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Redskins depth chart preview: Safety

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Redskins depth chart preview: Safety

After a busy free agency period, a draft in which 10 new players were added and the acquisition of 12 undrafted college players, the Redskins look much different than they did last December. So in the coming weeks, Insiders Tarik El-Bashir and Rich Tandler will break down the roster position-by-position as the offseason activities ramp up and depth charts come into focus.

Position: Safety.

On the roster: Dashon Goldson, Jeron Johnson, Duke Ihenacho, Phillip Thomas, Trenton Robinson, Kyshoen Jarrett, Akeem Davis and Da’Mon Cromartie-Smith.

Likely to make the 53: Goldson, Johnson and two others.

Comment: In 2013, the Redskins kept five safeties after the final cutdown. Last season, they kept only four.

The only locks to earn a spot on the 53-man roster are GM Scot McCloughan’s handpicked starters—Goldson, a hard-hitting veteran free safety, and Johnson, a strong safety and former Legion of Boom backup.

McCloughan drafted Goldson in San Francisco eight years ago and still believes 30-year-old can play, despite two poor seasons in Tampa. Johnson, who turns 27 next month, was signed as an undrafted free agent by McCloughan in Seattle four years ago. McCloughan believes the experience Johnson gained playing behind perennial Pro Bowlers Kam Chancellor and Earl Thomas has prepared him for this opportunity.

As I see it, there’s Goldson and Johnson. And then there’s everyone else.

Battling for a job: Thomas, Ihenacho, Robinson, Jarrett and Davis.

Comment: If McCloughan opts to keep five safeties, three of the above players will make the 53. If he keeps only four, just two of them make it.

Ihenacho, who turns 26 next month, may be the most intriguing of the bunch. He started 14 games for the Broncos in 2013. In fact, he recorded a career-high nine tackles in the Broncos’ loss to the Seahawks in the Super Bowl.

Ihenacho’s audition in Washington last season, however, was cut short after three games because of a season-ending foot injury. He’s healthy now and ready to compete.

Thomas, meantime, got his shot late last season but didn’t really impress. With Ihancho returning from injury and 2015 sixth rounder Jarrett entering the fray, Thomas, a 2013 fourth-rounder, will be under pressure this offseason.

The tiebreaker, as always, figures to be special teams performance. Which is why Robinson and Davis will likely remain in the conversation until the final cut. Robinson ranked among the league’s leaders with 15 special teams tackles in 2014. Davis had 10 tackles ...and a few spectacular hits.

Long shots: Cromartie-Smith.

Comment: At 6 foot 2, 203-pounds, Cromartie-Smith is the biggest safety on the roster. But at 28, he’s also the oldest of the hopefuls. He appeared in 10 games as a reserve for Pittsburgh 2011-13.   

Post-draft depth chart series

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As money skyrockets, don't expect Kirk Cousins to give discounts on open market

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USA TODAY Sports

As money skyrockets, don't expect Kirk Cousins to give discounts on open market

Kirk Cousins repeatedly said his free agent decision will not be just about money. Be clear, however, that money will be a huge factor in this decision. 

After the Redskins traded with Kansas City to acquire Alex Smith before the Super Bowl, it became obvious Washington will move on from Cousins. Whether that means the quarterback simply walks away in free agency or the organization attempts a highly risky tag-and-trade scenario, regardless, Cousins will throw footballs for another franchise in 2018.

Cousins wants to choose where he will play via free agency, and might even file a grievance if the Redskins do deploy a third franchise tag to control his rights.

Assuming Cousins hits free agency, a new report out of New York suggests the Jets will pay "whatever it takes" to land the passer. That could even include a fully guaranteed contract, and will certainly get close to a $30 million a year price tag. 

A notion exists too that Cousins might take less to go to a winner, and many think that could be the Broncos. Denver won five games in 2017, same as the Jets, though the Broncos have a strong defense and have been getting particularly awful QB play. 

The important thing to remember for curious Redskins fans watching the Cousins saga unfold: Don't expect much, if any, discount. 

The quarterback himself made that clear. 

"There’s other quarterbacks that come after you and it would be almost a selfish move to hurt future quarterbacks who get in a position to have a contract," Cousins said last year on 106.7 the Fan.

The quotes came after the 2016 season but before the Redskins again used a franchise tag with Cousins for the 2017 season. Washington wanted to attempt a long-term deal with Cousins at that point, though the quarterback decided to not negotiate and instead play on the tag.

The point remains that Cousins, and his representatives, believe the quarterback has a duty to other players to maximize his earnings. 

"If you don’t take a deal that’s fair to you, then you’re also taking a deal that’s not fair to them and you’re setting them back as well. So there’s different reasons. You just do the best you can."

If he hits free agency, Cousins will likely sign the richest contract in NFL history. Those opportunities don't come around often, and the quarterback should take full advantage. 

Want more Redskins? Click here to follow JP on Facebook and check out @JPFinlayNBCS for live updates via Twitter! Click here for the #RedskinsTalk on Apple Podcastshere for Google Play or press play below. Don't forget to subscribe!

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Need to Know: Could Ty Nsekhe be the Redskins' answer at left guard?

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Need to Know: Could Ty Nsekhe be the Redskins' answer at left guard?

Here is what you need to know on this Monday, February 19, 23 days before NFL free agency starts.

Monday musings

—One possible solution to the left guard spot is perhaps being overlooked. Ty Nsekhe played there some last year, starting the game in Dallas and playing there until Morgan Moses got injured, forcing him to move to right tackle. Nsekhe is slated to be a restricted free agent but his return is likely. In December I asked Jay Gruden if Nsekhe might move to guard in 2018. “I think Ty is a big man and a very good tackle, but in the offseason when we have more time, maybe we can feature him at some guard when we’ve got all our guys back,” he said. “Feature him some” doesn’t mean that they will make him a starter; perhaps they want him to be the top option to fill in at four of the five OL positions. But it’s something to keep an eye on if they don’t land a left guard solution in free agency or the draft.

—When I posted about Albert Breer’s report that Kirk Cousins would file a grievance if the Redskins put the franchise tag on him in an effort to trade him, I pulled up a copy of the CBA to see the language on which Cousins could base his case. I read through the Article 10, which deals with the franchise tag twice and I saw nothing of it. But Mike Florio found it in Article 4, the one that deals with player contracts. “A Club extending a Required Tender must, for so long as that Tender is extended, have a good faith intention to employ the player receiving the Tender at the Tender compensation level during the upcoming season.” Since the Redskins clearly have no intention of employing Cousins after the Alex Smith trade, this seems to be a fairly simple case. In reality, it never is.

—I tweeted this last week:

However, possible cap casualties from other teams are not included in that group. That won’t turn the pool of players who will become available to sign into a bunch of potential franchise changers. Still, there could be a number of players in whom the Redskins could be interested in like RB DeMarco Murray, WRs Emmanuel Sanders and Torrey Smith, edge rusher Elvis Dumervil, and DL Brandon Mebane. A plus to signing players who have been waived is that they don’t count in the formula that determines compensatory draft picks. The Redskins have never really paid attention to that in the past but with potential high comp picks at stake if they lose both Kirk Cousins and Bashaud Breeland, this could be a good year to start.

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) 10
—NFL Draft (4/26) 66
—2018 NFL season starts (9/9) 202

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