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Need to Know: Which Redskins will stay, who will go?

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Need to Know: Which Redskins will stay, who will go?

Here is what you need to know on this Saturday, December 23, one day before the Washington Redskins play the Denver Broncos at FedEx Field.

Timeline

Today’s schedule: No media availability

Days until:

—Redskins @ Giants (12/31) 8
—NFL free agency starts (3/14/18) 81
—NFL Draft (4/26/18) 124

Who’s coming back?

One thing that is inevitable every offseason is roster churn. Not all players will be back but some of them are more likely to return than others. Let’s do a special version of breaking out the imaginary casino chips. I’m going to budget up to $100 in chips to bet on the chances of the returns of each of five players who will be free agents in 2018.

QB Kirk Cousins, bet $49 on returning—I normally don’t break it down in $1 chips (I’m not even sure if most casinos have them). But such is the uncertain state of things with Cousins at this point. Breaking that $49 down according to the three possible ways he could be back, I’ll put $9 on a long-term deal, $10 on the $35 million franchise tag salary, and $30 on the $28.8 million franchise tag salary. There is a lot to sort out between now and March when all of this will get settled.

LB Zach Brown, bet $60 on returning—There have been some contract talks but the Redskins’ salary cap position had them with little leverage to make a deal. They can negotiate with Brown any time. I think that the Redskins will make a competitive offer and that Brown will be inclined to stay rather than joining his fourth team in the last four years. But this is likely to be the 28-year-old Brown’s last shot at a lucrative contract. If one team’s offer is significantly higher than the Redskins’, Brown could take the money and run.

LB Mason Foster, bet $70 on returning—There was some sort of a spat between Foster and the front office when he was put on injured reserve in October but that seems to have been smoothed over. Foster will turn 29 before next season and he seems to be in a spot where he’d like to stay and finish his career in Washington. But, like Brown, this is likely to be his last shot at a free agency period where he will be in demand. It would only take one team to make an above-market offer to lure Foster away.

OLB Junior Galette, bet $20 on returning—Galette hasn’t had a monster season when it comes to getting sacks but he has put plenty of pressure on opposing QBs considering the limited number of snaps he has played. Pass rush is a valued ability in the NFL and it is likely that a team will offer him more money and more playing time than the Redskins will. The latter is very important to Galette, who will turn 30 in March. Perhaps the Redskins can persuade him to stay but the odds strongly favor him leaving.

CB Bashaud Breeland, bet $10 on returning—There are a few reasons why Breeland probably won’t return and his ability as a player and fit with the team are not on the list. He will be in demand as a solid starting corner entering his age 26 season. The Redskins have Josh Norman under contract with a $17 million cap number next year and it would be difficult to fit a second high-priced corner into their salary structure. And they won’t really have to since they have prepared for Breeland’s potential departure by drafting Kendall Fuller and Fabian Moreau in the third round in the last two drafts. If the Redskins move on from Cousins they might take some of the savings and invest it in defense but the odds are that Breeland moves on.

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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In case you missed it

 

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Need to Know: The Redskins week that was-Cousins' value, the Redskins' top pick

Need to Know: The Redskins week that was-Cousins' value, the Redskins' top pick

Here is what you need to know on this Saturday, January 20, 53 days before NFL free agency starts.

Timeline  

Days until:

—NFL franchise tag deadline (3/6) 45
—NFL Draft (4/26) 96
—2018 NFL season starts (9/9) 232

The Redskins week that was

Jags big win could spell bad news for Kirk Cousins—If the Jaguars’ accomplishment of getting to the AFC championship game does indeed make Blake Bortles’ job safe, the laws of economics say that the amount of money that Cousins can command in a free agent contract should go down. It’s the demand part of supply and demand and if demand goes down, prices should, too. But the NFL quarterback market doesn’t follow the laws. If the Lions see fit to pay Matthew Stafford, a quarterback under whom they have had very limited success, a contract with an average annual value of $27 million without any team bidding against them, that sets the price.

