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Redskins position outlook: Tight end

Redskins position outlook: Tight end

Over the next few weeks, JP Finlay and Rich Tandler will grade each position group’s performance in 2016, break down the current personnel situation and evaluate the unit's outlook for 2017.

So far we’ve looked at the running backs and the defensive line. Today the focus moves to the tight end position.

Tight end

2016 starter: Jordan Reed

Backups: Vernon Davis, Niles Paul, Derek Carrier

Free agents: Davis

Rewind: Reed had a Pro Bowl year despite being bitten by the injury bug. A concussion sidelined him in Weeks 6-7 and a shoulder injury forced him to be inactive for two late-season games and severely diminished his effectiveness in two others. If he had played 16 games his stats project out to 88 receptions for 915 yards and 8 touchdowns. As is was, his line was 66/686/6.

We will hear the “if only he could stay healthy for 16 games” lament often as the offseason progresses. That may not be realistic. However, after the played and stood out in the second half of the Thanksgiving Day game in Dallas after suffering the AC joint sprain to his left shoulder he can no longer be called “soft”. If he’s not playing, he’s hurting.

Related: NFL Mock Draft 2.0

Davis had a career revival at the age of 32. He appeared to be fading away as his production went way down in San Francisco in 2014 and with the 49ers and Broncos in 2015. But Scot McCloughan signed him and he proved to be a huge asset both filling in for an injured Reed and lining up with Reed. Getting 44/583/2 from their second tight end helped the offense become one of the best in the NFL.

Carrier and Paul both missed extensive time with injuries. Carrier started the season on the PUP list as he continued his rehab from a knee injury he suffered in Chicago in December of 2015. He was activated after Paul suffered a torn labrum in the London game. Neither played much on offense; Paul was in for 112 snaps on offense, Carrier for 80.

Fast forward: Reed is locked up through 2021 after signing a five-year, $46.75 million last May. He is a salary cap bargain this year with a charge of only $5.7 million. That’s well worth it even if he misses few games along the way.

He skipped playing in the Pro Bowl due to the shoulder injury. The good news is that it won’t require surgery and he should be good to go when offseason workouts start in April.

Davis is a free agent and getting him back is a priority for the team. The team started talks with his agent soon after the season ended. After the season Davis said all the right things about playing another year in his home town but it will come down to money. His deal paid him $2.4 million last year. It might take two years and $6 million to get him locked up this time with maybe $2 million guaranteed. Odds are he will be back but it’s no sure thing.

More Redskins: Defense with the top pick?

Paul is still under contract this year for $2 million in combined salary and roster bonuses. Money won’t be a factor in whether he’s back or not. The issue will be health and if he can stay on the field. He missed only one game due to injury in his first four seasons in the league but then he missed all the 2015 season with a dislocated ankle suffered in the preseason and half of last year. The coaches love his commitment, work ethic, and the way he plays with abandon. He can also play fullback; the team had to resort to using linebacker Houston Bates there after Paul was injured. Those factors should push them to keep Paul around and give him a chance to contribute what he can.

Carrier may not be as secure. After Paul and Logan Paulsen were injured in 2015 the Redskins traded a conditional 2017 fifth-round pick to the 49ers for Carrier. The fifth-rounder may have tilted the scales towards keeping him around. But the conditions for the fifth-round pick were not met and the pick is now a seventh-rounder. That won’t have much of an effect on a decision to keep him or not. Carrier is likely to stay around but he will have to earn a spot on the 53.

If Davis ends up leaving, the Redskins could look for a replacement in free agency. Perhaps Jermaine Gresham, who was with Jay Gruden in Cincinnati, could be a target if he’s healthy. And you can’t rule out Scot McCloughan grabbing a tight end in the draft if one is the best available player on the board.

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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Need to Know: Redskins player one-liners, defense

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Need to Know: Redskins player one-liners, defense

Here is what you need to know on this Tuesday, May 22, 66 days before the Washington Redskins start training camp.  

Redskins player one-liners, defense

A few weeks ago, I did an early projection of the Redskins’ 53-man roster on offense and defense. As the team gets ready for OTAs here is a comment on each player expected to make the team on defense; the offense was up yesterday

Defensive line

—Even though he played just 159 snaps last year before getting injured, the experience that Jonathan Allen gained in the offseason and training camp last year will help him get off to a strong start this season. 

—​Daron Payne will improve as the season goes on but he should be of some help stopping the run, the team’s most glaring weakness, right off the bat. 

—​Matt Ioannidis could play his way into an early contract extension a year from now, something nobody saw coming a year ago. 

—Last year Anthony Lanier played a little over half a season’s worth of snaps and got 5.0 sacks so I’ll put his over/under for this year at 7.5. 

—I think many fans see “Redskins veteran free agent D-lineman” and associate “bust” but Stacy McGee played pretty well last year. 

—Will Tim Settle be in at nose tackle for the first snap in Week 1?

—The coaches would like to be able to keep Ziggy Hood on the roster, but injuries and other issues could make him a victim of the roster numbers game. 

Inside linebackers

—​Zach Brown struggled a bit before injuries forced him out of the last three games, but he still finished in the top 10 in the NFL in tackles. 

—The team re-signing Mason Foster in late January was a low-key but potentially very impactful move. 

—After getting cut and then returning in November last year, Zach Vigil probably will be employed with the Redskins for all of the 2018 season. 

—It will be interesting to see how much the Redskins try to get out of converted safety Josh Harvey-Clemons as a nickel linebacker this year. 

