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Free Agency: Who's left, offensive line edition

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Free Agency: Who's left, offensive line edition

Now that salary cap-gate over, what's next for the Redskins 53-man roster. According to Rich Tandler- and without factoring in potential savings by cutting certain veterans -there is around 3.8 million left to play with, some of which goes toward signing the remaining draft picks. So, what should the Shanahan's do with that remaining coin? Considering the free agent options remaining are your rank and file types, we can probably ignore certain areas (defensive line, wide receiver, outside linebacker and - for now anyway - tight end and corner). Other trouble spots (inside linebacker, safety, running back, guardcenter) were addressed in the draft orduring the more vibrantportion of free agency though the depth chart is not set in stone. The Redskins drafted three offensive lineman, though not sure anyone thinks that means that problem area is completely solved.Tandler and I went point-counterpoint on the OL before the draft. While I like the attention given to the overall area during the draft - put me down now for saying fifth rounder Adam Gettis is the one to watch - not sure the starting right tackle spot and overall depth works for me. (If the NFL imposed cap hit impacted any single area on the team, you have to believe it was on the line. One has to believe once RG3 was in play, upgrading his protectors with veterans was a major priority, but once the dollars diminished, Plan B was inacted)Which brings us back around to the basis for this post: who's left on the open market. It's one thing to suggest more help is needed, butare worthy options available is the question. Here's a look at the top offensive linemen - heavy on the tackles - remaining in free agency:Marcus McNeill, OT (Chargers): Yep, he's still out there. Knee and neck injuries led to surgeries and missed games over the past two seasons, but when healthy, the 28-year-oldis a top shelf tackle option. With several teams still looking for tackle help - Falcons and Bears come to mind -McNeill will be snatched up once the next wave of free agency truly kicks in or before training camps open. With their (current) limited funds, not sure the Redskins can join the bidding.Kareem McKenzie, OT (Giants): Apparently even the 33-year-old right tackle is not sure what his football future holds. The 11-year veteran started al 16 games in four of the last five seasons for the Giants, but the Super Bowl champs are going with a needed youth movement up front (also, their line was not all that last season). As long as he maintains football shape, McKenzie is the kind of last second option a team could call one week and start the next.Jason Brown, GC (Rams): Went from being a top free agent after a strong run with the Ravens to one of the worst centers in the league. Considering the Redskins backup center hole and Kory Lichtensteiger is recovering from injury, Brown could be an interesting swingman target, though he might have better opportunities toland a starting gig elsewhere.Max Starks, OT (Steelers): This would be a sign-and-stash move as the 30-year-old tore his ACL during Pittsburgh playoff last season. If say Willie Smith shows the coaching staff enough to justify jettisoning Jammal Brown, perhaps Starks makes for a worthy signing with a look toward the second half of the upcoming season and 2013.Others: Jake Scott, G (Titans), Vernon Carey, T (Dolphins), Bobbie Williams, G (Bengals), Redskins in exile: Stephon Heyer (Raiders) and Derrick Dockery (Cowboys), still available.

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Jay Gruden deserves praise for keeping Redskins 'out of the ditches'

Jay Gruden deserves praise for keeping Redskins 'out of the ditches'

On paper, Jay Gruden's tenor with the Redskins is nothing to write home about. Through five seasons he holds a 35-44-1 record, good enough for a .444 winning percentage. Looking at that, some may draw the conclusion that Gruden hasn't been what the Redskins need at the helm.

But according to Pro Football Talk's Darin Gantt, that's not exactly the case. Taking into account the variables Gruden has dealt with throughout the five years, Gantt actually sees him as a "really good" coach.

"I have always come down of the side, maybe, of guys who are doing more with less," Gantt said recently on a Redskins Talk Podcast. "I think Jay has done a pretty good job keeping things in the middle."

Doing more with less and working in the middle essentially defines Jay Gruden's career with the Redskins. Besides his opening year in 2014 in which Washington went 4-12, Gruden's teams have consistently finished right around the middle of the pack.

In the last four seasons, the Redskins have not won more than nine games, but they also haven't lost more than nine. Hovering right around .500, they've always been around league average.

Part of the reason Gantt is willing to give Gruden praise for records that some coaches would get scolded for revolves around what he's had to work with. Gruden's time as head coach has been filled with injuries and other dilemmas both on and off the field. 

In those circumstances, it wouldn't be surprising to see a team completely flounder and spiral out of control. But, that hasn't really been the case with Gruden. Dealing with what he has, the head coach has kept the team competitive for the most part. The team hasn't been a perennial playoff contender, but it also hasn't been at the bottom of the league.

For that ability to keep the Redskins out of the basement despite all the problems he's encountered, Gruden is someone Gantt respects.

"They're able to keep it out of the ditches," Gantt said about Gruden and former NFL head coach John Fox, who Gantt followed during his time in Carolina.

"I think again in the NFL there's something to be said for that," Gantt added. "When things get sideways a Jim Zorn can lose control in a hurry. I feel like Jay just got sort of a steady hand on the wheel."

Until Gruden takes Washington back to the postseason, the critiques will continue to come, as they would for almost all head coaches in similar situations. But when looking at Gruden's time in Washington with a wide view of everything that has happened, Gantt believes the head coach deserves at least a little praise for keeping things afloat.

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Best birthday ever? 107-year-old Redskins fan celebrates in Burgundy and Gold

Best birthday ever? 107-year-old Redskins fan celebrates in Burgundy and Gold

When Carletha "Nana" West was growing up, she began to take an interest in football. In particular, she took notice of a certain Redskins quarterback. 

"When Sammy Baugh was quarterback I liked him and I was just learning football at that time," West said. "I was young myself."

Baugh commanded the Redskins offense from 1937-1952 and became one of West's favorite player. With that, her fandom for the Redskins grew.

Decades later, her love for the Redskins remains. So for her 107th birthday -- yes, 107th -- she, of course, celebrated it with some Burgundy and Gold festivities.

Joined by Redskins President Bruce Allen, West took in her birthday on Thursday, July 18, at Brandywine in Alexandria, Va. Not only was she given a customized Redskins jersey with the number 107 and the name "Nana", but West also got a day named after her. In Alexandria, July 18 will now be known as Carletha "Nana" West Day.

West spent some time reminiscing about her years as a Redskins fan, singing 'Hail to the Redskins' and even sharing her advice on how to live a long, fulfilling life. Besides loving football, she shared some simple words of wisdom.

"Make friends," West said. "And keep them."

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