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What the Redskins accomplished by trading for Case Keenum right now

What the Redskins accomplished by trading for Case Keenum right now

Whether the Washington Redskins were in the Joe Flacco sweepstakes or not, they followed the Denver Broncos path in procuring a potential starting quarterback. Thursday’s trade for Case Keenum also accomplished more than first assumed.

By trading for Keenum, a journeyman one season removed from directing the Minnesota Vikings to the NFC Championship game, the Redskins also:

1. Clarified their budget entering free agency

2. Ended the charade that they believe Colt McCoy could unequivocally serve as a Week 1 starter

3. Kept long-term options like Josh Rosen or a 2019 draft selection in play

Plenty of options existed this off-season as the Redskins sought to replace the injured Alex Smith. The truly intriguing ones like signing free agent Nick Foles or trading up in the 2019 NFL Draft for Kyler Murray, Dwayne Haskins and perhaps Drew Lock, would prove costly. The truly scary part involved potential bidding wars for the middle ground candidates.

Washington entered Thursday 24th overall in salary cap space ($17 million). That’s a rough number when a starting quarterback is atop a lengthy needs list. Holding tight and targeting a Teddy Bridgewater or Tyrod Taylor when negotiations could begin with free agents on March 11 constitutes a plan. It also keeps uncertainty in play.

That approach wouldn’t allow the Redskins to know what kind of money they needed to squirrel away for a QB with free agency opening. Washington has major holes at safety, guard, wide receiver, edge rusher and elsewhere. Some of those need areas could wait for April’s draft, but others would get resolved in free agency.

If negotiations with Bridgewater, Taylor or other available options lingered, the Redskins might find themselves in potential limbo while negotiating with say safety Landon Collins, guard Mitch Morse or a veteran receiver. Quarterback trumps all. If you don’t have one, good luck.

The Redskins now have one -- at least one with some relatively recent success -- thanks to Thursday’s trade with the Broncos. Keenum isn’t a star. He’s in that fair-to-middling tier. Season win total projections won’t skyrocket beyond their annual .500 record.

Unlike McCoy, Keenum proved durable over the last two seasons, starting 30 consecutive games. He thrived with the Vikings during a magical 2017 season thanks to weapons surrounding him. The 31-year-old gives the Redskins a chance to be decent at the game’s most important position. This occurred without a major acquisition fee unless swapping a 2020 sixth for a seventh offends. Denver picked up $3.5 million of Keenum’s $7 million salary, meaning the Redskins limited their quarterback spending.

With Keenum in place, it’s now up to the Redskins to procure playmakers on offense, a sturdy offensive line and a defense that won’t force the offense into scoring 35 points weekly.

Keenum won’t be handed the job. McCoy might even start the opener considering his familiarity with Jay Gruden’s offense. The Redskins aren’t counting on it. For a second consecutive season, Washington was in a position to put McCoy firmly atop the positional depth chart and instead punted.

Gruden would love to give McCoy the job. The fondness is evident. So was the concern in the head coach’s answer when pressed on McCoy’s viability during his media session at the Combine.

“I have total confidence (in Colt). He's got a great knowledge of the system, he's comfortable with the guys that we have, he's a great leader, a great competitor, he can run, he can move, and he can make all the throws,” Gruden said. “But ... he's been hurt and hasn't done it."

Expect the Redskins to add another quarterback -- and keep three after last season’s emergency scenario. That won’t be Josh Johnson unless the Redskins shed McCoy, do not add a young passer or keep four quarterbacks. The last two scenarios are not credible.

Contracts for Keenum and McCoy expire after this coming season. Washington has enough draft ammo to add Rosen’s rookie contract from the Cardinals. The 10th pick in the 2018 draft, Rosen would arguably be the top QB in the 2019 class. Buzz has Arizona ready to move on with Murray its target with the first overall selection in April’s draft.

Otherwise, the Redskins could consider a QB at 15 or more likely one somewhere between rounds 2-4.

It would be a fun story and a needed PR boost if a young option emerged as the starter next season. Maybe that happens. By adding Keenum, the Redskins don’t need to rush that process.

Whatever you think of the move, it wasn’t a major surprise. Bruce Allen even foreshadowed the deal last week when asked about reports that the Redskins were interested in Flacco.

