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Football Outsiders: Redskins Have To Invest In Young Assets

When it comes to making signing decisions on key players both now and in the future, investing in young talent is the surest path to success.

Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

The 2015 Football Outsiders Almanac is here. Based on some of the emails I get, I know you all read this, and rightfully so.  Here's how to get your copy:

Purchase: Football Outsiders PDF ($15.00)

To promote the release, our good friends over at Football Outsiders gave us their thoughts on the following topics. The first question was both asked and answered prior to the benching.

1. If both quarterbacks were free agents at the beginning of the previous offseason, which one would have drawn more interest: Robert Griffin III or Kirk Cousins?

Griffin. After 2013, Cousins may have been seen as a potential starter by some teams. After 2014, he's an obvious journeyman backup. There are a lot of coaches and GMs who would love to roll the dice on rebuilding Griffin.

2. I note that the special teams DVOA improved from 2013 to 2014, but with another set of unknown rookies and free agents stepping into the fold, is it reasonable to expect this unit to continue improving? Is there anything besides a younger age that Redskins fans can hang their hat on as they hope to not witness what has been a national disaster on kick coverage?

The Redskins now have an established kicker and a punter who should improve.We have to assume Scot McCloughan is bringing in a high caliber of late round prospect and street free agent, which should translate into better special teams. The injuries at tight end, however, are a potential problem. Niles Paul was a pretty good special teamer. Tight ends are important on special teams in general, particularly as blockers on kickoff returns and end-of-the-line blockers on kicks. You hate to see a team having to dip so deeply into the waiver pool at the position.

3. If the Redskins have the luxury of not relying on DeAngelo Hall to be a cornerback, what suggests to you that he could be at least a competent option at safety?

Incredible athleticism, of course. Experience. Hall can freelance at safety, something I think he always tried to do at cornerback. In man coverage, he would draw slot receivers and tight ends (in the base package, and would probably be slid down in nickel or dime anyway). Those are easier assignments. I always thought he would be a different player as a slot corner, anyway. You can live with a guy going for interceptions and generating a few Pick-6s in the middle of the field. On the edge against #1 wide receivers, those mistakes just persist on play after play and kill you.

4. Assuming the defensive line play is much improved, which linebackers will rise to the top in Washington, and which ones will have us saying, "Holy hell, how does he still have a job in professional football?"

The outside rotation of Kerrigan, Murphy and Smith should be good, with Junior Galette as an X-factor. I have no idea what to make of the inside linebacker situation. Joe Barry might do a better job of preventing those guys from being exposed than Haslett did. But you are dealing with cost-effective solutions at both inside positions, and no scheme is going to turn them into elite players. I don't really know much about Martell Spaight or the other young guys at the position.

5. The big question in Washington's near future centers around whether or not the Redskins should throw a bunch of money at Alfred Morris. Would you care to add your voice to this debate, and how much of your answer stems from your view of the future of this offensive line and/or the presence of Matt Jones?

Shady McCoy and DeMarco Murray reset the franchise running back market this year with five-year, $40-million deals. They are really three year deals in the $25-million range in terms of guarantees and money the player is really likely to see, and that's not a bad structure for a running back hovering near the age when skills start to decline: you are basically gambling on a player being ahead of the curve, production-wise, which is not a bad gamble for a perennial 1,000-yarder, particularly when you know his health history, practice habits, and so forth.

In other words, "a bunch of money" has really changed for running backs. The market has adjusted to the real age curve of these players. The Redskins should be able to structure a palatable contract for Morris, and let's be blunt: they don't have so many blue chippers. You have to invest in your young assets.