Here is what you need to know on this Tuesday, March 7, two days before the March 9 start of NFL free agency.  


Days until:

—Redskins offseason workouts start (4/17) 41
—NFL Draft (4/27) 51
—Franchise tag contract deadline (7/15) 130
—First Sunday of 2017 season (9/10) 187

Gruden’s influence is growing

When Jay Gruden signed as the Redskins’ head coach, his authority did not extend much beyond the white lines. His power in the draft room and in determining the 90 players on the offseason roster was only in an advisory capacity. That power belonged to Bruce Allen and Scot McCloughan.

It’s not unusual for a first-time head coach to have 90-man roster control. However, many coaches are given power to form the 53-man roster out of those 90 players. Gruden did not have that authority either. Again, he could make his recommendations and fight for what he wanted but if there was a disagreement it was Allen or McCloughan who won.

A year after he came on board his chances of gaining any more power seemed to be greatly diminished on the heels of tumultuous 4-12 season that saw him shuffle Robert Griffin III, Kirk Cousins, and Colt McCoy due to injuries and ineffectiveness. There was talk that he could be one and done in Washington.

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That never really was an option as Gruden was only one year into a five-year contract. But a weak showing in 2015 might have led to an early exit.


But Gruden survived because he grabbed control. He benched Griffin, the favorite of upper management, who saw both marketing opportunities and the massive investment of draft capital they had put into Griffin, and made Cousins the starter.

It’s one thing to make a risky move, it’s another if it has good results. The QB change came up aces. The Redskins went 9-7 with Cousins throwing for over 4,000 yards and getting particularly hot down the stretch as the Redskins recovered from a bumpy start to finish hot and take the NFC East title.

Such a decision can go a long way towards establishing yourself as someone in the organization who should be listened to. The move didn’t do anything to Gruden’s contracted power, or lack thereof. But you must believe that his “suggestions” for who should stay and who should go get taken a lot more seriously. If he wants the team to keep a particular free agent or let him go, his word carries more weight than his contract says it does. His voice carries more weight in late April in the draft war room.

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Now with the backdrop of his contract extension through 2020 and the vacuum created by apparent shrinking of Scot McCloughan’s role, it looks like he could gather even more authority, formally or otherwise. Other than Dan Snyder and possibly Allen (nobody really seems to know the length the team president’s contract), only Jordan Reed is tied to the Redskins for longer than Gruden.

But for someone in Gruden’s position, power lasts only as long as the results are good. If the quality of his “recommendations” starts to go south, so will his power. And if bad decisions are being made that is usually reflected on the field, something that would put his employment in jeopardy regardless of how long he has to go on his contract.  

Tandler on Twitter

On a report that DeSean Jackson will be looking for $10-$12 million in free agency:

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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 @Rich_TandlerCSN.