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Marcus Mariota to Visit Redskins Park
by Chris Russell
Mar 28, 2015 -- 11:47am
ESPN 980
This is not a surprise by any means and it was just a matter of time, but according to Albert Breer of NFL Media, Oregon Quarterback Marcus Mariota is going to visit with the Redskins in the Ashburn area at some point. 
The date was not revealed by Breer. It is not a workout for Mariota. Surely, dinner will be had and an in-depth get to know you session will take place.  The Redskins have not confirmed this plan or report as of late Saturday morning. 
The Redskins have said they have interest (as they should) and attended Mariota's pro day in Eugene (as they should have). Apparently they would take him at number five overall if he is still there (which they shouldn't).
I can't say it enough, but this organization needs to build a football team instead of believing that a quarterback is always going to solve multiple problems. 
I have no problem taking a quarterback. They just don't need one at number five. Especially when they have three under controllable contracts for the next year  and none are a killer under the salary cap. 
It is true and understandable that the Redskins do not have any sure fire solution at quarterback for 2015 and nothing under their control beyond 2015. 
Mariota, if selected, could come in and learn behind Robert Griffin III and either Kirk Cousins or Colt McCoy. He could. Then you could pray that he is ready to go in 2016, while realizing that he has a minimum of two to three years of full development time as a quarterback that will have to work under center (at times) in the NFL. 
It's not just that. It's reading defenses and reading them quickly. I saw some signs of that at Oregon, but there were many times where he held onto the ball for too long and was sacked. He did not avoid negative plays as frequently as I was expecting in the three game tapes I watched. 
What makes you think that he would do that at the NFL level? Against much better and more sophisticated defenses that spend hundreds of hours anticipating what you are going to do. 
Mariota is talented. Nobody would question that. He has some electrifying play-making ability to balance out the negatives. He also has some of the same issues that Robert Griffin III had/has and that any young quarterback has. 
If you don't believe my eyes, trust Greg Cosell. He's obviously a seasoned talent evaluator and found plenty of concerns for Mariota
In other words, he's going to take time to develop. You have an impatient organization and a head coach that does not want to wait and stress patience. Win now is the mantra, while Scot McCloughan does his best to layer talent. 
That's a dangerous combination. 
The Redskins would of course be much better served by trying to win as a football team instead of winning with one or two position areas as the focus
I really hope they have figured this out. I believe in layering talent. I really do. However, the talent layering has to make sense. You can't have enough quality offensive and defensive linemen. The Redskins have addressed only half of this equation. 
Another area that you can't have enough quality bodies is in the secondary. Washington has only partially solved this issue with the acquisition of Chris Culliver
If this is part of a smoke-screen to increase trade value, then I am in favor of doing everything to sell this. That's the question. Is it? Or is it not? Is it both? That's the most likely scenario because the Redskins have to be prepared for all situations and possibilities. 
Still, I hope in the back of their mind, they are just doing their best to sell this as hard as possible. 
There are much better options for the Redskins than Marcus Mariota. 
Chris Russell- - 

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NFL Veteran Combine: Far From A Field of Dreams
by Chris Russell
Mar 23, 2015 -- 9:29am
ESPN 980

It is 1,695 miles from Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, Indiana to the Arizona Cardinals Training Facility in Tempe, Arizona. 

Why is this important? It symbolizes just how far the first ever NFL Veteran Combine was on Sunday from the real deal every February in Indianapolis for around 300 potential NFL rookies. 
It promises to be an interesting fall-out from this staged event, which gives players who have been in the league another chance.
Players like Michael Bush, a former Raiders and Bears running back, and Michael Sam, drafted by the Rams and released, were among some of the more notable names in attendance. 
Former Redskins like Adam Carriker, Jeremy Kimbrough, Vic So'oto, Emmanuel Ogbuehi, Matt Veldman and former Terp Da'Rel Scott were participants  among one-hundred plus participants on Sunday in what seemed like a great idea. 
Only by multiple accounts it wasn't. It didn't seem to be anything more than a poorly run event by typical combine standards according to some of those that were there. 
It was supposed to be a carbon-copy of what has become an NFL staple every February in chilly and often snowy, Indianapolis. 
There were several problems: The 40-yard dashes were done completely different than how we have become accustomed to seeing at the league combine at Lucas Oil Stadium. 
ESPN 980 also verified this very odd combine tweak with multiple sources. Of course, nobody was informed of this procedure, and that included the participants,  leading to one 'victim' to quip "everyone's times were slower." 
Some wondered if the NFL was trying something out new. Some wondered if this was a way to keep players with a certain level of experience and therefore guys that were qualified to be paid more down and out. One wondered if this was just the NFL being the NFL.  
