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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.

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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. 

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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. 

<<<LOOKING AT REDSKINS DRAFT PROSPECTS>>>

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Can Brandon Scherff do something that no Redskins O-lineman has done since 1991?

Can Brandon Scherff do something that no Redskins O-lineman has done since 1991?

Those who doubted the wisdom of the Redskins drafting a guard with the fifth overall pick in 2015 (yes, I was one of them) should be preparing to eat their words.

On draft day and during the two and a half years since then, there has been plenty of talk that the Redskins would regret taking Brandon Scherff, who played tackle in college but seemed destined to play guard in the NFL, so early. Not that anyone thought that Scherff would be a bad NFL player but given that they left DL Leonard Williams and edge rusher Vic Beasley on the board, he needed to develop into an All-Pro caliber guard to justify such a high pick.

Well, don’t look now but Scherff is making his way towards becoming one of the best guards in the game. Not just Pro Bowl good; he checked that box last year. Scherff could become the first Redskins position player to be named a first-team All-Pro since Darrell Green and Jim Lachey earned the honors in 1991.

MORE REDSKINS: MUST-SEE PHOTOS FROM REDSKINS 26, 49ERS 24

Asked about Scherff’s play this year, Jay Gruden was effusive in his praise.

He’s reacting. He’s anticipating. He’s pulling. He’s pass-blocking. He’s run-blocking. He’s double teaming. He’s doing everything you want him to do out in screens, out in space. He’s the best guard out in space by far in this league. It’s fun to watch him.

You can listen to Gruden’s full comments on Scherff in the video above.

Gruden is not exactly an unbiased observer. But other, more neutral analysts also have been heaping praise on Scherff.

An article on Pro Football Focus said that Scherff had an “elite” game against the 49ers, not allowing any pass rush pressures and dominating as a run blocker.

RELATED: IN A MUDDLED NFC WHY NOT THE REDSKINS?

Two other analysts clipped some plays from the 49ers game to illustrate just how well he was playing.

This one from Brian Baldinger of the NFL Network shows one play, the 49-yard screen pass to Chris Thompson on which Scherff threw a key block.

I’m not sure what the scouting credentials Brandon Thorn has but he did put together a nice collection of clips of Scherff making quality blocks both in space and in the interior vs. the 49ers.

Will Scherff earn All-Pro honors? That could depend on how well the team does. While the All-Pro teams are supposed to be individual honors, it’s tough for an offensive lineman to get many votes if he’s not on a winning team, especially one like Scherff who would be trying to break into the club for the first time.

But the Redskins are not really worried about All-Pro votes. If he keeps playing the way he’s playing and he gets no such consideration it will be fine with them.

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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Need to Know: Redskins to face Eagles’ clutch Carson Wentz, productive Zach Ertz

ertz_vs_redskins_usat.jpg
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Need to Know: Redskins to face Eagles’ clutch Carson Wentz, productive Zach Ertz

Here is what you need to know on this Friday, October 20, three days before the Washington Redskins visit the Philadelphia Eagles for Monday night football.

Timeline

Today’s schedule: Practice 1 p.m.; Jay Gruden and Greg Manusky news conferences, open locker room, after practice approx. 3 p.m.

Days until:

—Cowboys @ Redskins (10/29) 9
—Redskins @ Seahawks (11/5) 16
—Giants @ Redskins Thanksgiving (11/23) 34

Injuries of note:
Not practicing
: OT Trent Williams (knee), OT Ty Nsekhe (core muscle)
Limited: CB Josh Norman (rib), CB Bashaud Breeland (knee), S Deshazor Everett (hamstring), RB Rob Kelley (ankle), OLB Ryan Anderson (back), S Stefan McClure (knee). OL Tyler Catalina (concussion protocol).
It was encouraging that Breeland and Norman practiced although Jay Gruden noted that they both took place only in individual drills. See the full injury report here.  

First look at Redskins vs Eagles

Number that pops out—LeGarrette Blount, who had a career average of 4.4 yards per carry coming into the year, is averaging 5.6 yards per carry, fourth in the NFL. Not bad for a guy who is supposed to be a lumbering power back. The key to stopping him is the same as it always has been, getting the north-south runner to go east-west. The Redskins did a solid job against him in Week 1, limiting him to a 3.3-yard average on his 14 carries.

The clutch gene?—Carson Wentz is the MVP favorite right now and the thing is that his stats are very good but not very impressive. He ranks 10th in net yards per attempt, 25th in completion percentage, eighth in yards per game, and seventh in passer rating. But he gets it done when it counts. Seven of his 16 touchdown passes have come on third down. His passer rating of 130 on third down is 10 points better than the second-best in that category, a guy named Tom Brady. As a result, the Eagles get first downs on 53 percent of their third-down passes, also best in the league.

Third down passing the key—The Redskins allow conversions on 35.7 percent of third-down passes, 16th in the NFL. If this game ends up with third downs near the Redskins’ season performance they will be in good shape. If the Eagles convert half of their third downs or more, the visitors will be in trouble.

Protecting Kirk Cousins—The Eagles have 14 sacks on the year. They got four against the Redskins in the season opener so they have 10 in their five games since. Their leading sacker is Brandon Graham, who has four on the season. Two of those came in the opener so he has two in the other five games. He will again be lined up against Morgan Moses, who had one of his worst games since becoming a starter against Philly. If Moses plays as well as he has since Week 1 Cousins could have time to have one of his usual big games against the Eagles.

Yes, Ertz is a pain— This is kind of hard to believe but Zach Ertz, who has been in the league since 2013, is third all-time in tight end receptions against the Redskins with 54. He’s behind only Jason Witten and Jackie Smith and ahead of Jeremy Shockey, Mark Bavaro, and Jay Novaeck. Ertz has played nine games against Washington; Witten has played 28 and Smith played 27. So if it seems like Ertz is always a thorn in the Redskins’ side, it’s because he is.

Potpourri: Wentz is the Eagles’ second-leading rusher with 133 yards on 32 carries . . . The Eagles have the third-best special teams DVOA in the league. On punt returns, they are averaging 16 yards per and giving up an average of 5.6 yards. That’s a lot of hidden field position.

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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From the locker room

Josh Norman talking about how it felt when he put some stress on his broken rib during practice on Thursday.

Posted by Rich Tandler on Thursday, October 19, 2017

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