While training camp battles in the secondary and among a trio of running backs figure to receive much of the spotlight in the coming weeks, theres another competition that promises plenty of intrigue: kicker.The Redskins signed veteran Neil Rackers in April to compete with incumbent Graham Gano, who was 29th in the NFL in accuracy last season (75.6 percent), a year after ranking 30th (68.6 percent).On Friday, Coach Mike Shanahan said the job is up for grabs.Right from the start, both kickers know they have an opportunity to make this football team, Shanahan said. This is the way its supposed to be.Ganos unimpressive numbers in 2011 were no doubt affected by the five attempts that were blocked. Although it could be argued the breakdowns were caused by blocking breakdowns, not the kicker, Shanahan apparently was concerned enough to bring in Rackers, who was not re-signed by the Texans after making 32 of 38 attempts (84.2-percent) last season.Rackers, 35, said a miscommunication between his former agent and the Texans during contract negotiations contributed to a departure he described as unexpected.They threw out a number evidently and my agent threw out an astronomical number so they just decided, Hey, were going to go in another direction, he said. Thats business.Gano is 10 years younger than Rackers and boasts a more powerful leg. But hes connected on 73.8 percent of his attempts in three seasons with the Redskins, while Rackers has made 80-percent of his kicks in a 12 season career thats made stops in Cincinnati, Arizona and Houston. Three times, in fact, Rackers has made 90 percent or more of his kicks, including the 2005 season in Arizona, where he made 40 of 42 attempts.I liked what they had to say, Rackers said of his discussions with the Redskins prior to signing a one-year deal. I like the idea of NFC East football. Its real football. I think its a team thats got an opportunity to do some special things.Ive been on two teams that no one assumed would do anything the Texas and Cardinals, the St. Louis native added. The Texans went to the playoffs for the first time and the Cardinals made it to the Super Bowl. I see a lot of similarities between the Redskins and those teams.
Here is what you need to know on this Thursday, February 22, 20 days before NFL free agency starts.
I’m out this week so I’ll be re-posting some of the best and most popular articles of the past few months. Some may have slightly dated information but the major points in the posts still stand. Thanks for reading, as always.
The underrated Redskin moments of 2017
Originally published 12/29/17
Sometimes in the NFL, something happens that grabs headlines and appears to be a momentous event that has ripple effects that will last all season and perhaps beyond. Other times something that is greeted with a yawn by fans and the media turns out to be something with lasting impact. Here, in no particular order, are three underrated events from 2017. Tomorrow we’ll look at three events that were overrated at the time they happened.
Beating the Rams in Week 2—Nobody got particularly excited when the Redskins went to the LA Memorial Coliseum and beat a Rams team that had gone 4-12 in 2016. Sure, there was a belief that they were in good hands with Sean McVay but nobody saw them as anything better than a middle of the pack team. The win looks much more impressive now as the 11-4 Rams have locked up their division with a playoff game in their future.
Drafting safety Montae Nicholson—He was a fourth-round pick who had a shoulder injury and appeared to be a reach. But once he got on the field, the reasons the Redskins drafted him became apparent. His range and hard hitting had an immediate impact on the game. Nicholson had problems staying on the field and he will finish the year on IR, so his impact this year was diminished. Regardless, he has a good chance of being part of the solution to a position with which the Redskins have had issues for years.
Ty Nsekhe’s injury—Against the Raiders in Week 3, Shawn Lauvao’s facemask had an issue and he had to leave the game for a play. In came Nsekhe without an opportunity to warm up. He suffered a core muscle injury and had to undergo surgery. His absence didn’t seem like a big deal at the time, but Trent Williams suffered a knee injury the next week and other offensive linemen were sidelined with injuries over the next several weeks. Nsekhe was inactive until the Week 10 game against the Vikings and he didn’t start a game until the Thanksgiving game against the Giants. He sure would have been useful to have in the lineup instead of T.J. Clemmings or Tyler Catalina.
—NFL Combine (3/1) 7
—NFL Draft (4/26) 63
—2018 NFL season starts (9/9) 199
Everything in the NFL feels like a powder keg, but the reality of Tuesday's opening of the franchise and transition tag period will play out as much more of a slow burn.
Few teams ever actually make moves on the opening day of the tag period, though the Dolphins bucked that conventional wisdom and used the non-exclusive franchise designation on wide receiver Jarvis Landry.
Astute Redskins fans know the tag system all too well. Landry can now sign a one-year, fully guaranteed contract with the Dolphins worth more than $16 million, the average of the top-five paid receivers in the NFL.
They can also trade Landry and the compensation discussion with a non-exclusive tag begins at two first-round draft picks, though it can eventually be settled for much less.
What, if anything, does Miami's move mean for the Redskins? Let's take a look:
- Not gonna work here - Landry never really seemed like a great fit for the Redskins as a free agent, and that was before the franchise tag. He's a really good slot WR, but Washington already has that in Jamison Crowder. Whether or not Landry actually gets a deal done with the Dolphins or gets traded, it seems highly unlikely the Redskins are his next team.
- "Spirit of the tag" - Miami putting the tag on Landry so early in the process signals that the team might be trying to trade him instead of actually trying to sign him. If that's the case, and plenty of people are suggesting just that, it would seem to be in contrast with the "spirit of the tag." The idea is that a franchise or transition tag is supposed to be used as a tool by an NFL franchise to get a long-term deal done with one of their own players facing free agency. Using the tag as a mechanism to pull of a trade seems very different. Why does any of this matter for Redskins fans? As reports emerged that Washington might look to use a tag on Kirk Cousins and work to trade him, the Cousins camp has made clear they would file a grievance against that technique. Why? Because it would violate the spirit of the tag. Well, it sure looks like Miami is doing the same thing, and as of now, nobody has complained. The situations aren't identical; few resemble the Redskins long, slow, awkward dance with Cousins. But it's certainly worth monitoring.
- Wide Receiver$ - The Redskins could use a veteran wideout to help their young group of Crowder and Josh Doctson. Well, with Landry getting tagged, the price tag just went up. The player that seems to make the most sense in Washington would be Jaguars wideout Allen Robinson. Coming off a knee injury in 2017, some thought Robinson could be signed on a somewhat team-friendly deal. If Landry can get franchised after a season where he didn't even get to 1,000 yards receiving, any thought of a team-friendly deal for Robinson is dead. Make no mistake, Landry and Robinson are good players, but the ever-increasing NFL salary cap will make both young receivers very well paid.
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