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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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Kirk Cousins breaks down the terribleness of FedEx Field grass

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Kirk Cousins breaks down the terribleness of FedEx Field grass

For years, the Redskins struggle with their home field as the fall turns to winter. It's been happening so long it's become an expected passing of the seasons, like the transition from Halloween jack-o-lanterns to Christmas lights dotting people's front yards. 

Well, on Thanksgiving night, the turf at FedEx Field again showed how bad it can be. On a second half interception returned for a New York Giants touchdown, replay showed that Kirk Cousins' foot got stuck on the dirt, and it played a role in his sailing a ball to the sideline. The bad turf was not the only reason for the interception, but it was definitely a reason. 

Beyond the pick, the field was just ugly. Twitter blew up making fun of the Redskins home grass, and the national broadcast showed just how unsightly the long brown patch between the hash marks looked. 

On Friday, the normally diplomatic Cousins opened up about the grass.

"It probably doesn't look like a professional NFL field should," the quarterback said on 106.7 the Fan (full audio here). "If you think the field is rough now on Thanksgiving, we've got two more home games in mid-to-late December. That's probably going to be a bigger challenge."

Asked about the field's impact on the interception on Thursday night, Cousins ignored it. But plenty of other players have suggested the field is a known problem in the second half, and something they just must deal with. 

"I don't know why it is that way or what causes it," Cousins said. "I've kind of learned to accept it and understand it's part of the deal. Playing here on the field has never been that great in the second half of the season for whatever the reason."

[h/t @BenStandig for the Cousins quotes]

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When Samaje Perine got going, so did the Redskins' offense

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Bob Youngentob for NBC Sports Washington

When Samaje Perine got going, so did the Redskins' offense

At halftime of the Redskins’ Thanksgiving night game against the Giants, Samaje Perine had three yards rushing and his team had three points. Washington had racked up all of 113 yards.

Coincidence? Not entirely. Although the Redskins are primarily a passing team they need to run the ball to pass effectively.

“We had to get the running game going,” said Jay Gruden after the game.

In the second half, Perine and the offense did get it going. Perine ran for 97 yards and Redskins put up 210 yards and 17 points. It’s safe to say that it wasn’t a coincidence.

The Redskins didn’t make any halftime adjustments to get the ground game in gear.

“We just had to stay the course,” said Perine. “We knew they were going to come out fired up, they just came off a big win. We just had to stay the course and then things started going our way.”

MORE REDSKINS: MUST-SEE PHOTOS OF THE WIN

Perine was more steady than spectacular. His longest run was 16 yards. He came out of the locker room and ran for six and 10 yards on his first two carries. Later in the third quarter the Redskins were backed up at their own 10. Perine ran four straight plays for 39 yards and the Redskins were near midfield.

Although they didn’t score on that drive they did change field position. That was part of the Redskins’ strategy playing with an injury-depleted offense.

“If you had to punt in a game like this and play field position, it’s not the end of the world because our defense was playing so good,” said Gruden.

Not only did the running game flip the field, it flipped the time of possession. In the first half, the Giants had the ball for 17:40 compared to 12:20 for the Redskins.

“We had to get on the field and control some of the clock,” said tackle Morgan Moses. “We had to give our defense a rest. Samaje put his foot in the ground and got extra yards when needed and we were able to move the chains.”

Moses wasn’t the only one enjoying seeing Perine pile up some yards.

“As a defensive player, you want to see that,” said safety D.J. Swearinger. “We say, keep running it. Keep running him. Let him keep getting those carries, put a dent in the defense. It was a good sight to see.”

RELATED: FIVE KEY MOMENTS IN RESKINS VS GIANTS

Swearinger got to watch a lot of Perine. The Redskins piled up 22:17 in possession in the second half, while Swearinger and his defensive mates had to defend for just 7:43.

Last night was the second time in four days that Perine has rushed for 100 yards or more; he had 117 in New Orleans on Sunday. No Redskin has rushed for 100 yards in consecutive games since Alfred Morris did it in November of 2013.

He will have a chance to extend that streak to three on Thursday against the Cowboys, who are ranked 17th in rushing defense. That would put him in some elite company in Redskins history, including Larry Brown (twice) and Stephen Davis.  A steak of three straight 100-yard games was last done by Morris in 2012.

It may be a little early to look forward, but the Redskins record is five straight 100-yard games, held by Clinton Portis (twice) and Ladell Betts.  

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.