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Need to Know: Five who could be playing their last game with the Redskins

Need to Know: Five who could be playing their last game with the Redskins

Here is what you need to know on this Saturday, December 31, one day before the Washington Redskins host the New York Giants.


Today's schedule: No availability

Days until: Giants @ Redskins, New Year’s Day 1; Wild card playoff round starts 7; Division playoff round start 14

Injuries of note:
Injured reserve: S Whitner (quad)
Out: CB Dunbar (concussion), LB Cravens (upper arm), OL Painter (calf)
Limited: TE Reed (shoulder), RB Kelley (knee), DE Baker (ankle)
Final injury report

Five players who could be in their last game for  the Redskins

While there are plenty of reasons for optimism that the Redskins will win tomorrow and advance to the playoffs, the cold reality is that their season could come to an end at around 7:30 p.m. on Sunday. That means that a handful of Redskins could be playing their last games in burgundy and gold.

QB Kirk Cousins—It’s unlikely but possible that Cousins will walk as a free agent this spring. He would become the first quarterback ever with back-to-back 4,000-yard seasons to depart his team the next year. But we had only seen one quarterback play out a year on the franchise tag so this situation is not normal. Chances are he will stay on the franchise tag if not on a long-term deal but until the tag is applied and signed or a deal is done anything could happen.

WR DeSean Jackson—There has been plenty of buzz about Jackson’s pending free agency. Some have him in an Eagles uniform in 2017 already. While I tend to think that is a ploy to start driving up his price before he even hits the market, it’s certainly a possibility. It’s also possible that he will be back with the Redskins. Scot McCloughan must weigh multiple factors including his unique skills, his frequent absences at offseason workouts, his contract demands, and his tendency to disappear at times (six-game stretch this year with no more than 55 yards in any game).

WR Pierre Garçon—He recently said “D.C. is where I want to be” and cited his family and business interests in the area. That doesn’t mean he automatically will be back with the Redskins. He could sign up the road with the Ravens or Eagles and still be close enough to monitor his business and spend quality time with his family. But if it comes down to a choice between Jackson and Garçon it seems likely that the Redskins would make their pitch to the latter. However, that doesn’t mean that his return is automatic.

OL Shawn Lauvao—He is going into the last year of the four-year free agent deal he signed in 2014. The contract makes him the 12th highest paid left guard in the league and his play clearly doesn’t warrant that status. Releasing him would save $4 million in cap space and the Redskins could do that and find a younger and cheaper (or at least more cost-effective) solution at left guard. Also, releasing Kory Lichtensteiger, who is likely to be inactive tomorrow, would save $3.5 million.

DE Chris Baker—The veteran lineman will be 30 by the time Week 4 comes around next year. How McCloughan handles his free agency will be interesting to observe. The defensive line needs to be rebuilt. Do they start with Baker, who will command a sizeable but affordable contract? Or do they move on and go the younger and cheaper route? Baker may give the Redskins a slight hometown discount but this will be his last shot at a multiyear deal with some guaranteed cash and if another team offers significantly more money he could be gone.

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Need to Know: The forecast for Redskins Park today is a media circus

Need to Know: The forecast for Redskins Park today is a media circus

Here is what you need to know on Tuesday, August 21, three days before the Washington Redskins host the Broncos in their third preseason game. 

Talking points

Looking at a few different topics this morning:

—What was going to be a normal, ho-hum Tuesday preseason practice at Redskins Park will now be on hyperdrive thanks to the addition of Adrian Peterson. After mostly ignoring the Redskins for most of the offseason, the national media will turn out in force to chronicle the arrival of AD. Yes, it’s AD as in All Day as I was reminded by several Sooners on Twitter in the past few days. I suppose that now that he’s here I’d better get it right. 

Derrius Guice underwent surgery to repair his torn ACL yesterday (see his tweet below). I haven’t heard but I assume that someone will say that the surgery was a success. Looking at a recovery time of about nine months, Guice could be ready for the start of OTAs in mid-May. But given how cautious this organization tends to be with injuries during the offseason program, we may not see him on the field until training camp. 

—Speaking of injuries, there were over a dozen players who were not participating in practice on both Saturday and Sunday. As I noted here a couple of days ago Jay Gruden has become very tight-lipped when it comes to giving out information on injuries. And teams are not required to give out any injury information at all during the preseason. So it’s hard to sort out veterans’ days from players with minor injuries that are being rested since the game isn’t until Friday from injuries that are reasons for legitimate concern. The first injury report will come out two weeks from tomorrow, so we are mostly in the dark until then. 

