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Despite some strong signings, 3 things Redskins still need to address this offseason

Despite some strong signings, 3 things Redskins still need to address this offseason

It might seem impossible for an organization to be both highly functional yet at times in various stages of disarray, but the Redskins 2017 offseason has achieved that rare balance.

When the team dismissed Scot McCloughan in early March, expectations for the team plumetted.

A month later, the Redskins have addressed needs throughout the roster via free agency, with a few really strong signings mixed in.

Inking Zach Brown to a one-year deal on Monday likely adds a fifth new starter to the Washington defense, a unit that needed a significant overhaul from 2016.

RELATED: 2017 NFL MOCK DRAFT

With Brown on board, combined with Terrelle Pryor at wideout and D.J. Swearinger at safety, the Redskins front office deserves credit for a smart and effective free agency period. That said, plenty remains to be done. Let's take a look:

1. Pay up — Signing Pryor should help offset the loss of DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garçon on the 'Skins offense, but the huge issue remains that Kirk Cousins is again set to play on a franchise tag. He did it in 2016, and broke his own single-season passing yards record. At some point, Washington must pay up to keep Cousins.

Bruce Allen told CSN at the annual league meetings that the team has options for 2018 with Cousins should a deal not get reached, but those options are outrageously expensive. Get a deal done with Cousins before the July 15th deadline, and this offseason will look like one of the best in recent memory, even with the ugly divorce from McCloughan.

2. Pick your nose — Coming into the 2017 offseason, defensive line needed the most work of any position group on the 'Skins. Even with the signings of Terrell McClain and Stacy McGee, defensive line remains the position group in need of the most work. The team is still yet to address the nose tackle position.

Asked about the position at the league meetings, Jay Gruden said, "Coach [Jim] Tomsula has assured me that he will find a nose guard, [and] he’ll make a nose guard. If you look at his track record, [and] you look at the nose guards [that] he’s had, none of them have been priority first-round draft choices. He’s made nose guards. He coaches that position extremely well, and I have faith that he’ll do that."

That's great in theory, but it's a lot for Washington to rely on. Perhaps the 'Skins can get a solid year from former first-round pick Phil Taylor, but that would be a big leap from his 2016 season, while Ziggy Hood returns for Washington after a solid if unspectacular 2016 season. It seems free agency is largely done after the Brown signing, but Washington still has 10 draft picks, and must continue to build on the defensive line to field both a better team in 2017 and beyond. 

3. Get deep — Unlike the D-line, the Redskins offensive line is arguably the best position group on the team. With two Pro Bowlers in Trent Williams and Brandon Scherff, not to mention Morgan Moses and Spencer Long, four of the 'Skins five O-line spots have strong players. Shawn Lauvao was not a strong player in 2016, and though he battled injuries, the 'Skins could upgrade at left guard. It's likely the team brings back Lauvao, and he has played well in spots with Washington. Still, among the 10 draft picks later this month, Bruce Allen would be wise to continue to fortify the offensive line. At the very least, the team absolutely needs a backup center.

RELATED: LOOKING AT REDSKINS DRAFT PROSPECTS

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PHOTOS: Alex Smith makes an appearance during the Redskins' third day of OTAs

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PHOTOS: Alex Smith makes an appearance during the Redskins' third day of OTAs

Considering how serious that November leg injury was and how difficult the subsequent surgeries were, any time you see Alex Smith out, about and smiling, it's encouraging.

On Thursday, the Redskins posted a couple of pictures of Smith helping out at the team's third day of OTAs. The QB was photographed hanging out with coaches and even tossing a football:

You can't tell in the pictures whether Smith is still wearing the external fixator on his right leg, but regardless of whether he is or not, it's still great to see him in Ashburn around the organization. 

It remains unclear what kind of role Smith will have with the 'Skins in 2019. However, if he's willing, he'd be an ideal mentor for Dwayne Haskins and overall a positive influence on the entire roster, seeing as many players don't hesitate to praise the leadership he displayed in 2018.

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VIDEO: Montae Nicholson and Vernon Davis return to Redskins OTAs

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VIDEO: Montae Nicholson and Vernon Davis return to Redskins OTAs

Montae Nicholson and Vernon Davis were among those absent at Monday's open Redskins OTAs session, and both absences were surprising considering each player's somewhat unsteady spot on the roster.

Nicholson's second year with the Redskins was a struggle both on and off the field, while Davis is often mentioned as someone who might be in line for a contract restructuring or even a release. 

However, thanks to a video that the Redskins posted on Instagram, it's now clear that the safety and the tight end have since returned to Ashburn to work with their fellow teammates:

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8️⃣5️⃣ putting in the work

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It's an especially encouraging development for Nicholson, who should be doing whatever he can to get back in the good graces of the coaching staff. Whatever the reason for his absence was on Monday, it's a good sign to see that he didn't stay away too long. 

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