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El-Bashir and Zangaro share keys to Redskins-Eagles

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El-Bashir and Zangaro share keys to Redskins-Eagles

The Redskins travel to Philadelphia Saturday for a showdown with the Eagles. The NFC East matchup has major playoff implications -- if Washington wins, they're in. If the Eagles win Saturday and win their final game against the Giants, they'll be the ones representing the division in the postseason. 

For an expert preview of Saturday's action, our Redskins Insider Tarik El-Bashir compares notes with CSNPhilly.com's Eagles reporter Dave Zangaro. Here are their keys to the game:

EL-BASHIR

1. Put the ball in DeSean Jackson’s hands. All of the Redskins are going to be super motivated given what’s at stake, but no one will be more amped up than Jackson, who can help lift Washington into the playoffs while simultaneously sticking a fork in Chip Kelly and Philadelphia. Jackson is healthy, in sync with quarterback Kirk Cousins and on a roll, having hauled in four touchdown passes in the past five games, including a scintillating 77-yarder last week against Buffalo. Philly’s pass defense, meanwhile, has allowed 30 touchdowns (T-29th) and has some injury concerns at corner. Indeed, all signs point to another big game for Jackson against his former team. (He’s averaged 122 yards in two prior meetings vs. the Eagles.)

2. If the Eagles do manage to blunt Jackson’s impact, the Redskins could find an opportunity on the ground. Philly’s 30th-ranked run defense yielded a combined 382 rushing yards to the Bills and Cardinals the past two weeks. But to take advantage of that vulnerability, the Redskins will need a strong performance from Alfred Morris and/or Matt Jones—something they haven’t gotten on a consistent basis this season. Overall, though, the Redskins’ ground attack has been trending in the right direction. In fact, after mustering a season-low 14 yards at Carolina, it’s averaged a 100 yards per game over the past four contests. Not great, obviously, but much better.

3. Ryan Kerrigan and Co. must get after Sam Bradford. In the teams’ first meeting—a 23-20 Redskins’ victory in Week 4—Washington’s pass rush sacked Bradford five times for a combined loss of 37 yards. The Redskins also pressured Bradford 15 times, according to ProFootballFocus.com. The result? Bradford had a mixed afternoon, tossing three touchdown passes while completing only 53.6-percent of his 28 pass attempts. The Eagles’ signal caller has been more consistent of late as his comfort level in Chip Kelly’s offense has grown. The Redskins’ pass rush, meanwhile, has also shown signs of improved consistency, and it had another big game last week, sacking Buffalo’s Tyrod Taylor five times. If the Redskins make Bradford uncomfortable, it could be a long day for the Eagles, who haven’t won a game in which Bradford was sacked multiple times.

ZANGARO

1. Stop DeSean Jackson and Jordan Reed. The Redskins' two biggest weapons have been dynamic recently. Together, they form such a dynamic duo because safeties have to make sure Jackson doesn't blow the top off (among players with 20 catches, Jackson is third in the league with an 18.8 yards per catch average), which means they can't help as much on Reed, who has become nearly as deadly as any tight end in the league. Byron Maxwell is a question mark coming into the game because of injury, which means the Eagles are light in the secondary. And who's gonna cover Reed? Kiko Alonso? Mychal Kendricks?

2. Sam Bradford needs to play better. Bradford, statistically speaking, had one of his best games of the year the last time these two teams played. He threw for 270 yards, three touchdowns and zero interceptions. But Bradford's problem all season has been inconsistency. He made some great throws last week against Arizona but was responsible for three turnovers. During his career, Bradford hasn't been involved in very many big games, so this is something relatively new for the 28-year-old. This game won't just determine the NFC East; it could also determine his future in Philadelphia.

3. The Eagles' special teams needs to make an impact. At times this season, the Eagles' special teams, in general, have been dynamic. At other times, they haven't played up to the high level we've all seen since Chip Kelly took over in 2013. They have to make at least a couple plays against the Redskins on Saturday in a game that should be close. It could really end up being the difference. Darren Sproles is someone to keep an eye on. The recently name Pro Bowler is the best return man the Eagles have had since … DeSean Jackson. If he breaks off a punt return Saturday, it could be the difference in the game and the division.

MORE REDSKINS: 'What a baller!': Kirk Cousins shows hilarious side while mic'd up

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Need to Know: A look at the Redskins' key 2019 free agents

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Need to Know: A look at the Redskins' key 2019 free agents

Here is what you need to know on this Sunday, May 27, 16 days before the Washington Redskins start minicamp.  

