the Fan, explained that he wants the team to do better but doesn't think the 7-9 record should fall on his shoulders alone. (Quote via Washington Post)

What I gathered from the comment was 7-9 and the quarterback play are causally related and that quarterback play is 7-9, 7-9 is the quarterback play. I saw that and I thought, ‘I think it’s slightly more complicated than that.’ I think there’s a few more dynamics in play as to what your final record is. … At the same time, his job is to evaluate. That’s a big part of his role and his position. In that comment, he’s just doing his job, he’s evaluating the position and he has the right to say what he wants to say.

Both comments were fairly innocuous, but also clearly at odds. Combine that dialogue with the undercurrent of another offseason contract negotiation, and it seemed things between coach and quarterback weren't quite right. 

On Tuesday, speaking at the Senior Bowl, Gruden cleared the air. Asked directly about tension between he and Cousins, the coach was blunt. 

"No." 

Gruden went on to explain his answer about Cousins 2017 play, the now infamous 7-9 line.

"When I say 7-9, if I say one player played great that means I'm saying everybody else was not very good," the coach explained (full video above). "I think we all have to stick together, we all have to improve from a 7-9 season, coaches, players, everybody."

Cousins was good in 2017, throwing for more than 4,000 passing yards for the third straight season. He also showed that he can produce offensively without a great supporting cast, as injuries robbed the Redskins of many of their best passing game threats and seriously damaged the offensive line. 

The quarterback did play two terrible games in the last month of the season, however, including a three interception stinker in the Week 17 finale.

It's possible that Gruden had that fresh in his mind when he spoke in early January, and with the benefit of a little time, his assessment mellowed by late January. 

Either way, Gruden joked about Cousins deserving a vacation, and even said the QB needs a tan. Gruden often uses humor to defuse touchy situations with Redskins players, and maybe he just did it again. 

Want more Redskins? Click here to follow JP on Facebook and check out @JPFinlayNBCS for live updates via Twitter! Click here for the #RedskinsTalk on Apple Podcastshere for Google Play or press play below. Don't forget to subscribe!

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Redskins have begun contract talks with Zach Brown, but free agency looms

Redskins have begun contract talks with Zach Brown, but free agency looms

Redskins fans want Zach Brown back. Bad. And for weeks there had been no news about contract talks between Washington and Brown. 

Now that's changed.

"We've been talking to his agent," Redskins head coach Jay Gruden said on Tuesday. 

Gruden, speaking from the Senior Bowl, explained that the team would like Brown back in 2018 but Washington also understands that the linebacker might want to explore the free agent market. 

"It’s a process," Gruden said (full video above). "These guys have a chance to be a free agent, they had a good year and they want to check what the market is sometimes. If we can get them before they get to free agency, great, but if not, the bidding wars will begin."

For Brown, free agency will look different in 2018 than it did last season when he signed a one-year. bargain deal with the Redskins. 

Prior to injuries forcing him to miss the final three games of the season, Brown led the NFL in tackles. For two straight years, 2016 in Buffalo and 2017 in Washington, Brown has proved to be a tackling machine and arguably the fastest linebacker in the NFL. Brown also signed new representation last offseason, Jason and Michael Katz of CSE Football, and should Brown hit the free agent market the Katz brothers will aggresively market their client. 

Washington Senior Vice President of Football Operations Eric Schaeffer will handle the contract discussions for Washington, and is known as a shrewd negotiator. 

Like many business deals, this will come down to money. Brown established himself as a fit in Washington, both on the field and in the locker room. Interior linebackers do not command top dollar like pass rushers do, but Brown will still expect to be compensated appropriately. 

Further complicating matters for Washington, the Redskins only have Josh Harvery-Clemmons, Zach Vigil and Martrell Speight under contract for 2018. 

It's too early to predict what "it's a process" means from Jay Gruden, but Redskins fans should draw some encouragement that talks have begun with Brown. 

Want more Redskins? Click here to follow JP on Facebook and check out @JPFinlayNBCS for live updates via Twitter! Click here for the #RedskinsTalk on Apple Podcastshere for Google Play or press play below. Don't forget to subscribe!