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Redskins Release Cofield & Bowen
by Chris Russell
Feb 27, 2015 -- 2:55pm
ESPN 980

The Redskins were busy on Thursday night inking veteran free agent Ricky Jean-Francois last night and today released Barry Cofield and Stephen Bowen. 

Cofield's agent, Mike McCartney first officially reported the Cofield news after we strongly indicated that both transactions were about to go down on ESPN 980's "Redskins at 1" segment. 
The moves were made by the organization after Scot McCloughan signed his former 2009 draft pick (Jean-Francois) on Thursday night. 
The moves to release Cofield and Bowen around ten million dollars under the salary cap because they were expected to count for around 16 million dollars combined, but the Redskins will carry a dead-money cap hit. 
Cofield, ESPN 980 has learned, may require surgery for an injured labrum which was a complicating factor in any attempt to keep him. 
Cofield and Bowen both were signed by the Redskins after the new collective bargaining agreement in late July 2011. 
Both contributed to the lone shining moment for the organization in 2012, as Washington won the NFC East. 
Both were plagued by injury in 2014. Bowen missed half of the year as he recovered from micro-fracture surgery and Cofield was slow in recovering from off-season hernia surgery before suffering a high ankle sprain in the season opening loss at Houston. 
Cofield was required to miss the next eight games and returned after the bye against Tampa Bay. 
The Redskins are not done by any means as they re-shuffle their defensive line under new coordinator Joe Barry and new position coach, Robb Akey.
Jarvis Jenkins is an unrestricted free agent, and Kedric Golston is a release possibility because of a variety of reasons. 
The Redskins hold the number five overall pick and could take Danny Shelton, a pure gap shooting nose tackle from the University of Washington to bolster their talent and depth.
Washington also re-signed offensive tackle Tom Compton as was expected. He was a restricted free agent. 
Chris Russell - - 

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McCloughan Makes a Splash
by Chris Russell
Feb 26, 2015 -- 7:15pm
ESPN 980
The Redskins made two additions to their organization on Thursday night. 
The first is quite significant.  So much for cleaning out the notebook and getting some draft prospects done. 
Ricky Jean-Francois has agree to terms according to various national reporters, as first reported by & since confirmed with terms by Ian Rapoport and Adam Schefter. 
The deal is for three years and worth nine million dollars with four of that nine guaranteed. The terms are according to Schefter. Rapoport cited Jean-Francois' agent, Drew Rosenhaus as the source of the information.
Jean-Francois was a 2009 seventh-round draft pick of the San Francisco 49'ers, which of course ties him directly to new Redskins General Manager, Scot McCloughan. 
The signing is certainly not a good sign for Stephen Bowen, the veteran defensive end the Redskins signed in 2011. Bowen has a large salary cap figure. According to and other sources, Bowen is at 8,020,000 with a base salary of 5.4 million. 
The Redskins can save the 5.4 million on their salary cap by releasing Bowen, which has been expected. 
The question then becomes is this: What does this mean for Barry Cofield? Also, what does this mean for unrestricted free agent, Jarvis Jenkins?
Cofield, has a base salary of 4,550,000 which the Redskins can save under their cap, while incurring a dead money charge of around 3.5 million. Bowen would count for 2.52 million in dead money against the cap in 2015 assuming that neither is designated a post June 1st release. 
In essence, the Redskins can create nearly ten million dollars worth of cap room by releasing both Cofield and Bowen, with the addition of Francois. 
If they release both, they would have a combined dead money hit of around six million dollars. In essence, the Redskins would save a net cap total of about nine million dollars if they release both, compared to what they were going to cost in 2015. 
Jenkins has not responded to a few text messages from ESPN 980. Bowen is on vacation with his family. Multiple sources have told ESPN 980 that Cofield would not be open to taking a pay cut if the team asked. 
As for Jean-Francois, didn't exactly have a great evaluation on him in 2014 during his stay with the Indianapolis Colts.
According to the evaluation website, Jean-Francois finished 26th out of all 3-4 defensive ends. That's out of a total of 47.  According to PFF, he had 22 "pass disruptions" on 368 pass rushing attempts. 
This sounds like a solid depth signing and certainly nothing close to a huge impact acquisition. 
Washington also announced that they've hired Dave Ragone as Offensive Quality Control Coach. 
Ragone has been an assistant with the Tennessee Titans, and went to Louisville. Jay Gruden also played his college football with Louisville. 
Chris Russell - - 

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Cleaning Out the Redskins Notebook
by Chris Russell
Feb 26, 2015 -- 4:49pm
ESPN 980
The Redskins find themselves in the news just about every day. Sometimes it is major, sometimes minor. Sometimes for all the right reasons. Sometimes for the wrong reasons. 
