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Creating a 2018 offseason blueprint for the Redskins

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Bob Youngentob for NBC Sports Washington

Creating a 2018 offseason blueprint for the Redskins

There is no shortage of advice heading the Redskins’ way as the start of the league year approaches. One list of five suggested offseason moves came from Bill Barnwell of ESPN. Here is a look at his proposals and my take on them.

Don’t try to tag and trade Kirk Cousins—If you’ve read what I’ve written here or if you follow me on Twitter, you probably know that I think that this would be a bad and futile move. Cousins would have to sign the tag in order for him to be traded for compensation. “Why would Cousins want Washington to narrow his options, and why would he want his new team to give up valuable draft picks as a thank-you to the franchise that is moving on from him?” wrote Barnwell. Exactly.

Re-sign Zach Brown and Spencer Long—Bringing back Brown certainly should be a top priority. He brought an element to the defense that has been missing for years. The question is, how much will he cost? Barnwell said that he won’t break the bank but that he should get more than the four-year, $24 million deal that A.J. Klein got from the Saints last year. In fact, Brown’s expectations are far north of that. Klein got $9.7 million in guarantees with $5.7 million fully guaranteed at signing. Colleague JP Finlay has reported that Brown’s camp wants closer to $20 million guaranteed.

MORE REDSKINS: THE EXPECTATIONS GAME

Long may be able to take advantage of a weak market for the interior offensive line; Barnwell suggests that his ceiling may be a deal with an average annual value of $8 million. A lot will depend on his health after he missed nine games with a quad injury that required surgery and knee problems. I have heard that the Redskins are leaning towards moving on from Spencer, but it remains to be seen if the thin supply of possible replacements in free agency will change their minds.

The pending free agency of Bashaud Breeland also is discussed here. He likely will be out of the Redskins’ price range as he is looking at a potential contract with an AAV of $10 million. The loss of Kendall Fuller in the Alex Smith trade may give the Redskins pause but that price tag is probably too high.

Pick up Brandon Scherff’s fifth-year option—This is an easy call, although the better move would be to get him an extension before the option decision is due in early May. The salary for that 2019 option year will be in the vicinity of $14 million, which is left tackle money. That number could be used as a floor for negotiations just like Kirk Cousins’ agent used the tag salary as a basis for his anticipated salaries.

Work on extending Preston Smith—His inconsistency in sack numbers causes some fans to severely underrate his importance to the defense but he is a vital part of the unit. Barnwell suggests that even though it may cost over $10 million per year to lock him up, they should do it in order to avoid the franchise tag game that they played with Cousins. Pass rushers are rare and Smith is a very good one. They should do everything they can to keep him in the fold.

RELATED: COUSINS AND SMITH BY THE NUMBERS

Barnwell does not mention Jamison Crowder, who also is eligible for an extension, but I think he needs to be a priority along with Smith and Scherff.

Be selective in free agency—This always is good advice for the Redskins but perhaps more important this year. If the Redskins spend too much they will negate the third-round compensatory pick the would get for Cousins and a potential lower pick for Breeland. One way to avoid that would be to target players cut by other teams. Among the free agents that Barnwell thinks would be good fits are WR’s Sammy Watkins and Allen Robinson.

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

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USA TODAY Sports

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. 

Want more Redskins? Click here to follow JP on Facebook and check out @JPFinlayNBCS for live updates via Twitter! Click here for the #RedskinsTalk on Apple Podcastshere for Google Play or press play below. Don't forget to subscribe!

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

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USA Today Sports Images

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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