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Should the Redskins bring back DeSean Jackson in 2016?

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Should the Redskins bring back DeSean Jackson in 2016?

In less than a year, the Redskins completed a stunning turnaround, ascending from a laughingstock in 2014 to a division champion in 2015. But now comes the difficult part: taking that all-important next step and improving from a franchise that was fortunate to get into the playoffs to one that can do some damage once it gets there. And that work begins right now for Jay Gruden, Scot McCloughan and the players.

In the coming weeks, Redskins reporters Tarik El-Bashir and Rich Tandler will examine the 25 biggest questions facing the Redskins as another offseason gets rolling.

No. 17

Should DeSean Jackson be back in 2016?

Tandler: This may seem like a clown question, bro. It is if you have a short memory. If all you remember is the last half of the season, when Jackson caught 10 passes for 20 yards or more including three that covered more than 50 yards, you might think that bringing Johnson back is a no-brainer. If you look at Kirk Cousins’ performance last year, when seven of the quarterback’s nine games where he posted a passer rating of over 100 came after Jackson’s Week 9 return, it looks like an easy call.

But let’s step back and look at what transpired before November. Jackson decided to skip a substantial number of the team’s OTA sessions to film a BET reality series. Those sessions are voluntary and Jackson certainly has the option to attend or not. But Scot McCloughan also has the right to look at that and decide that he doesn’t like that example being set by a veteran player making over $9 million.

McCloughan also has the option to wonder about Jackson’s commitment after he suffered a slight shoulder sprain early in training camp. Jackson didn’t participate fully the rest of camp and didn’t appear in any preseason games. He returned for the season opener but just 13 snaps into the season he suffered a hamstring strain. Jackson himself admitted that his light workload leading up to the season may have contributed to the injury. He was on the shelf for the next six games.

So when McCloughan looks at the 2016 season and Jackson’s commitment and production compared to his $9.25 million cap number and the $6.75 million in cap space the team could save by letting him go he has a decision to make. I think the chances are that he decided that Jackson is worth it even though he has plenty of flaws. But it’s not an easy decision and it should not shock anyone if McCloughan decides that the best course if to part ways with Jackson.

El-Bashir: I think we can all agree that this wasn’t DeSean Jackson’s finest season—statistically or otherwise.

He suffered a significant hamstring injury in the season opener, raising questions about his fitness as it related to his decision to skip some OTA sessions and sit out the entire preseason while nursing a shoulder sprain.

Jackson, 29, was also involved in two of the more controversial plays of the season: the fumbled punt return against the Cowboys and the non-touchdown vs. the Packers.

All that said, I think there are more pros than cons when assessing Jackson's value to the Redskins. Consider: 

  • Jackson is one of three players on offense that I’d put in the ‘high quality starter’ category (Trent Williams and Jordan Reed are the others). If the Redskins want to take the next step, they need more players of that ilk, not fewer. One more thing to consider here: signing another impactful wide receiver would cost the Redskins a lot of money, too.
  • The effect Jackson has on opposing defenses/game plans can't be denied. In the first seven games of the season (without Jackson), Kirk Cousins completed 17 passes of 20-plus yards. In the final nine regular season games (with Jackson), the Redskins completed 35 passes that went for 20 or more yards.
  • Because of his elite speed, Jackson remains one of the game’s top deep threats. In fact, his four touchdowns came from 56, 63, 28 and 77 yards out. In addition, his average of 17.6 yards per catch ranked fifth among all NFL pass catchers in ’15.

Sure, the Redskins could roll the dice and hope that the offense—which was decidedly more dangerous with Jackson on the field—can overcome the loss of a player of his caliber. But I’m not sure the gamble is worth it. To me, the good still outweighs the bad with Jackson—even if the margin between the two is somewhat smaller than it used to be.   

25 Questions series

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Need to Know: The Redskins appear to be set at center

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Associated Press

Need to Know: The Redskins appear to be set at center

Here is what you need to know on this Wednesday, February 21, 21 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 Redskins appear to be set at center

Originally published 12/19/17

Chase Roullier might have been the Redskins’ fourth choice to play at center this year. But he could be snapping the ball for Washington for a long time.

Kory Lichtensteiger, the starter for the previous three years when healthy, retired. Veteran backup John Sullivan departed as a free agent. Spencer Long started six games this season before knee and quad problems pushed him to the sideline, elevating the rookie Roullier into the starting lineup.

The sixth-round pick started three games before breaking his right hand at some point during the game against the Saints. That’s his snapping hand and him finishing that game was an underrated act of courage this year. But he was out for three games before returning against the Cardinals on Sunday. Jay Gruden was pleased with his play. 

“Chase did good. He did good,” said Gruden. “It was good to see him back in there. His snaps were outstanding and handled the calls and play well.”

That was good but standard praise. What was interesting was what he said next.  

“I like Chase’s progress right now,” he said. “I think he is going to be a very good center for a long time here. It was a great pickup for us in the draft.”

It appears that you can at least pencil in Roullier as the 2018 starter at center, if not put him in with a Sharpie.

Where would this leave Long, who is slated to be a free agent in March? The Redskins could let him walk and go with the younger and cheaper Roullier. They also could sign him to be their starting left guard. That job has belonged to Shawn Lauvao. But Lauvao also is a pending free agent and he is 30 and he has missed large chunks of two of the last three seasons with injuries. When he missed the last 13 games of the 2015 season, Long went in at left guard and played well.

If that happens, that would give the Redskins a starting offensive line consisting entirely of players drafted by the team and with only Trent Williams over the age of 27 in Week 1 of 2018.

Regardless of what happens at left guard, it looks like Roullier will be the man in the middle for 2018 and beyond.

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) 8
—NFL Draft (4/26) 64
—2018 NFL season starts (9/9) 200

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New free agent Doug Martin unlikely fix to Redskins' woeful run game

New free agent Doug Martin unlikely fix to Redskins' woeful run game

News broke Tuesday that the Tampa Bay Bucaneers released former Pro Bowl running back Doug Martin, and while the name certainly triggers value, his play of the last two seasons should calm the excitement. 

Since a 2015 season where Martin rushed for 1,400 yards and averaged nearly 5 yards-per-carry in 16 games, Martin has been suspended, undergone substance abuse rehab and missed games due to injury.

In the last two seasons, Martin has played in 16 of 32 games, rushed for 827 yards and averaged less than 3 yards-per-carry.

Over his six year NFL career with the Bucs, Martin has only played two full seasons. Those two seasons were great, in 2012 and 2015, but the other four have been largely disappointing. 

RELATED: WHAT SHOULD THE REDSKINS DO AT RUNNING BACK?

The Redskins averaged just 3.6 yards-per-carry last season, and could definitely use a boost in the run game. It's entirely possible Washington might look to upgrade their offensive backfield this offseason, either in free agency or in the 2018 NFL Draft, but Martin does not look like the player to help. 

Early in the 2017 season, it appeared the Redskins run game might be a strength for the offense. After a disappointing effort on the ground to open the year in a loss to the Eagles, the Redskins rushed for at least 111 yards in their next three contests, including nearly 230 yards on the ground in a Week 2 win over the Rams. 

Injuries undid the run game, however, as Rob Kelley got hurt and the offensive line lost players, too. Over the course of the season, rookie Samaje Perine sustained minor injuries and Chris Thompson was lost for the year with a broken leg. 

Going into 2018, Kelley, Perine, Thompson and Kapri Bibbs are all on the roster and expected for now to stay with the team. That's yet another reason why the Redskins are likely to stay away from Doug Martin.

RELATED: 2018 NFL MOCK DRAFT 5.0

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