This week, after a hectic start to the week, started off with a bang on Sunday between news of DeAngelo Hall's restructuring and A.J. Smith parting ways with the organization at the end of this month. 
Monday, the old rumor mill got cranked up with the mention of the Redskins in a possible pursuit of Adrian Peterson. 
As the week went forward, things seemed to settle but there's always something. So I figured I would knock down a few items off the shelf. 
1. According to the NFLPA, the Redskins are one of ten NFL teams that are currently spending under the minimum amount of cash that is required to spend on player salaries from 2013-2016. 
Rich Tandler of has a much better understanding and knowledge of the league's salary cap and pending issues of that nature, so I will totally acquiesce to him. 
Teams are required to spend at least 89 % of the cap in cash over the four-year span. We are currently two years into the four-year portion and the Redskins are a 87%. 
In other words, they are not very far away from the required threshold and one of the reasons for that could be that they served the second part of their cap penalty (minus 18 million) in 2013 and because they have many core, young players (Ryan Kerrigan, Alfred Morris, Robert Griffin III, Kirk Cousins) under dirt cheap contracts in relative cap terms. 
That will change and change soon. I fully expect Kerrigan to get a new contract at some point this off-season or early in the  2015 season. 
I would be very surprised if the Redskins picked up the fifth-year option on Robert Griffin III's rookie contract by May 3rd and furthermore, I would be very surprised if the Redskins do a new long-term deal with Trent Williams. 
Wait ...say what? Yes. If I'm the Redskins, I want to see how Williams body holds up this season because as tough as he is and as much leadership as he shows - Williams has not been anywhere close to dominant the last two years. 
He's good and still the best they have, but one could make a legitimate argument for Kory Lichtensteiger last year. 
As we sit now, you could franchise Williams in 2016 or maybe try to work out a favorable team friendly extension but I can't go long term. That's just being honest. 
The Redskins will be spending money to upgrade their roster. Don't worry. In other words, on the NFLPA/salary cap story, nothing to see here. 
Two more years and a lot of younger contracts coming up for renewal. Look away, friends.
2. If the Redskins want to spend some cash in a constructive way this year, they should try to reel in Devin McCourty from the Patriots assuming that he is not slapped with the franchise tag. 
McCourty seemed to be at peace with the thought after speaking with the Boston Herald on Wednesday. We will know for sure by Monday at the latest. The one year tag is expected to be around 9.5 million dollars for safeties.
His brother, Jason, plays for the currently woeful Tennessee Titans but the Redskins are not in any position to think that they are regarded better than the Titans are.
This is an area of limited pure talent and coverage skills in the draft, so if I was the Redskins, McCourty would be my number one target and my free agent prize. 
I can draft a lot of my other needs. FREE SAFETY IS THE REDSKINS NUMBER ONE NEED. 
3. Another story that came out this week via the Richmond Times-Dispatch, courtesy of our pal, Michael Phillips.  This was much more of a news story than a sports item, but of course you have to connect the dots. 
The Economic Development Authority voted to pay the Redskins nearly 286,000 dollars as part of a shortage that the team was owed. 
The facility has not turned into the field of dreams that Richmond and even the Redskins originally envisioned, although it is a very nice facility. 
Local businesses have benefitted but not to the level they were expecting or promised. Food vendors around the facility and the general surrounding area have perhaps suffered the most. 
Fans have too many choices inside the gates  with corporate vendors and team sponsors that the organization allows on the grounds of the Bon Secours Redskins training center. 
The Redskins have played corporate hard ball with the city on various issues, because of what was agreed to and simply because they know they have the hammer. 
Richmond was NOT going to build this facility and two years later, back out of an eight-year arrangement over a couple of hundred thousand dollars. 
The Redskins were not going to be hosting camp again in Ashburn. Down the road? Maybe. Now? Not a chance. It just wasn't happening. 
While this was a big boy pants business deal, there really wasn't any drama or unknown here. It was a simple decision. 
For some reason, a lot of people got their panties in a bunch over this issue and I'm not quite sure why. 
4. If the Redskins stay at number five, they should probably take Dante Fowler Jr. from Florida, a junior edge rusher with bulk and athleticism. 
I wasn't blown away by any means in the one game of tape that I saw against Alabama but he has the size and frame that Shane Ray and Randy Gregory do not have. 