—The Redskins moved up in the sixth round to draft Shaun Dion Hamilton, so it wouldn’t be surprising if he has a regular role on defense before the season is out. 

Outside linebackers

—All Preston Smith needs to do to hit it big in free agency is add a few sacks to his 2017 total and get a few more takeaways. 

—​Ryan Kerrigan already got paid, he’s a few more good years away from making the Redskins Ring of Fame. 

—I predict that Ryan Anderson gets his first NFL sack in Week 2 against the Colts. 

—You usually think of outside linebackers rotating in when it’s the nickel defense, but it wouldn’t be surprising to see Pernell McPhee be a regular in short-yardage situations. 

Cornerbacks

—I think Josh Norman will the dancing in the end zone at some this season; he is long overdue to get a pick six (or a pick of any sort for that matter).

—The first time I noticed Quinton Dunbar playing cornerback was when he lined up against Odell Beckham in 2015. 

—The success of the Redskins’ decisions to trade Kendall Fuller and to let Bashaud Breeland leave as a free agent will hinge mostly on how well Fabian Moreau plays in his second year in the NFL.

—Realistically, the Redskins can hope to get 10 or 12 good games out of Orlando Scandrick

—And because Scandrick is unlikely to be healthy for 16 games, the ability of Josh Holsey to step in when needed will be critical. 

—If the Redskins can get a few good punt returns and 75 snaps at nickel corner from Greg Stroman he will be worth the seventh-round pick they used to draft him. 

Safeties

—With a year in the defense under his belt, D.J. Swearinger is a candidate to make his first Pro Bowl. 

—After Jay Gruden compared him to Jordan Reed, there is a lot of pressure on Montae Nicholson to stay on the field and perform well when he is out there. 

—Even though he started eight games last year I think the coaches view Deshazor Everett as more of a special teams guy and situational defender than a safety they want playing 70 snaps a game. 

—​Troy Apke has a lot to learn and it remains to be seen if he can go from being a fast guy to being a fast NFL football player.

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page, Facebook.com/TandlerNBCSand follow him on Twitter  @TandlerNBCSand on Instagram @RichTandler

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Timeline  

Days until:

—Minicamp (6/12) 21
—Training camp starts (7/26) 66
—Preseason opener @ Patriots (8/9) 80

The Redskins last played a game 142 days ago. They will open the 2018 NFL season at the Cardinals in 110 days. 

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Trades, misses and mistakes explain the Redskins' dead cap situation

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Trades, misses and mistakes explain the Redskins' dead cap situation

Cut bait. Sunk cost. Under water. 

Whatever the term might be, all industries deploy a certain phrase for wasted money. In the NFL, that term is dead cap, or the salary cap space a team must allocate for a particular player that has been cut or traded. 

In the specific case of the Redskins, the team carries more than $5.2 millon in dead cap space. Where did it come from? Who's to blame? Let's take a look.

Terrell McClain ($3.75M) - The Redskins signed McClain away from the Cowboys early in the 2017 free agency period. The move wasn't quite a disaster, but it wasn't very good. Washington gave McClain a four-year deal worth $21 million, and paid out nearly $7.5 million for the 2017 season. McClain never played well for the Redskins, started just two games and this offseason he agreed to give up a significant chunk of guaranteed money. Without that move from McClain, this cap hit would have been much worse. 

Su'a Cravens ($711k) - The money isn't as big of a loss as the talent. The Redskins selected Cravens in the second round of the 2016 Draft and he showed promise as a rookie while also dealing with injuries. In 2017, however, things fell apart as Cravens dealt with a training camp injury, discussed retiring from football and eventually found himself on the reserved/left squad list for the season. Prior to the 2018 Draft, the Redskins worked a deal to send Cravens to Denver for an additional fifth round pick as well as swapping picks. 

Kendall Fuller ($360k) - A promising young cornerback, the Redskins traded Fuller to Kansas City this offseason as part of a package to acquire QB Alex Smith. Losing Fullers stings — even head coach Jay Gruden admitted that — but Washington had to find a quarterback after the long-discussed Kirk Cousins saga veered toward, and eventually ended in, separation. 

Matt Jones ($150k) - One of the worst Redskins draft picks in the last five years, Washington reached for Jones in the third-round in 2015. As a rookie, Jones looked like a solid contributor, but in the 2016 season he developed a bad fumbling habit and found his way to the bench. From there, things got worse, as Jones ended the season on the inactive list after a squabble about playing special teams. In 2017, Jones was cut. He signed with the Colts, where he played in just five games and was cut earlier this year. This offseason, Jones signed with the Eagles.

Arie Kouandjio ($130K) - This is a weird one. Kouandjio was selected by the Redskins in 2015, and cut by the team in 2017. The dead money comes from that rookie deal. When Washington brought Kouandjio back late in the 2017 season off the Ravens' practice squad, the dead money from the rookie deal remained. Now, Kouandjio is injured and a candidate to start the 2018 season on the PUP list or maybe even the IR. 

Robert Davis ($103k) - Drafted as a sixth-rounder in 2017, Davis did not make the team leaving training camp. Even though he got signed to the practice squad, the dead money tolls from the rookie deal. 

Nate Sudfeld ($69k) - A late-round developmental prospect from the 2016 draft, Sudfeld made the team as a rookie but couldn't survive cuts in 2017. Quickly signed by the Eagles, Sudfeld ended up as the backup quarterback in Philadelphia's improbable Super Bowl run earlier this year. Dead money on the Redskins cap, but a Super Bowl ring in Philly. Strange. 

Tyler Catalina and Kevin Bowen account for about $12,000 in dead cap space as well. 

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