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If Redskins can't get long-term deal done with Kirk Cousins, one option makes most sense

If Redskins can't get long-term deal done with Kirk Cousins, one option makes most sense

Running out of options, the Redskins will need to deploy the non-exclusive franchise tag on quarterback Kirk Cousins this offseason unless a long-term deal can be reached.

Why? Because nothing else will make sense. 

As the Redskins season nears the final quarter, and thoughts about the franchise’s future come closer into view, the organization must again revisit what to do with Cousins. 

For two straight years, the team used the franchise tag to retain Cousins. In 2016, it cost $20 million. In 2017, it cost $24 million.

In 2018, that figure jumps to a staggering $34 million. 

The $10 million increase is significant, but compared to the other options facing the team, it’s the right path.

RELATED: HOW MANY QBS ARE DEFINITELY BETTER THAN COUSINS? THE LIST IS SHORT

Again, the Redskins should make every effort to get a long-term contract signed with Cousins, but history suggests that will be tough to complete. 

Assuming a deal doesn’t get done by the late February deadline to use a tag, Washington must go with the non-exclusive franchise option. 

Some will argue for the less expensive transition tag. Yes, that carries a lower price tag of nearly $29 million. That $5 million savings, however, amounts to about three percent of the projected salary cap. 

Here's the quick math: This season, Cousins amounts to about 14 percent of the team's $167 million salary cap. Assume the 2018 NFL salary cap comes in around $168 million. The transition tag would eat up about 17 percent of that, the franchise tag would amount to 20 percent. 

That (relatively) minor savings does not warrant losing a franchise passer, and odds are, if the Redskins use the transition tag, Cousins will leave. 

The transition tag basically grants Cousins the opportunity to pursue free agency. He can talk to any NFL team he chooses, and sign an offer sheet. 

The Redskins would have the chance to match any offer sheet, but two problems could arise. First, a team could front-load a contract in a manner that Washington would be unable or unwilling to match. Second, if Cousins signs elsewhere, the Redskins get no compensation. 

By using the non-exclusive tag, Cousins can request permission to negotiate with other NFL teams. Should the Redskins grant permission, and a deal get reached between the QB and another franchise, then the two sides must work out compensation. 

That compensation discussion begins with two first round picks. Losing a franchise passer like Cousins would never be easy, but getting a sizable package of draft picks in return would lessen the blow. 

Remember, too, it’s entirely possible Cousins will not enter into talks about a multi-year contract with the Redskins. That was the route Cousins and his representatives chose during the 2017 offseason.

The quarterback still maintains all the leverage, and throughout this process has talked about his desire to get 'market value' for his services. 

For Bruce Allen and the Washington brass, the priority should be simple: Sign Cousins long-term. If that doesn’t happen, give him the non-exclusive tag and see what happens. 

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Yes, spending the extra $5 million guaranteed to go from the transition tag to the franchise tag could hinder the Redskins ability to bring back or sign new free agents. Of course. But it's also the only track to guarantee Cousins stays with the team, or if he leaves, the team gets compensation. 

Not all free agent decisions are hits either. For example, Terrelle Pryor will cost the Redskins $6 million this season, and nobody would argue that value was comparable to losing Cousins. Plus, the salary cap will increase again next season, further driving down the overall percentage that Cousins will contribute to the entire Redskins salary base. 

Also, under Allen, the Redskins rarely even use their full salary cap allotment. In 2017, the Redskins came in nearly $3 million under the cap. In 2016, the Redskins were $14 million under the cap, astonishing for a playoff contender.

The absolute worst case scenario would be to again pay Cousins for a one-year deal, and lose him to free agency in 2019. Unfortunately for Redskins fans, that worst case scenario remains very much in play.

Don't for a second think that just because the 49ers might have located their quarterback of the future in Jimmy Garoppolo that there will be less interest in Cousins on the open market. There are never enough quarterbacks in the NFL, and Cousins play in 2017 suggests he belongs in the conversation among the league's best passers. Plenty of teams will open up the bank vault for a shot at the Redskins passing yards record holder.

Working out a long-term deal with Cousins should be the goal in Washington this offseason, but the non-exclusive franchise tag should absolutely be the contingency plan. 