Setting the odds on what happens with Kirk Cousins—Despite his happy talk at the 106.7 The Fan event earlier this month, the possibility that Cousins will play in a Redskins uniform in 2018 does not warrant a large bet of imaginary casino chips. If you missed the post, take a look and let me know what you think of my assessment.

Don't freak out about latest Zach Brown tweet—It’s that time of year. A player sends out a tweet with no context and fans assign the worst possible meaning to it. In Brown’s case, a tweet about not getting respect was interpreted as a sign that contract negotiations with the Redskins were not going well. But JP Finlay found out that the tweet was about Brown being upset that another alternate getting selected to the Pro Bowl and not him. It still is unclear if Brown will return to the Redskins but at least there are no indications of rocky negotiations at this point.

Bang for the free agent bucks for the Redskins? Brown was a solid free agent acquisition for the Redskins last year. Terrelle Pryor, not so much. Take a look at the post for the other hits and misses in free agency.

Tweet of the week

Even though the draft is over three months away there are plenty of opinions out there as this tweet drew a ton of reaction. On the offensive side of the ball, the suggestions ran towards quarterbacks Lamar Jackson and Baker Mayfield although some want a running back. It will be interesting to see how those two non-conventional quarterbacks look after they spend the next few months under the microscope of the NFL draft process. The defensive name that kept coming up was Washington defensive lineman Vita Vea, a large specimen who could play the nose in base defense and move to three-technique in nickel.

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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Scot McCloughan simply said what plenty of others think about Kirk Cousins

Scot McCloughan simply said what plenty of others think about Kirk Cousins

Redskins fans were frenzied when Scot McCloughan said that Kirk Cousins is a good quarterback, but not a special one. The #KirkHive shuddered and the Kirk Haters celebrated.

McCloughan, the former Redskins GM who's wildly popular with fans, explained what few people will say publicly: Cousins is a skilled player but probably not deserving of the money he might make in free agency. 

Let's start with the obvious: Cousins is good.

He's a durable passer in a league that doesn't have enough of them. He's started the last 49 games for the Redskins and thrown for more than 4,000 yards each of the past three seasons. 

Now more obvious: He isn't great.

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Bleacher Report's Chris Simms, speaking on the #RedskinsTalk podcast, said Cousins ranks about 12th among NFL passers. It's top half of the league, but it's not Top 5 or even Top 10. 

Cousins has had tremendous games with the Redskins, like a near perfect performance against Oakland in 2017 or a dominant performance against Green Bay in 2016. 

Cousins has also been awful, as recently as Week 17 in New York a few weeks ago, or an equally stinky Week 17 game against the Giants two seasons ago. 

While some might view McCloughan's statement as controversial — "He’s a good player. Is he special? I don’t see special," he told Denver radio station 104.3 the Fan — it's not. 

Plenty of people agree with McCloughan, including some in Redskins Park. Last year, a source told NBC Sports Washington that the team believed they could get nearly as much production from Colt McCoy as Cousins provided. 

Even this year, Washington head coach Jay Gruden offered lukewarm praise of his quarterback.

When the season ended, asked to evaluate Cousins' play, the coach said, "When you’re 7-9, it’s hard to say, ‘Wow, this guy really was outstanding.’ There’s a few guys obviously that jump out, Pro Bowlers like Ryan Kerrigan had a solid year. Obviously Trent [Williams] when he played was a Pro Bowl-type and Brandon [Scherff] when he was healthy was a Pro Bowl-type guy. Kirk had his flashes where he was really good. From a consistent standpoint, over the course of 16 games, you know, we’re 7-9."

That quote made headlines when Gruden said it, much like McCloughan's comments now are circulating faster than Beltway traffic. 

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Truth is, it's not new. And it's not news.

There are coaches that think Cousins is only scratching the surface of his capabilities. Kyle Shanahan and Sean McVay come to mind, but both of those coaches have other QBs likely for the long-term future. 

Cousins might end up being paid like a Top 3 quarterback in the NFL, and that might be the right move given the demand at the position. Will that make him a special passer?

Not if special is defined as Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers or Drew Brees. Even Cousins wouldn't argue with that.