The offseason has officially begun for the Redskins, and with it comes a number of questions regarding key members of the roster.
In today’s mailbag, we examine the futures DeSean Jackson, Robert Griffin III, Jordan Reed and others.
Thanks, as always, for taking part in the mailbag. We’ll continue to run it throughout the offseason, usually on Tuesdays around lunch time, so keep the questions coming! E-mail me at email@example.com with the subject line of “Mailbag question.”
But first, let’s dig into this week’s questions.
If RGIII should sign with a division rival, how concerning for Washington is his intimate knowledge of the offense (and defense, for that matter)?
– Nick Galifianakis
I don’t think there’s a strong concern on the parts of the football people. Players come and go all the time. Players jump from division rivals from time to time as well. Teams also tweak their systems from year to year. Jason Hatcher’s knowledge of the Cowboys hasn’t translated into the Redskins owning Dallas. Even offensive line coach Bill Callahan’s understanding of the Dallas defense didn’t mean he knew how to stop their pass rush.
Daniel Snyder’s heart just might splinter into a thousand pieces if he has to see Griffin in a Cowboys uniform, and he’ll feel pretty nauseous if he would have to look at Griffin in Eagles green. But Scot McCloughan and Jay Gruden aren’t worried about that. He isn’t the fit for them, and in their minds, isn’t a starting-caliber quarterback. And so, they’re ready to move on and have no problem cutting him and letting him sign with whichever team he wants, even if it means an NFC East team.
There’s been a lot of discussion about DeSean Jackson and his return to the Redskins at his current cap number. Clearly, he is a weapon that opens up things for the offense, but do you think he’s a McCloughan type guy? Also, is there a possibility the Redskins move Spencer Long to center?
– Rick Edwards
The Redskins indeed have a decision to make regarding Jackson, who for a second straight season will count for $9.25 million against the salary cap. While it’s a significant chunk of change, cutting him only saves $3 million. It’s possible that the team would try to restructure his deal. Or, they could just decide that his unmatchable deep-threat ability is worth hanging on to for one more year.
The problem with Jackson is that he’s not the most versatile weapon, and that makes it hard to justify paying him a huge salary. However, compared to Calvin Johnson ($16.2 million), A.J. Green ($15 million), Julio Jones ($14.25 million), Demaryius Thomas ($14 million) and T.Y. Hilton ($13 million), Jackson’s salary isn’t that hefty.
Your questions of whether or not Jackson is a McCloughan guy are shared by many. He doesn’t seem to fit that hard-working, sold-out-24/7 type of player that McCloughan loves. However, the GM also loves playmakers, and when he’s dialed in, Jackson can make plays with the best of them.
I think all of this only highlights the importance of having a hard-working veteran like Pierre Garcon on the roster. He’s the example you want the young players to follow. However, the Redskins also have to make a decision on Garcon, who in 2016 will enter the final year of his deal and is set to count for $10.2 million against the cap. Cutting him would save $8.2 million. But, that competitive fire, work ethic and ability, when they use him, are hard to come by as well.
Spencer Long has been mentioned by coaches as a possible candidate as a developmental center. A lot will probably depend on the offseason recovery of Shawn Lauvao, the development of Arie Kouandjio, who as a rookie trained at both guard positions, and what the free agent market features at center. Kory Lichtensteiger remains under contract, so Long would have to beat him out. But it’s not set in stone that Long is changing positions.
First, how do you think Reed’s contract situation will go down. Will this be Graham 2.0? I think he has more of a case to be considered a wide receiver than Graham, especially when Niles Paul and Derek Carrier come back next year and do a vast majority of blocking.
Second, do you think Quinton Dunbar has a future as an NFL cornerback for the Skins? I know everyone loves his story, but just based on play alone, do you think he was one of the better rookie cornerbacks this season (besides Peters and Darby)?
