As we count down to the first game of the Redskins season, Tarik El-Bashir and Rich Tandler are going to be looking at 20 big questions facing the team and attempting to look into their crystal balls and answer them.Question 20: Will Jammal Brown take a snap for the Redskins this year?The background: In 2010 the Redskins sent the Saints a third-round pick to trade for Brown, who had just missed the entire 2009 season with a sports hernia. A year ago they signed him to a five-year, 27.5 million contract with 5.2 million guaranteed. For their investment they have received spotty play from the two-time Pro Bowl performer. After an offseason regime that included yoga therapy, Brown cant even get on the field as he has been on the PUP list after straining his hip while running wind sprints the day before camp started.Tandler: I dont believe that Mike Shanahan will rely on Brown to man the right tackle position. Even if he gets healthy now, a look at his history will tell you that he has only a slim chance of staying healthy. There are two potential outcomes here and neither of them involves Brown playing for the Redskins. They could put him on injured resere, ending his season. Or they could wait until he is healthy and release him, saving Browns 3.25 million salary. However they do it, Brown doesnt see the field for the Redskins this year.El-Bashir: Reading between the lines can be dangerous, particularly when dealing with a head coach who plays his cards so close to the vest. But when Mike Shanahan recently replied, "I have no idea" to a question about Brown's future, you've got to wonder if the veteran tackle has, indeed, played his last game in Washington. You've also got to question why he hasn't joined his injured teammates on the sidelines during practice. And while you ponder that, you might want to ask why the Redskins didn't foresee this possibility and hatch a backup plan in the offseason, whether that meant drafting a right tackle or signing one in free agency. Look, Tyler Polumbus might make us forget about all this. But right now Polumbus is as big a question mark as Brown.
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 Podcasts, here for Google Play or press play below. Don't forget to subscribe!
Here is what you need to know on this Monday, February 19, 23 days before NFL free agency starts.
—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:
A top NFL executive on the 2018 free agent class via @JasonLaCanfora "On paper, it's the worst group of free agents I've seen since I've been doing this."— Rich Tandler (@TandlerNBCS) February 14, 2018
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.
—NFL Combine (3/1) 10
—NFL Draft (4/26) 66
—2018 NFL season starts (9/9) 202
Tandler on Twitter
I’ve been through the disaster that reaching causes dozens of times. Look no further than the second round of the 2008 draft.— Rich Tandler (@TandlerNBCS) February 18, 2018
In case you missed it
- Tandler's Take—Drafting a running back early not a cure-all for rushing game
- The Redskins week that was—Costly cornerbacks, offseason blueprint
- Cousins reportedly ready to file grievance if Skins tag him
- No cap casualties for the Redskins?