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Contract talks between Kirk Cousins' agent and Redskins seek to avoid animosity

Contract talks between Kirk Cousins' agent and Redskins seek to avoid animosity

A few days after placing the exclusive franchise tag on their quarterback, Kirk Cousins' agent said initial contract talks with the Redskins are "moving in a positive direction." Speaking on NFL Network's Good Morning Football, Cousins' agent Mike McCartney talked at length about the "unique" circumstances surrounding his client and the organization (video here).

"The Redskins had let us know how much they value Kirk and how they see him as a franchise quarterback," McCartney said. "I do think it was a question of whether they were going to put the exclusive tag or the non-exclusive tag on him. When they put the exclusive tag on him they tried to send a message that, 'Hey, Kirk is our guy, we believe in him.' We took that the right way."

In 2016, the Redskins placed the non-exclusive tag on Cousins. In 2017, the team went with the exclusive tag, meaning Cousins and McCartney are not able to shop their services freely to other teams in the NFL. For some that seemed like a message that the team wanted to keep their passer, and clearly, Cousins' camp viewed it that way.


The biggest takeaway came when McCartney revealed he met with the Redskins chief contract negotiator Eric Schaffer Wednesday night. 

"Eric Schaffer is the cap guy for the Redskins and he and I visited last night. We’ve had good dialogue," McCartney said. "We're moving in a positive direction, we're trying to keep everything upbeat."

Contract talks broke down early on in 2016, and it seems both the team and McCartney are trying to avoid that this year.

"I think Eric and I are working really hard so there is not animosity. I think that's really important. The last thing I want as Kirk’s partner in this for him to go to work mad at his employer. At the end of the day his employer is still paying him well," the agent said. "Kirk isn’t necessarily motivated by the same things many other players are so I want him to enjoy work. And I take that very seriously, and I think Eric certainly takes that seriously from the club perspective."

It's interesting that the club and agent even have to consider animosity, but considering how wildly different the sides were in 2016 onthe value of a long-term deal, it makes sense. 

"We don’t agree on everything, by any chance, but we're really trying to work through that to make sure we have a positive dialogue and partnership through this," McCartney said. 


Jay Gruden talked Wednesday and said repeatedly that he is optimistic about getting a deal done for Cousins, and even suggested that the Redskins "maybe do a better job" in contract talks.

Optimism and positive dialogue are great, but ultimately, this thing will come down to money. The Redskins will open up the vault, or they won't. That doesn't mean McCartney doesn't understand the significance of the exclusive tag, and with it, a guaranteed $24 million payday. 

"At the end of the day they’re the ones that placed the franchise tag on him. A player, when his contract is up, looks forward to going to free agency to see what his value is on the open market. This is the second straight year that’s been taken away from Kirk so the Redskins did say something about, ‘Hey, this guy is worth $24 million.’ Kirk didn’t ask for the franchise tag, I didn’t ask for the franchise tag. Still it’s a heck of a commitment from the club, and we view it that way."

Perhaps what makes the Cousins situation so interesting is that it's just so unusual. McCartney also recognized that.

"It's definitely unique. I think with Kirk being a fourth rounder who didn’t play a whole lot his first three years, and then the last year of his contract, it was kind of the perfect storm. The first half of the [2015] season it was a little bit up and down, and then those last nine games, he just soared. He took off and took the Redskins into the playoffs, and then, his contract is up. So from a leverage standpoint it was unique for a quarterback to play his best football as his contract is expiring."

Sure it's early in the process, but the glasses on the negotiation table for a long-term deal between Kirk Cousins and the Redskins appear to be half full. For now. 


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Need to Know: The Redskins week that was—D-line scoop, Alex Smith's big deal

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Need to Know: The Redskins week that was—D-line scoop, Alex Smith's big deal

Here is what you need to know on this Saturday, March 24, 33 days before the NFL draft.  

The Redskins week that was

A look at some of the most popular posts and hottest topics of the week on Real Redskins and NBC Sports Washington.

Free agency update: What's next for the Redskins on the D-line? The Redskins have been casting out lines for defensive linemen since before free agency officially started but they haven’t been able to reel one in. Part of the issue might be that they know that Vita Vea and Da’Ron Payne are likely to be available in the draft. They have to balance spending big on a lineman vs. being able to get one pretty cheap for the next five years.

Redskins make a D-line contract change, gain roster flexibility—Speaking of the D-line, the team negotiated the removal of a salary guarantee for one player to give themselves more flexibility when it comes time to cut the roster down to 53 in September. See the post for details.

Redskins guarantee Alex Smith a whopping $71 million in new contract—In the words of Joe Biden, this is a big f-----g deal. It showed that the Redskins aren’t afraid to pay a quarterback big money if they think it’s the right guy. It should be noted that whether or not they chose the right guy is something that remains to be seen. Although the post shows that it’s plausible for the Redskins to terminate the deal after three years, I anticipate Smith playing out at least four if not all five years of the contract.

Redskins add another ex-Cowboy as they sign Scandrick—Orlando Scandrick has struggled with injuries the past few years and Redskins fans did not greet the news of his signing with great enthusiasm, to say the least. To point out the bright side, his contract is not pricey by NFL terms ($2.6 million cap hit this year, no guaranteed money beyond a $1 million signing bonus) and from what I have been able to gather it’s possible that change of scenery might give him a boost for a year or two.

Tweet of the week

Well before free agency started, I wrote that the Redskins’ top priorities in free agency should be to get extensions done for Smith, Brandon Scherff, and Jamison Crowder. They should have about $15 million to work with after a few more free agent signings and that would be plenty to get all of those extensions done. And if they do score a big free agent signing, it would be worth it to restructure the contract of someone like Ryan Kerrigan to get them done.

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page and follow him on Twitter @TandlerNBCS.


Days until:

—Offseason workouts begin (4/16) 23
—Training camp starts (approx. 7/26) 124
—2018 NFL season starts (9/9) 169

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Eagles' Michael Bennett allegedly injured elderly worker; arrest warrant issued

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Eagles' Michael Bennett allegedly injured elderly worker; arrest warrant issued

Philadelphia Eagles lineman Michael Bennett has been indicted on felony abuse for allegedly pushing an elderly NRG Stadium worker during Super Bowl LI.

Bennett was indicted by the Harris County, Texas district attorney's office for injury to the elderly — which is intentionally and knowingly causing injury to a person 65 years or older, according to a press release from the Harris County Sheriffs' Office.

A warrant has been issued for Bennett's arrest.

The 66-year-old paraplegic stadium worker was attempting to control field access when Bennett allegedly pushed her. 

The maximum penalty Bennett faces is ten years in prison in addition to a $10,000 fine.


Bennett — whose brother Martellus played in that Super Bowl for New England — was a member of the Seattle Seahawks during the incident and was in attendance as a noncompetitive player.

The NFL has been made aware of the situation and is looking into the matter, according to Pro Football Talk.

The 32-year-old 10-year NFL veteran could potentially face NFL discipline under the league's personal conduct policy.