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Turmoil or not, Redskins off to strong start in 2017 free agency

Turmoil or not, Redskins off to strong start in 2017 free agency

In a week that saw the Washington Redskins dismiss their general manager, it would be entirely reasonable for the fan base to expect chaos. Especially if the general manager's dismissal came on the same day the NFL's free agency period opened. 

Yet, despite that exact scenario, chaos is not the current course at Redskins Park. In fact, the Burgundy and Gold is off to quite a strong start in the new league year.

By noon on Thursday, the situation for the 'Skins seemed dire. Reports showed that the team would lose two 1,000 yard receivers in DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garçon as well as their best defensive lineman in Chris Baker. Couple that with the unraveling of McCloughan's role amid talk of alcohol abuse and a power struggle with team president Bruce Allen.

At that moment, it seemed hope was lost for the Redskins. 

48 hours later, flip that script.

On the first day of free agency, Washington added defensive line help in Terrell McClain of the Cowboys and Stacy McGee from Oakland. Neither player is a star, but both can be productive. The Redskins needed increased depth on their D-line in 2017, and the team's first two moves of the new league year went directly towards that effort. Injuries have caused McClain and McGee to miss games, and there's little the 'Skins can do about that, but both are relatively young and capable. 

From there, the franchise added their first potential impact player in D.J. Swearinger. 

A second-round pick in 2013, Swearinger has a reputation of a big hitter and playmaker in the back of the secondary. Last year, playing in Arizona, Swearinger recorded three interceptions to go with eight passes defensed, two sacks and 64 tackles. 

Paired with Su'a Cravens in the back of the secondary, the Redskins might lack high-end speed, but they will have two players committed to the safety position. Last year, the team trotted out a career special teamer in David Bruton paired with a converted corner in DeAngelo Hall at the two safety spots. That plan didn't work. Further, both young players are difference makers - athletic and gifted. That duo immediately makes the Redskins better in 2017 than they were in 2016, and Swearinger's signing is the first time the Washington brass has truly invested at safety in many years. 

If you're scoring at home, the first three free agent signings directly responded to areas of need for the club. If the team was playing baseball, McGee and McClain got on base, then Swearinger moved all the runners over. The bases were now loaded.

And then came the home run.

Washington agreed to a one-year deal with Terrelle Pryor, a receiver from the Browns. As big as the loss of Jackson and Garçon is, offsetting that with Pryor provides the Redskins offense with a bigger, more athletic option.

At 6-foot-6 and 240 lbs., Pryor is one of the biggest receivers in the league. Last season, he caught 77 balls for more than 1,000 yards. Making those stats more impressive, the Browns collection of quarterbacks in the 2016 season was abysmal. Pryor was Cleveland's best option offensively, and defenses knew it. 

Want to go another step? Pryor remains raw as a wideout. He could get better, and maybe, much better.  A quarterback in college and his first two years in the NFL, Pryor only made the full-time switch to receiver in 2015. 

In Washington, Pryor will be part of an offense that features an emerging star in slot man Jamison Crowder, arguably the best pass catching tight end in the NFL in Jordan Reed, a veteran with plenty left in Vernon Davis, and, perhaps, the emergence of 2016 first-round draft pick Josh Doctson.

More importantly, Kirk Cousins signed his franchise tag. The quarterback is under contract for 2017, and though a trade certainly remains an option, on paper, the Redskins offense is again stacked. 

What Washington still needs to accomplish in free agency: An impact player on the defensive line. Swearinger is an impact guy in the secondary. Pryor is an impact guy at wideout. McClain and McGee, however, are not. 

The Redskins truly need to address a gaping hole at the nose tackle position. A hole that has largely existed since the team moved to the 3-4 scheme in 2010.

Bennie Logan, formerly of the Eagles, is set to visit the franchise's Ashburn offices. Logan could be the guy the team needs. 

A third-round pick in 2013 out of LSU, Logan has size (6-foot-2, 310 lbs.) and played his best football at the nose in the 3-4 scheme. 

None of this changes the sloppy way the team handled McCloughan. And none of this changes that Cousins could walk away next season without the club getting any compensation. Those two factors are real, and detrimental.

Still, Washington deserves commendation for a strong start to free agency. Bruce Allen has the team operating at a high level, executing well, and without offering massive contracts. 

It's wild to suggest, but on paper in early March, the 2017 Redskins might be better than the 2016 Redskins.

The offense will look very different, but the increased size could help solve some of the team's red zone woes that plagued the team throughout last season. 

The defense has already improved at the back end, and added help at the front end.

If Logan signs, and there is good reason to think he will, that will be three new, young defensive lineman to work with new defensive line coach Jim Tomsula. Losing Baker hurts, but the moves being made could offset that loss.