That seems to jive with what happened to Bush in particular,  who ran an unofficial 4.91. Bush is a running back. Can you imagine? Bush, whose response to a reporter who informed of his time was one that might go down in the all-time quote hall of fame said, "You gotta be (expletive) me," according to "There you go, there goes my career."
Yet, this is exactly what the NFL was trying to avoid, wouldn't you think? Why would they want veteran guys to look bad when they are staging this event? 
“Combines have long provided draft eligible players with the forum needed to showcase their skills to NFL teams," says NFL Director of Football Development Matt Birk in a release about a week or so ago by the league. 
“The NFL Veteran Combine will give veteran free agents a similar opportunity to work out in front of club personnel in a streamlined process," Birk said. 
The release also promised that "the NFL Veteran Combine will serve to consolidate individual veteran free agent tryouts to one location, streamlining the process for NFL teams and participating players. Invited free agents will have the opportunity to perform position specific and timed drills." 
They did do position drills and the electronically timed and therefore slower 40-yard dashes. 
What they didn't do was other traditional combine drills like the broad jump, vertical jump and three-cone drills. Short shuttle? Nope, not according to two sources. 
Participants were not scheduled to perform on the bench press. Why? Nobody has a clue. Why wouldn't you want to see where a participants pure strength is now compared to when he was last measured? There was one exception at least.
Carriker, the former Redskins defensive lineman who has been through a very difficult process while trying to get back from a 2012 quad tendon tear, said on his social media posts "they allowed me to do the 225 bench press" and he knocked it out of the park with an outstanding 40 reps. 
According to NFL Network's Dan Hellie, formerly of NBC 4 Washington, Ereck Flowers of Miami was the high in Indianapolis at 37 reps. 
The worst part? Participants were repeatedly told and given a schedule up until Saturday that they were going to get the opportunity to participate in the above mentioned combine related drills. They only did a modified version.  
From what I understand, Matt Birk, who put this entire event together may have had his legs cut out from underneath him. He was apparently under the impression that the participants were going to get a full opportunity as of Saturday night. From what I heard, he was overruled. 
There were other issues with the entire event. A constant changing of schedules, poor communication in general, a changed breakfast and bus schedule Sunday morning as opposed to the way it was scheduled on Saturday night, and then there was the performance surface.
As many know, Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis is field turf.  I can obviously confirm that it is, because I have been there in person twice, and walked on it as recently as late November. 
The surface that the NFL used for the first ever vet combine? Natural grass. Outdoors. The 40-yard dashes were run on synthetic turf, but the drills were outside.
In addition, the surface was described as slippery in spots, because of repeated use in certain areas. The NFL held a Super Regional combine at the same location on Saturday. Teams regularly rotate fields at their practice facilities to avoid over usage. 
Another concern for some Sunday? Apparently the scales were off by in some cases five to seven pounds, and were measuring lower than expected. 
That doesn't seem like a bad thing right? It is if you weigh in at a lower number than you were expecting but then you run a timed score much higher than anything you have ever run. That doesn't look very good when scouts and teams compare this new measurable data as a significant factor in whether or not to bring you in for a individual team workout or on a signed contract. 
This may have started as a great idea, but if the NFL is going to really utilize this, it would be a great idea to have this run like a carbon copy of what we see in Indianapolis. Have it as part of the event in February when everybody in the NFL is gathered in one spot.  You know, apples to apples. The same surface, the same time of the year, the same drills, the same set-up. 
It's more than possible and very likely that a lot of the evaluators wanted to be anywhere but in Tempe on Sunday. 
My sense is this. The NFL tried to do a good thing and for whatever reason, it was done in typical NFL fashion. Which is to say, it was an absolute debacle. 
Sorry, the truth hurts. Should we really be surprised?
Chris Russell - 

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Can the Redskins Afford to Draft a WR?
by Chris Russell
Mar 19, 2015 -- 10:00am
ESPN 980
It was February 20th when a tweet that largely went unnoticed by many was sent by Peter Schrager of regarding the Redskins and a surprise name in the upcoming draft. 
Perhaps we shouldn't be surprised but for some reason,  I was. Nobody really made  a big deal out of this until the last few days. Apparently, Schrager also said this in recent days on television, about a possible Amari Cooper - Redskins connection. 
I reported the other day that there was no pre-draft visit scheduled as of yet for Cooper and the Redskins. That doesn't mean a whole lot but it just adds to the conversation.