Note: I am vacationing in the Outer Banks this week. In this space, I’ll be presenting some of the most popular posts of the last few months. I hope you enjoy these “best of” presentations and I’ll see you folks when I get back. 

Here is my sunrise view from this morning:

Looking at next year’s free agents

This post was originally published on March 18. 

There is still work that the Redskins can do in free agency and they still have some of their own players they want to retain. But with a lot of the player movement already in the books, we can take a look forward some of the key Redskin who currently are set to be free agents when the 2019 league year opens. 

QB Colt McCoy (Week 1 age 32)—Lots of questions here. Will the Redskins want to keep him around for another year as Alex Smith’s backup? Or will they want a younger and cheaper backup? Will McCoy want to move on rather than back up another QB who doesn’t miss many games?

OL Ty Nsekhe (32)—The Redskins gave him a second-round restricted free agent tender this year so it’s possible that he could be gone or on a long-term contract in Washington. If he is a free agent, his value and the difficulty of retaining him could depend on if he ends the season as a reserve tackle (easy) or as a starting guard (hard). 

OLB Preston Smith (25)—As we saw with Trent Murphy (three years, $21 million with up to $30 million), pass rushers get paid. Smith also makes big plays. Since Smith came into the NFL, he is the only player with at least 20 sacks, 3 interceptions, and 4 forced fumbles. If the Redskins can’t reach a deal on an extension with him this year the franchise tag is a distinct possibility. 

WR Jamison Crowder (25)—This year the supply of quality receivers both as free agents and in the draft sent contract prices skyrocketing. To guard against that happening next year, the Redskin should start talking to Crowder about an extension soon. 

ILB Zach Vigil (27)—As I noted here, Vigil went from being cut in September to a very valuable reserve in November. Both Zach Brown and Mason Foster will still be under contract, but the Redskin still should make an effort to retain Vigil for special teams and as a capable backup. 

Other Redskins who are slated to be UFA’s next year are DL Ziggy Hood and ILB Martrell Spaight. 

It’s also worth noting that WR Maurice Harris and DE Anthony Lanier will both be restricted free agents next year. Both positions were pricey in free agency this year, so both could require at least second-round tenders, which likely will increase to about $3 million in 2019. 

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page, Facebook.com/TandlerNBCSand follow him on Twitter  @TandlerNBCSand on Instagram @RichTandler

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Need to Know: A closer look at Alex Smith's contract with the Redskins

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Need to Know: A closer look at Alex Smith's contract with the Redskins

Here is what you need to know on this Saturday, May 26, 17 days before the Washington Redskins start minicamp.  

Note: I am vacationing in the Outer Banks this week. In this space, I’ll be presenting some of the most popular posts of the last few months. I hope you enjoy these “best of” presentations and I’ll see you folks when I get back. 

Contract makes Alex Smith a Redskins for at least three seasons

This post was originally published on March 19. 

When the Redskins traded for Alex Smith on January 30, news also broke that he had agreed to a four-year extension with Washington in addition to the one year left on his contract with the Chiefs. While we got some top-line numbers on the deal, we have gone since then without any details. 

Until now. 

The details show a deal that has a slightly higher cap hit in 2018 than was on his original Chiefs contract and the numbers rise gradually over the life of the deal, which runs through 2022. 

Smith got a $27 million signing bonus and his salaries for 2018 ($13 million) and 2019 ($15 million) also are fully guaranteed at signing making the total $55 million (information via Over the Cap, which got data from a report by Albert Breer). 

But there I another $16 million that is guaranteed for all practical purposes. On the fifth day of the 2019 league year, his 2020 salary of $16 million becomes fully guaranteed. He almost assuredly will get to the point where that money will become guaranteed since the Redskins are not going to cut him after one year having invested $55 million in him. So the total guarantees come to $71 million. 

His 2021 salary is $19 million and it goes up to $21 million in 2022. There have been reports of some incentives available to Smith but since we have no details we’ll set those aside for now. 

The cap hits on the contract are as follows: 

2018: $18.4 million
2019: $20.0 million
2020: $21.4 million
2021: $24.4 million
2022: $26.4 million

The Redskins can realistically move on from Smith after 2020. There would be net cap savings of $13 million in 2021 and $21 million in 2022. 

The first impression of the deal is that the Redskins did not move on from Kirk Cousins because they didn’t want to guarantee a lot of money to a quarterback. The total practical guarantee of $71 million is second only to Cousins’ $82.5 million. It should be noted that Cousins’ deal runs for three years and Smith’s contract is for five. 

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page, Facebook.com/TandlerNBCSand follow him on Twitter  @TandlerNBCSand on Instagram @RichTandler