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Either Way the Redskins Win

Either Way the Redskins Win

Either way, the Redskins win

You can reach Rich Tandler by email at WarpathInsiders@comcast.net
Posted 9 AM EST 03.05.06

Within 12 hours, we will know whether or not there will be an extension to the NFL collective bargaining agreement. OK, there could be another movement in the deadline, but if there is that will mean that the two sides in the dispute are in agreement on anything remotely resembling a major issue. They might take Monday and part of Tuesday to haggle over what the deductible on the dental plan will be, settle the three thousand dollars they may be apart on the third-year veteran minimum salary, and the like.

So, sometime on Sunday when they either get it done or they don’t it will be possible to resume an informed discussion of what the Redskins will do during this offseason. In either case it will be a fun discussion to have.

It’s better for the Redskins—and for the NFL—if there is a CBA extension. Never mind the long-term ramifications (plenty of time to go into those after the issue is decided), the simple fact is that the Redskins, who currently have a salary cap figure of about $115 million, will be able to get well under a 2006 salary cap that will be around $105 million. Some simple restructures will get them under the number and trimming a few high-priced spare parts like Matt Bowen and Tom Tupa will give them room to address some needs through free agency.

Clearly, a CBA extension is a win for the Redskins. The alternative, however, isn’t exactly a huge loss.

Certainly, in order to get under the $94.5 million cap, the Redskins would have to take more drastic action. They would have to trigger a series of complex restructured contracts that about a half a dozen players have agreed to. More players, including kicker John Hall and nickel back Walt Harris, would have to be jettisoned. It would be difficult to sign any high-priced free agents and even the bargain basement types would have to be chosen carefully. For that matter, it would be hard for the Skins to sign their own free agents including safety Ryan Clark and tight end Robert Royal.

But the major purge of veterans predicted (some would say hoped for) by such national writers as Pete Prisco and Len Pasquarelli apparently will not be taking place. Due to the willingness of players such as Mark Brunell and Shawn Springs to participate in some pretty major reworks of their contracts, the Redskins won’t have to cut nearly as many veterans as the cap “experts” that Prisco and Pasquarelli consulted with for their articles thought.

(Before going any further, it has to be acknowledged that some scenarios less dire than those pained by Pete and Lenny but still rather gloomy were presented here in the past week or so. The difference between them and me is, though, that if my article turns out to be dramatically different from reality, I will come out and acknowledge it and examine why I was off base. Pete and Lenny will not.)

In short, if there is no CBA extension we will get to see the Redskins stun the media doubters. It appears that the dreaded cap hell will be averted. And not because the Redskins got lucky, but because they knew what they were doing. They were hoping for the best in terms of a CBA extension, but evidently they were well prepared for the worst. Said Jon Jansen’s agent Rick Smith of the organization, "They have a plan and they'll get it done. They weren't desperate. I don't know why there was this big doomsday [outlook] for them. They'll get to where they need to get."

Wow, you mean that Dan Snyder actually had a plan? The temperamental, reckless, wild-spending one actually knew what he was doing? A self-made millionaire actually anticipates what might happen and make contingency plans? Shocking!

Other teams, who do not receive the media scrutiny that the Snyder Redskins do, are being forced to turn to more desperate moves to try to make the cap. One of them, the Indianapolis Colts, might even try to sue the league to change its interpretation of the rules to get under the cap. This from the Indianapolis Star:
Dan Emerson, the Colts' general counsel, said the team has not ruled out seeking a temporary injunction to Wednesday's decision by Stephen Burbank, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania Law School. Burbank, a special master who arbitrates disputes within the NFL, ruled the Colts could not convert substantial roster bonuses due Manning and Harrison into signing bonuses and prorate them for four years to lower each player's hit against the salary cap.I think that it’s reasonable to assume that Prisco, Pasquarelli, and the rest of the Skins-bashing media out there would be having a field day throwing darts at Snyder if the Redskins’ general counsel had uttered a word about an injunction. So far, Colts owner Jimmy Irsay, who had to work hard to inherit the team from his father, has been free of media criticism.

Again, it would be better if an 11th hour, 59th minute miracle can be pulled out and a CBA extension went through. The start of free agency would be delayed for a few more days for the agreement to be ratified and digested and then the Redskins would be able to crank up Redskins One and start wooing free agent receivers and defensive ends. The only downside would be that their Plan B, their plan for getting under the cap without a CBA extension, would forever remain under wraps. We won’t be able to see just how smart the Redskins are and we won’t be able to see the critics squirm or, at least try to ignore the obvious. The meltdown on the Cowboys’ message boards and them trying to claim that Bowen was a key, irreplaceable contributor for the Redskins will be equally enjoyable to witness.

The start of free agency without a new CBA was supposed to be Apocalypse Now for the Redskins. If that’s the case, I think we’re going to love the smell of the napalm tomorrow morning. It will smell like victory.

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Need to Know: Should the Redskins draft Vita Vea in the first round?

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USA Today Sports Images

Need to Know: Should the Redskins draft Vita Vea in the first round?

