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Need to Know: The Redskins' pre-free agency to-do list

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Need to Know: The Redskins' pre-free agency to-do list

Here is what you need to know on this Wednesday, March 7, seven days before NFL free agency starts.  

Things the Redskins have to get done before free agency

Now that the tag deadline has passed and the Redskins can move on from the silly notion of pulling off a Kirk Cousins tag and trade, it is time to focus on what they need to do between now and March 14 at 4 p.m. when the league year starts. Here are a few items that should be on their to-do list.

Make a push to extend Brandon Scherff—Sure, he’s not a free agent for another two years. But he will take up a good chunk of cap space both immediately and for the duration of the contract. Having cost certainty with one of your best young players is important. A number to ponder—it likely will cost nearly $16 million to franchise tag Scherff if they don’t reach an extension in time for the 2020 season.

Make a push to extend Preston Smith—This is perhaps a more urgent matter than getting Scherff extended. Smith will be a free agent a year from now if nothing is done and, in general, pass rushers are harder to find than guards. Again, cost certainty in the short and long term are key factors.

Gauge the chances of signing Zach Brown—OK, the “legal tampering” period doesn’t start until Monday. But Brown’s agent went to the combine and he has a very good feel for what his client can get in the open market. The Redskins should get into some serious negotiating and either sign him before he hits the market or let him walk and work on signing his replacement (Anthony Hitchens, anyone?).

Take a long, hard look at Josh Norman—I don’t think that the Redskins will end up moving on from Norman before his salary becomes guaranteed shortly after the start of the league year, but they can’t let the deadline pass without at least having a serious discussion about it. He crossed over to the wrong side of 30 last December and he had zero interceptions last year. It’s hard for a corner who plays nearly every snap to fail to stumble into one or two. To be sure, interceptions aren’t everything and Norman would be hard to replace. But with a possible savings of $14 million in cash and nearly $8 million in cap space in play, the organization has to take one last, long look before committing.

Choose between Junior Galette and Trent Murphy—They probably already have done this but as with Norman they need to take one last look. It is important for them to hold on to at least one of their reserve edge rushers. Although the organization remains hopeful that Ryan Anderson can develop into an effective edge rusher, it’s hard to rely on a player who had zero sacks as a rookie to be your primary backup at outside LB.

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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Timeline  

Days until:

—Offseason workouts begin (4/16) 40
—NFL Draft (4/26) 50
—2018 NFL season starts (9/9) 186

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Need to Know: Five Redskins on the bubble who could make the roster

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Need to Know: Five Redskins on the bubble who could make the roster

Here is what you need to know on this Thursday, June 21, 35 days before the Washington Redskins start training camp.  

The first five off of the roster

Here are five players who are not on my projection of the Redskins’ 53-man roster (offensedefense) but who are one injury or a few strong preseason game performances away from making it. 

G Kyle Kalis—Last year he lined up with the second team during most of training camp and he nearly made the roster as an undrafted free agent. The team did re-sign him after injuries struck the O-line in the middle of the season. He will push Tyler Catalina for a backup guard spot. 

RB Byron Marshall—He got a few touches last year before ending up on injured reserve. Marshall has looked good in practices so far, especially catching out of the backfield. Jay Gruden likely will play Chris Thompson sparingly in the preseason and that could give Marshall a chance to shine. Don’t sleep on him. 

WR Cam Sims—Right now, the undrafted rookie out of Alabama looks like the eighth wide receiver on the roster and they are only going to keep six. But if he continues to get the attention of Gruden with his play in practice and makes the most of his opportunities in preseason games, Robert Davis and Maurice Harris should look out. 

S Fish Smithson—The Redskins liked him a lot after they signed him as an undrafted free agent last year. But they didn’t like him enough to keep him on the 53-man roster; he spent the year on the practice squad, getting a late-season cup of coffee on the roster. He will push both Deshazor Everett and Troy Apke for a backup safety spot. If the Redskins have reason to be concerned about the health of Montae Nicholson they might figure out a way to keep Smithson on as a fifth safety. 

ILB Martrell Spaight—It looks like Spaight’s three-year tenure with the team essentially came to an end when they drafted Sean Dion Hamilton in the fifth round. But his play in offseason practices indicates he’s not going to go out without a fight. 

Next five off: OT T.J. Clemmings, QB Kevin Hogan, RB Kapri Bibbs, NT Phil Taylor, CB Danny Johnson

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page, Facebook.com/TandlerNBCSand follow him on Twitter  @TandlerNBCSand on Instagram @RichTandler

Timeline 

Redskins running back Derrius Guice was born on this date in 1997. 

Days until:

—Training camp starts (7/26) 35
—Preseason opener @ Patriots (8/9) 49
—Roster cut to 53 (9/1) 72

The Redskins last played a game 172 days ago. They will open the 2018 NFL season at the Cardinals in 80 days. 

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The best players on the Redskins according to their Madden 19 ratings

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The best players on the Redskins according to their Madden 19 ratings

Madden 19 won't be released to the public until August 10, but the player ratings for the top players on each NFL team have been released.

The video reaches the Redskins a little after four minutes in. The top nine players on the Redskins, according to their Madden 19 overall ratings are as follows:

  1. LT Trent Williams, 91
  2. RG Brandon Scherff, 88
  3. FS D.J. Swearinger, 86
  4. MLB Zach Brown, 85
  5. CB Josh Norman, 84
  6. RB Chris Thompson, 83
  7. WR Paul Richardson, 83
  8. QB Alex Smith, 81
  9. WR Jamison Crowder, 81

The list has Washington's two best linemen up top followed by its best skill position players and Zach Brown. Beyond Williams and Sherff, there's some debate to be had. Both Richardson and Crowder can make a serious case to be the team's best receiver. Crowder had 22 more receptions and 86 more yards than Richardson in 2017, but Richardson had six touchdowns to Crowder's three.

Smith is coming off arguably the best season of his career with Kansas City. He put up over 4,000 passing yards for the first time in his career, posted career bests in quarterback rating, touchdown passes, interception percentage and completions. His rating as the fifth-best offensive player behind two other skill position players seems off.

These rankings will change throughout the season as more updates become available, but this is what there is to work with right now.

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