—I’m hearing from fans and some in the media that undrafted free agent Cam Sims is a lock to make the 53-man roster. I would suggest pumping the brakes. He has a great opportunity and I have him on the 53 in my last prediction. But he has been erratic. The Jets preseason game, where he made a big-time error when he had a pass bounce out of his arms, turning a completion into an interception then made some key, acrobatic catches was essentially a microcosm of his training camp. He needs a strong finish both in practice and in the two remaining preseason games to get locked into a spot. A few plays like the botched reception and he could be on the outside looking in. 

—Montae Nicholson quietly had a good camp and he has played well in two preseason games (he was one of the few starters to play against the Patriots). He struggled in coverage in the early part of camp. The Redskins are changing their scheme to play left- and right-side safeties instead of free and strong. That means that Nicholson, who played free last year, had to learn the coverage responsibilities for both positions on both sides of the field. It took him some time to get up to speed, and during that time it was not unusual to see Nicholson trailing behind a receiver who had a couple of steps on him. He is not immune to making mistakes or just getting beaten on occasion (news flash: NFL rules are set up for DBs to get burned). But he should get the job done most of the time and be the player the Redskins hope he will be. 

Bureau of statistics

Nicholson’s 40 time at the NFL Combine in 2017 was 4.42, the third fastest among safeties and tenth fastest Amon all defensive backs. 

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The agenda

Today: Practice at Redskins Park 1:00; Jay Gruden news conference and player availability after practice, approx. 3:00

Upcoming: Preseason Broncos @ Redskins (Aug. 24) 3 days; Final cut (Sept. 1) 11 days; Season opener @ Cardinals (Sept. 9) 19 days

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


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Is Adrian Peterson a good fit with the Redskins?

Is Adrian Peterson a good fit with the Redskins?

Adrian Peterson is one of the best running backs in NFL history.

But is he the best running back for the Redskins right now?

The Redskins signed Peterson, 33 years old and a 12-year NFL veteran, to a one-year contract. They have been hit with injuries at the running back position, most notably the loss of second-round pick Derrius Guice for the season with a torn ACL. They didn’t make any moves when that diagnosis was announced a week and a half ago. But they lost two more backs to short-term injuries last Thursday and they decided that now is the time to go out and get somebody.

Is the need for a running back really there? Rob Kelley was the starter for the last half of the 2016 season and for seven games last year before a variety of ailments sent him to injured reserve. Samaje Perine became the starter after that and while he struggled at time he also showed growth potential.

Kelley is 25 and Perine is 22. In the absence of Guice, they could develop and when Guice returns next year the team would have a good stable of young running backs.

But now, Peterson is in the picture. We don’t yet know what his role will be, but they did not sign him to be the back who is inactive on game days. He will get some carries and that will take work away from Perine and Kelley.

Now, if Peterson is more productive than either of the two younger backs then that is a worthwhile swap. But what does he have left in the tank at age 33?

Last year, playing for the Saints and Cardinals he gained 529 yards on 156 carries, a very pedestrian average of 3.4 years per carry. That is very similar to the production of Perine, who had 175 carries for 603 yards, a 3.4 average. In his two years in the NFL, Kelley has averaged 3.9 yards per carry.

By signing Peterson, however, the Redskins are hoping that Peterson has one more big year, or at least a medium year by his standards, left in him. After all, it was just in 2015 that he led the NFL in rushing for the third time in his career as he ran for 1,485 yards and averaged 4.5 yards per carry. The Redskins would be delighted if he could get half of that total.

Any free agent signing can only be evaluated when the contract details are available. We only know that it’s a one-year deal and according to some reports he did not get any money guaranteed at signing. That seems to be a team friendly deal, but we will have to see what might kick in if he is on the Week 1 roster.

As with everything else, time will tell if this move works out. If the money is right, it’s a low risk transaction with some possible upside for Washington.

Back during minicamp while talking about how quickly Alex Smith would have to get up to speed with the offense, Jay Gruden said that the Redskins are not in a rebuilding mode and that they need to win now. After the trade for Smith, the Peterson signing is another indication that patience may be wearing thin.

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