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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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Josh Norman takes the high road when asked to reflect on his time with Washington

Josh Norman takes the high road when asked to reflect on his time with Washington

Josh Norman wasn't the most beloved player in Washington during his tenure with the organization, but he certainly was one of the more interesting.

Media members never knew when a routine interview at the corner's locker would turn into a passionate rant or some bizarre metaphor. That sort of unpredictability basically made every one of his pressers a must-attend event.

So, when Norman's time with the Burgundy and Gold came up during his Thursday Zoom call with reporters in Buffalo, it felt like a place where the now-Bills defender could really sound off. But instead, Norman kept things pretty simple in his answer.

"I don’t stick on what went wrong," he said. "I look at the positives. When everybody is trying to look at the negatives, they’re just harking on that and they think they know who you are just because of that. At the end of the day, I take a lot of bullets and I don’t come out and shoot them back. What for? It’s not needed."

If Norman wanted to lash out at his former coaching staff for how they used him or grumble about how he was essentially benched for the end of the 2019 campaign, it would've been somewhat understandable. He certainly deserves from blame for his less-than-sterling tenure with Washington, but others were culpable as well.

To his credit, however, he chose to mostly focus on his new employer.

"It feels so fresh," Norman said about the vibe with the Bills.

He did find a way to close out that particular part of the call with one unique quote, though. 

"What we’re trying to bring here is something truly special," he said. "I’m just gonna sprinkle a little bit of my pixie dust on it."

Well, for the sake of Bills fans, let's hope that pixie dust is different than whatever he was sprinkling in D.C. these last few years. The recipe for that pixie dust should probably be thrown away, honestly.

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Does Alex Smith make sense as Washington's quarantine emergency QB?

Does Alex Smith make sense as Washington's quarantine emergency QB?

Washington head coach Ron Rivera has a plan if he or any of his assistanct coaches contract the novel coronavirus during the ongoing pandemic. It's one that makes sense after Eagles head coach Doug Pederson tested positive for COVID-19 and was forced to miss practice time as a result. 

"We’ve talked about that as far as those things are concerned, the big thing is somebody will move up in terms of those," Rivera said about a coach testing positive. "We are fortunate, as in today’s game, that pretty much every position has a position assistant and they are younger coaches that have come in and are getting opportunities to learn and develop their craft. What may happen, depending on who gets sick, that person (position assistant) will elevate."

Rivera's plan for missed time from coaches is smart because the virus is everywhere, but what's the plan at the game's most important position? 

The Burgundy and Gold find themselves in an interesting spot at quarterback.

Presumed starter Dwayne Haskins looks to be poised for Week 1, healthy and slim and hearing great things about himself from coaches. Kyle Allen is positioned to be the backup, a capable player who knows the offensive system. Should Haskins get injured or disappoint, Allen can step in. 

That leaves Alex Smith. 

The veteran passer is in the midst of a Hollywood comeback story. He suffered a compound fracture of his leg about 20 months ago, and after multiple infections and more than a dozen surgeries, is fighting his way back to the football field. He's passed his medical physical, but not his football physical, and has been listed on Washington's Active/Physically Unable to Play list. That means he's not able to participate in team drills but he can work out at the facility and take full part in meetings and film sessions. 

RELATED: BURNING QUESTIONS: WHO WILL BREAK OUT FOR WASHINGTON IN 2020?

Smith's status could change at any moment, if he can pass the football physical. 

It's unclear if that will ever happen, but it could also present an opportunity. 

With Haskins and Allen playing maybe Washington would be wise to shut Smith down and have him in some form of isolation working out on his own. 

Why?

What happens if COVID-19 sweeps the Washington locker room, or even just the QB room, and suddenly there is nobody to line up under center? Then Smith could become the best option. 

It's a long-shot, maybe even ludicrous idea, but everything going on right now is some version of ludicrous. 

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Nobody could have predicted any of this a year ago, and the suggestion of bubbles and quarantines and contact tracing would have sounded like something from a science fiction movie. 

Well, now we're living in a science fiction movie. Accept the weird and try to roll with it. 

The teams that will excel this fall will do so because of adaptability and preparedness. There is zero guarantee that a quarantine QB makes sense, and even less confidence that he would play. But there's also zero guarantee Smith will ever pass the football physical and be able to play anyway. 

In the 1987 season Washington went 3-0 during that year's NFL players' strike, largely because the front office was prepared for the work stoppage and quickly built a team of replacement players. That winning streak propelled the team to a Super Bowl win. 

It happened because Washington acted smart, saw what possibly could happen with a player strike and executed a backup plan at a high level. 

Word is history repeats itself, and while there should be labor peace this fall, if 2020 has proven anything it's that whatever can go wrong will. Plan accordingly.

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