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Redskins fans might lament Jay Gruden, but Sean McVay 'couldn't be more thankful'

Redskins fans might lament Jay Gruden, but Sean McVay 'couldn't be more thankful'

ATLANTA -- Sean McVay will become the youngest head coach ever to lead his team to a Super Bowl on Sunday, and for many Redskins fans, it comes with a bitter taste.

McVay served as Washington head coach Jay Gruden's offensive coordinator for two seasons before departing to take the Los Angeles Rams head job in 2017. Some wonder if the Redskins would have been better served to keep McVay over Gruden, even though that situation at the time was entirely implausible. 

McVay has long talked about what working for Gruden meant, and on Monday at Super Bowl Opening Night, the Rams wunderkind expanded.

"Jay is as big a reason as anybody why I even had the opportunities," McVay said. "Nobody else would have given me a chance to be an offensive coordinator."

Gruden named McVay his offensive coordinator before he even turned 30. That was absolutely unheard of, and it proved to be a great move. 

"The confidence that he instilled in me, the ability to be able to learn and grow as a coach under his leadership and guidance, I couldn’t be more thankful for Jay Gruden," McVay said. "He’s special to me. He’s a great football coach and there’s no chance I would be in this opportunity if it wasn’t for him."

Despite McVay's public support, Gruden has plenty of detractors in Washington. Some of it comes from the lack of playoff success, and others will point to a soft approach with players.

Listen to McVay, or other former Redskins assistant coaches now with the Rams like Aubrey Pleasant or Joe Barry, and everyone speaks highly of Gruden. The Redskins have not broken through to success anything close to the Rams, but injuries have been a big factor. Over five years with Gruden at the helm, there have been plenty of coaching questions too though. 

The national perception of Gruden has never matched the local perception of the Redskins head coach in D.C.

And that's never been more clear than what Sean McVay thinks of his old boss. 

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Antonio Brown reveals even the Steelers agree it's time he moves on

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Antonio Brown reveals even the Steelers agree it's time he moves on

Antonio Brown won’t play for the Pittsburgh Steelers next season.

You may have thought this scenario already existed since the Pro Bowl wide receiver often publically airs his desire for a trade and frustrations with quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. Tuesday’s news pushed assumption to reality.

Brown met with Steelers owner Dan Rooney Tuesday. The NFL’s top receiver posted a picture of the two via his Twitter account with a summary of their conversation.

“Had a great meeting with Mr. Rooney today we discussed a lot of things and we cleared the air on several issues!” Brown explained. “We both agreed that it is time to move on but I’ll always have appreciation and gratitude towards the Rooney family and @steelers organization! #CallGod#Boomin

Multiple media reports soon followed, including one from Pro Football Talk, stating the Steelers “have agreed to trade” Brown. However, permission for Brown’s camp to speak with other teams was not initially granted.

The cost won’t be cheap despite Pittsburgh essentially backed into a corner. Considering Brown’s tremendous talent and Hall of Fame production, he’s the rare non-quarterback capable of positively altering a team’s projections. 

Green Bay, armed with two first-round picks, and San Francisco, a team Brown mentions as a future destination on social media, are among the teams likely excited by Tuesday’s reveal.

As for the Redskins, we know the need is real. Washington’s offense lacks playmakers especially at wide receiver. The team also has major concerns under center, so acquiring a top receiver before solving that passer issue feels a bit like putting the cart before the horse. There are also salary cap fears for a team without much wiggle room and a lengthy list of holes.

If, however, Washington desires a return to its off-season champion days, adding Brown is the splashy move. Now we know for sure that’s an option. 

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With franchise tag period open, will Redskins consider option with Preston Smith, Jamison Crowder or Ha Ha Clinton-Dix?

With franchise tag period open, will Redskins consider option with Preston Smith, Jamison Crowder or Ha Ha Clinton-Dix?

For too many years, the opening of the franchise tag period marked the true beginning of the NFL offseason in Washington. 

As the Redskins and Kirk Cousins awkwardly danced around a long-term contract for two straight years, the team deployed the franchise tag and paid their former quarterback a total of $44 million in 2016 and 2017. 

Those days are over, even if the quarterback situation remains unsettled. Things looked solid when Washington traded for Alex Smith last year, but a horrific leg injury leaves nothing but questions for the fall. 

It won't be used at quarterback, but still, the franchise tag looms. Tuesday marks the first day NFL teams can apply the tag, and the Redskins have some valuable players possibly headed for free agency. 

Preston Smith and Jamison Crowder headline the potential free agent losses for Washington. Both drafted in 2014, their rookie deals are set to expire, and the marketplace should be welcoming to both players. 

Smith had a down year statistically in 2018, registering only four sacks. In four years in the Burgundy and Gold, however, Smith has totaled 24.5 sacks along with four forced fumbles and four interceptions. He's never missed a game in four seasons either, and has the length, frame and athleticism few outside linebackers can boast. 

It will be interesting to see how many teams are in the market for Smith. This is a particularly deep class of edge rushers heading to free agency, and Rotoworld's Evan Silva ranked Smith the fifth best option with an expiring contract. The players ahead of him, however, could all get tagged by their teams, and that means Smith could become more desirable if he hits the market. 

Will Washington tag Smith? Probably not. 

Franchising Smith would mean paying him the average of the Top 5 paid players at his position in the NFL. That means more than $17 million for the 2019 season. 

The Redskins can't offer that, because Smith would sign it in a second. His market will likely pay him at least $8 million per season, and perhaps $10 million per year or more, but $17 million is way too much. Smith is good, but that's Von Miller money.

Well, what about Crowder?

Again, the money will be too much. A wide receiver, the franchise tag for Crowder would be averaged out using the salaries of players like Odell Beckham and Antonio Brown.

When healthy, Crowder is a nice player. He has quick feet and can gain separation on the inside of offensive schemes. That won't land him $16 million per season though like a tag would require. It's just not going to happen. 

Two other Redskins starters are slated for free agency: Ha Ha Clinton-Dix and Adrian Peterson. 

The franchise tag for safeties carries a price tag of $12 million for 2019. Washington will not consider that for Clinton-Dix. 

The franchise tag for running backs carries a price tag of $12 million for 2019. Washington will not consider that for Peterson. 

Redskins fans, remember how much you hated the franchise tag? Well this year you won't need to worry about it.  

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