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Redskins will benefit the least from Richardson, McClain and Hardy suspensions

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Redskins will benefit the least from Richardson, McClain and Hardy suspensions

BY PETER HAILEY

Early Thursday, news broke that both Jets defensive lineman Sheldon Richardson and Cowboys linebacker Rolando McClain were each suspended four games by the NFL for violating the league's substance abuse policy. 

Understandably, the first reaction after word of these suspensions is made public is to evaluate how they will affect the teams that employ the players. But something else worth examining is how it will affect those team's opponents.

The NFC East and the AFC East will be playing each other this year, meaning that Richardson's suspension means more to the Redskins, Eagles, Giants and Cowboys more than it normally would. McClain's suspension, meanwhile, obviously matters a lot to Washington, New York and Philadelphia, because those teams play Dallas twice a year.

So which NFC East organizations will benefit from playing against a weakened Jets' defense, and how will the division's three teams not located in Dallas be affected by McClain's absence? Let's take a look (Redskins fans, you won't be pleased by what you're about to see):

  • Philadelphia is the team that will gain the most from the two suspensions. The Eagles play the Cowboys in Week 2 and the Jets in Week 3, so they'll get to face both defenses when they're missing key pieces in their respective front sevens.
  • New York is only affected by the McClain news. They start their season in Dallas, but don't play the Jets until Week 13, so they'll have to face the Jets defense when they're at 100%. 
  • Dallas is obviously hurt by McClain's suspension, as they'll miss a player who had a very productive season last year for them for the first quarter of their 2015 schedule. They also won't be able to reap the benefits from playing a Richardson-less New York, as the Cowboys play the Jets in Week 15.
  • And as for the Redskins, Thursday's news won't really affect them at all. Their two matchups against Dallas come in Week 13 and Week 17, and they don't play New York until a week after Richardson makes his return. 

To review, the Eagles get to play the Cowboys once without McClain and also get their Jets game out of the way before Richardson comes back, while the Giants get to play the McClain-less Cowboys once. The Redskins, on the other hand, don't get either advantage, and the Cowboys will miss out on Richardson's suspension and also have to deal with the consequences of McClain's decision, too.

However (cue that corny informercial voice), that's not all, Redskins fans. Here's something else to think about that will make even more upset.

McClain isn't the only Dallas defender in trouble with the NFL. New defensive end Greg Hardy is also currently suspended by the NFL. As of now, he's set to sit out the first ten games of 2015. Will that help the Redskins at all, at least?

The short answer: no.

The Eagles and the Giants play both of their games against Dallas while Hardy is suspended, while (as stated above) the Redskins play both of their contests against their rival in the last five weeks of the regular season. So, though their other divisional foes will get to deal with a weakened Cowboys pass rush two times, Robert Griffin III and company will be going up against the Cowboys' full repertoire of lineman.

For a team that looks like it'll need as many breaks as they can get, they won't find any of them in these three suspensions.

MORE REDSKINS: Kerrigan gives an update on his knee after surgery

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Need to Know: The Redskins week that was—Costly cornerbacks, offseason blueprint

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Need to Know: The Redskins week that was—Costly cornerbacks, offseason blueprint

Here is what you need to know on this Saturday, February 17, 25 days before NFL free agency starts.

The Redskin week that was

My weekly look at some of the most popular posts and hottest topics on RealRedskins.com and NBCSportsWashington.com.

An offseason blueprint for the Redskins—Should the Redskins focus their free agency money on keeping their own? In addition to unrestricted free agents Zach Brown and Trent Murphy, they need to consider extensions for Brandon Scherff, Preston Smith, and Jamison Crowder. That could chew up a bunch of the approximately $31 million of cap space that they have. They may get some help on the market but most of their improvement should come from the draft and from within.

Redskins offseason will hit warp speed soon—With the exception of the Alex Smith trade, which actually hasn’t happened yet, there hasn’t been much going on with the Redskins. That is going to change soon, check out the post for the calendar and how the events matter for the Redskins.

No mixed messages from Alex Smith—In a radio interview, Alex Smith said that he was “jacked” to be a part of the Redskins. Now, the phrase often repeated here is that you shouldn’t listen to what they say, you should watch what they do. And the moment that he signs the reported four-year extension that he has negotiated with the team, a deal that likely would put him in Washington for the rest of his career, we will see his actions backing up his words. Then we will know.

What we know, and what we think, of the Su'a Cravens situation—This will be a true test of the acumen of the front office. It’s a very tricky situation. The Redskins have to decide if they want to keep Cravens. Should they decide to keep him, there will be a lot of smoothing over of ruffled feelings that would need to be done over and trust in Cravens would have to be restored. If they don’t want him around, they have to make it look like they are willing to go into the season with him in order to be able to trade him. Otherwise, teams may just wait for them to cut him and sign him as a free agent. Again, don’t listen to what they say, watch what they do.

Tweet of the week

Quarterback is not the only NFL position with rising salaries. The players teams hire to try to stop opposing QBs, cornerbacks, are getting expensive, too. Bashaud Breeland is a good cornerback, not a great one. His coverage skills are solid, he’s a good team player (if a bit of a hothead at times) and his work ethic is not questioned. For a fourth-round pick who everybody thought left Clemson a year too early, he has done well for himself But he hasn’t made a Pro Bowl and he hasn’t even come close enough to be considered a snub. Breeland has eight interceptions in four years in the league with a high of three in 2016.

The price tag for good at cornerback is likely to be in the vicinity of $10 million per season. And good for him if he gets it. But with the Redskins employing Josh Norman, who has cap hits in the range of $14.5 million-$16.9 million over the next three years, it would be difficult to fit him in. Truth be told, Breeland has probably been destined to leave as a free agent ever since Norman signed his contract in April of 2016.

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) 12
—NFL Draft (4/26) 68
—2018 NFL season starts (9/9) 204

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Cousins would reportedly look to file grievance if Redskins use franchise tag on him

Cousins would reportedly look to file grievance if Redskins use franchise tag on him

The Redskins might try to franchise tag quarterback Kirk Cousins to try to get some compensation for him as he leaves. But Cousins’ camp might not let that happen without a fight.

According to Albert Breer of the MMQB, Cousins might file a grievance if he is tagged, saying that the Redskins would be violating the spirit of the rules regarding the use of the franchise tag. He would be seeking to have the tag voided because the team clearly isn ’t interested in reaching a long-term deal with him given the acquisition of Alex Smith. The tag is supposed to be used to buy time to get an agreement done, not to squat on a player’s rights in order to trade him.

There is precedent for the tag being used in order to facilitate a trade. In 2009, the Patriots tagged quarterback Matt Cassel. They clearly had no intention of keeping him as they had Tom Brady on the roster. But New England pulled it off, shipping Cassel and linebacker Mike Vrabel to the Chiefs for a second-round pick.

But it is up to the player to object to being tagged and for whatever reason Cassel and his agent went along with the tag and trade rather than fighting for free agency.

It looks like Cousins ’camp won’t go as quietly.

It’s up to the Redskins to make the first move. The window to be able to tag a player opens on Tuesday with the deadline coming on March 6. We will see how things play out after that.

MORE REDSKINS: THE EXPECTATIONS GAME

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