Then it was Charles Robinson's turn from Yahoo! Sports  as he put out a poll of NFL sources for the top eight picks, listing the Redskins in an area that could further reveal the thinking of new General Manager Scot McCloughan. 
For the purposes of this post, I am assuming when Robinson lists the Redskins as likely to take a "DL," that would mean an edge rusher as well. If so, that's fine. 
If not, I have even more doubts about this independent tag-team rumor mill propaganda. 
Robinson then posted a tweet that restored my faith to some degree in the process, that some (many?) in the NFL do not believe the hype about the Redskins taking Marcus Mariota at number five overall if he fell to them. 
Whatever. Rumors are just a distraction and often a smokescreen to the real intentions of an individual or an organization. 
That being said, while I strongly believe the Redskins should not and won't take Mariota at number five, I do not feel as strongly that Washington would not take a wide receiver in that slot or even by trade, moving down in the first round. 
I wouldn't like it, because I am a best player available at a reasonable need position and so far the Redskins have yet to address their offensive line in any way or free safety and edge rusher on defense. 
It's true you don't want to just take a need position because you feel you have to, but when you have multiple holes, I would find it hard to believe that you can spend a premium pick on a luxury item for 2015. 
The Redskins already have a huge part of their poorly built castle invested in the position group. You want more? Does anybody think it is wise to spend an additional $3.41 million on their adjusted salary cap for the upcoming year when they have over $25 million already invested?
Again, tell me how this makes a whole lot of sense. If the Redskins were to trade back in the first round (which I obviously recommend them doing) and take a receiver, I can handle that a little better but I still would not be a big fan of the decision. 
Washington might be able to shave a million or so off that figure and still stay in top ten, but it doesn't change the overall point. 
You can't be as bad as the Redskins have been over the better part of the last 20 years and especially the last two and have me feel confident about the direction of the ship. 
If you want to take Amari Cooper or Kevin White at number five - please look yourself in the mirror and tell me how 28 plus million dollars of your 2015 cap on four players that all play the same position area makes one ounce of sense. 
I am not anti-receiver. I believe in stockpiling talent when you can. That's the greater point.   If Washington wants to take a receiver in the fourth round, at a cost of $554,250 - go right ahead. 
Am I missing something? Maybe. Here's the only possible way that I can understand  how this would work. 
In 2016, DeSean Jackson is no longer guaranteed any part of his contract. Only his first two years (2014 & 2015) were essentially fully guaranteed. 
Jackson has a base salary of 3.75 million along with a per game roster bonus of 3.75 million, a signing bonus proration of 1.25 million and a workout bonus of $500-thousand. That totals $9.25 million in cap value.  Again, the key thing to remember is that the money is not guaranteed and the Redskins could only be stuck with a dead money proration of 1.25 million if they chose to let go of Jackson. 
Pierre Garcon has a non-guaranteed base salary of $7.6 million in 2016, which is slightly higher than his non-guaranteed base of 2015. He has a signing bonus proration of $2.2 million along with $400-thousand in roster and workout bonuses. His current cap value for 2016 is 10.2 million. 
If the Redskins wanted to cut Garcon after 2015, they would have to carry the $2.2 million dead money charge, but that's the only significant obstacle. 
Andre Roberts, a target of many fans, offered virtually no savings in 2015 to consider releasing him in addition to adequately filling three roles in 2014.  Washington would only save $750,000 while taking a three-million dollar cap hit. However, in 2016, Roberts would only count for two-million in dead cap charges and the Redskins would be able to save three million under the cap if they parted ways. 
The reason we lay it  out like this? You can see that the Redskins only realistic way of trimming their egregious commitment to the wide receiver position in 2015  is by whacking Pierre Garcon. 
The Redskins have told Garcon's camp that he is not getting released and obviously they need him. The only reason this became a story was because they couldn't do anything with Jackson and Roberts wasn't enough of a savings to make it worthwhile. 
If the Redskins stay true to their word (likely), they have the 25 million dollars worth of commitments to the receiver position already on the books in 2015 (before a potential addition) but in 2016 - they could let a combination of Garcon and Roberts go for a dead money cost of roughly 4.2 million (still significant) but save nearly 11 million dollars worth of cap space at the same time. 
Essentially, in 2016 - they could keep Jackson, Ryan Grant and a 2015 drafted receiver (Cooper?) and you would be looking at a positional salary cap cost in the 10-15 million dollar range depending on a myriad of factors (and including the dead money charges).
It is expected that the Redskins will be in a better position to compete for a divisional title in 2016 than 2015, so this might be some of the long-term thinking that teams often have to do. 
