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Need to Know: Will McCloughan boost the Redskins' offense through free agency?

Need to Know: Will McCloughan boost the Redskins' offense through free agency?

Here is what you need to know on this Wednesday, February 17, 7 days before the NFL Combine in Indianapolis.

Will McCloughan boost the offense through free agency?

Last week I looked at how much Scot McCloughan might use free agency to bolster the Redskins’ defense. RWJ here has asked me to take a look at what the free agency plan might be on the offensive side of the ball.

My answer is going to be guided by McCloughan’s statement at the Senior Bowl that the Redskins are not going to be “big players” in free agency and by his past statements about the draft being the “lifeblood of the organization” and on having an aversion to signing players over the age of 30 who may not buy into the Redskins’ way of doing things. I don’t know if he will stick to this philosophy or not but he did adhere to it last year.

Let’s take a look at each position group:

Quarterback—Everyone knows that Robert Griffin III is going to be gone and that Kirk Cousins will be the starter after being retained with either the franchise tag or a long-term deal. If Colt McCoy decides that pastures are greener elsewhere and departs, the Redskins will almost certainly be shopping for a veteran free agent quarterback. In any case, I see one spot going to a project quarterback drafted somewhere from the fifth round on.

Running back—There will almost certainly be a need with Alfred Morris likely headed out of town. I think that McCloughan would rather draft one to either compete with or compliment Matt Jones. I doubt he will go for any back in the early stages of free agency so that leaves out players like Matt Forte and Lamar Miller. If he can’t get a suitable back in the draft I think he’ll look to that free agent market in May to pick up a back like Pierre Thomas to share some time with Jones.

Wide receiver—The Redskins already have two receivers who are sort of like free agents in DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garçon. They are getting up there in years (both will be 30 later this year) and they are expensive. They really can’t afford to bring on another big WR contract. With Andre Roberts likely to be cut the Redskins will look for depth—and probably 2017 replacements for Jackson and Garçon—in the draft.

Tight end—The Redskins don’t have any big contracts here yet. But Jordan Reed will get a deal averaging around $10 million per year so they can’t afford to spend too much more here. If they can sign a tight end who is capable of both blocking and providing something of a receiving threat for a million and a half per year they might do that. But such players are getting harder and harder to find.

Offensive line—After taking five offensive linemen in the last two drafts, the Redskins’ most frequent O-line starting combination last year had five players all drafted by the organization. Even though they may want to upgrade from Kory Lichtensteiger I don’t see them all of a sudden going off the rails and getting a free agent center.

Timeline

—The Redskins last played a game 38 days ago. It will be about 207 days until they play another one.

Days until: NFL Combine 7; NFL free agency starts 21; 2016 NFL draft 71

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

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USA TODAY Sports

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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