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Need to Know: Redskins on the bubble, defensive edition

Need to Know: Redskins on the bubble, defensive edition

Here is what you need to know on this Friday, June 9, four days before the Washington Redskins start their mandatory minicamp on June 13.


Days until:

—Franchise tag contract deadline (7/15) 36
—Training camp starts (7/27) 48
—Preseason opener @ Ravens (8/10) 62
—Season opener Eagles @ Redskins (9/10) 93

Redskins on the bubble—defensive edition

A couple of weeks ago I looked at the players who are locks to make the Redskins’ 53-man roster. There are 39 players (18 offense, 18 defense, 3 specialists) who are going through the offseason program working on refining their games and not on ensuring that they have jobs after the September 2 cut to 53.

There also are players who don’t have a realistic shot at making the roster. These players are fighting for one of the 10 practice squad jobs or, failing that, a shot at making another team’s roster or at least getting a call when a team needs an injury replacement.

RELATED: The Redskins week that was

In between, there are the players on the bubble. They have a legitimate shot at making the 53 but they are not sure things. Some of these players must prove that they have recovered from injuries while others, like some of the late-round draft picks, need to show that they have what it takes to make it in the NFL.

Here are the defensive players on the bubble watch. We looked at the offensive players earlier this week.

Defense (18)

D-Line: Matt Ioannidis, Phil Taylor, Joey Mbu, A.J. Francis, Ondre Pipkins

Pipkins may be more of a long shot than a bubble player but the lack of an identified solution at nose tackle gives the 325-pound undrafted rookie a shot. I have five locks listed so these players likely are fighting for one spot.

Linebacker: ILBs Martrell Spaight, Chris Carter, and Zach Vigil, OLBs Houston Bates and Lynden Trail

Spaight is close to a lock but he will have to fight off the other two inside LBs here to make it. Sixth-round pick Josh Harvey-Clemons will need a year of seasoning to build up some size and he is in the long shot category. Bates and Trail will compete for a possible fifth outside spot that may only be available during Trent Murphy’s four-game suspension.

Defensive backs: CBs Fabian Moreau, Joshua Holsey, and Dashaun Phillips, Safeties DeAngelo Hall, Will Blackmon, Montae Nicholson, Deshazor Everett, Josh Evans

Moreau likely would be a lock if there was confidence that he will be healthy enough to participate in training camp. Holsey could benefit if Moreau starts the season on PUP. Earlier this year the coaches were talking like Hall was a lock but he must be recovered from his torn ACL and fight off the other safeties to wrap up his spot.

The numbers: There are a total of 30 bubble players, 12 on offense and 18 on defense. I consider 39 players to be locks to make the roster so that means that the 30 players who are in realistic contention for jobs will be competing for 14 jobs.

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.

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Reuben Foster's season-ending injury hurts the Redskins from a contract perspective, too

Reuben Foster's season-ending injury hurts the Redskins from a contract perspective, too

There are a lot of questions stemming from Reuben Foster's injury at Redskins OTAs, which looks to be a season-ending one.

Where does Foster, whose career has really yet to take off due to other injuries as well as numerous off-field troubles, go from here? What are Washington's options at inside linebacker now, since they were counting on him to produce?

And then there's this: How does Foster missing this year affect his contract with the 'Skins?

The answer, according to salary cap expert J.I. Halsell, is not much.

"When a contract tolls, that means basically the pause button is pushed and whatever you were supposed to make in 2019 carries over to 2020. That's not the case for Reuben Foster," Halsell said Tuesday while on the Redskins Talk podcast.

"Reuben Foster will earn his $1.29 million salary regardless of if he plays this season or not. While he'll probably spend his entire season on injured reserve, he'll make his $1.29 million in 2019."

Essentially, everything proceeds as normal. And that in and of itself is a decent setback for the organization.

One of the reasons the Redskins dealt with the controversy and backlash when they claimed Foster last November was because they were adding a first-round talent on his rookie contract. The team was hoping they could secure two years of elite play out of him at a bargain price, and then potentially exercise the fifth-year option on him to keep him in D.C. through 2021.

Now, however, they're losing one of those precious seasons and will have to make that decision on his fifth-year option next offseason without any tape or experience to really base that decision on. That's an important choice, and one that will carry significant financial implications as well.

"The fifth-year option for the 2021 season will be pretty expensive," Halsell said. "The long and short of it is it's going to be a lucrative dollar amount and given his injury history, his current injury, you would think that when they have to make that decision by the 2020 Draft, they will decline that option."

Haslell's right. The likelihood of the Burgundy and Gold committing big money to a guy with literally one rep in their uniform — and it's not like he was proven for the 49ers, as a linebacker or as a person, either — feels unbelievably slim. 

Yet — and now we're looking pretty far down the line — if he is able to return from this injury and contribute in 2020, the franchise could still look to keep him beyond that. There's a ton of time between now and then, but it's certainly possible.

"Theoretically, even though you don't have the fifth-year option for 2021, you can work on a contract extension for Reuben Foster assuming he comes back to full health," Haslell explained.

Still, not only does the injury hurt the player as well as the unit the player was going to start on, but it limits the team's potential payoff from claiming the player. The situation, from every angle, is an unfortunate one. 


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NFL revamping players' pain management and prevention programs

USA TODAY Sports Imahes

NFL revamping players' pain management and prevention programs

NEW YORK -- The NFL and the players' union have two new agreements to address player health in the areas of pain management/prescription medications, and behavior well-being.

The joint agreements, announced Monday, are designed to lead to advancement and understanding of dealing with pain and to improve potential treatments. The league and union also will add to programs already established in education, prevention, and overall behavioral health throughout the league.

"I was hired two years ago and when I was hired I was asked about areas of concern," said Dr. Allen Sills, the NFL's medical chief. "And I said these were two areas I saw from my knowledge of someone taking care of athletes for over two decades. I felt a real need there."

"We've been working together with the players' union to come up with something that would work proactively for both. We have the same goal, to take care of the whole player and in a holistic way, and to focus on prevention."

Among the stipulations in the pain management area will be formation of a committee of medical experts appointed by the league and union that will establish uniform standards for club practices and policies in pain management and the use of prescription medication by players. The committee also will conduct research concerning pain management and alternative therapies.

That committee will receive periodic reports from a newly developed prescription drug monitoring program that will monitor all prescriptions issued to NFL players by club physicians and unaffiliated physicians.

Each NFL club must appoint and pay for a pain management specialist before next season.

All this builds on the programs in place.

"We've had an electronically submitted health record for each club in place for a number of years," Sills said. "Medical providers enter the prescriptions they have given to the players. Periodically, our medical advisory committee and the NFL Physicians Society would issue white paper guidelines around strategies. The important change here is obviously it creates a committee tasked with overseeing our educational efforts -- the best practices around pain management."

All 32 teams now must retain by the start of training camp a behavioral health team clinician focused on supporting players' emotional and mental health and well-being. The old bromide of "toughing it out" when someone has such issues has long been discarded, Sills said.

"This is not novel to the NFL or to sports," Sills added. "It applies across all levels of society at all age groups and walks of life, and we know these are issues we need to address."

While the NFL and NFLPA have had previous joint programs in these health areas, Sills and NFLPA President Eric Winston note these initiatives are a major step forward in medical care.

"These agreements are positive developments for our membership as they will provide new and important resources to help players and their families," Winston said. "Our union has always advocated for advancements in health and safety and we think this work with the NFL is another important step to improve care for NFL players."