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Need to Know: Will Culliver remain on the Redskins' roster this year?

Need to Know: Will Culliver remain on the Redskins' roster this year?

Here is what you need to know on this Thursday, February 18, 6 days before the NFL Combine in Indianapolis.

Should Culliver return?

Let’s take a quick look back at the Culliver story before answering it. Last year the Redskins signed Culliver, who will be 28 in August, to a four-year contract worth $32 million. When it was signed it had $16 million fully guaranteed; part of that was his $8 million salary for 2016.

When he was healthy he played pretty well but health was a major issue. He missed three games due to an inflamed knee. Culliver was rounding back into form but at practice on Thanksgiving Day he suffered a torn ACL and MCL and his season was over.

For their investment the Redskins got six games, no interceptions and one pass defensed.

Culliver's 2016 cap hit will be $9.25 million. That $8 million base salary will be the highest on the team after Robert Griffin III is released.

Culliver did miss one other game and as it turns out it plays a big role in deciding about his future. He was suspended in Week 2 for a violation of the NFL’s personal conduct policy that occurred when he was with the 49ers. According to the terms of his contract the suspension voided any future guarantees in his contract. So his 2016 salary is no longer guaranteed, putting the option of moving on from him from the realm of being financially irresponsible to being possible.

If Culliver’s salary was still guaranteed, cutting him would have created a net cap hit of $9.25 million. As it is now, cutting him saves a net of $5.5 million.

But the fact that the money will work if he gets cut doesn’t mean that it’s a good idea to let him go. Right now the cornerback depth chart consists of Culliver, Bashaud Breeland and some second-year players. Some of them, like Quinton Dunbar, could be pretty good. But it would be scary to go into the season with just Breeland, who is just in his third year, Dunbar, and the other inexperienced players.

And that is said realizing that Culliver may not be able to go at the start of the season. The season opener will be about nine and a half months after his injury so we’ll just have to see how things progress. But even if they have to rely on Dunbar for a few weeks that’s better than relying on him for 16 games.

I think that Culliver stays this year and McCloughan will find a cornerback in the draft. If the drafted CB shows promise they may well decide they can do without Culliver and the $8 million per year he has remaining on the last two years of his deal.

Timeline

—The Redskins last played a game 39 days ago. It will be about 206 days until they play another one.

Days until: NFL Combine 6; NFL free agency starts 20; 2016 NFL draft 70

In case you missed it

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An ankle injury has ended Terrelle Pryor's first, and probably last, season with the Redskins

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An ankle injury has ended Terrelle Pryor's first, and probably last, season with the Redskins

As high hopes for the Redskins season seem to be slowly slipping away, the high hopes for wide receiver Terrell Pryor can now officially end.

Jay Gruden announced Monday that Pryor will undergo ankle surgery and be placed on the injured reserve. That means Pryor will not be eligible to play for at least eight games, and considering it’s already late November, that closes the book on Pryor’s 2017 season.

When Pryor signed with Washington this offseason, fans grew quite excited. The 6-foot-5, 240 lbs. wideout went for more than 1,000 receiving yards last year on a terrible Browns team, and most expected that production to increase playing with Kirk Cousins.

It never happened.

MORE: KIRK COUSINS ISN'T THRILLED WITH NFL'S APOLOGY FOR MISSED CALL

In nine games for Washington, Pryor grabbed only 20 catches for 240 yards and one touchdown. What made matters worse for the former quarterback-turned-receiver, Pryor displayed subpar hands, and drops plagued him throughout the season. He was targeted 37 times, and barely caught more than 50 percent of those passes.

As things deteriorated for Pryor, he maintained a respectful professionalism. Eventually his ineffective play led him to the bench and reduced snaps, and in his final game of the season against the Vikings, Pryor did not even land a target.

Signed to a one-year deal, Pryor rolled the dice on a season in Washington to boost his free agent profile in 2018. It didn’t work, and now after surgery, it seems unlikely either the player or the organization would pursue a second contract.

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After awful collapse, NFL apology on bad call little more than hollow gesture for Kirk Cousins, Redskins

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After awful collapse, NFL apology on bad call little more than hollow gesture for Kirk Cousins, Redskins

NEW ORLEANS — Collectively, the Redskins squandered a great road win on Sunday.

The team coughed up a 15-point lead in the fourth quarter, and allowed Drew Brees and the Saints to pull off an incredible, unbelievable comeback win. 

The Redskins deserve the blame. The players and coaches. But they're not alone. 

The referees made a terrible intentional grounding call late in the fourth quarter that cost the Redskins precious time and real estate.

Kirk Cousins very obviously threw the ball away to stop the clock, and the quarterback was very obviously not under duress from the Saints pass rush.

In no fashion was the throw grounds for a flag.

None. 

RELATED: WHAT WE LEARNED FROM LOSS TO SAINTS

Yet, the refs penalized Cousins and the Redskins. As much as replay bogs down the sport, Jay Gruden had no recourse, the flag could not be challenged, and the 'Skins were thrust out of field goal position.

Late Sunday night, a report showed that NFL officials contacted Redskins team president Bruce Allen to say the call was wrong. Whoop de do. That means nothing, and Cousins knows it. 

"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.," Cousins said Monday speaking on 106.7 the Fan

And he's right.

RELATED: DEAR FANS, STOP WITH THE 'FIRE GRUDEN' TALK

"This is our careers, this is our livelihood," Cousins said. "It is frustrating when a letter is really all you get when it has such a major impact on the direction of our lives."

Cousins' future, Gruden's future, countless other players and coaches, they don't get to hang a sign that says, "The NFL blew a call."

For the third straight offseason, Cousins will be without a contract, and a long-term deal remains anything but certain. This loss, and that call, could impact those contract talks. 

This loss, and that call, could impact coaching changes or draft strategy too. By dropping to 4-6, the Redskins seem unlikely to push for a playoff spot now. Might the organization think differently of their franchise QB if the team fails to make the playoffs for consecutive seasons? Sure, that could definitely happen. Should it happen? Probably not. Could it happen? It could. 

Don't misunderstand: The Redskins blew a 15-point lead in three minutes. That's abysmal. That's absurd. One penalty flag didn't change that. 

But it was a huge penalty, and it was a terrible call. 

RELATED: NEW 2018 NFL MOCK DRAFT 1.0

Cousins played nearly flawless in New Orleans, connecting for three touchdowns and more than 300 yards. His most important pass, however, was one that was harmlessly into the ground, with no intended receiver. 

"I'm thinking, well [Jamison] Crowder and [Josh] Doctson are over there. If I literally throw it over their heads, they're in the area, they're eligible receivers. Not to mention, if I'm not under pressure, it's not intentional grounding," Cousins said. 

It's not intentional grounding. Cousins knows it. The NFL knows it. But it doesn't matter now. 

"The difference between a team that’s patting everybody on the back at the end of the season and a team that everybody gets fired, the difference can be a few plays, it can be a call by a referee," Cousins said. "It's a very fragile thing."

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