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News Wars

News Wars

There is an old adage that says that you should never pick a fight with one who buys ink by the barrel. Maybe that's changed; you might be able to get away with it if you buy bandwidth by the terabyte.

A few months ago the Redskins picked a fight with the Washington Post over what the team perceived to be overly negative and inaccurate coverage. What was a skirmish involving the pulling of season tickets on the Redskins part and some highly critical columns by Post writers has escalated. From an article in the Washingtonian: Redskins spokesman Karl Swanson says the team is ramping up its Web site and putting up news because fans couldnt see through the filter of DCs news outlets. Both Redskins owner Daniel Snyder and coach Joe Gibbs are behind the effort to portray the Redskins unfiltered.

"We want people to see things for themselves, as opposed to information filtered through editors or producers," Swanson says. "Our focus is to be a news source."(It's difficult to read this and not recall Daffy Duck spitting out, "This means war!" after having been outsmarted for the umpteenth time by Bugs Bunny.)

Can the Redskins be a legitimate news source? Sure, in some ways. Redskins.com can be a good source for finding out some raw information such as this player was released and that one was signed and for hearing and watching interviews and press conferences that the media might not carry, at least not in their entirety.

For example, when Joe Gibbs holds a press conference, that's news and Redskins.com carries those live and archives them. You can hear every one of Gibbs' official press conferences since the day he was introduced as the returning head coach. The other media will carry selected quotes and clips and that's the "filter" that Swanson is referring to.

They've taken it one step further now with videos of interviews that involve same-day happenings. For example, they webcast an interview with Santana Moss' agent the day that Moss agreed to his new deal. Nothing earth-shattering was said and this is evidence that the Skins are moving into manufacturing news as well as making it.

The notion that this "news" is "unfiltered" is, obviously, utter nonsense. The interviews are by Larry Michael, the former Clear Channel executive who began moonlighting as the play by play announcer for the Redskins last year. The team enticed him to quit his day job and become some sort of a communications director for them. Hard-hitting these interviews are not. The information is indeed filtered, it's just a different filter, a burgundy and gold colored one.

Relying on Redskins.com for your Redskins news is no different relying on the Republican National Committee for your news on the administration in the White House. Of course, given the adverserial relationship that has developed between the Post and the Skins, relying on the Post exclusively for Skins news may be like sticking to, well, the Washington Post for your political coverage. I trust that most of us have become educated consumers of news and will take in information from a number of sources.

What's ironic here is that the Redskins are attempting to establish the idea of a website as a source for legitimate news. What's odd about that is that the team refuses to grant media credentials to any news organization that has a presence only on the Internet (most other teams in the league follow the same policy). So, in my position as the editor of WarpathInsiders.com, I can't get media credentials based solely on the fact that it's a web-based news and information source. The message that the press pass policy sends is that no Internet-based news sources are really legitimate--except, apparently, for the one that resides at Redskins.com.

The Redskins' efforts to manage the news actually started a few months ago when Joe Gibbs stopped his regular interviews with WTEM because the hosts were being too adversarial. Instead, Gibbs started doing radio interviews with Mr. Tenacious himself, Michael. Fortunately, the news takeover attempt is quite transparent and, again, most consumers of news will see right through it.

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Need to Know: How many starters are left from the Redskins' last playoff game?

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USA Today Sports Images

Need to Know: How many starters are left from the Redskins' last playoff game?

Here is what you need to know on this Friday, January 19, 54 days before NFL free agency starts.

Timeline  

Days until:

—NFL franchise tag deadline (3/6) 46
—NFL Draft (4/26) 97
—2018 NFL season starts (9/9) 233

Things change quickly

Two years ago today, the Redskins were in the process of picking up the pieces after their 35-18 home loss to the Packers in the wild-card round of the 2015 season playoffs. How many of the 22 players who started that game for Washington are still with the team? You may be surprised to find out just how few are likely to be with the Redskins when the season opens in September.

Offense:

WR DeSean Jackson—Signed with the Bucs as a free agent last year.
WR Pierre Garçon—Signed with 49ers as a free agent last year.
WR Jamison Crowder—Still with the Redskins
TE Jordan Reed—Still with the Redskins
LT Trent Williams—Still with the Redskins
LG Spencer Long—Set to be an unrestricted free agent
C Kory Lichtensteiger—Retired following the 2016 season
RG Brandon Scherff—Still with the Redskins
RT Morgan Moses—Still with the Redskins
RB Alfred Morris—Signed with the Cowboys as a free agent in 2016
QB Kirk Cousins—Set to be a UFA, you know the story here

Of the 11 offensive starters, five are still with the team, one has retired, three are employed by other teams, and two are headed into free agency. The chances of either Long or Cousins returning currently hover under 50 percent, although things can change.

