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Do the Redskins really want a long-term deal with Cousins?

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Do the Redskins really want a long-term deal with Cousins?

At the NFL combine last week, Scot McCloughan said that the Redskins would rather work out a long-term deal for Kirk Cousins rather than needing to use the franchise tag to keep him around.

“Well I’d rather not [use the tag], any year with any position. I’d rather just get a long term deal done and guarantee some money so you have that flexibility. But again, it’s an option that you have if you need to use, but me personally I like to take care of our own, get them locked in to an extension and not have to worry about the franchise tag.”

But sometimes the tag works out for the team just fine. If a player’s performance falls off after getting the tag the team isn’t stuck in long-term deal with a player who isn’t worth the money.

It worked out well for the Redskins in 2014. They franchise tagged Brian Orakpo and they never engaged in any serious contract negotiations prior to July 15, the deadline for agreeing to a long-term deal. Although Orakpo cost them in excess of $12 million for the year, they were able to move on from him after he produced one sack in eight games before suffering a season ending injury.

Yes, they did get a poor return on their $12 million. But they weren’t stuck with an albatross of a contract that may have dragged them down for years

Orakpo had been with the team for five years and had been the unquestioned starter since walking in the door. The Redskins had plenty of information they could use to gauge Orakpo’s value and his potential.

It’s a slightly different story with Cousins. He has been in the building for four years but he saw just occasional action before Jay Gruden named him the starter a couple of weeks prior to last season. After a shaky start Cousins caught fire and broke a few team passing records while leading the team to a 9-7 record and the NFC East title.

If there ever is a situation that calls for strongly considering a trial year before committing big, long-term dollars it may be this one.

While the Redskins like a lot about Cousins, from the way he prepares to his work ethic to his fit for Jay Gruden’s offense, they are not sure that he can continue to complete nearly 70 percent of his passes and post a 101 passer rating year after year. That doesn’t mean they don’t have confidence in him, it’s just that you can’t take a 16-game performance and projected over several years and assume that it’s going to remain just as good or better. Too much can go wrong.

Going back to what McCloughan said at the combine, it’s reasonable to assume that the organization would like Cousins on a long-term deal. However, McCloughan also said, “I’m not going to ruin the organization financially to do it.” How hard they might try to agree to a new contract is the key here.

There were reports that the Redskins started off with what only could be called a lowball offer of an average of $12.5 million per year. While they eventually brought it up to something in the vicinity of $16 million they still were not close to the $20 million average that Cousins’ camp is reportedly asking for.

It will be interesting to see how much the Redskins come up from that $16 million per year. Of course average annual value is not necessarily the most important aspect of a complex contract. The amount that is fully guaranteed at signing and how soon the team would realistically be able to get out of the contract without incurring a debilitating dead cap hit are also important in valuing a deal.

They could be content to leave an offer on the table that isn’t lowball and isn’t totally unreasonable regarding the other terms but is still one that they doubt that Cousins’ camp will accept. That would make the optics good while making it unlikely that Cousins will sign on the line.

They then go through 2016 and start again. If he slumps to being the inconsistent quarterback he was for his entire career up until the “you like that” game against the Bucs then the Redskins can act accordingly. If he plays as well as he did in the latter part of 2015 or better they end up with a deal that likely isn’t much harder to swallow financially than what Cousins’ camp has on the table now.

If Cousins has a great year and they have to pay more and commit to him for longer to keep him in burgundy and gold at least they will do so with a more solid level of confidence that they will be getting their money’s worth. 

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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

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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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