If Scot McCloughan loves a pass catcher like Cooper or any of the top guys, he may feel it is a punishment now to paint a pretty picture for the future by thinking long-term instead of how most teams operate. 
That's the only way I can rationalize any thought process the Redskins would have in taking a receiver in the first round in 2015, especially at number five overall. 
It's easy to say "best player available" but because of mistakes that have already been made in past years, McCloughan might have to bypass a player that he feels is the best OR spend an inordinate amount of the cap  in his first year (at one position) to satisfy his long-term plan. 
Complicated, but this is how NFL teams have to think. I hope the Redskins are doing the exact same. 
Chris Russell - - 

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Colt Comes Back
by Chris Russell
Mar 17, 2015 -- 5:07pm
ESPN 980
Colt McCoy is back with the Washington Redskins on a one-year deal as ESPN's Adam Schefter first reported and ESPN 980 confirmed
The move is not surprising overall, but the meaning and significance of the move is most interesting. 
ESPN & ESPN 980's John Keim provided his thoughts and insight here, but my first immediate reaction to the news was that this probably eliminates the temptation to take a quarterback (Marcus Mariota) at number five overall. 
Right? I'm probably wrong. Trying to figure out the Redskins is a full time job by day and a futile cause. 
I have to keep trying though. McCoy, Robert Griffin III and Kirk Cousins are all on one-year deals. Does this mean they are all here to stay like last year? Does this provide insurance in case Scot McCloughan can work out a deal? 
Nobody really knows for sure. Here's the one thing we know: Jay Gruden admitted it would be very difficult to have a three-way competition during the off-season for the starting quarterback position. 
It would appear that Robert Griffin III will still be the presumed starter going into the organized team activities period, but nobody can say anything for sure at this point. 
This does give the Redskins some leverage. It also gives them options. McCoy is smart, humble, coachable and somewhat experienced. He has been through a lot in his career already. He's more developed from the pocket than either Griffin or Cousins. 
I have to wonder (as should you) if McCoy is not another motivational technique for Jay Gruden to use to improve Griffin. Griffin has to know that he could easily be benched even before the season, if his performance is lacking. Like it was last year, when Gruden wanted to do it even before the rookie head coach called the shots in a game that counted. 
This is part of the reason why the move makes sense. However, it still doesn't make sense to me (at least) to  name Griffin the starter in mid-February and it  doesn't exactly makes  sense that the Redskins have told people involved in the situation that Kirk Cousins isn't going anywhere.
Whatever. I have a headache. Seriously. 
McCoy was a favorite of Bruce Allen and Jay Gruden's when he was initially signed as a young veteran so early last off-season. The plan from the start was for him to be the number three guy. You have to wonder in the back of your mind if Gruden was already having doubt. 
He replaced Kirk Cousins at halftime of the Tennessee Titans win in October and led the Redskins to just their second win of the season. Eight days later, he orchestrated the offense to be efficient enough to help out during an overtime win in Dallas.
It was after that point that the season took a mind-numbing turn as Robert Griffin III returned to the starting lineup in Minnesota five-and-a-half days later and the Redskins lost a game for many reasons, they shouldn't have lost.
McCoy returned to the starting lineup presumably for good in Indianapolis at the end of November and played reasonably OK, but far from great. He started and along with the entire offense performed miserably at FedExField the next week against St. Louis before being lifted late due to an injured neck. 
Somehow, he was cleared and installed as the starter the next week at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey. He played one series, re-injured his neck and never saw the field again. 
To say the least, it was just one more side-show act  to the 2014 circus that only shut down when the league calendar forced it to do so. 
Again, what does this all mean? Nobody knows for sure, but if the Redskins could get a trade done for Cousins on draft weekend, they will have protection in place. It would also allow them to draft a young quarterback to develop that was actually picked by the man in charge, Scot McCloughan. 
Chris Russell - - 

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Redskins Land Culliver, Lose Orakpo
by Chris Russell
Mar 13, 2015 -- 10:22am
ESPN 980
The Washington Redskins have landed another big addition to their first free agent class under Scot McCloughan. 
The organization has signed talented Cornerback Chris Culliver to a  reported four-year, $32 million dollar deal. 
Culliver, and his agents, have not responded for comment before or after the deal was struck. 
Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network first reported the agreement. Rand Getlin of Yahoo! Sports provided the contract terms. Joel Corry of provided some extra financial details. 
The Redskins also officially lost former first round pick, Brian Orakpo to the Tennessee Titans as ESPN's Adam Schefter first reported this morning. 
Orakpo landed a monster contract according to Mike Garafolo of FOX Sports. That was something the Redskins were never, ever going to touch. 