I'll be going more in-depth as the draft gets closer, but for now, the great John Keim broke down Fowler like only he can
Chris Russell - - 

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Redskins & A.J. to Part Ways
by Chris Russell
Feb 23, 2015 -- 11:34am
ESPN 980
The Washington Redskins and A.J. Smith were unable to reach a new contract agreement this weekend in Indianapolis at the league's annual scouting combine, and barring a significant change on both sides, Smith and the organization will part ways at the end of February.
Smith confirmed the developments to ESPN 980 as he first told the Providence Journal on Sunday afternoon. The Journal's report  was summarized on the Hogs Haven site. 
"A contract could not be worked out," Smith said, via the report in the Providence Journal.  "I was too high. They were too low. We wished each other the very best and parted ways. Just another NFL business transaction."
That description is essentially what Smith told ESPN 980 late Sunday night as well. 
Smith has been serving in a top advisory role as a "Senior Executive" to Redskins President Bruce Allen before the latter hired new General Manager, Scot McCloughan, a hire that was met with universal praise but that obviously comes with high risk. 
Smith, the former Chargers General Manager, appeared to be the in-house front runner to become the team's new General Manager or something similar to that position, perhaps without the title. 
Discussions about the future between both sides did take place, but Smith really enjoys his lifestyle and the weather in Southern California (who wouldn't?) and figured that he had all of the leverage. He was right, but the Redskins did not budge for whatever reason they had. 
Here's what the Redskins lose in Smith. They lose a proven executive and savvy set of eyes that already had an in-person and thorough knowledge of the Redskins roster for the last two years. 
Smith made recommendations in all football matters, and also assisted in evaluating the top 100 players in the draft. 
Many Redskins fans dismissed Smith a long time ago, because the team struggled miserably during his two-year tenure with the organization. Obviously, only a small portion of those woes could be attributed to Smith's evaluations. 
Believe it or not, Smith has also made many other positive evaluations. I don't need to defend him as anybody with extensive football knowledge of Smith's career and also how things work with the Redskins could tell that it was a tough situation for many reasons. 
Smith's Chargers teams won 98 regular season games in his ten years at the helm. That's an AVERAGE of 9.8 wins per year, but all of a sudden we are expected to think that he is irrelevant. 
Yeah, OK. San Diego also won five division titles under Smith.  It's not exactly like Smith inherited a great team as the Chargers were (4-12) in his first year with them. 
Yes, there were some picks late in his tenure that did not work out. Find me a personnel executive that has a flawless track record. 
Believe it or not, Scot McCloughan has struck out a few times as well. His last few drafts in San Francisco weren't exactly the brightest moments in his career. 
The overall point is that the Redskins will very much (in my opinion) miss Smith's eyes and experience. They don't have anybody else in the building or out that was a former general manager. That obviously excludes Allen, and I suppose you could insert your sarcasm here. 
If something (and obviously you hope that nothing does) happens in McCloughan's personal life, then what do you have?  At least with Smith, you had a proven backup plan. Now you don't. 
At the very minimum, the Redskins could have benefitted from a different perspective. You know, someone that wasn't a powerless yes man. An independent thinker.  Now you don't have that either. 
Maybe the Packers will let Alonzo Highsmith go after the draft, which they would not do when McCloughan first took over. Maybe they won't.
There are plenty of qualified eyes that you could recruit to fill a role, but how long does it take that person to get a full understanding of the Redskins roster and the chaos that regularly occurs  in Ashburn? 
In other words, this is a big loss. 
Chris Russell - - 

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Gruden: Robert's the Starter
by Chris Russell
Feb 18, 2015 -- 4:24pm
ESPN 980
While Kevin Sheehan and Thom Loverro's extensive and revealing interview with former Redskins head coach and EVP, Mike Shanahan went into a second hour live on ESPN 980 Wednesday, his replacement, Jay Gruden, stepped to the podium in Indianapolis and made a surprising public proclamation. 
“We’ll obviously go into the season with Robert as our number one guy,” Gruden told Redskins reporters and media assembled at the league's annual scouting combine. 
OK then. There goes any chance of having the public, the media, your locker room and perhaps most importantly Robert Griffin III or Kirk Cousins believing that the competition would be open and real. 
In Gruden's words, it is not. It may be in the back of his mind a legitimate duel, but if he is doing this ONLY to get everyone off of his back and to appease the executive council above him, Gruden is a dead-man walking. 
If he is doing this to install confidence in Robert Griffin III, that's great. The only problem is that hasn't exactly worked before and if you have significant questions about someone moving forward, how exactly do you say he's the number one and starter before he even works one day with your new quarterback guru? 
This is what I don't get. Robert entered the off-season as the # 1 and I am just a huge fan of legitimate competition. Every coach that I know wants that.  So why was this the announcement made today?
