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Reading the Moss-y tea leaves

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Reading the Moss-y tea leaves

Yesterday,Rich Tandler touched on the big plays expected out of high priced free agent Pierre Garcon. The other notable receiver signee, Josh Morgan, is not 100, but has time to heal before camp. Same goes for 6-foot-3 Leonard Hankerson, who spent Thursday's OTA doing individual drills on the side as the team takes a cautious approach with the rising second-year target even though his injured hip has healed.Earlier this spring, Redskins coach Mike Shanahan rattled off the names of those three when asked about his top receivers. Obviously missing from that pass catching hierarchy, Santana Moss, who turned 33 on Friday. With football age not on his side and a 2.65 million cap number attached to him, that kind ofomission from the guy ultimately responsible for putting together the roster figures to make Moss'spot one to watch this summer.That is why it also worth noting what Shanahan said about Moss' slimmed down look this offseason.Its the best Ive seen him since Ive been here," Shanahan said following Thursday's OTA. "The first year that he came, he didnt practice. The second year we had the lockout and he got injured. But hes come in in excellent shape, and you can tell hes ready to play because of the type of shape hes come in. "Im just hoping he stays at that level that hes at right now.When I heard the quote live, it soundedalmost like the coach-speak equivalent of a bed of roses. When I went back and read the transcript, that last line's context adds a thorny element - and it was said on a day when Shanahan was hardly prickly. It also came on a day Moss was playfully heckled by defensive back coach Raheem Morris after the receiver skillfully beat Morris's secondary to the corner of the end zone and hauled in a pinpoint pass from Robert Griffin III.Garcon is transitioning into being a number one receiver (if such a thing exists in the modern NFL, but at least we can say with certainty he is being paid like one.). Both he and Morgan are new to the Redskins' system. Hankerson has started only two more NFL games than his new starting rookie quarterback.The experience Moss offers could indeed be his trump card. "We have a leader in Santana Moss," Garcon said. "You know, hes been here for a while."When it comes to Moss' future, it may simply be a numbers game, financially and roster-based. If Moss shows enough spring in his shifty step over the summer, he may eventually warrant a place at or near the top of Shanahan's depth chart. Then again, Shanahan has been grooming Hankerson and loves his new receiving toys. Well, you can see Pierre Garon, you know, hes a big time receiver," Shanahan said. "You can see his power, his strength, his quickness, his speed since hes been here. Its very, very obvious. "And Josh is very talented. He hasnt practiced full speed all the time, but he will be ready to go by the time we get to camp, once that ankle heals up and he has practiced enough to tell everybody on this football team that hes one heck of a receiver and hes going to help us this year.Plenty more weeks of reading the receiving depth chart tea leaves left to go.

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Need to Know: The five highest-paid 2018 Redskins

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Usa Today Sports Images

Need to Know: The five highest-paid 2018 Redskins

Here is what you need to know on this Saturday, February 24, 18 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 five highest-paid Redskins in 2018

Originally published 1/12/18

This is how the five highest-paid Redskins per their 2018 salary cap numbers stack up as of now. The list could change, of course during free agency and if a particular quarterback returns. Cap numbers via Over the Cap.

CB Josh Norman, $17 million—The Redskins do have a window which would allow them to move on from Norman. His $13.5 million salary for this year doesn’t become guaranteed until the fifth day of the league year so it would be “only” a $9 million cap charge to move on from Norman, who turned 30 in December. Don’t look for that to happen but the possibility is there.

OT Trent Williams, $13.86 million—He is one of the best left tackles in the business. Those of you out there who have advocated moving him to left guard should look at this cap number, which is way out of line for what a team can afford to pay a guard. At his pay, he needs to be playing on the edge.

OLB Ryan Kerrigan, $12.45 million—He has delivered double-digit sacks in each of the two seasons that his contract extension has been in effect. That’s good value in a league that values the ability to get to the quarterback.

TE Jordan Reed, $10.14 million—The Redskins knew that he might have a year like last year when he played in only six games when they agreed to Reed’s five-year, $50 million extension. They can live with one such season. If he has another one in 2018 they may rethink things.

G Brandon Scherff, $6.75 million—The fact that a rookie contract is No. 5 on this list is a good sign that, as of now, the Redskins’ cap is not top heavy like it was last year. The top three cap hits from Norman, Williams, and Kirk Cousins totaled $59 million, which was about 35 percent of the cap. This year the total cap numbers of the top three come to $43.3 million, 24.3 percent of the estimated $178 million salary cap.

Next five: OT Morgan Moses ($5.4 million), TE Vernon Davis ($5.33 million), DL Stacy McGee ($4.8 million), DL Terrell McClain ($4.75 million), S D.J. Swearinger ($4.33 million)

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.

Timeline  

Days until:

—NFL Combine (3/1) 5
—NFL Draft (4/26) 61
—2018 NFL season starts (9/9) 197

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Martavis Bryant could make sense for the Redskins, at the right price

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USA TODAY Sports

Martavis Bryant could make sense for the Redskins, at the right price

A 2017 midseason trade for Martavis Bryant made no sense for the Redskins. A 2018 offseason trade for Martavis Bryant, however, might make sense for the Redskins. 

Bryant is on the trade block, per NFL Network's Ian Rapoport, and will be an intriguing prospect for receiver-needy teams across the NFL. In parts of three seasons with the Steelers, Bryant has 17 touchdowns and a 15.2 yards-per-reception average. 

A big play threat from any place on the field, Bryant would immediately make the Redskins receiving unit more athletic and explosive. 

It's not all good news with Bryant, though.

He was suspended for the entire 2016 season after repeated drug violations and caused some distraction for Pittsburgh during the 2017 season when he asked for a trade via social media. 

MORE: CAN YOU GUESS THESE REDSKINS BASED ON THEIR COMBINE NUMBERS?

Is the talent enough to overcome the off-field distractions? Many would say it is. 

Last year, in just eight starts, Bryant grabbed 50 catches for more than 600 yards and three TDs. In their lone playoff loss to the Jaguars, Bryant caught two passes for 78 yards and a TD. 

Remember, too, the Steelers have an explosive offense, and Bryant is coupled with Antonio Brown on the receiver front along with Ben Roethlisberger at quarterback and Le'Veon Bell at running back. The Pittsburgh offense is loaded. 

Washington's offense is not nearly the prolific unit that the Steelers send out, but Jay Gruden does design a good offense. 

The real question surrounding any talk of trading for Bryant is the cost.

The Redskins are not in a position to send away any more draft picks this offseason after giving up a third-round pick, in addition to Kendall Fuller, to acquire Alex Smith. Bruce Allen and the Redskins front office need to improve their team in plenty of spots, and the team's draft picks are quite valuable. 

Bryant only has one year remaining on his rookie deal, and it's hard to balance that sort of short-term investment with the value of adding a rookie committed to the team for at least four years. Perhaps a late-round pick would make sense, but it would need to be a sixth-rounder. 

This could be one of those rare situations in the NFL where a player for player swap could work, though pulling that type of maneuver requires a lot of moving parts. 

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