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Who will be the Redskins' core defensive players three years from now?

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Who will be the Redskins' core defensive players three years from now?

Just before training camp last year, I took a stab at figuring out who on the Redskins roster would still be with the team and contributing in the year 2020. Now that the season is over, let’s revisit that look, move it up to 2021, and see how much the picture has changed. I looked at the offense earlier, the defense is up today.

The terms used here are mostly self-explanatory, if you want details you can look at this post from a couple of years ago.  

Defense (age as of Week 1 2021)

Potential blue-chip players: Jonathan Allen (26)
Changes from last prediction: Removed Josh Norman (33)

Allen was already playing well and getting better when a Week 6 Lisfranc injury ended his rookie season. He will continue to improve.

Norman will be a free agent in 2021. He still could be an effective contributor in Washington or elsewhere but his days as a blue-chip player likely will be over.

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This is a pretty thin group of blue-chip defenders and even Allen has question marks until he puts at least two fully healthy seasons on his NFL resume.

Solid starters: Ryan Kerrigan (33), D. J. Swearinger (30), Kendall Fuller (26), Preston Smith (28), Matt Ioannidis (27), Anthony Lanier (28)
Changes: Added Fuller, Smith, Ioannidis, Lanier, removed Su’a Cravens, Bashaud Breeland, Ryan Anderson (27), Zach Brown (31)

Age obviously could be an issue with Kerrigan and Swearinger. Kerrigan’s career has the look of one of a player who can still play well into his mid-30’s but you never know. Swearinger will just be hitting football middle age, but the high-speed hits delivered by safeties tend to shorten careers.

The others will just be hitting the primes of their careers in 2021. Ioannidis should continue to improve and Lanier needs to play better against the run to be a starter. If Smith can perform at his highest level consistently, he could edge up towards blue-chip territory.

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Cravens is unlikely to return after his rocky departure a week before the 2017 season. The chances are very good that Breeland will be gone in free agency in March. We really didn’t see enough from Anderson to figure out anything about his future, and while it’s possible that Brown will re-sign, I don’t see him still being here in 2021.

Potential starters: Trent Murphy (31), Quinton Dunbar (29), Fabian Moreau (27), Montae Nicholson (25)
Changes: Added Dunbar, Moreau, Nicholson, moved up Smith, Fuller, removed Mason Foster (32), Will Compton (31)

The most potential in this group comes from Nicholson and Moreau. Nicholson was headed to being in the “solid starters” group before his season was cut short with a concussion. He doesn’t have a bad injury history, as he missed just one game in his last two seasons at Michigan State, so there is reason to believe that he can stay healthy. Moreau has speed and a physical style and it wouldn’t be surprising to see him starting before the 2018 season is over.

If Preston Smith leaves as a free agent, Murphy could start on the edge. It seems likely that Dunbar will still be around and he could be a starter or a reserve.

There is one other group of players that is hard to classify based on a small sample size. We didn’t see enough out of rookies Anderson, Josh Holsey, Josh Harvey-Clemons to plot a career arc for them with any degree of reliability. Deshazor Everett will be 29 in 2021, and although right now he seems to be a special team player and spot starter, he could catch on and become a starter.

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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After two seasons on IR and little production, is Paul Richardson's time over with Redskins?

After two seasons on IR and little production, is Paul Richardson's time over with Redskins?

The Redskins signed Paul Richardson in 2018 to be the deep threat the team lost when DeSean Jackson left via free agency after the 2016 season. It didn't work. 

In two years with the Redskins, Richardson has 48 catches for 507 catches and four touchdowns, and both seasons finished with trips to the injured reserve. Washington, however, paid Richardson handsomely for his work.

He signed a five-year, $40 million contract with the Redskins that guaranteed $12.5 million at signing. To date, he's made nearly $20 million despite never being the team's leading receiver. 

Next year, Richardson will carry an $8.5 million salary cap number, but the team could get $2.5 million in cap relief if he's cut while taking a $6 million cap hit. The final two seasons of his contract have no guarantees and no cap number unless he plays.

If the Redskins wait until after June 1st, 2020, to cut Richardson then the numbers flip. The team would save $6.5 million against the cap and Richardson's contract would only count $2 million against the cap. In fact, the team doesn't need to wait until summer to make the move, but rather can use the Post-June 1 designation that the NFL allows organizations to use to better their cap. This should be the obvious move. 

Considering Washington has made a youth movement at receiver, with rookies Terry McLaurin, Kelvin Harmon and Steven Sims looking like the future, Richardson looks quite expendable. Especially considering the emergence of McLaurin as a potential elite wideout, both with deep speed and route running ability. 

Redskins team president Bruce Allen signed Richardson, but it's hard to know who will be making calls for the organization in 2020. There is much speculation that Allen could be on the way out, and the team already fired head coach Jay Gruden in October. Interim head coach Bill Callahan is not expected to remain in that position next season. 

If Richardson is cut, it's hard to look at the signing as anything but a disappointment. Big money for little production. That's not winning football. 

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Report: Chase Young plans on returning to Ohio State in lieu of entering NFL Draft

Report: Chase Young plans on returning to Ohio State in lieu of entering NFL Draft

The Redskins are unlikely to secure the No. 1 pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, but there is certainly a scenario where the teams that finish ahead of them would be in need of quarterbacks. If that’s the case, then Washington could be in line to select Ohio State defensive end Chase Young, who’s widely considered to be the highest-graded player in the draft.

But in an interview with TMZ, Young said his “plan” is to return to Ohio State for his senior year. Young set a school record with 16.5 sacks and counting this season despite missing two games due to suspension.

The Buckeyes are the No. 2 seed in the College Football Playoff, slated to face No. 3 Clemson in the Fiesta Bowl on Dec. 28 for the right to play in the national championship. Ohio State hasn’t won the title since 2014, when Young was still in high school.

It’s unknown whether he’d enter the draft if OSU wins it all. For now, Young’s draft status will be something for the Redskins—who will enter the offseason with a plethora of roster needs—to keep an eye on over the next few weeks.

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