I have no clue. None. You gain nothing by saying it today. Nothing measurable in a football manner. 
Jay Gruden has made it known in many ways that he's not completely sold on Griffin III and that's fine. As I've said repeatedly, it's up to Robert to do everything the right way and the way Jay wants. 
If I'm being totally honest, I've had to do the same thing in my career and it's not fun or pleasurable, but when the boss tells you what you have to do, you have to do it. Or at least make significant progress. 
Because of the climate, it has to always be asked and strongly suspected that this decision is coming from the powers that be above Gruden. 
That's not always right or fair, but the Redskins have dug this grave for themselves and their actions NEVER allow them to take a shovel to the dirt to get back to level ground.  
Chris Cooley essentially was right on recently on ESPN 980 after returning from the Super Bowl where it was very likely that he spent time with the executive brass of the Redskins over a few Pepsi-Cola's. 
He basically said any competition would be a sham. 
For right now, it doesn't even look like there will be a sham of a competition. Anything can happen over the next six plus months until we get to the season opener. 
I'm not dumb enough to think that what Jay Gruden says on February 18 will be the same thing he says on September 10th. Things change, they always do. 
I strongly  believe Robert Griffin III would have benefitted from a legitimate competition with Kirk Cousins and even Colt McCoy.  When you don't know your fate, it can push you to do all of the little things that both Mike Shanahan and Jay Gruden have been stressing Griffin needs to do better. 
Cousins, as we first reported yesterday, is doing everything he can during this period to get better. Griffin is as well. 
For the first time in my memory, I can't totally  say that I believe this move was done for marketing purposes. Why? Right now, Griffin is tough to sell. Fans are fed up.
The white collar fan base is different however. They don't have the same passion that Johnny at the 40-yard line in the upper deck might have. 
That might be the only exception to the marketing angle.   If the Redskins felt it would be better to say Jay Gruden announced who the starter is,  corporate accounts can not use that as a reason to not renew.
BINGO. Trust me, these type of things happen. 
I just don't know why else Gruden would definitively reveal his plans. There was absolutely no need to do so. None. 
The only other theory I can come up with is that Gruden has a mutual understanding with upper level management that he will not be fired after 2015 if the season is another debacle. 
If Gruden knows he is safe regardless of what happens on the field, and especially if it is largely attributed to Griffin struggling through his development, Gruden could have received a "get out of jail free" card, in exchange for stopping the drama and stating that Griffin would be the guy. 
Who knows? I wouldn't rule out any scenario when it comes to the Redskins. 
The other issue is this: Will Cousins even be on the roster past late April and are the Redskins totally determined to get whatever they could for him and move on? If that's the case, Griffin has no legitimate competition because Colt McCoy has a worrisome neck issue. 
This is the worst case scenario for Cousins. The only thing he was looking to be guaranteed was a fair shot to be the starter. It doesn't appear that is in the cards this year, once again. 
Now, does he demand a trade? It's doubtful, although more possible than ever. He's entering the final year of his rookie contract and the big question just last week for Cousins was - would he be willing to sign a contract extension and work with the Redskins  on a longer-term basis while bypassing free agency at the end of this year? 
The answer to that was made pretty simple on Wednesday by Jay Gruden when he told the world, that "we’ll obviously go into the season with Robert as our number one guy.” 
Chris Russell - - 

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Cousins Goes to Camp
by Chris Russell
Feb 17, 2015 -- 11:08am
ESPN 980
The Washington Redskins quarterback battle or dilemma is on the front burner even as the bitter cold and snow engulfs the Washington D.C. area. 
Robert Griffin III  is the presumed favorite for the job, but Kirk Cousins is still under contract with one year left on his rookie deal and still is a possible option. Colt McCoy is an unrestricted free agent and it is hard to fathom that he will have a lot of suitors for his services. 
The Redskins have many options. They could re-sign McCoy and create a three-way battle for the position. That seems unlikely as Jay Gruden said in late December.
They could re-sign McCoy and trade Cousins before or during the NFL Draft at the end of April. There is at least one team interested from what I've heard, and possibly more. It's not hard to figure out who these teams would be. 
They could keep Cousins and not re-sign McCoy, which seems like an easy thing to do and certainly could be the plan. However, Bruce Allen & Gruden are fond of McCoy. 
Of course, there is always the small possibility that they would trade Robert Griffin III and absorb a roughly three-and-a-half million dollar salary cap hit and close the lid on what would go down as a era that was clearly an overall failure, yet delivered the one shining moment the franchise has had for nearly a decade. 