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Devin Hester deserves to be in the Hall of Fame, and Brian Mitchell is why

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Devin Hester deserves to be in the Hall of Fame, and Brian Mitchell is why

Devin Hester officially announced his NFL retirement on Tuesday after 11 years as the most feared return specialist in NFL history. 

Hester who spent a majority of his career with the Bears and Falcons finished with 20 return touchdowns, the most in NFL history. His 14 punt return touchdowns is also an NFL record. Hester also returned a missed field goal for an 108-yard touchdown. He became just one of eight men to score a kick return touchdown in the Super Bowl. 

It wasn't just what he did, but how he did it, and that matters. Hester was explosively and entertaining, sometimes taking a route well longer than the official length of his return touchdown. Hester had the combination of speed and quickness you only see once in a generation. 

Devin Hester is worthy of a spot in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, and Brian Mitchell is why.

Hester is the greatest return specialist in NFL history. But Mitchell is the best return specialist in NFL history.

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There's a difference too, between greatest and best. Hester was feared. He was revered. But nobody did it better than Mitchell. Nobody has ever fielded more returns than Mitchell (1,070), and nobody has ever compiled more return yards (19,013) than he. Only Hester has more career return touchdowns than Mitchell (13).

While Hester was boom-or-bust on many of his returns, Mitchell always got yardage. He averaged at least 10 yards per punt return in nine seasons and led the NFL in 1994 with 14.1 yards per punt return. He played in 223 of 224 possible games. Nobody did it better.

Mitchell has still yet to get the call from Canton, Ohio for enshrinement. Mitchell was a nominee for the 2017 class, but did not receive enough votes. But with Hester now officially on the clock for enshrinement, one things become clear: A return specialist will head to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. 

Hester will get his name called, and when he does, it will be because of Mitchell. Nobody did it better than Mitchell. The omission of Mitchell has been a contentious point recently, and if the Hall of Fame has not been able to add Mitchell to their hallowed halls, what would it take?

Devin Hester. That's what.

Hester had to do things pro football world had never seen before. He had to do truly great things. Things that you couldn't do in the Madden video games.

If the Hall of Fame has been reluctant to add Mitchell, only a player like Hester would be able to budge them off their archaic line.

Make no mistake about it: Brian Mitchell deserves to be in the Hall of Fame.

So does Devin Hester, and when he makes it, he'll have B-Mitch to thank. 

 

 

 

 

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Jordan Reed's unsatisfying 2017 season has come to an official end

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USA Today Sports

Jordan Reed's unsatisfying 2017 season has come to an official end

The Redskins made a roster move that many have anticipated for the last few weeks.

The team announced that 2016 Pro Bowl tight end Jordan Reed, who has missed the last six games with a hamstring injury, has been placed on injured reserve. That ends a very disappointing season for the five-year veteran.

It seemed that Reed was never fully healthy all year. He was placed on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list with a toe injury when he reported to camp in late July. Reed remained on PUP until a week before the start of the regular season, when he was activated.

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In six games, Reed’s production was running well below his career averages in receptions, yards, and touchdowns. He was averaging just 7.8 yards per catch after averaging 10.5 per reception prior to the season.

It seemed like he was on the verge of breaking out in Week 7 against the Eagles, when he caught eight passes for 64 yards and his first two touchdowns of the season. But the following week against the Cowboys he suffered the hamstring injury early in the game and he hasn’t played since.

Reed was close to returning a few weeks ago but he suffered a setback and he just couldn’t get the hamstring healthy enough to play. With the Redskins now officially out of playoff contention, the decision apparently was made to put him on the shelf and start getting him ready for next year.

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In other moves announced by the Redskins, they put RB Byron Marshall (hamstring) and LB Chris Carter (broken fibula) on IR. Both were injured during the loss to the Chargers on Sunday. Carter will have surgery and face a long rehab. Perhaps Marshall could return after a few weeks but the Redskins needed to get a third running back on the roster.

That running back is Kapri Bibbs, who has been on the Redskins’ practice squad. Also signed to the active roster were practice squad linebackers Pete Robertson and Otha Peters.

Added to the practice squad were LB Alex McCalister, RB Dare Ogunbowale, and S Orion Stewart.

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.