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Don't hold your breath for big-name Redskins free agent signings

Don't hold your breath for big-name Redskins free agent signings

Redskins fans might not like the Albert Haynesworth jokes that come rolling out at the start of free agency each year, but for some, the desire to chase the biggest free agents on the marketplace still burns. Don't expect that to rub off on the franchise though.

"When you talk about free agency you never ever want to try to rely on a big core of free agents coming here," Washington head coach Jay Gruden said last week at the NFL Scouting Combine.

"It's about developing the people you have. I feel good about the players we have in house," he said.

True to his word, the Redskins could lose two starting wideouts in DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garçon via free agency. Gruden said he "won't blink" if that happens, and talked about the development of young players like Ryan Grant and Maurice Harris. 

Gruden's comments fall in line with previous assessments of free agency from Bruce Allen and Scot McCloughan. While plenty of questions exist about McCloughan's current role with the franchise, regardless, he and Allen feel the same way about free agency: They'd rather build through the draft.

Washington has 10 picks in the 2017 draft, but also plenty of cap space. Early in the open tampering period, the 'Skins haven't been connected with a single big-name on the market, of which there are plenty.

Even recent history suggests Redskins brass will largely skip the spending spree that occurs early in free agency. Last year's big acquisition, Josh Norman, was a unique scenario where he hit the market weeks later, after Carolina rescinded his franchise tag.

The 'Skins may well open up the checkbook for one player, but it would be their quarterback Kirk Cousins. Outside of that, listen to Gruden. Keep those expectations in check.


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Redskins rookie Dwayne Haskins reacts to winning Ohio State Male Athlete of the Year

Redskins rookie Dwayne Haskins reacts to winning Ohio State Male Athlete of the Year

On Wednesday, Ohio State named former quarterback Dwayne Haskins the 2019 Male Athlete of the Year, a few months after the Washington Redskins drafted Haskins in the first round. 

Washington drafted Haskins 15th overall in the 2019 MLB Draft, after Haskins threw 4,831 yards and 50 touchdowns with Ohio State in the 2018 season, the first season he started for the Buckeyes.

Haskins also set 28 Ohio State and seven Big Ten records in his junior year with the Buckeyes, after which he was awarded the Big Ten Graham-George Offensive Player of the Year, the Griese-Brees Quarterback of the Year and the Chicago Tribune Silver Football award. 

Now Haskins vies for a spot as the Redskins' starting quarterback, after attending both Washington's voluntary organized team activities and mandatory minicamp. The rookie is one of three players––including Case Keenum and Colt McCoy, who is working back from injury––fighting for that spot in the starting lineup, as Washington prepares for the preseason.  


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There's reason for excitement about Trey Quinn, and the numbers back it up

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There's reason for excitement about Trey Quinn, and the numbers back it up

No Redskins receiver caught more than 45 passes last season, and the team lost their steadiest wideout of the last two years when Jamison Crowder signed with the Jets in free agency. 

Even with that, the Redskins coaching staff remains bullish on the team's pass catchers for this season, and second-year pro Trey Quinn is a big reason why.

Last season as a seventh-round rookie, Quinn made the team after showing great hands and a consistent ability to get separation from defenders. Listed at 6-foot and 200 pounds, Quinn is a natural slot receiver in the NFL, but last year, that role very clearly belonged to Crowder. 

With Crowder gone, that role has changed.

"Trey Quinn has taken over the inside slot role," Redskins head coach Jay Gruden said during minicamp. 
"He’s confident, he’s quick, he’s got strong hands, he’s physical, [and] he’s tough," 

The toughness will be key, as Quinn twice landed on the injured reserve list in his rookie season. He played in just three games last year but made an impact when he was on the field, grabbing nine catches and scoring a touchdown in Dallas. 

Looking at Crowder's production over the last four seasons, Quinn will get lots of opportunities.

In four seasons with the Redskins, Crowder played in 56 games and averaged 5.8 targets per game. He averaged about 12 yards-per-catch in Washington, and was good for 60+ catches per season in his first three years with the 'Skins before injuries limited Crowder to just nine games in 2018. That's a lot of action for the slot role in Gruden's offense. 

Looking at the Redskins potential quarterbacks, Quinn would be an asset for any of them. Case Keenum's game definitely works well with skilled slot WRs - like Stefon Diggs in Minnesota two seasons ago. If rookie Dwayne Haskins gets the starting job, he could certainly use a consistent target in the middle of the field, and Quinn should serve that role. Should Colt McCoy take over as Redskins starter, he and Quinn actually found success on the field last season, particularly against the Cowboys. 

In fact, Keenum is already speaking highly of the former Mr. Irrelevant. 

"Trey Quinn is going to be really special," Keenum said during minicamp. 

Health is never a guarantee. Quinn struggled to stay on the field as a rookie, but when he was on the field, he did not struggle. Redskins receivers coach Ike Hilliard is typically a man of few words, but even he praised Quinn this offseason and considers him a breakout candidate for the 2019 season.

Summer is the time for optimism in the NFL. Nobody has fumbled, players are mostly healthy, and nothing has gone wrong. 

With Quinn, there is plenty of optimism. More importantly, based on Crowder's targets, there are reasons to buy the excitement around Quinn.