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Rookie preview: Wide receiver Lance Lewis

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Rookie preview: Wide receiver Lance Lewis

LANCE LEWIS
Wide receiver
East Carolina
6-0 34, 209The need: Blame last years quarterbacking tandem of Rex Grossman and John Beck for the Redskins passing game woes, but the lack of receivers generating big plays on the outside, downfield or on 50-50 jump ball passes factored into the lackluster equation. Thats why the team went hard in free agency to acquire Pierre Garcon and Josh Morgan. Thats why (among other reasons) they waivedthe solid vet but not breakaway threat.Jabar Gaffney andcleared the path for rising second-year receiver Leonard Hankerson. Thats why the still productive, but aging and expensive Santana Moss is not a lock for the final roster, especially if younger legs are deemed worthy of the job.The fit: During his two seasons playing in East Carolinas spread offense, the junior college transfer hauled in 149 receptions for 1,716 and 22 touchdowns. SI.com dubbed Lewis the Redskins top undrafted free agent, saying despite inconsistencies on the college level, hewill open some eyes this summer and will make some exciting plays. Though listed in the 6-foot-2 to 6-foot-3 range, Lewis measured out at the still respectable 6-foot-0 34 at the East-West Shrine game.The depth chart: Garcon, Hankerson and Morgan are locks. If Moss enters training camp in better shape than he did last season and cap space does not dictate the teams actions, hes good. Anthony Armstrong faded into the background last year, but could benefit playing with a better deep ball passer. Terrence Austin never quite took off, Aldrick Robinson looks to move off the practice squad and Brandon Banks hopes his return ability makes him invaluable for another season. So yes, there are options in front of Lewis, but hardly formidable obstacles, especially if he can produce throughout training camp and the team keeps a deep stable of receivers.Lewis upside: As with many rookies, Lewis will need to prove his worth on special teams if he wants to make the 53-man roster. However, his ability to separate from defensive backs and make plays in traffic could separate him from the other young receiver types in camp. Odds suggest Lewis is practice squad material, but if he can shake off the injury bug that plagued him last season at ECU and get after it throughout training camp, well see.Pro Football Weekly on Lewis: Lean, long-limbed, long-striding, junior-college product and X receiver with smooth athletic ability. However, he did not elevate his game as a senior and finished the season on the injured list, failing to provide reason to overlook inconsistent hands, finesse mentality and questionable intangibles.

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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