McClain. McGee. Pryor. Swearinger. And maybe Logan. Reports of the sky falling in Ashburn might have been premature. 

<<<LOOKING AT REDSKINS DRAFT PROSPECTS>>>

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Redskins Superlatives: Two tremendous leaders earn the Most Likely to Become President Award

Redskins Superlatives: Two tremendous leaders earn the Most Likely to Become President Award

This week, JP Finlay and Pete Hailey will be handing out Redskins Superlatives as they continue to preview the 2020 season.

Next up: They give their Most Likely to Become President Award to a fan favorite and the franchise's newest leader.

JP's pick: Terry McLaurin

There is nothing Terry McLaurin can't do and he's got my vote for president should he ever decide to run. Beyond the breakout rookie year, the precise route running and his blazing speed, McLaurin talks like a 10-year veteran.

This offseason has been hard for everyone, but McLaurin explained things better than most: "Football is what I love to do. I can’t think of a better blessing in my life to be playing the game that I love. When you get through the course of such a long NFL season and you get to the end, it’s like man, I’m ready for that break. That burning desire is still inside of you to continue to get better and continue to improve. Now with us having a new staff, we’re just all looking forward to being on the field again. I feel like sports is something that this country needs as well. The camaraderie of it, the togetherness that it brings."

Put McLaurin on the ballot — but ideally after a 15-year career with a whole lot of postseason success.

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Pete's pick: Ron Rivera

JP and I didn't go to school together — that's because he's a LOT OLDER than me — but if we did, it would've been a surprise if we ever got an A-plus on the same assignment. In fact, it would've been a huge surprise, and perhaps an impossibility.

But in this instance, we're both getting an A-plus. He nailed his pick, and I'm nailing mine. 

Ron Rivera hasn't been with the Redskins long, and due to this unusual offseason, the media hasn't gotten to hang around him much in person, aside from his introductory press conference in January and some time at the Combine. 

Even so, we have still talked to him plenty on Zoom, and in all of those instances, I've been floored by his leadership, his intelligence and his perspective on everything, both football-related topics and topics that relate more to life overall. 

RELATED: RIVERA ON NOT SIGNING CAM NEWTON

At this point, I'm pretty much convinced every company or group in the world would be better with Rivera involved. He's fair, he's level-headed and he simultaneously gives and commands respect. 

For now, Rivera's just in the running for an NFC East title, but if he ever sets his sights on running for office, he'll have one mediocre blogger on his side.

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Report: Officials say RFK site not an option for Redskins unless team changes name

Report: Officials say RFK site not an option for Redskins unless team changes name

As the Redskins search for a new football home in the future, the RFK Stadium site is one that is at the top of the list. However, unless the team is willing to change its name, the area becoming their new field is a non-starter, The Washington Post reported on Wednesday

Speaking with several government officials, a similar message was shared throughout. The federally owned land will not be given to the franchise if the name remains what it is today.

“I call on Dan Snyder once again to face that reality, since he does still desperately want to be in the nation’s capital,” D.C.'s nonvoting delegate to the House of Representative Eleanor Holmes Norton (D) said. “He has got a problem he can’t get around -- and he particularly can’t get around it today, after the George Floyd killing.”

“There is no viable path, locally or federally, for the Washington football team to return to Washington, D.C., without first changing the team name," D.C. Deputy Mayor John Falcicchio said.

Washington's name has been a topic of debate for years but has recently received major pushback over the past month as the nation yearns for racial justice following the murder of George Floyd.

It was also reported on Wednesday that investment firms and shareholders worth a collective $620 billion have asked Nike, FedEx and PepsiCo to terminate their business relationships with the Washington Redskins unless the team agrees to change its name.

The Redskins have expressed interest in playing on the grounds of RFK after a bill was introduced in 2019 calling for the federal government to sell the area to the city. However, the bill won't pass through Congress unless the land is used for the team under a different name. U.S. Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.), chair of the House Natural Resources Committee, referred to the current name as a "racist nickname."

RELATED ARTICLE: RON RIVERA MAKES FIRST PUBLIC COMMENTS REGARDING REDSKINS' NAME

Redskins owner Dan Snyder has stated in the past that he is not open to a name change, as he considers it to be an act of honor toward Native Americans. 

Washington currently plays its games at FedEx Fied in Landover, Md. Both sides would like to see the team return to the District, but for as long as they are called the Redskins, it won't happen.

“The time has ended,” Grijalva said. “There is no way to justify it. You either step into this century or you don’t. It’s up to the owner of the team to do that.”

“The city obviously would like the team back,” Norton said. “But it’s important that [Falcicchio] used the word ‘federally’ -- meaning that they now recognize that there is no hope unless this name is changed.”

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