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Need to Know: What are the chances that Baker returns to the Redskins?

Need to Know: What are the chances that Baker returns to the Redskins?

Here is what you need to know on this Wednesday, February 15, 22 days before the March 9 start of NFL free agency.  

Timeline

Days until:

NFL Franchise tag deadline (3/1) 14
—Redskins offseason workouts start (4/17) 61
—NFL Draft (4/27) 71
First Sunday of 2017 season (9/10) 207

Wednesday quick hitters

Defining “heat”: It appears that I upset some people yesterday with my tweet promoting the Need to Know post. I said that “The heat is on Scot McCloughan.” Some were wondering (rather angrily I might add) why a GM who helped the team get to consecutive winning seasons for the first time in nearly 20 years would have the heat on him. And the answer is that the heat always is on an NFL GM. If the franchise hasn’t even been to an NFC championship game in about 25 years there is heat on the GM to get the team there. If they just won a Super Bowl, there is heat on the general manager to do it again.

RELATED: #RedskinsTalk Podcast - Upside for Kirk Cousins answering contract questions?

Important work: Having the heat put on him and being under pressure does not mean that McCloughan is on the verge of behind fired. It means just what it says. Aren’t you under pressure in your job from time to time? Does it always mean that you are about to be fired? In most cases, it means that you have very important work to get done and you are on a deadline. That applies to McCloughan regarding free agency and the draft.

Baker’s return a coin toss: It appears that Chris Baker’s status is truly a 50-50 proposition. On the pro side of keeping him, he is a very solid defensive end on a team that desperately needs defensive linemen. Why let him go and have one more hole you need to fill? Also, he is settled in the area and he wants to stay. The other side of the coin is that he will command a three- or four-year deal worth $7-$8 million per year. They may be hesitant to offer that to a player who will be 30 a few games into the season. I’ll say he ends up staying but I say it with no confidence.

Pay the big man: After the Redskins sort out their free agents they need to get down to business with some contract extensions for eligible players. Morgan Moses should be first in line. He has done a solid job since taking over the right tackle spot, the second most important position on the O-line, during training camp in 2015. Last year he would have missed a game or two with a badly sprained ankle he suffered in London but since Trent Williams had gone out on a drug suspension right after he got injured, Moses pushed through it. He should get five years for between $6 and $7 million per year. 

More Redskins: Dysfunction at Redskins Park?

Quality QB’s on tap in ’17: There is a lot of talk about a shortage of quarterbacks in the NFL but don't tell the Redskins that. Of the 13 teams on their 2017 schedule only one, the 49ers, have genuine questions at the position for the coming season. The Broncos also are unsure who will start but they are not in full-scale blowup mode at the most important position on the field with Trevor Simeon and Paxton Lynch in the house. The rest of the QB’s on the slate range from competent (Alex Smith) to rising stars (Derek Carr, Dak Prescott twice, Carson Wentz twice) to established stars (Russell Wilson, Philip Rivers) to sure first-ballot Hall of Famers (Drew Brees). Injuries could change this situation but right now even though the Redskins need to upgrade their rushing defense it looks like they will have to bolster their pass defense as well.

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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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Jay Gruden deserves praise for keeping Redskins 'out of the ditches'

Jay Gruden deserves praise for keeping Redskins 'out of the ditches'

On paper, Jay Gruden's tenor with the Redskins is nothing to write home about. Through five seasons he holds a 35-44-1 record, good enough for a .444 winning percentage. Looking at that, some may draw the conclusion that Gruden hasn't been what the Redskins need at the helm.

But according to Pro Football Talk's Darin Gantt, that's not exactly the case. Taking into account the variables Gruden has dealt with throughout the five years, Gantt actually sees him as a "really good" coach.

"I have always come down of the side, maybe, of guys who are doing more with less," Gantt said recently on a Redskins Talk Podcast. "I think Jay has done a pretty good job keeping things in the middle."

Doing more with less and working in the middle essentially defines Jay Gruden's career with the Redskins. Besides his opening year in 2014 in which Washington went 4-12, Gruden's teams have consistently finished right around the middle of the pack.

In the last four seasons, the Redskins have not won more than nine games, but they also haven't lost more than nine. Hovering right around .500, they've always been around league average.

Part of the reason Gantt is willing to give Gruden praise for records that some coaches would get scolded for revolves around what he's had to work with. Gruden's time as head coach has been filled with injuries and other dilemmas both on and off the field. 

In those circumstances, it wouldn't be surprising to see a team completely flounder and spiral out of control. But, that hasn't really been the case with Gruden. Dealing with what he has, the head coach has kept the team competitive for the most part. The team hasn't been a perennial playoff contender, but it also hasn't been at the bottom of the league.

For that ability to keep the Redskins out of the basement despite all the problems he's encountered, Gruden is someone Gantt respects.

"They're able to keep it out of the ditches," Gantt said about Gruden and former NFL head coach John Fox, who Gantt followed during his time in Carolina.

"I think again in the NFL there's something to be said for that," Gantt added. "When things get sideways a Jim Zorn can lose control in a hurry. I feel like Jay just got sort of a steady hand on the wheel."

Until Gruden takes Washington back to the postseason, the critiques will continue to come, as they would for almost all head coaches in similar situations. But when looking at Gruden's time in Washington with a wide view of everything that has happened, Gantt believes the head coach deserves at least a little praise for keeping things afloat.

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Best birthday ever? 107-year-old Redskins fan celebrates in Burgundy and Gold

Best birthday ever? 107-year-old Redskins fan celebrates in Burgundy and Gold

When Carletha "Nana" West was growing up, she began to take an interest in football. In particular, she took notice of a certain Redskins quarterback. 

"When Sammy Baugh was quarterback I liked him and I was just learning football at that time," West said. "I was young myself."

Baugh commanded the Redskins offense from 1937-1952 and became one of West's favorite player. With that, her fandom for the Redskins grew.

Decades later, her love for the Redskins remains. So for her 107th birthday -- yes, 107th -- she, of course, celebrated it with some Burgundy and Gold festivities.

Joined by Redskins President Bruce Allen, West took in her birthday on Thursday, July 18, at Brandywine in Alexandria, Va. Not only was she given a customized Redskins jersey with the number 107 and the name "Nana", but West also got a day named after her. In Alexandria, July 18 will now be known as Carletha "Nana" West Day.

West spent some time reminiscing about her years as a Redskins fan, singing 'Hail to the Redskins' and even sharing her advice on how to live a long, fulfilling life. Besides loving football, she shared some simple words of wisdom.

"Make friends," West said. "And keep them."

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