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Redskins vs Steelers Preview: 5 things to know in Washington's big chance on Monday Night Football

Redskins vs Steelers Preview: 5 things to know in Washington's big chance on Monday Night Football

Kirk Cousins and the Redskins look to prove that last season's NFC East title was no fluke - and it all begins Monday night under the bright lights against the Steelers. CSN has you covered with a one-hour pregame show starting at 6 p.m. - and here are the top five storylines to watch.

  1. Will the real Redskins please stand up - In the first six games of the 2015 season, the Redskins scored just 12 touchowns and averaged 19.5 points per game. The final 10 games of the year, however, saw the Redskins offense explode. The team scored 32 TDs over those final 10 contests and averaged more than 27 points per game. Jay Gruden and Kirk Cousins certainly believe the real Redskins offense is the one that showed up over the second half of 2015, and that's the unit Washington needs to see Monday night against the Steelers
  2. Injured - but still dangerous - Pittsburgh comes into Monday night's game missing several of their best offensive players - namely Le'Veon Bell, Martavis Bryant and now Markus Wheaton. Bell and Bryant's absences have been known for some time, but the Steelers staff hoped Wheaton might be able to make it back for their offensive attack. Even missing three starting skill players, the Steelers still present a difficult challenge with QB Ben Roethlisberger and WR Antonio Brown, two of the most dynamic playmakers in the league.
  3. Bigger they are, harder they fall - The Redskins know that the best way to disrupt the Steelers offense is to get to Roethlisberger, but the staff also recognizes how difficult that can be. "It’s one thing having a good pass rush, it’s another thing getting them on the ground," Gruden said. "You can have a great pass rush but he has a great knack for finding holes and breaking tackles and keeping plays alive." For the 'Skins to win, Preston Smith and Ryan Kerrigan must generate a lot of pressure off the edges, but it will be vital for Chris Baker to get push up the middle as well.
  4. D-line Deficiency - Washington GM Scot McCloughan made an interesting decision in trimming his roster to 53 men. Instead of seven defensive lineman, the Redskins kept six on the defensive front, not the norm but not a big deal either. This week, however, the Redskins had injuries to both Kendall Reyes and Kedric Golston, leaving an already thin unit with even more questions for Monday night. Stopping the run was already a concern for the Washington defense, and the additional pressure might be felt on the D-line even if both Reyes and Golston are able to play.
  5. Prove it -  The stat is well known by now - Despite winning nine games last year, the Redskins did not beat a single team with a winning record in 2015. In fact, the 'Skins were the only team that made the playoffs in 2015 that did not have a victory over a winning team. The Steelers won 10 games last year and are a perennial playoff threat. If Washington can win Monday night, it will quiet the talk that last year's NFC East title was a fluke.

CSN will have a TON on the Redskins vs Steelers, and always stay with @JPFinlayCSN for live updates. 

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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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