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Cousins thinks he has matured this season

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Cousins thinks he has matured this season

Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins says game experience ranks as the single biggest reason for his marked improvement in recent weeks.

“My fundamentals are much better [and] I feel like I’m a more polished quarterback, a more polished player, a more mature player,” he said. “That is in all phases—whether it’s fundamentals, decision making, recognition of defenses. That comes with time.”

“And that’s no surprise," he added. "I mean, if you start and play long enough in this league, you expect that to happen.”

When the Redskins (4-5) visit Cam Newton and the Panthers (9-0) on Sunday, Cousins will make the 19th start of his four-year career. But, more importantly, it’ll mark his 10th consecutive start of 2015. Prior to this season, the 27-year-old had never made more than five starts in a row. 

MORE REDSKINS: GRUDEN WANTS SCREEN PASSES TO CONTINUE

And that, according to Cousins and his teammates, matters—a lot.  

“He’s never been handed the keys to a team, and I think that’s a culture change to a person,” offensive captain Trent Williams said. “You go from not just playing in spots, to, ‘This team is yours, and [how] you play will be as far as we go.’”

Added Williams: “He’s just more comfortable in being that guy. I think that’s the difference. It’s not that he’s made throws that he couldn’t make before; he’s always had a talented arm. He’s always been a talented quarterback. Now it’s all about him [because] the team is his.”

Cousins agreed, saying the consecutive starts have accelerated his development in a number of ways.

“I think it’s a much different routine and a much different rhythm than when those starts are coming at sporadic times [and] are unpredictable,” Cousins said. “You’re able to build a rapport with your teammates and with the offense, with the coaching staff, with the system, and it lends itself well to developing much more quickly than when those starts are sporadic over a longer period of time.”

Cousins’ increased comfort level has become apparent the past three weeks. During that span, he’s completed 71-percent of his passes for an average of 286 yards. He’s also notched eight touchdowns and only one interception en route to a pair of NFC Offensive Player of the Week honors.

“The exciting part is [game experience] makes you a much better quarterback,” Cousins said. “And you say, ‘If I can have that kind of a growth in nine weeks or in one year,’ you’re excited about, ‘Man, what could happen if I could play for several years in a row and continue to grow?’ That’s where you start to get excited and really want to commit to working and developing to see what could happen.”

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Need to Know: The five highest-paid 2018 Redskins

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Need to Know: The five highest-paid 2018 Redskins

Here is what you need to know on this Saturday, February 24, 18 days before NFL free agency starts.

I’m out this week so I’ll be re-posting some of the best and most popular articles of the past few months. Some may have slightly dated information but the major points in the posts still stand. Thanks for reading, as always.

The five highest-paid Redskins in 2018

Originally published 1/12/18

This is how the five highest-paid Redskins per their 2018 salary cap numbers stack up as of now. The list could change, of course during free agency and if a particular quarterback returns. Cap numbers via Over the Cap.

CB Josh Norman, $17 million—The Redskins do have a window which would allow them to move on from Norman. His $13.5 million salary for this year doesn’t become guaranteed until the fifth day of the league year so it would be “only” a $9 million cap charge to move on from Norman, who turned 30 in December. Don’t look for that to happen but the possibility is there.

OT Trent Williams, $13.86 million—He is one of the best left tackles in the business. Those of you out there who have advocated moving him to left guard should look at this cap number, which is way out of line for what a team can afford to pay a guard. At his pay, he needs to be playing on the edge.

OLB Ryan Kerrigan, $12.45 million—He has delivered double-digit sacks in each of the two seasons that his contract extension has been in effect. That’s good value in a league that values the ability to get to the quarterback.

TE Jordan Reed, $10.14 million—The Redskins knew that he might have a year like last year when he played in only six games when they agreed to Reed’s five-year, $50 million extension. They can live with one such season. If he has another one in 2018 they may rethink things.

G Brandon Scherff, $6.75 million—The fact that a rookie contract is No. 5 on this list is a good sign that, as of now, the Redskins’ cap is not top heavy like it was last year. The top three cap hits from Norman, Williams, and Kirk Cousins totaled $59 million, which was about 35 percent of the cap. This year the total cap numbers of the top three come to $43.3 million, 24.3 percent of the estimated $178 million salary cap.

Next five: OT Morgan Moses ($5.4 million), TE Vernon Davis ($5.33 million), DL Stacy McGee ($4.8 million), DL Terrell McClain ($4.75 million), S D.J. Swearinger ($4.33 million)

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.

Timeline  

Days until:

—NFL Combine (3/1) 5
—NFL Draft (4/26) 61
—2018 NFL season starts (9/9) 197

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Martavis Bryant could make sense for the Redskins, at the right price

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USA TODAY Sports

Martavis Bryant could make sense for the Redskins, at the right price

A 2017 midseason trade for Martavis Bryant made no sense for the Redskins. A 2018 offseason trade for Martavis Bryant, however, might make sense for the Redskins. 

Bryant is on the trade block, per NFL Network's Ian Rapoport, and will be an intriguing prospect for receiver-needy teams across the NFL. In parts of three seasons with the Steelers, Bryant has 17 touchdowns and a 15.2 yards-per-reception average. 

A big play threat from any place on the field, Bryant would immediately make the Redskins receiving unit more athletic and explosive. 

It's not all good news with Bryant, though.

He was suspended for the entire 2016 season after repeated drug violations and caused some distraction for Pittsburgh during the 2017 season when he asked for a trade via social media. 

MORE: CAN YOU GUESS THESE REDSKINS BASED ON THEIR COMBINE NUMBERS?

Is the talent enough to overcome the off-field distractions? Many would say it is. 

Last year, in just eight starts, Bryant grabbed 50 catches for more than 600 yards and three TDs. In their lone playoff loss to the Jaguars, Bryant caught two passes for 78 yards and a TD. 

Remember, too, the Steelers have an explosive offense, and Bryant is coupled with Antonio Brown on the receiver front along with Ben Roethlisberger at quarterback and Le'Veon Bell at running back. The Pittsburgh offense is loaded. 

Washington's offense is not nearly the prolific unit that the Steelers send out, but Jay Gruden does design a good offense. 

The real question surrounding any talk of trading for Bryant is the cost.

The Redskins are not in a position to send away any more draft picks this offseason after giving up a third-round pick, in addition to Kendall Fuller, to acquire Alex Smith. Bruce Allen and the Redskins front office need to improve their team in plenty of spots, and the team's draft picks are quite valuable. 

Bryant only has one year remaining on his rookie deal, and it's hard to balance that sort of short-term investment with the value of adding a rookie committed to the team for at least four years. Perhaps a late-round pick would make sense, but it would need to be a sixth-rounder. 

This could be one of those rare situations in the NFL where a player for player swap could work, though pulling that type of maneuver requires a lot of moving parts. 

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