– Kelechi Nwanevu, Woodbridge
Jordan Reed will enter the final year of his rookie contract making just $833,166, which is a steal. So, the team doesn’t have to get something done this offseason. If McCloughan approaches this situation the way he did those of Ryan Kerrigan and Trent Williams, however, he’ll try to sign Reed to an extension some time later this year – possibly before the start of training camp, or shortly after. Reed moves all over the place, but he’s definitely a tight end, and so if it came down to the franchise tag, it’d be hard to argue for the wide receiver money. But if Reed has another season like this year, he’ll definitely command a handsome salary. He deserves to be paid like Graham ($10 million a year), Julius Thomas ($9.2 million), Rob Gronkowski ($9 million) and Greg Olsen ($7.5 million).
As far as Dunbar goes, yes, the future does appear to be bright for him. I don’t know if you can call him one of the top rookie cornerbacks because he didn’t play as extensively as all of them, so that’s a smaller body of work to compare. But, he definitely did some impressive things this year. Here’s a kid that came into camp as a wide receiver and switched to the opposite side of the ball, and actually made some plays despite still being very green. He has the work ethic and the desire to get better. He’s about to head down to Miami and spend the offseason training with a defensive backs coach to further hone his skills and instincts.
There’s obvious uncertainty about Chris Culliver’s status entering the season because he’ll spend the offseason rehabbing from knee reconstruction. But Dunbar should be in the mix, possibly as the third cornerback behind Breeland and Culliver, if Culliver makes a full recovery, and if the team doesn’t make additions at that position this offseason.
Kirk Cousins appears to have turned the corner and hopefully will continue to grow at the quarterback position. Have I missed an article where Matt Cavanaugh has contributed to Kirk’s maturation this year? I doubt it is a coincidence that Matt was hired and Kirk has progressed so well.
– Stephen Greenfield
Matt Cavanaugh has definitely been mentioned as one of the contributors that has helped Cousins develop as a quarterback. There hasn’t been a story on him specifically, however, because he has declined multiple requests to be interviewed, preferring instead to remain in the background and fly under the radar.
But just yesterday, Gruden praised Cavanaugh’s contributions, saying his presence not only helped Cousins, but also freed up offensive coordinator Sean McVay to do a better job of game-planning. And Colt McCoy on Monday called Cavanaugh “the MVP of the quarterbacks room,” because of how he tutored Cousins, McCoy and Griffin, but also kept that position group united under very difficult and awkward circumstances. Hiring Cavanaugh was definitely one of Gruden’s best moves.
Although Aaron Rodgers has not played well recently he is still Aaron Rodgers. He had all day to throw the ball. Why didn’t the Redskins blitz more? Do you think Trent Williams was hurt? He got beaten more than I have seen in a long time. There are rumors on the street that RGIII is so happy because his representatives already have a deal in place with the Houston Texans? Have you heard this rumor?
– Larry Grant
The Redskins did a good job of pressuring Rodgers early in the game. Through the middle of the second quarter, he had completed only one of eight pass attempts. From that point on, he caught fire, but not because he had all day to throw. Green Bay went with a no-huddle attack that picked up the pace and got the ball out of Rodgers’s hands because his line couldn’t hold off the Redskins. The pace of the game kept the Redskins from being able to substitute defensively, and that wore those big guys down. And as fatigue set in, the Redskins struggled to stop the run. The Packers’ tactics helped remind everyone of Washington’s need to get younger and faster up front this offseason.
As far as Trent Williams goes, you’re right, he didn’t play at the level that we’re accustomed to seeing, surrendering two sacks after giving up only one all year. The Packers did a good job of overwhelming and confusing the Redskins’ offensive linemen with a variety of stunts. There were times where Williams would commit to blocking one pass-rusher only to have another loop around from the inside to the outside, and Williams couldn’t get into position quickly enough.
And on Griffin, the Texans have been mentioned as a possible destination, but his representatives don’t have a deal already in place. For one, that’d be tampering. He’s under contract with the Redskins, so teams aren’t allowed to work out deals with players on other teams. And secondly, Griffin’s agent, Ben Dogra had his license revoked by the by the union, so he couldn’t do any negotiating right now even if the quarterback had already been released. Does this mean that Griffin isn’t on Houston’s radar? Absolutely not. Just that it’s far too early for a deal to be in place.
E-mail a Redskins question to firstname.lastname@example.org, with the subject “Mailbag question,” and it might be answered Tuesday in the Mailbag.
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