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Taylor trade gets thumbs up in media

Taylor trade gets thumbs up in media

The trade of Jason Taylor to the Washington Redskins is being hailed as a master stroke by many in the national and local media.

Peter King on SI.com wrote, "I have to hand it to Snyder and Cerrato. This was a very good trade for them."

King, a noted Skins basher, raved on:

The reason the Washington trade makes so much sense is that even if Taylor gives the 'Skins just two years, dealing the 51st pick (that was their second-rounder this year) for two seasons of a top-five pass-rusher would be worth it to any thinking football person.

The King article also goes into the timeline of the trade. From initial phone call to final paperwork, the process took a little over three hours.

On ESPN.com, John Clayton said:

For the Redskins, the price -- second- and sixth-round draft picks -- was worth it. Defensive end was their thinnest position. The first-day practice losses of Phillip Daniels and Alex Buzbee on Sunday left them with only nine healthy defensive linemen. Erasmus James is the 10th defensive lineman left on the roster, but he's on the physically unable to perform list recovering from years of knee problems.

I'm not sure from where Clayton got the number of nine for the healthy defensive linemen. After Sunday's injuries and before the Taylor trade there were 12 of them on the roster. Subtract James and that makes 11. Perhaps he's not counting Lorenzo Alexander, who worked mostly on offense last year but has been assigned to be a defensive tackle for the time being.

Locally, Mike Wise had this take:

This was big and bold -- back to the proactive days when rebuilding through the draft could not hold a candle to rebuilding on the fly, when Daniel Snyder saw a player he liked and promptly bought him.

And before anyone compares acquiring Taylor to throwing money away on Deion Sanders, Bruce Smith or Brandon Lloyd, let's be clear: After watching Daniels go down and out for the season -- and maybe his career -- and after watching a backup like Buzbee crumple to the ground in agony, this was a move the Redskins needed to make.

It was a move the Redskins needed to make, said Wise, because of the way they have handled the acquisition of talent on the D-line in the past:

If Taylor fizzles, the Redskins have to bite the bullet and realize they put themselves in this position long before Daniels went down.

By their own doing, they neglected real upgrades to the defensive line. Andre Carter was the only bona fide change the past five years. Demetric Evans and Anthony Montgomery have yet to realize their potential.

I disagree about Montgomery—I think that he took great leaps and bounds forward last year—but his overall point is valid.

To be clear, I don't necessarily think that they should have taken Calais Campbell or Quentin Groves in the second round of the draft. I stand by my point that the biggest problem this team has had this decade is scoring points, not preventing the other team from scoring.

Still, if one injury to a starter at one position forces you to make a trade that burns a second and a sixth and over $8 million in cap space you haven't done a very good job in building depth at that position. You can nitpick over what player should have been taken over which other player with a given draft pick, but having depth means that you have someone who can step in as a starter in the event of an injury. The Redskins, by their own admission, didn't have that depth.

Even David Elfin at the Times, who never has been accused of being a homer, liked the deal:

Q: Did the Redskins mortgage the future to make this move?

A: Not unless you consider a second-round draft choice in 2009 and a sixth-rounder in 2010 plus a lot of salary cap room consumed this year and next mortgaging the future. If Taylor makes a smooth switch from the right side to the left, it seems like a no-brainer.

I don't know about the characterization as a no-brainer, but Vinny Cerrato and company certainly acted as though it was one. No doubt, however, it was a bold move and like most bold moves it's likely that it will prove to be either a master stroke or a colossal blunder.

Time will tell.

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Need to Know: Should the Redskins draft Vita Vea in the first round?

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Need to Know: Should the Redskins draft Vita Vea in the first round?

Here is what you need to know on this Wednesday, January 24, 51 days before NFL free agency starts.

Timeline  

Days until:

—NFL franchise tag deadline (3/6) 41
—NFL Draft (4/26) 92
—2018 NFL season starts (9/9) 228

Fan questions—Surprise cuts, finding a playmaker

I put out a call for questions on social media and I got so many good ones that I’m splitting them up. Here are Facebook questions today and I’ll hit the best Twitter questions later this week.

 

Spencer Long could be gone but he is a free agent, so he could not be cut. As far as players under contract, a lot will depend on who they draft and sign in free agency. If they go heavy on the defensive line, Ziggy Hood and Terrell McClain could be in danger of being cut. An influx of defensive back might have Josh Holsey and Deshazor Everett headed out of town.

There won’t be any cuts that save a major amount of cap space. Thek players with the top 15 cap numbers per Over the Cap are all vital to the operation with the possible aforementioned exception of McClain.

