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Need to Know: Is Pettine now the favorite for Redskins defensive coordinator?

Need to Know: Is Pettine now the favorite for Redskins defensive coordinator?

Here is what you need to know on this Friday, January 13, 55 days before NFL free agency starts.


Days until:
NFL franchise tag deadline 47
NFL draft 104
First Sunday of 2017 season 240

Coaching search update

There is so much going on right now that you can’t go out to dinner, or even sleep, without missing news. Here is a roundup from the last 24 hours or so.

Wade Phillips is not coming to interview with the Redskins on Friday. Instead, the longtime NFL coach, the favorite of many fans to get Washington’s vacant defensive coordinator job, will join Sean McVay in Los Angeles and run the Rams defense.

Why is Phillips going west instead of coming east to Ashburn, where his son Wes works as the Redskins tight ends coach? Chuck Sapienza of Breaking Burgundy reports that it was simply a matter of talent. The Rams are in good shape up front, led by All-Pro defensive tackle Aaron Donald and, when healthy, former All-Pro Robert Quinn. Despite getting no help for a miserable offense (ranked 32nd), the Rams were ninth in terms of yards allowed. The Redskins do have a few pieces in place on defense and they could add more in free agency and in the draft but Phillips saw that there is more to work with in Los Angeles.

RELATED: New #RedskinsTalk Podcast - Answers, or just more questions?

—Another development in LA could affect another candidate for the Redskins’ defensive coordinator job. There are reports that former Bills offensive coordinator Anthony Lynn is very close to finalizing a deal that would make him the head coach of the Los Angeles Chargers (I know I will type San Diego Chargers at some point). Shortly after the season ended, Adam Schefter of ESPN reported that wherever Lynn went, Gus Bradley would become the defensive coordinator. Bradley interviewed with the Redskins on Wednesday.

—So does the development with Lynn eliminate Bradley from consideration with the Redskins? That’s possible, but we don’t know for sure. Bradley, the former defensive coordinator of the Seahawks and head coach of the Jaguars, must do what’s best for Bradley. He is not contractually tied to Lynn in any way. He may not want to join a team that is in the process of relocating and is set to play in a 30,000-seat stadium in the next two years. Bradley also might prefer to work with an organization that has Scot McCloughan picking the players. Chargers GM Tom Telesco has been in in charge for four years and the Chargers have gone from playoff contenders to double-digit losses the last two seasons.

—All that being said, there still is a good chance that Bradley will stick with Lynn and join him in Los Angeles. And Steve Wilks, the Panthers’ secondary coach who had obtained permission to interview with Washington, is apparently going to stay in Carolina and replace Sean McDermott, the new Bills head coach, as the defensive coordinator there. So where does that leave the Redskins in their hunt for someone to run the defense?

MORE REDSKINS: If McVay leaves, don't expect Redskins to hire outsider

—Perhaps with Mike Pettine, the first candidate they interviewed for the job. The news of the meeting didn’t excite many but his resume is rock solid. He has overseen five top-10 defenses in seven seasons as either a head coach or as a coordinator. The Redskins could do much worse than to bring in Pettine.

—The search for a new offensive coordinator to replace McVay may not have as much drama attached to it. It seems that the job will go to offensive line coach Bill Callahan if he wants it or to quarterbacks coach Matt Cavanaugh. It may not be that simple—things rarely are simple at Redskins Park—but for right now it looks like the first interviews will involve a candidate that already has an office in Ashburn.

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Redskins exercise team option on Adrian Peterson for 2020

Redskins exercise team option on Adrian Peterson for 2020

There was little doubt, but Adrian Peterson is officially returning to the Washington Redskins in 2020.

Washington officially exercised Peterson's team option on his contract on Wednesday, keeping the 35-year-old under contract through next season.

"Adrian Peterson is the epitome of what it means to be a pro in this league," head coach Ron Rivera said in the team's statement. "Adrian’s leadership and passion towards the game of football will set an example of what is expected of the players in this program moving forward."

The seven-time Pro Bowler has led Washington in rushing yards the last two seasons. A year ago, he was named a team captain for the Burgundy and Gold and led the team in rushing touchdowns and carries in addition to rushing yards. In 2018, he rushed for over 1,000 yards in his first season with the team.

The future Hall of Famer has continued to climb in the record books during his time in Washington. Last season, he passed Walter Payton on the all-time rushing touchdowns list and eclipsed 14,000 yards on the ground. Entering 2020, he remains 1,054 yards away from passing Lions' legend Barry Sanders for fourth all-time in rushing yards.

Peterson's return to Washington was expected, especially considering the many question marks surrounding the rest of the position group.

If the Redskins had let Peterson become a free agent, Washington's top two running backs under contract would have been third-year pro Derrius Guice and sophomore Bryce Love, both who have a laundry list of injury concerns. The team's top pass-catching back, Chris Thompson, is a free agent.

"It’s a blessing to be back and I look forward to continue leading and inspiring those around me to be great and think outside the box!" Peterson told NBC Sports Washington's Julie Donaldson. "Not only am I appreciative to the organization for having faith in me but also love how the Redskins nation has embraced, showered me with love. I’ll continue to pour my heart and soul into winning a championship! The best is yet to come!"

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Redskins free agent targets: James Bradberry

Redskins free agent targets: James Bradberry

NBC Sports Washington is taking a long look at potential free agents that could help the Redskins in 2020. 

Carolina Panthers CB James Bradberry
2016 second-round pick by Carolina
Unrestricted free agent
6-foot-1 | 212 lbs. | 26 years old

Ron Rivera has brought a lot with him from Carolina to Washington. Most notably, the Redskins new coach has hired someone with ties to the Panthers to run, among other things, his new team's offense, training staff, player negotiations/salary cap dealings and a handful of positions on both sides of the ball.

It's safe to bet that trend will continue to some extent once free agency commences, with Greg Olsen visiting the Redskins before signing with the Seahawks Tuesday. Safety Tre Boston is slated to hit the open market as well.

If Rivera wants to get really aggressive, however, and poach who should be the top available Panther, he'll pursue cornerback James Bradberry.

Bradberry doesn't carry the same name recognition that Josh Norman did four offseasons ago, but don't overlook him. He's a legit cover guy in the NFL. 

The 26-year-old has started 47 of the last 48 games — the majority of which happened with Rivera on the sidelines — and is coming off a year where he notched three picks and defended 12 passes.

Bradberry will be one of the three premium available options at his position come March, thanks to his durability, age and steady improvement as a pro. And because of those factors, he's going to command a serious contract, likely somewhere north of $10 million per season.

Now, during Super Bowl week in Miami, Bradberry told the Redskins Talk podcast that his "dream scenario" would be to return to the Panthers and continue his career there. He did admit, though, he's enticed by the idea of re-joining Rivera, a person whom Bradberry described as a "great man and a great coach."

If Bradberry can't come to an agreement with the organization that drafted him, the Redskins should make a concerted effort to land him. Cornerback is a place of need for Rivera, Jack Del Rio and Co., and it's unlikely they'll be able to reinforce it with a high draft pick considering the team is without a second-rounder and is currently poised to take Chase Young second overall.

Therefore, free agency appears to be Washington's best path for addressing the outside of their secondary, and Bradberry very well could be the best choice on that path. 

Yes, the last time the Redskins went all-in on a defensive back from the Panthers who wore No. 24, it failed. That shouldn't dissuade them this time around. Bradberry will be expensive, sure, but he also could be very, very good for quite a while.

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