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Will the Redskins air it out more in 2016?

Will the Redskins air it out more in 2016?

The Redskins threw 555 passes in 2015. They could throw more this year.

A lot more.

Last year 19 teams passed more often that the Redskins did. The league average was 572 pass attempts or 35.7 per game. Washington averaged 34.6 passes per game.

For one thing, the Redskins’ offensive talent is strongly tilted towards the air attack. It starts with Kirk Cousins, the $20 million franchise tag holder. The best overall player on offense is probably Jordan Reed, who broke out in a big way last year. If Reed’s not the best skill player then it’s DeSean Jackson, the best deep threat in the game. Pierre Garçon, Vernon Davis, Jamison Crowder, and top draft pick Josh Doctson round out what many analysts believe is one of the best pass-catching groups in the NFL.

The offensive line also is built for the passing game. Last year they gave up sacks on 4.6 percent of drop backs. Only four other teams protected the passer better. The same line cleared the way for the Redskins to rush for only 3.7 yards per carry, 29th in the NFL.

Speaking of the running game, the Redskins’ running back corps is loaded with question marks. Matt Jones is the starter and he comes off of a league low 3.4 yards per rushing attempt and four lost fumbles last year. Behind him are Chris Thompson, a good third down back but not someone you want taking 20 carries in a game. Seventh-round pick Keith Marshall has to prove he can stay on the field and undrafted back Robert Kelly has a lot to prove.

There is plenty of talk that the Redskins will at some point add a veteran running back like Pierre Thomas or perhaps Arian Foster. But even if they do it seems unlikely that a player who still is on the street in late June will suddenly transform the running back corps into a strength.

It adds up to a likelihood that Cousins will be dropping back more simply because that will prove to be the best way for the Redskins to move the football. How much more will he pass? Something around 600-625 attempts seems about right, which would be an increase of three or four per game. If the offense is more efficient and they run more offensive plays (they had 63.1 snaps per game last year, just below the NFL average of 64.4) Cousins could throw a little bit more often.

In any case, look for more footballs in the air this fall. Throwing will give the Redskins their best chance of winning.  

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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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