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Need to Know: Are the Redskins pursuing a top D-lineman?

Need to Know: Are the Redskins pursuing a top D-lineman?

Here is what you need to know on this Tuesday, March 13, one day before NFL free agency starts.  

Free agency quick hitters

—I don’t think that the Redskins will be interested in Ndamukong Suh, who will be released by the Dolphins tomorrow. He is more a final piece of the puzzle type of player rather than a building block that the Redskins are looking for. Although they are hosting a similar player n Muhammad Wilkerson at Redskins Park today, it should be noted that Suh is three years older and he will likely cost significantly more.

—The word is that the Redskins are going hard after the top tier of defensive linemen. If they don’t land Wilkerson, they will pursue Sheldon Richardson, a former Jets teammate of Wilkerson’s who played with the Seahawks last year, and former Chief and Falcon Dontari Poe. You also can’t rule out interest in ex-Eagle Bennie Logan, who was a target of the Redskins last year. The good thing about the additions of Suh and Wilkerson to the market is that increases the supply of big men and simple economics says that such a dynamic will push down prices.

—I know that a lot of fans are lukewarm on bringing back Dustin Hopkins; the memories of the missed chip shot in London still burn. But the misses shouldn’t blind you to the fact that he has hit 83.9 percent of his field goals in three seasons in Washington, the second-highest in team history among kickers with at least 50 attempts. And he can consistently boom kickoffs through the end zone, a hidden benefit on a team with shaky special teams.

Yesterday I said that a second-round restricted free agent tender and the accompanying $2.9 million salary would be very expensive for a backup like Ty Nsekhe. But the Redskins went ahead and gave Nsekhe that tender anyway. It makes me think that they might be strongly considering having him start at left guard. He played there some last year and Gruden said that moving him there for 2018 was a possibility. So maybe they believe they are getting a starter for their money. Even if he’s a backup I don’t have a big problem with the tender as they did what they had to do to keep a player they think they had to keep. It’s not an overpay that’s going to do any long-term damage to the cap structure.

—The news that WR Allen Robinson will not be joining the Redskins is not at all surprising. Although he was on their radar he was very much on the fringes of it; there always seemed to be another half dozen teams lined up ahead of Washington in the pecking order. The early numbers on the contract show an average annual value of $14 million (3 years, $42 million, $25 million guaranteed per Ian Rapoport) but we’ll have to shake out what it really looks like when we get the details.

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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Relax, people!

Timeline  

Days until:

—Offseason workouts begin (4/16) 34
—NFL Draft (4/26) 44
—2018 NFL season starts (9/9) 180

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Redskins ranked as the fourth most valuable NFL franchise by Forbes

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USA TODAY Sports

Redskins ranked as the fourth most valuable NFL franchise by Forbes

Annually, Forbes releases the worth of all professional sports franchises in the world. Once again, the Washington Redskins are sitting near the top. 

This year the Redskins are ranked the fourth most valuable NFL franchise at $3.1 billion. 

That marks a five percent worth increase from a year ago. They leapfrogged the San Francisco 49ers for a spot in the top four after placing fifth in 2017. They still trail the Dallas Cowboys ($4.8 billion), the New England Patriots ($3.7 billion), and the New York Giants ($3.3 billion).

Compared to other leagues and franchises, the Redskins jumped into the top-10. They are tied for the tenth overall value with the Golden State Warriors who are coming off of their third NBA title in four years.

From year-to-year there is never much movement from the top of the ranking. Once again, the Cowboys are the top team in the world by over $600 million. They were followed by three European soccer teams. In total four NFL teams made up the top-10, the most of any sport. 

2018 Top-10 World’s Most Valuable Sports Teams according to Forbes:

1. Dallas Cowboys, $4.8 billion (NFL)

2. Manchester United, $4.123 billion ( Soccer)

3. Real Madrid, $4.09 billion (Soccer)

4. Barcelona, $4.064 billion (Soccer)

5. New York Yankees, $4 billion (MLB)

6. New England Patriots, $3.7 billion (NFL)

7. New York Knicks, $3.6 billion (NBA)

8. Los Angeles Lakers, $3.3 billion (NBA)

8. New York Giants, $3.3 billion (NFL)

T-10. Golden State Warriors, $3.1 billion (NBA)

T-10. Washington Redskins, $3.1 billion (NFL)

Next five NFL franchises:

13. San Francisco 49ers, $3.05 billion

T-14. Los Angeles Rams, $3 billion 

17. Chicago Bears, $2.85 billion 

T-19. Houston Texans, $2.8 billion

21. New York Jets, $2.75 billion

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Redskins 2018 position outlook: Outside linebackers

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Redskins 2018 position outlook: Outside linebackers

Redskins Training camp opens next week, and we have a break here, giving us time to put the depth chart under the microscope.

Between now and the start of camp, we will look at every position, compare the group to the rest of the NFL, see if the position has been upgraded or downgraded from last year, and take out the crystal ball to see what might unfold.

OUTSIDE LINEBACKERS

Additions: Pernell McPhee (free agent)
Departures: Junior Galette (free agent)

Starters: Ryan Kerrigan, Preston Smith
Other roster locks: Ryan Anderson, McPhee
On the bubble: Pete Robertson

How the outside linebackers compare

To the rest of the NFL: By any measure, the Redskins had a top-10 pass rush last year. They were tied for seventh with 42 sacks and they got a sack on 7.3 percent of pass attempts, also seventh in the league. Looking forward to this year, Pro Football Focus has them ranked as the sixth-best pass rushing team for 2018. Ryan Kerrigan is showing no signs of slowing down as he approaches age 30 and Preston Smith is about to hit his prime. After the departure of Galette, the depth is questionable, and we’ll deal with that next. Even without Galette, it’s still one of the best units in the NFL. 

To the 2017 Redskins: Some downplay the decision to let Galette walk in free agency, saying he had just three sacks. But his value went beyond that. He had 9 QB hits and 25 hurries, both second-most on the team, in just 258 pass rush snaps. Someone will have to step up and replace that pressure. The spotlight will be on Anderson, who had no sacks after being a second-round pick. He will need to step up for this year’s Redskins pass rush to be as good as last year’s. 

2018 outside linebacker outlook

Biggest upside: Since the 2015 season, only one NFL player has at least 20 sacks, four forced fumbles, and three interceptions and it’s Preston Smith. His consistency is an issue but even when he is going for a few weeks between sacks he is getting pressure on the quarterback. Still, there is more ability there. Smith could set himself up for a big payday by breaking through with a double-digit sack season while continuing to make big plays in his contract year.

Most to prove: To be fair, Anderson did not get a whole lot of chances to rush the passer last year, playing just 81 pass rush snaps. Still, there are reasons to be concerned about how much he can produce after a zero-sack, one-hit, three-hurries 2017 debut season. Anderson was not expected to make a splash as a rookie, but more was anticipated. He was drafted where he was in part because of his work ethic. The Redskins hope he will work his way into a significant second-year leap. 

Rookie watch: There are no rookie outside linebackers on the roster. 

Bottom line: The main concern about the Redskins’ defense this year revolves around the cornerback spot following the departures of Kendall Fuller and Bashaud Breeland. The best way to manage problematic cornerbacks is by getting a strong pass rush. The Redskins need to Smith to have a true breakout season and for Anderson or McPhee to be a strong contributor off the bench. Along with the improved defensive line, the pass rush could transform the defensive line into a quality unit in 2018. 

2018 Redskins Position Outlook Series