Orakpo has repeatedly not returned calls or text messages during the process. 
Honestly, at best - I thought the Redskins might offer a two year, ten million dollar deal or somewhere in that neighborhood. The Titans made it so that Orakpo never left Nashville for a scheduled trip to Arizona. Atlanta, a team once thought to be heavily interested, didn't appear to be at all. 
The Redskins will clearly be drafting an edge rusher in late April. Now the question is this : Where? They currently have the number five overall pick. 
The other question is this: Will they bring in a veteran edge rusher via free agency to complement Trent Murphy? As many have seen, I've mentioned Dwight Freeney several times.
The sense I have from talking to someone that knows him well is that the Redskins would be a good fit for him. We will see.
Back to Culliver, he is one of the best young corners in the game and at 6'0 and nearly 200 pounds, has the ideal frame that teams are looking for. 
He was a former third round pick of the San Francisco 49ers and helped land them in the Super Bowl a few years ago, with a key interception. 
He also helped them lose that Super Bowl for a couple of notable negative plays. Cornerbacks are going to get beat. It's how you recover. Physically and mentally.
Culliver seems to have recovered just fine on the field. He had four interceptions, 45 tackles and one forced fumble in 2014. He had 14 passes defensed in 14 games. He started all 14 as well.  
Now the bad stuff. He tore his ACL in training cam 2013 and missed the entire season. He seemingly has recovered just fine from that. 
He is well known for making anti-homosexual comments before the 2013 Super Bowl in New Orleans, telling radio personality Artie Lange "they gotta get up outta here if they do," when asked if the 49ers had any gay players. Culliver went on to say "Can't be with that sweet stuff..Nah...(in the locker room)." 
Ok so a very dumb thing to say. Culliver apologized and people move on.  
Culliver also had a social media incident, in which he referred to females in a not so positive manner.
His latest incident, a hit-and-run charge with brass knuckles apparently involved, is certainly more nerve-wracking. He allegedly slammed into a bycyclist in San Jose while driving on a suspended license and attempted to get away from the scene. 
As best I can tell, the case is pending legal resolution and one has to wonder if Culliver will be suspended by the NFL upon the conclusion. 
There's no way to know, but his "track-record" is not a very good one and that has to be concerning. It's not a good sign when somebody repeatedly makes mistakes. You have to learn and learn quickly. The hope would have to be that DeAngelo Hall has a good influence on Culliver. 
From a football perspective, I have no questions. I think he's a starter from day one that he is allowed to be and the most likely scenario is that Bashaud Breeland kicks inside to the slot corner position if DeAngelo Hall is healthy and ready.
If Hall is not, Breeland stays outside and the Redskins could choose to put Culliver inside on nickel and outside in base packages, with David Amerson playing only in nickel. They still have Tracy Porter (as of now) who was signed to be their primary nickel back last year. 
Porter is an option to get released because of his cap number and his injury issues. 
Chris Russell - - 

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"The Pot Roast is Marinating"
by Chris Russell
Mar 12, 2015 -- 7:40pm
ESPN 980
The man they affectionately call "Pot Roast"  Terrance Knighton is closing in on a deal with the Washington Redskins, ESPN 980 first reported and multiple outlets have confirmed since. 
Knighton visited with Redskins officials for parts of the last 24 hours and was drawing heavy interest from the Baltimore Ravens and a few other teams. 
Knighton, an unrestricted free agent  played the last few seasons with the Denver Broncos. He is the best friend of Redskins Defensive End/Nose Tackle Chris Baker, who was highly instrumental in recruiting Knighton to Washington. 
Knighton will serve as Baker's best man when the latter gets married this Saturday night in D.C. 
Knighton joins a defensive line that has been bolstered by the additions of Ricky Jean Francois and Stephen Paea.
Terms of the deal are officially unknown, but he told ESPN's Josina Anderson "I am going to sign a one-year deal with Washington for $4M.  The deal is very different than the one the Redskins struck with Paea, which was reportedly a four-year deal, worth up to 21 million dollars
Knighton is more of a run stopper than a penetrator but is more than capable of doing both. 
Reaction to the football side of the  move will be interesting, because everybody knows how talented he is but there was a report that NFL teams were scared off of Knighton because he was out of shape.
Who knows if he is or not, but I wouldn't be terribly worried about it. It's March 12th and the Redskins do not report for their off-season conditioning program for another month.
Knighton was number two on the Defensive Interior free agent list. 
For whatever it is worth, his now former teammate DeMarcus Ware thinks the Redskins got a terrific player. That should make the burgundy and gold faithful smile. 
Chris Russell - - 

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