Second-year Washington head coach Jay Gruden had plenty to say Wednesday as he and the club continue focusing on ways to improve on their 4-12 record from last season. Let’s take a look at some of the salient points Gruden addressed:
- New general manager Scot McCloughan didn’t exactly give a ringing endorsement to much-maligned quarterback Robert Griffin III on Tuesday. Neither did Gruden on Wednesday, according to Mike Jones of the Washington Post (via Twitter). Per Jones, Gruden said he’s been studying the draft’s top two quarterbacks – Oregon’s Marcus Mariota and Florida State’s Jameis Winston – in case one falls to Washington at fifth overall.
- Despite Gruden’s statement, Zac Boyer of the Washington Times (Twitter link) doesn’t believe Washington will take a quarterback at No. 5 based on the coach’s tone.
- In other draft news, Boyer tweets that Washington will likely go that route to address outside linebacker, per Gruden. Washington has a hole to fill at OLB after losing Brian Orakpo to free agency earlier this month.
- Cornerback Chris Culliver, whom Washington signed to a big contract in free agency, drew praise from Gruden. According to Boyer (Twitter link), Gruden considered Culliver second only to Darrelle Revis among free agent corners. Culliver spent the first three years of his career in San Francisco, intercepting seven passes for the 49ers. He had a career-best four picks last year, when Pro Football Focus (subscription required) ranked him a terrific 14th among 108 qualifying corners.
- Regarding the future of free agent wide receiver Santana Moss, Gruden said, “I would not hesitate to call him,” tweeted Boyer. Moss, who will turn 36 in June, is mulling retirement after 14 NFL seasons. He has spent the last decade in Washington and totaled nearly 600 catches and 47 touchdowns. Moss went scoreless last year and had just 10 receptions in 10 games.
- Moss aside, Gruden sounded less interested in bringing back other unsigned players who were previously with Washington, according to Boyer (via Twitter). “If they’re not on our roster right now, we don’t have any plans for them to be with us,” said Gruden.
- Finally, Gruden indicated that Washington is discussing long-term extensions with the agents for outside linebacker Ryan Kerrigan and offensive tackle Trent Williams, tweeted Tarik El-Bashir of CSNWashington.com. The duo will eat up over $20MM in cap space in 2015, the final year of their respective deals. Kerrigan, 26, is coming off a career campaign that saw him rack up 13.5 sacks, giving him 38 over his four-year career. Williams, also 26, has made three straight Pro Bowls and finished last season ranked 18th out of 84 qualifying tackles, according to Pro Football Focus (subscription required).