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Need to Know: The Redskins week that was—Gruden extension, Cousins' status

Need to Know: The Redskins week that was—Gruden extension, Cousins' status

Here is what you need to know on this Saturday, March 11, 37 days before Washington Redskins start offseason workouts on April 17.  

Timeline

Days until:

—NFL Draft (4/27) 47
—Redskins OTAs start (5/24) 74
—Franchise tag contract deadline (7/15) 126
—First Sunday of 2017 season (9/10) 183

The Redskins week that was

This week has been one of the craziest in Redskins history with reports, many of them conflicting, flying around. Because of that I’m doing the week that was a little differently today. Instead of linking the most popular articles of the week I’ll list the top five topics and give you my take on those. These are presented in no particular order.

The end of the road for McCloughan—The McCloughan-Redskins relationship seemed to be doomed from the start. McCloughan was a genius with a fatal flaw and the Redskins were one of few places where he had an opportunity to resume his career. But the atmosphere at Redskins Park—or at many other NFL facilities—is not conducive to handling issues like McCloughan has. While McCloughan had a hand in his own demise the Redskins could not have handled the whole thing any worse.  

Kirk Cousins—Will he sign it or won’t he? Will he get traded or will he stay? Is a long-term deal out of the question? Other than the fact that he did sign the tender we don’t really know a whole lot more about his status for 2017 and beyond than we did a week ago. No matter what happens, we’ll always have the memories of the whacky Ian Rapoport report that said that a trade that would send Cousins to the 49ers, high draft picks to the Cowboys, and Tony Romo to Washington was a possibility.

Gruden extended—Yes, that did happen this week, although it seems like an eternity ago. There was a PR element in the timing, no doubt about it. But it had been in the works for quite some time. The extension does give a sense of stability although it may be a false sense. The money in the additional two years is guaranteed; the job is not. If things go south Dan Snyder will not hesitate to stroke the check and send Gruden packing. Regardless, his power at Redskins Park increased with the new contract; Gruden was one of the few at Redskins Park who ended the week better off than he was when he started it.

Terrelle Pryor signedThe Redskins get to put Pryor on a one-year tryout before deciding if they want to give him a pricier, long-term deal. At 6-5 he gives the Redskins a huge red zone target to send out along with the 6-2 Josh Doctson. Pryor is still learning the position and once he learns the tricks of the trade like using his big body to shield away defenders. At the very least his addition gives the team a year to develop a receiver if they draft one in the middle rounds at the end of next month.

Defensive free agents—D. J. Swearinger isn’t an ideal safety to pair with Su’a Cravens since both are probably better at strong. But Swearinger did play single high with the Cardinals so that’s a possibility. I think you also could see a three-safety look with Will Blackmon playing free. Terrell McClain and Stacy McGee are “just a guy” types with injury histories. They got relatively modest deals and if they can stay healthy they can contribute in a rotation.

Tandler on Twitter

In response to an Adam Schefter tweet saying that FOX is trying to get Tony Romo in a broadcast booth:

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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NFL owners unanimously approve new national anthem policy

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USA TODAY Sports

NFL owners unanimously approve new national anthem policy

NFL owners have unanimously approved a new national anthem policy that allows players to remain in the locker room if they prefer but requires players to stand if they are on the field during the performance.

This new policy subjects teams, but not players, to fines if any team personnel do not show appropriate respect for the anthem. 

Teams will also have the option to fine any team personnel, including players, for the infraction separately though. 

The NFL Players Association released it's own statement after the news was made official.

 

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NFL implementing significant changes to kickoff rules in 2018 season

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AP Images

NFL implementing significant changes to kickoff rules in 2018 season

The NFL is not eliminating kickoffs altogether for the 2018 season. But at the NFL spring meetings in Atlanta, Ga., owners did agree to make significant changes to the third phase of football.

The NFL's new kickoff rules begin with having five players on each side of the ball (previously they could line up six on one side). Also, they cannot line up more than 1-yard from the restraining line, which is the line where the ball is placed on the tee. This prohibits the kickoff team from getting a running start downfield. 

At least two players must be lined up outside the yard-line numbers and at least two players lined up between the numbers and the hash mark. In years past, three players had to be lined up outside the inbounds line with one outside the yard-line number. At least eight players need to be in the 15-yard "setup zone," leaving three players outside of the "setup zone." Before, all kickoff return players had to be behind their restraining line. These changes will place players closer to where the ball is kicked in order to reduce speed and the amount of space on the play. 

Wedge blocks are no longer allowed. Players who were initially lined up in the "setup zone" are the only ones who can now come together for a double-team block. In the past, only 2-man wedge blocks were allowed and could take place on the field anywhere. The purpose of this change is to limit the possible blocking schemes by the kickoff return team. 

No player on the receiving side of the ball can cross the restraining line or block in the 15-yard area from the kicking team's restraining line until the ball is touched or hits the ground. Before, the receiving team could move past their restraining line and block as soon as the ball was kicked. This change gets rid of the "jump-set/attack" block.

Finally, a ball will be considered dead if it's not touched by the receiving team and touches the ground in the end zone. In the past, the ball was dead once it was downed in the end zone by the receiving team. This change means there's no requirement for the kickoff returner to down the ball in the end-zone. 

If that was a lot to dissect, check out the video below. 

In addition to new kickoff rules, ejections are now reviewable. In March, a rule passed that officials can make an ejection after a replay, but not they can also undo an ejection after a replay. 

The league also adjusted the official language for Use of a Helmet rule. 

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