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Instant Analysis: Panthers 21, Redskins 13

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Instant Analysis: Panthers 21, Redskins 13

The Redskins have a lot to overcome each week. A struggling secondary. Occasionally spotty special teams. Lack of a consistent pass rush.

The officials shouldn’t be on that list.

On Sunday, however, a crucial inadvertent whistle led to the Panthers’ first touchdown, and the Redskins never recovered en route to dropping their third straight game, 21-13, at FedEx Field.

As a result, the Redskins (3-6) enter the bye week searching for answers instead of looking forward to a second half filled with endless possibilities.

Coaches and players agreed this was a “must win” game. And it got off to a nightmarish start.

Late in the first quarter, Panthers’ running back DeAngelo Williams sprinted down the sideline -- carefully keeping his feet in bounds -- and into the end zone to put Carolina ahead 7-3. 

As Williams scampered toward the goal, a number of Redskins – linebacker Perry Riley in particular – slowed down as they pursued him. As it turns out, Riley and others let up because they thought an official had blown a whistle. On replays, it appeared as through Riley could have tackled Williams around the 10-yard line. 

But he didn’t – and the Panthers seized a lead they would not relinquish.

“In WSH/CAR even though he didn’t step out of bounds the official should’ve admitted he blew the whistle and ball should have been dead there,” tweeted Mike Pereira, the former NFL vice president of officiating.

The controversial touchdown wasn't the only reason the Redskins lost, of course. But it certainly wasn't any help to a scuffling, injury-depleted team that's got little room for error. 

For most of the afternoon, Robert Griffin III (22 of 38 for 224 yards and no touchdowns), Alfred Morris (13 carries for 76 yards) and the rest of the Redskins’ offense couldn’t get much going against the Panthers’ middle of the pack defense. 

Meantime, Cam Newton (one passing touchdown, one rushing) and the Panthers were exactly what Washington feared: A much better team than their 1-6 record indicated. Indeed, Newton connected with Steve Smith late in the second half to give the Panthers a 14-3 lead -- and all they would need to snap a five-game losing streak.

The Redskins thought they had caught the break they needed in the third quarter as trailed they 14-6. Panthers' punter Brad Nortman shanked a kick, which traveled only 14 yards and set up Washington at its own 40-yard line.

But 10 plays later, the drive stalled and Sav Rocca punted.

Newton and the Panthers clinched the victory on their next drive. Newton connected with Armanti Edwards for 82 yards, kickstarting a three-play scoring drive that culminated in a Newton one yard run for a touchdown.

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

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USA Today Sports Images

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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Associated Press

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