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2017 NFL preview: Will Kirk Cousins and the Washington offense regress?

We’re previewing the NFL heading into training camp, mixing and matching 49ers opponents and other teams. Today, we look at Washington.

NFL training camp gets going in three weeks, and that means the NFL regular season is only two months away. I imagine most of us will be focusing on our San Francisco 49ers during training camp, but it will help to know a little bit about the rest of the league. SB Nation’s 32 NFL sites are putting together basic rundowns of what their team has been up to this offseason.

Each explainer includes free agent additions and departures, trades, draft picks expected to contribute as rookies, biggest offseason addition, biggest storyline, underrated storyline, and notable injuries. The idea is to give you a quick but thorough background on each team. We’ll use these to look at 49ers opponents, but if we have time, I want to try and use all 32 to give us a nice look around the league.

Today, we move on to Washington, courtesy of our friends at Hogs Haven. The 49ers travel to the nation’s capital in Week 6.

Yes, I did plan the timing of this one on purpose. Tomorrow is Monday, and it is the deadline for quarterback Kirk Cousins and Washington to come to an agreement on a long-term deal. Adam Schefter reported Sunday that it is unlikely a deal gets done on Monday, with Cousins looking to wait until after the season.

That is how things have appeared to be headed for some time, making this upcoming season that much more interesting. Cousins has improved each of the past two seasons, and another season anywhere like last year will result in a huge pay day. The question now is whether or not he’ll regress. Washington lost DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garçon, but added Terrelle Pryor.

Whether or not Washington can hang with Dallas and New York is not as big for Cousins’ purposes as if he can put up another big season. If he regresses slightly, he’ll likely still do well in free agency, but the turnover on offense heading into this season will raise some questions. What kind of performance do you expect from Cousins this season?


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Notable free agent additions: WRs Terrelle Pryor, Brian Quick, S DJ Swearinger, ILB Zach Brown; DE Terrell McClain, Stacy McGee

Notable free agent departures: WRs DeSean Jackson, Pierre Garçon; DEs Chris Baker, Ricky Jean Francois

Trades: None

Draft picks expected to contribute as rookies: DE Jonathan Allen, OLB Ryan Anderson

Biggest offseason addition: Terrelle Pryor will be asked to shoulder a true #1 wide receiver load this season. After DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garcon departed via free agency, his chemistry with Kirk Cousins needs to develop quickly. Josh Doctson is another wide receiver addition as he returns from a rookie season lost to injury.

Biggest storyline heading into training camp: The biggest story of the offseason is obviously the ongoing contract drama with QB Kirk Cousins. This will be settled, at least for this year, by the July 17th deadline to either sign a long-term deal or play out the franchise tag. The firing of Scot McCloughan, and Bruce Allen stepping back out of the shadows, and the subsequent “restructuring” of the front office was the other big storyline that affects the team.

Under-the-radar storyline heading into training camp:

Major turnover in the coaching staff affects both sides of the ball. Defensive coordinator Joe Barry was fired after two uninspired seasons, and will be replaced by OLB coach Greg Manusky. The Redskins also added defensive line coach Jim Tomsula to finally improve the DL. Offensive coordinator Sean McVay left for a head coaching job with the Los Angeles Rams and will be replaced by QB coach Matt Cavanaugh. Jay Gruden will return to calling plays on offense this year. The defense seems improved and the offense has more question marks.

Notable injuries heading into training camp:

Rookie CB Fabian Moreau will likely enter the season on PUP, OLB Junior Galette makes his third attempt to play a snap as a Redskin after back-to-back Achilles injuries.