Defense:

DE Chris Baker—Signed with the Bucs as a free agent last year.
DE Jason Hatcher—Retired following the 2015 season
NT Terrance Knighton—Signed with the Patriots following the 2015 season but was cut and he hasn’t played and subsequently retired
ILB Will Compton—Set to be an unrestricted free agent
ILB Mason Foster—Set to be an unrestricted free agent
OLB Ryan Kerrigan—Still with the Redskins
OLB Trent Murphy—Spent 2017 in injured reserve, set to be an unrestricted free agent
CB Bashaud Breeland—Set to be an unrestricted free agent
CB Will Blackmon—Released last September, currently unsigned
S DeAngelo Hall—Set to be an unrestricted free agent, likely to retire
S Dashon Goldson—Released after 2015 season, currently unsigned

Only one starter, Ryan Kerrigan, is under contract for 2018. Of the free agents, Breeland is likely to depart and things are up in the air regarding Foster, Compton, and Murphy.

To sum it up, out of 22 starters in that game played 740 days ago, only six are certain to be with the team in 2018 while nine have either signed elsewhere, spent 2017 out of football, or have retired (10 if you count Hall).

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.

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Looking at cheap, reasonable and expensive wide receiver scenarios for Redskins

Looking at cheap, reasonable and expensive wide receiver scenarios for Redskins

Most NFL teams usually carry at least six wide receivers, but going into the 2018 season, only Jamison Crowder, Josh Doctson, Maurice Harris and Robert Davis hold signed contracts with the Redskins.

That means Washington must consider adding receiver help via free agency, especially considering Harris and Davis rarely played in 2017. Terrelle Pryor and Ryan Grant both played with the Burgundy and Gold in 2017, and while Grant has a solid chance to return, it would seem Pryor will head elsewhere after a disappointing season in D.C. 

Like every year, a number of receivers will be available via free agency, but what guys make sense for Jay Gruden's team? Let's take a look at three different scenarios, knowing Washington likely needs to add at least one free agent wideout. 

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  • Expensive: Jags WR Allen Robinson - A second-round pick in 2014, Robinson posted a 1,400-yard season in 2015 and has shown the ability to be a true No. 1 wideout in the NFL. He's 6-foot-3 with speed and leaping ability. In 2016, his numbers dipped to less than 900 yards receiving, but that season the Jacksonville QB Blake Bortles struggled significantly. Here's the thing: Robinson blew out his knee in the NFL opener in 2017, and that might make his price tag drop a bit. Word is the former Penn State star should be fully cleared by early March from the injury, and just 24 years old, he will be intriguing. Washington showed they would spend for a wideout in 2017 with the Pryor signing, but they did so on a one-year deal. If Robinson finds the free agent market not as robust as he wants, maybe a similar short-term deal could be reached?
  • Reasonable: Colts WR Donte Moncrief - A third-round pick in 2014, Moncrief also had a big sophomore season in 2015. He grabbed 64 catches for 733 yards and six touchdowns. That was his only full 16-game season, as injuries have continued to be an issue for the 6-foot-2, 220 lbs. wideout out of Ole Miss. In 2016, only playing in nine games, he still contributed with seven touchdowns. In 2017, his numbers slipped big-time, and he posted less than 400 yards receiving in 12 games. Moncrief's problem isn't talent, it's health. That means he could be relatively cheap, and at just 24 years old, that contract might bring a strong return. 
  • Wild Card: Jets WR Eric Decker -  The Redskins have lacked a true veteran wideout since DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garçon left the team following the 2016 season. Decker will turn 31 in March and would give Washington a different presence in the WR meeting room. He posted two 1,000 yard seasons playing with Peyton Manning in Denver and went to the Super Bowl in 2013. In 2015, while teamed up with Ryan Fitzpatrick playing for the Jets, Decker again hit the 1,000-yard mark and hit the end zone 12 times. Throughout his career, Decker has been a solid red zone threat and has shown the ability to win on tough routes. He will need to take a big pay cut from the $4.5 million, one-year deal he signed in Tennessee in 2017, but that has to be expected considering his paltry production. In 16 games with the Titans, Decker logged 563 yards and only one TD. Decker might make sense, though the cost would need to be low. 

There are plenty of other names to watch, guys like Seattle's Paul Richardson or Buffalo's Jordan Matthews. Free agency opens in mid-March, and some connections between the Redskins and wideouts will start prior to that.

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