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Need to Know: Assessing the Redskins' pending free agents

Need to Know: Assessing the Redskins' pending free agents

Here is what you need to know on this Monday, March 6, three days before the March 9 start of NFL free agency.  

Timeline

Days until:

—Redskins offseason workouts start (4/17) 42
—NFL Draft (4/27) 52
—Franchise tag contract deadline (7/15) 131
—First Sunday of 2017 season (9/10) 188

Assessing the Redskins' free agents

The Redskins have 12 unrestricted free agents on their roster. With free agency coming this week, let’s take a look and separate them in to three categories.

Looking at big bucks

In this group are WR DeSean Jackson, WR Pierre Garçon, and defensive tackle Chris Baker. They will have plenty of options including the Redskins and they are likely to be signed sometime in the first few days of free agency. Baker seems to be the most likely to stay at about 50-50. I’ll go with about a 25 percent chance on Garçon sticking around with Jackson holding about a 10 percent chance, maybe less.

The second tier

These are guys who likely will wait for the first flurry of signings to pass before the phone starts ringing for them. Some think that the Redskins could wrap up TE Vernon Davis fairly early but he didn’t sign with them last year until March 31. He could take his time and look around for a better deal.

The Redskins may want C John Sullivan to stay around as a backup to Spencer Long but he will be looking for a starting job. He will turn 32 during training camp and perhaps other teams in need of starters might want to go to a bit younger so there’s a chance who will be back.

S Duke Ihenacho managed to stay healthy for the first time in his three seasons with the team and he started 10 games. The Redskins will try to add safety help in both the draft and in free agency. He might not be back in Washington but he should find work somewhere.

ILB Terence Garvin played in 16 games but only got 58 snaps on defense. He was a good special tams contributor but the team might want someone who can at least contribute a regular role on defense.

It’s possible that CB Greg Toler will get a contract but his roster spot would be far from guaranteed.

Likely on the way out

DL Kedric Golston is the longest-tenured Redskin but it’s hard to see the soon to be 34-year-old, who missed most of last year with a torn hamstring, getting a contract. Last year Golston’s absence led to elevated playing time for DL’s Ziggy Hood and Cullen Jenkins. Hood, who just turned 30, has a better chance of returning than Jenkins, who is 36. But it wouldn’t be surprising if neither returns.

Injuries and other players’ ineffectiveness led to S Donte Whitner starting nine games after coming off the street in Week 5. It seems unlikely that he will be back but if the Redskins can’t solve their perpetual safety problems you never know.

In case you missed it

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page Facebook.com/TandlerCSN and follow him on Twitter @Rich_TandlerCSN.

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The 2005 draft link that bonds the Redskins and Packers ahead of Week 3

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The 2005 draft link that bonds the Redskins and Packers ahead of Week 3

Looking back at NFL Drafts can be a frustrating task for Redskins fans. Missed opportunities and botched picks litter the record books, though the organization has made plenty of good picks, too. 

This weekend marks an interesting intersection of past drafts and current reality when Aaron Rodgers and the Packers come to visit the Redskins and Alex Smith.

Way back, in the 2005 NFL Draft, the 49ers selected Smith with the No. 1 overall pick. He was a major prospect and the consensus top pick in the draft coming out of an outrageous year playing under Urban Meyer at the University of Utah. 

Later that same draft, all the way down to the 24th pick, Green Bay took Aaron Rodgers out of the University of California Berkeley. At the time, the selection turned heads, as the Packers had future Hall of Famer Brett Favre at QB. 

The Rodgers pick turned out to be pretty smart, to say the least. Smith’s tenure in San Francisco had high points, but nothing that lived up to his lofty draft position. 

Rodgers and Smith have talked about being from the same draft class, and the two have developed a friendship off the field. 

“You know, he's a decent player,” Smith joked about Rodgers on Wednesday. 

“He and I [have] been around each other a lot of time now, always linked, pretty good buddies. Certainly, kind of I think follow each other's career from afar.”

Fair or not, Smith and Rodgers have been linked ever since that 2005 draft. Those weren’t the only two QBs taken that year though. 

The Redskins selected Jason Campbell out of Auburn with the 25th pick. If Rodgers had slipped just one more spot, maybe the Redskins take Rodgers instead.

Just to make one more connection, albeit an odd one, but Rodgers wasn’t even the only guy with that last name taken in 2005.

The Redskins selected cornerback Carlos Rogers with the ninth overall pick. Imagine if they took the QB with the slightly different last name. 

 

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Washington Redskins, Alex Smith work to balance patience and aggression in pass game

Washington Redskins, Alex Smith work to balance patience and aggression in pass game

Alex Smith finished the Week 2 loss to the Indianapolis Colts by averaging 6.3 yards-per-pass attempt on 33 completions. Those numbers aren't particularly good, and while they're not bad either, it clearly did not produce enough opportunities for points in the home opener. 

The Colts defense had a lot to do with that too. Indianapolis deployed a soft zone coverage system, forcing the Washington Redskins to look underneath for short gains and eschewing many chances at deep shots down the field. 

That's fine when the team is able to run the ball well, like the dominant Week 1 win in Arizona. But when Washington can't run the ball, like the embarassing Week 2, the short passing game looks too conservative. 

"I mean I think every guy on the team, certainly every guy on offense went through the game and what plays could I have done differently to help us," Smith said Wedneday. "Could I have taken a shot here? You know, all week we talked about being patient. The way they play defense, be patient. Let the shots present themselves."

The shots rarely presented themselves. 

Smith did put two passes in positions for chunk gains, but Josh Doctson was unable to bring in a deep ball on the sideline, and later in the game, Paul Richardson could not corral a big gain over the middle. Neither drop was devestating, but a catch in either situation could have turned momentum in the game. 

Prior to 2017, Smith had a reputation as a quarterback that rarely went down the field. Last season, he disproved that with his best ever statistical campaign and a number of highlight reel plays down the field in the Kansas City offense. 

Redskins fans are starting to wonder if they got the 2017 version of Smith, or the earlier version. 

Truth is the sample size is much too small to determine that answer. In Week 1, Smith didn't need to air the ball out. In fact, he still tried, barely missing a deep completion to Richardson on a play flagged because the receiver was held. 

There are other factors too. The offensive line had a poor performance in Week 2, and Richardson played the game dealing with a shoulder injury. 

Still, there were times it seemed Smith had chances down the field he didn't take, instead opting for the safer check-down pass.

Running back Chris Thompson finished the game with 13 catches but for just 92 yards. Much of that production came late in the second half when the Colts had taken a substantial lead.

"In the second half, very apparent, I mean they were not going to let anything get over their head or get behind them. It was so soft. Hence, a lot of the underneath stuff was open," Smith said.

What version of Smith will show up Sunday against Green Bay?

Much of that will have to do with the offensive line and Jay Gruden's game plan. But plenty will be determined by Smith too. 

The veteran QB does not turn the ball over, which is a big bonus. The Redskins need points though if they're going to keep up with Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers. 

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