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2018 NFL Mock Draft: Who needs a quarterback?

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2018 NFL Mock Draft: Who needs a quarterback?

No offense to the running backs like Penn State's Saquon Barkley or pass rushers like LSU's Arden Key or wide receivers like Alabama's Calvin Ridley, but per usual, quarterbacks are kings of the draft class. Just realize this isn't about any one passer though USC's Sam Darnold or UCLA's Josh Rosen might be the first player chosen. Several gunslingers may push their way into the first round.

<<<<<CLICK HERE FOR OUR 2018 NFL MOCK DRAFT 1.0>>>>>

Which teams jump into the fray for one of them is the intrigue.

Some organizations are dealing with quarterbacks hitting free agency, namely the Redskins with Kirk Cousins and the Saints with Drew Brees.

Others continue wandering the desert in search of help, like the Browns and Jets. Another faction must rapidly determine a long-term solution because their long-time starter is nearing the end like the Giants with Eli Manning and the Chargers with Philip Rivers.

Plenty of moves leading up to the draft will change needs, but for now here's a ranking of the teams in need from least to most likely to select a quarterback in the first round.

<<<<<CLICK HERE FOR OUR 2018 NFL MOCK DRAFT 1.0>>>>>

Saints -- Drew Brees is still awesome, but he makes a ton of money. Can the two sides agree on a one-year deal that keeps the Super Bowl hero in town and doesn't break the Saints salary cap while they remain a playoff contender? Something tells me an agreement is reached. 

Colts -- Andrew Luck is the quarterback. Season wasted by injury or not, he's the franchise. Of course, the owner apparently thinks the shoulder injury is in Luck's head. Neat. If this tinfoil hat stance becomes a true brawl -- or is real -- then Indianapolis might look to move on from Luck, in which it would move way down this list.

Broncos -- Denver hasn't come close to figuring out its quarterback situation since Peyton Manning retired -- and wasted two years of a Super Bowl contending roster in the process. If the Broncos think they're still a contender, but 2016 first-round pick Paxton Lynch isn't the answer, then they might be one team looking for a veteran option. 

Vikings  -- Consider this a placeholder spot until we see what Teddy Bridgewater looks like in his return from a devastating knee injury. 

Jaguars -- Yes, Blake Bortles isn't good, but, well, he hasn't been bad lately. Three consecutive games completing 63 percent or more of his passes. Oh, Jacksonville is 5-3. Keep that up and management might be cool with bringing the band back together. Any sign of Bortles being off-key and the curtain comes down. 

Bengals -- No way Marvin Lewis survives another playoff-season, right? Would a new coach think Andy Dalton is the man or be of the mindset to use a potential top-10 pick on a quarterback?

Dolphins -- There's some sense that Miami just might want to move on from Ryan Tannehill's large contract after he missed the entire 2017 season with a knee injury. He turns 30 before next season and has never quite put it altogether, but the Dolphins could do a lot worse. 

Chargers  - Philip Rivers' completion percentage is hovering just over 60 percent for the second year in a row, but he's thrown 13 touchdown passes to six interceptions. Dude is a straight-up gamer so don't expect him to walk away anytime soon. Los Angeles certainly needs to start planning for the future, but that doesn't mean automatically taking a quarterback in round one. 

Jets -- Props to Josh McCown for not just holding things down, but actually putting New York into the playoff picture. Keep him or not, McCown is no long-term answer. Is Bryce Petty or Christian Hackenberg? Good question. Probably not, but maybe the Jets decide they'd rather go with the same group for another year.

Redskins -- If Washington slaps a franchise tag on Kirk Cousins for a third consecutive year, remove Washington from this list. If Washington slaps a franchise tag on Cousins again but with a price tag north of $30 million, good luck keeping many of its other key free agents. If Cousins gets a taste of free agent life, look for a departure simply based on the number of other teams in need and a personal belief that he wants out. Of course, the Redskins can match offers if they use the transition tag. If you know which of these scenarios is the true future, hit me up on Twitter at @benstandig. Also drop some lottery numbers while you're at it.

Steelers -- Tricky call here in that Ben Roethlisberger is a Pittsburgh institution and not easily removed. That Big Ben admitted he thought about clocking out via retirement before 2017 means that possibility cannot be ignored. One of those team that might want a solid veteran capable of starting ahead of a kid considering their perennial contender status and having a dynamic receiver like Antonio Brown.

Cardinals -- Carson Palmer is 37 and dealing with a season-ending broken arm and his best days are clearly in the rearview. Drew Stanton is fine as a backup, but that's about it. Arizona's roster won't have the team bottoming out and the right new guy could add the needed spark. Considering the other NFC West teams have young passers -- Russell Wilson, Jared Goff, Jimmy Garoppolo -- the Cardinals need to keep up.

Giants -- Two Super Bowl wins and countless "Eli Manning faces." What a ride, but this franchise needs to clean house with the coaching staff and the new head man should get to start over at quarterback. Whether they go for a new passer in round one largely depends on what they think of Davis Webb. Considering New York looks like a lock for a top-5 pick, this seems like a great time to start over. Then the question becomes who gets Eli???