The rub is that if you want an instant “bona fide” playmaker you are going to have to invest either a lot of cap dollars or high draft pick. They have invested cap dollars in Reed and, to a lesser extent, Thompson and a No. 1 draft pick in Reed. The plan needs to be to make sure that Reed stays healthy (as best you can) and hope you get 12-14 productive games out of him, get Thompson back in the swing of things, and continue to work with Doctson. Perhaps they can get a mid-round find like the Saints did with Kamara to add to the mix. But for the most part, the Redskins will have to make do with what they have.

The way things stand right now, I’m seeing Vea regarded as more of a late first-round pick than a player who should go in the top half of the round. That could change as the draft process goes on. I think the Redskins need to continue to strengthen their defensive line and if Vea moves up to a high first-round grade or slides to a second they should take a long look at him.

The player I’m keeping my eye on is Jordan Matthews, who spent three years with the Eagles before being trade to Buffalo. He had over 800 yards receiving in each of his three seasons in Philly before a knee injury hampered him last year. He’s 6-3 and still young (26 in Week 1). Sammy Watkins of the Rams is intriguing but he had just 593 receiving yards in 15 games in a Sean McVay’s very productive offense. An older but less expensive option might be Eric Decker of the Titans, who had just 30 fewer receiving yards than Watkins and would be much a much less expensive acquisition albeit as a stopgap.

I see them addressing other needs in the first round. That could change if there is someone there who is just too good to pass up.

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.

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No tension between Jay Gruden and Kirk Cousins, but the coach wants improvement 

No tension between Jay Gruden and Kirk Cousins, but the coach wants improvement 

MOBILE -- Jay Gruden is making jokes about Kirk Cousins again, and that's good news for Redskins fans that worried about a fracture between coach and quarterback. 

It all started in the weeks following the Redskins dreadful Week 17 loss to the Giants as Gruden and Cousins seemed to be throwing slight jabs at one another.

Gruden, in his end of year press conference, explained that while Cousins "showed flashes" in 2017, when the team goes 7-9, the coach can't say any player was outstanding: 

You know when you’re 7-9, you know it’s hard to say, ‘Wow, this guy really was outstanding.’ You know there’s a few guys obviously that jump out, Pro Bowlers like Ryan Kerrigan had a solid year. Obviously Trent when he played was Pro Bowl type, Brandon when he was healthy was Pro Bowl type guy. Kirk had his flashes where he was really good. From a consistent standpoint, over the course of 16 games, you know we’re 7-9. He did some great things, threw for over 4,000 yards and 29 touchdowns I believe. So, I think he’s a very, very good quarterback without a doubt, but as far as getting us over the hump from 7-9 to winning a division with all the injuries that we had, I think he competed and did some good things.

Cousins, in his year-end radio appearance with 106.7 the Fan, explained that he wants the team to do better but doesn't think the 7-9 record should fall on his shoulders alone. (Quote via Washington Post)

What I gathered from the comment was 7-9 and the quarterback play are causally related and that quarterback play is 7-9, 7-9 is the quarterback play. I saw that and I thought, ‘I think it’s slightly more complicated than that.’ I think there’s a few more dynamics in play as to what your final record is. … At the same time, his job is to evaluate. That’s a big part of his role and his position. In that comment, he’s just doing his job, he’s evaluating the position and he has the right to say what he wants to say.

Both comments were fairly innocuous, but also clearly at odds. Combine that dialogue with the undercurrent of another offseason contract negotiation, and it seemed things between coach and quarterback weren't quite right. 

On Tuesday, speaking at the Senior Bowl, Gruden cleared the air. Asked directly about tension between he and Cousins, the coach was blunt. 

"No." 

Gruden went on to explain his answer about Cousins 2017 play, the now infamous 7-9 line.

"When I say 7-9, if I say one player played great that means I'm saying everybody else was not very good," the coach explained (full video above). "I think we all have to stick together, we all have to improve from a 7-9 season, coaches, players, everybody."

Cousins was good in 2017, throwing for more than 4,000 passing yards for the third straight season. He also showed that he can produce offensively without a great supporting cast, as injuries robbed the Redskins of many of their best passing game threats and seriously damaged the offensive line. 

The quarterback did play two terrible games in the last month of the season, however, including a three interception stinker in the Week 17 finale.

It's possible that Gruden had that fresh in his mind when he spoke in early January, and with the benefit of a little time, his assessment mellowed by late January. 

Either way, Gruden joked about Cousins deserving a vacation, and even said the QB needs a tan. Gruden often uses humor to defuse touchy situations with Redskins players, and maybe he just did it again. 

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