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With 49ers off the board, is a return to the Redskins the best option for Kirk Cousins?

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With 49ers off the board, is a return to the Redskins the best option for Kirk Cousins?

For nearly a year, the 49ers circled Kirk Cousins like a shark looking for prey. San Francisco had gobs of cap space and the coach that drafted the Redskins quarterback.

It seemed, for months, that Washington would be forced to use an unprecedented third straight franchise tag on Cousins to keep their QB from going to the West Coast to play for Kyle Shanahan. 

A funny thing happened, though. 

The Niners made another move, acquiring Jimmy Garoppolo from the New England Patriots at the trade deadline in late October. Tom Brady's former backup has been great in San Francisco, winning all five games he started. 

Crazy things could happen, but 49ers GM John Lynch would be nuts to let Garoppolo go now. He will be the quarterback in San Francisco going forward.  

What does that mean for Cousins?

CLICK HERE FOR A GALLERY LISTING THE TEAMS KIRK COUSINS COULD END UP WITH IN 2018

That's a very legitimate question for the Redskins. Cousins is not under contract for 2018, and a third franchise tag would cost $34 million. Without the threat of San Francisco poaching Cousins, that cost seems outrageous. 

Let's be clear: Cousins will have numerous suitors should he hit free agency. There are never enough QBs in the NFL, let alone somebody with Cousins' qualifications. 

The Redskins passer started the last 48 games in Washington, a new record, and has thrown for at least 4,000 yards in the last three seasons, another record. Cousins is undeniably a verified NFL starting quarterback. Teams will want him.

For the Redskns, the question will come down to cost.

For Cousins, the question might come down to options. 

Assuming the 49ers are out of the picture, what is the best option for Kirk Cousins? It might very well be staying in D.C.

If that sounds ridiculous, consider that Cousins has found success playing QB in Washington the last three seasons. He knows head coach Jay Gruden's offense inside and out, and Gruden knows the strengths and weaknesses of his quarterback. 

The Redskins have two of the best offensive linemen in the NFL in Brandon Scherff and Trent Williams, not to mention another stalwart in Morgan Moses. The team needs more help at the skill positions, but that could come this offseason. 

Not to mention, the Redskins won seven games in 2017 even though the team sent five running backs to the injured reserve and got five starts out of Pro Bowl tight end Jordan Reed. 

With the 49ers likely off the market, and the same for Sean McVay's Rams, the Redskins might be the best place for Cousins, if he hits free agency or not. There will be more options, however, but what makes sense?

For an evaluation of all of Cousins' potential destinations, check out the gallery below.

CLICK HERE FOR A GALLERY LISTING THE TEAMS KIRK COUSINS COULD END UP WITH IN 2018

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Need to Know: Five pivotal games on the Redskins' schedule

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Need to Know: Five pivotal games on the Redskins' schedule

Here is what you need to know on this Friday, April 20, six days before the 2018 NFL draft.  

Five pivotal games on the Redskins’ schedule

All NFL games are important but some seem to be a little more important than others. At first glance at the Redskins’ schedule, these seem to be the five most pivotal games. 

Week 1 @Cardinals—Wait, Week 1 is pivotal? It is if you’re Jay Gruden and you are 0-4 in season openers. Starting off in an 0-1 hole again after losing a winnable game would not get things off to a positive start. 

Week 7 Cowboys—The only Redskins-Cowboys game that Kirk Cousins started in the last three years that Washington won was the 2015 season finale in Dallas, a game that was meaningless to both teams. Alex Smith needs to take advantage of his shot at the Cowboys. Beating Dallas is important for being competitive in the division and for job security in general. This is their shot at them at home.

Week 9 Falcons—Atlanta has been among the league’s big boys the last couple of years. The Redskins get them at home, on grass, when the weather could be turning a little bit chilly. It’s a good opportunity to upset a dome team. The game also ends the first part of the season and the Redskins face a second half of the schedule that has just three home games. 

Week 14 Giants—This is one of the aforementioned scarce home games in the latter part of the season. It’s preceded by road games in Dallas (9-7 last year) and Philadelphia (Super Bowl champs) and followed by roadies in Jacksonville (lost AFC title game) and Tennessee (won a playoff game). Nobody is quite sure to what extent the Giants will rebound from their dismal 2017 season but this game has the feel of a possible oasis surrounded by hostile deserts. 

Week 16 @Titans—If the Redskins are in playoff contention, this game will determine a lot even though its non-conference. As noted, the Titans are looking to improve on their playoff season last year and they will not be a pushover by any stretch. But if the Redskins want to be able to say that they are a better team than they have been the last couple of years, this is the kind of game they should win. 

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.

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Timeline  

Days until:

—OTAs start (5/22) 32
—Training camp starts (7/26) 97
—2018 NFL season starts (9/9) 142

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The 2018 NFL schedule is here, but we still don't really know anything

The 2018 NFL schedule is here, but we still don't really know anything

The NFL dropped the Redskins' 2018 regular-season schedule on Thursday and you will not have to wait long for pundits and fans alike to begin predicting team’s season-long win-loss record. 

It’s a fun exercise, and something the football world enjoys doing. Myself included. 

But don’t read much -- if anything -- into the schedule right now. 

Every year, some teams look mighty in the offseason only to fall apart in the regular season. 

Need an example? Many predicted the Giants to be the beasts of the NFC East in 2017, and the Eagles to finish last in the NFC East. What actually happened? The Giants finished 3-13 and the Eagles won the Super Bowl. 

The NFL cannot be predicted year to year. It can hardly be predicted week to week. 

Last season, two December home games against the Broncos and Cardinals looked very daunting when the schedule came out. Instead, that was a two-game win streak. 

Enjoy the schedule release. It’s a fun time to guess what will happen in 2018.

But remember, once the games start, anything can happen. 

(For the record: My prediction is 9-7.)

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