No matter what the Redskins decide to do - the drama - as only the Redskins can do it, figures to last all season long. There is no clear cut choice based on any reasonable theory that I or anybody else can come up with. 
Is it truly an open competition? It certainly seems like Jay Gruden feels it will be. Scot McCloughan, Dan Snyder, Bruce Allen also figure prominently into the mix. 
Of course, there's also ESPN 980's Chris Cooley's view that is probably a LOT more than a  "bold prediction." Cooley, after a week at the Super Bowl where it is very likely he spent some time with top officials in the organization said “Robert Griffin will be the starting quarterback of the Washington Redskins, without competition, in 2015. That is my bet.”
OK then. I want to be clear. I have no idea if Cooley was stating opinion and a strong prediction or not, but this is a pretty bold claim, even for Cooley. 
There has to be a fair and open competition. It's better for everyone involved. It's better for the coaching staff. It's better for Cousins and much better for Griffin III. It's what the Washington Redskins need. Whoever wins it, should be able to make it clear for everyone to see. 
I would be in favor of a three-way battle but if they choose to go with just two, I am OK with that. As long as the two candidates are Cousins and Griffin. 
The pre-combine and off-season madness took an interesting twist recently, that should raise some eye-brows. 
ESPN 980 has learned from multiple sources that  Kirk Cousins spent three days very recently with former Raiders and Buccaneers head coach, Jon Gruden. Wait, say what? 
That's right. Gruden, the Monday Night Football analyst and the guy that runs the F.F.C.A. which might be better known as the "Fired Football Coaches Association."
He's also Jay Gruden's brother.
You know, the same Jay Gruden that is expected to be the top decision maker when it comes to who will be the starting quarterback in 2015 for the Redskins. 
This might  not be earth shattering to some, because players are not allowed to work directly with their coaches at the team facility during this period of the off-season as mandated by the collective bargaining agreement. 
Griffin worked with his quarterback mentor, Terry Shea, last winter before organizing a group of skill players for a week of workouts in Arizona. 
However, Cousins apparently wanted  to give himself every edge possible  and either chose or was strongly encouraged to go spend several days, working from about 8 AM to 6 PM with Gruden, who has worked with many young quarterbacks in Tampa leading up to the annual draft. 
Since the original post, it was made clear from one source involved in this story that this was Cousins' idea. Cousins and the older Gruden have maintained a very positive relationship over the last three years. 
It's hard to tell what several days of intense quarterback mentoring could ultimately mean, but here is one thing that is absolutely certain. 
Cousins confidence was somewhat shaken after taking over as the starter in week two because of Griffin's injury and initially leading the Redskins to tremendous success. 
Cousins had a disastrous performance against the New York Giants at FedExField and also struggled badly in a road loss against Arizona. He was pulled the next week at halftime of the Redskins win against Tennessee. 
He never saw the field again. Now he is doing everything he can to make himself better, as he always does. Work ethic, film preparation and command of the offense has never been an issue for Cousins. 
He only has one on the field issue. He's turnover prone. That's really it.  Confidence is obviously a very important intangible. 
More importantly - it stands to reason that by working with the elder Gruden - Cousins shows the younger Gruden that he's willing to do whatever it takes to get better. Let's face it. Jon and Jay speak all the time. Jon already knew what Jay thought of Cousins. 
While it is more than conceivable to think that Jay pushed for this arrangement or at least encouraged it, he denied that to reporters on Wednesday in Indianapolis.  “That’s totally on their own nickel and own time,” Jay Gruden said to reporters and via ESPN & ESPN980's John Keim.
“It’s something I don’t push on anybody and if they want to try to pursue Jon and Jon’s open to it, any quarterback in the NFL, or college, Jon’s open to talking to. He loves coaching and working with quarterbacks.”
Gruden knows that he has to fix Cousins turnover issues and his confidence. There's no way to tell that in February, but some times things just click and with more experience and a second year in the system. Sometimes, all you need is a little push. 
The younger Gruden also knows this. If the Redskins fail miserably this season, he's likely to pay the ultimate price. As in his job. 
There's no way that the Jay Gruden I know is going down without a fight. He's going to do everything possible to give his offense the best chance to succeed. Was this a part of the master plan? 
Nobody knows for sure, but the situation took yet another interesting and unexpected twist in terms of timing on Wednesday, when Gruden announced that Griffin was the starter going into the season. 
One thing I have learned in six years covering the Redskins is this: As the great WWE Hall of Famer, "Rowdy" Roddy Piper used to say...."Just when you think you had all the answers........I changed the question." 
Yup. That's how every day around here feels. 
Chris Russell - - 

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