 “We were never involved in Flacco,” Allen said at the Combine. “We’re looking at free agency, I don’t think it’s any secret that there's players being offered in trades from other teams. We’ve listened to that. We feel good where we’re at.”

They feel better after adding Keenum, a move that does more than just bolster their quarterback depth chart, though probably doesn’t alter their 2019 ceiling much.    

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Montae Nicholson says it was his decision to play days after death at his home

Montae Nicholson says it was his decision to play days after death at his home

Speaking publicly for the first time since missing practice after participating in an investigation into the death of 21-year-old Julia Crabbe, Montae Nicholson thanked the Redskins organization and his teammates for their support.

Nicholson, who played just days after Crabbe's drug overdose death at his home, said the decision to play in last Sunday's game against the Jets was difficult but was his alone.

"It was, without a doubt," Nicholson said of how hard the decision to play. "But, you know, at the end of the day, it was my decision. I wasn't forced into anything. It wasn't easy at all trying to separate the field from everything that was going on."

According to reports, Nicholson found Crabbe collapsed in his bathroom. He took her to a nearby hospital, where she was later pronounced dead. Nicholson is reported to be cooperating with investigators looking into the victim's death. 

When speaking to reporters on Thursday, Nicholson asked that the media respect his privacy and said he wouldn't be taking questions on the legal situation. 

"This week has been extremely hard on not only myself but Julia's friends and family, as well. I would appreciate if you all respect my privacy while everything is going on," he said. "At this time, I will only be taking questions on responding to and about the Lions this week. I'm sorry."

He has practiced all week in advance of the Lions and is expected to play on Sunday. Diving into football, he said, has been a large part of his coping with the tragedy. 

"It's been rough, to say the least. But, you know, with my teammates and friends who aren't in the state or just aren't around here, the head office made it very well known that they have my back in everything that was going on and if I needed anything, just to talk or anything like that, they made that known that the door was wide open," he said. 

Nicholson said having the team's support means a lot to him. 

"They could've shut the door on me and turned their backs, but they didn't," he said. "And that just speaks volumes to the type of program I'm a part of. I'm extremely grateful to be here and to still be here."

This isn't Nicholson's first off-field incident during his time with the Redskins. He finished the 2018 season under suspension after being arrested for a fight outside of a Loudon County restaurant. Those charges were later dropped. 

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Derrius Guice understands why Redskins fans are frustrated, but he's looking ahead

Derrius Guice understands why Redskins fans are frustrated, but he's looking ahead

Derrius Guice is a very positive person. Unfortunately, he's playing for a team right now that's shrouded in negativity.

The Redskins have played 10 games this season, and they've walked off the field as losers in nine of those contests. They've gotten rid of their head coach, and many are wondering how many other major changes will come.

And when it comes to the fans, many — if not most — are furious with the direction of the franchise. Guice is noticing that, too.

"It just sucks when I score, or someone else scores, and our team posts a picture to Instagram or Twitter and everything under it is just, 'Fire this, fire that, we suck," Guice told JP Finlay in a 1-on-1 interview on the Redskins Talk podcast. "That doesn't help anything."

The running back understands that frustration. However, he wants those who are angry to know one thing: While this current roster is obviously responsible for the 2019 issues, they aren't responsible for the two-decade-long slump that's affected the organization.

"I'm new here," Guice said. "I understand some of these fans have been here 20-30 years, but like, there's a lot of guys on this team that are new. Y'all can't bring all that negativity to us like we've been here 20 years. I don't think that's fair to us players."

That's what makes this situation so difficult for those on the field and those who watch those on the field. Fans have been on this unsatisfying ride for far too long, yet most of the players hopped on a stop or two ago. 

So people who post those hateful comments or send those angry DMs are doing so because they've seen a handful of free agency and draft classes bust, and because they've seen numerous coaches come in and fail, and they've been lied to repeatedly about how "close" the Redskins are. They aren't necessarily trying to take it out on Guice or Dwayne Haskins or Landon Collins, it just appears that way.

Guice, for one, is aiming to improve how he handles that side of being an athlete. He's also choosing to focus on those who've stayed on his side through what's been a tumultuous first couple of seasons in the league.

For all the negativity he encounters, he's grateful for those who remain positive like him.

"A guy that's been there two years and has only played two real games, there's a lot of fans that have still never left my side since I got drafted," Guice said. "That's something I always have to cherish."

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