Browns -- This season Kevin Hogan became the 28th different starting quarterback for the Browns since 1999. They passed on Carson Wentz and DeShaun Watson over the past two years. They're the Browns. 'Nuff said.

<<<<<CLICK HERE FOR OUR 2018 NFL MOCK DRAFT 1.0>>>>>

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As money skyrockets, don't expect Kirk Cousins to give discounts on open market

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As money skyrockets, don't expect Kirk Cousins to give discounts on open market

Kirk Cousins repeatedly said his free agent decision will not be just about money. Be clear, however, that money will be a huge factor in this decision. 

After the Redskins traded with Kansas City to acquire Alex Smith before the Super Bowl, it became obvious Washington will move on from Cousins. Whether that means the quarterback simply walks away in free agency or the organization attempts a highly risky tag-and-trade scenario, regardless, Cousins will throw footballs for another franchise in 2018.

Cousins wants to choose where he will play via free agency, and might even file a grievance if the Redskins do deploy a third franchise tag to control his rights.

Assuming Cousins hits free agency, a new report out of New York suggests the Jets will pay "whatever it takes" to land the passer. That could even include a fully guaranteed contract, and will certainly get close to a $30 million a year price tag. 

A notion exists too that Cousins might take less to go to a winner, and many think that could be the Broncos. Denver won five games in 2017, same as the Jets, though the Broncos have a strong defense and have been getting particularly awful QB play. 

The important thing to remember for curious Redskins fans watching the Cousins saga unfold: Don't expect much, if any, discount. 

The quarterback himself made that clear. 

"There’s other quarterbacks that come after you and it would be almost a selfish move to hurt future quarterbacks who get in a position to have a contract," Cousins said last year on 106.7 the Fan.

The quotes came after the 2016 season but before the Redskins again used a franchise tag with Cousins for the 2017 season. Washington wanted to attempt a long-term deal with Cousins at that point, though the quarterback decided to not negotiate and instead play on the tag.

The point remains that Cousins, and his representatives, believe the quarterback has a duty to other players to maximize his earnings. 

"If you don’t take a deal that’s fair to you, then you’re also taking a deal that’s not fair to them and you’re setting them back as well. So there’s different reasons. You just do the best you can."

If he hits free agency, Cousins will likely sign the richest contract in NFL history. Those opportunities don't come around often, and the quarterback should take full advantage. 

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Need to Know: Could Ty Nsekhe be the Redskins' answer at left guard?

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Need to Know: Could Ty Nsekhe be the Redskins' answer at left guard?

Here is what you need to know on this Monday, February 19, 23 days before NFL free agency starts.

Monday musings

—One possible solution to the left guard spot is perhaps being overlooked. Ty Nsekhe played there some last year, starting the game in Dallas and playing there until Morgan Moses got injured, forcing him to move to right tackle. Nsekhe is slated to be a restricted free agent but his return is likely. In December I asked Jay Gruden if Nsekhe might move to guard in 2018. “I think Ty is a big man and a very good tackle, but in the offseason when we have more time, maybe we can feature him at some guard when we’ve got all our guys back,” he said. “Feature him some” doesn’t mean that they will make him a starter; perhaps they want him to be the top option to fill in at four of the five OL positions. But it’s something to keep an eye on if they don’t land a left guard solution in free agency or the draft.

—When I posted about Albert Breer’s report that Kirk Cousins would file a grievance if the Redskins put the franchise tag on him in an effort to trade him, I pulled up a copy of the CBA to see the language on which Cousins could base his case. I read through the Article 10, which deals with the franchise tag twice and I saw nothing of it. But Mike Florio found it in Article 4, the one that deals with player contracts. “A Club extending a Required Tender must, for so long as that Tender is extended, have a good faith intention to employ the player receiving the Tender at the Tender compensation level during the upcoming season.” Since the Redskins clearly have no intention of employing Cousins after the Alex Smith trade, this seems to be a fairly simple case. In reality, it never is.

—I tweeted this last week:

However, possible cap casualties from other teams are not included in that group. That won’t turn the pool of players who will become available to sign into a bunch of potential franchise changers. Still, there could be a number of players in whom the Redskins could be interested in like RB DeMarco Murray, WRs Emmanuel Sanders and Torrey Smith, edge rusher Elvis Dumervil, and DL Brandon Mebane. A plus to signing players who have been waived is that they don’t count in the formula that determines compensatory draft picks. The Redskins have never really paid attention to that in the past but with potential high comp picks at stake if they lose both Kirk Cousins and Bashaud Breeland, this could be a good year to start.

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page Facebook.com/TandlerNBCS and follow him on Twitter @TandlerNBCS.

Timeline  

Days until:

—NFL Combine (3/1) 10
—NFL Draft (4/26) 66
—2018 NFL season starts (9/9) 202

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