Here is what you need to know on this Wednesday, January 24, 51 days before NFL free agency starts.

Timeline  

Days until:

—NFL franchise tag deadline (3/6) 41
—NFL Draft (4/26) 92
—2018 NFL season starts (9/9) 228

Fan questions—Surprise cuts, finding a playmaker

I put out a call for questions on social media and I got so many good ones that I’m splitting them up. Here are Facebook questions today and I’ll hit the best Twitter questions later this week.

 

Spencer Long could be gone but he is a free agent, so he could not be cut. As far as players under contract, a lot will depend on who they draft and sign in free agency. If they go heavy on the defensive line, Ziggy Hood and Terrell McClain could be in danger of being cut. An influx of defensive back might have Josh Holsey and Deshazor Everett headed out of town.

There won’t be any cuts that save a major amount of cap space. Thek players with the top 15 cap numbers per Over the Cap are all vital to the operation with the possible aforementioned exception of McClain.

The rub is that if you want an instant “bona fide” playmaker you are going to have to invest either a lot of cap dollars or high draft pick. They have invested cap dollars in Reed and, to a lesser extent, Thompson and a No. 1 draft pick in Reed. The plan needs to be to make sure that Reed stays healthy (as best you can) and hope you get 12-14 productive games out of him, get Thompson back in the swing of things, and continue to work with Doctson. Perhaps they can get a mid-round find like the Saints did with Kamara to add to the mix. But for the most part, the Redskins will have to make do with what they have.

The way things stand right now, I’m seeing Vea regarded as more of a late first-round pick than a player who should go in the top half of the round. That could change as the draft process goes on. I think the Redskins need to continue to strengthen their defensive line and if Vea moves up to a high first-round grade or slides to a second they should take a long look at him.

The player I’m keeping my eye on is Jordan Matthews, who spent three years with the Eagles before being trade to Buffalo. He had over 800 yards receiving in each of his three seasons in Philly before a knee injury hampered him last year. He’s 6-3 and still young (26 in Week 1). Sammy Watkins of the Rams is intriguing but he had just 593 receiving yards in 15 games in a Sean McVay’s very productive offense. An older but less expensive option might be Eric Decker of the Titans, who had just 30 fewer receiving yards than Watkins and would be much a much less expensive acquisition albeit as a stopgap.

I see them addressing other needs in the first round. That could change if there is someone there who is just too good to pass up.

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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No tension between Jay Gruden and Kirk Cousins, but the coach wants improvement 

No tension between Jay Gruden and Kirk Cousins, but the coach wants improvement 

MOBILE -- Jay Gruden is making jokes about Kirk Cousins again, and that's good news for Redskins fans that worried about a fracture between coach and quarterback. 

It all started in the weeks following the Redskins dreadful Week 17 loss to the Giants as Gruden and Cousins seemed to be throwing slight jabs at one another.

Gruden, in his end of year press conference, explained that while Cousins "showed flashes" in 2017, when the team goes 7-9, the coach can't say any player was outstanding: 

You know when you’re 7-9, you know it’s hard to say, ‘Wow, this guy really was outstanding.’ You know there’s a few guys obviously that jump out, Pro Bowlers like Ryan Kerrigan had a solid year. Obviously Trent when he played was Pro Bowl type, Brandon when he was healthy was Pro Bowl type guy. Kirk had his flashes where he was really good. From a consistent standpoint, over the course of 16 games, you know we’re 7-9. He did some great things, threw for over 4,000 yards and 29 touchdowns I believe. So, I think he’s a very, very good quarterback without a doubt, but as far as getting us over the hump from 7-9 to winning a division with all the injuries that we had, I think he competed and did some good things.

Cousins, in his year-end radio appearance with 106.7 the Fan, explained that he wants the team to do better but doesn't think the 7-9 record should fall on his shoulders alone. (Quote via Washington Post)

What I gathered from the comment was 7-9 and the quarterback play are causally related and that quarterback play is 7-9, 7-9 is the quarterback play. I saw that and I thought, ‘I think it’s slightly more complicated than that.’ I think there’s a few more dynamics in play as to what your final record is. … At the same time, his job is to evaluate. That’s a big part of his role and his position. In that comment, he’s just doing his job, he’s evaluating the position and he has the right to say what he wants to say.

Both comments were fairly innocuous, but also clearly at odds. Combine that dialogue with the undercurrent of another offseason contract negotiation, and it seemed things between coach and quarterback weren't quite right. 

On Tuesday, speaking at the Senior Bowl, Gruden cleared the air. Asked directly about tension between he and Cousins, the coach was blunt. 

"No." 

Gruden went on to explain his answer about Cousins 2017 play, the now infamous 7-9 line.

"When I say 7-9, if I say one player played great that means I'm saying everybody else was not very good," the coach explained (full video above). "I think we all have to stick together, we all have to improve from a 7-9 season, coaches, players, everybody."

Cousins was good in 2017, throwing for more than 4,000 passing yards for the third straight season. He also showed that he can produce offensively without a great supporting cast, as injuries robbed the Redskins of many of their best passing game threats and seriously damaged the offensive line. 

The quarterback did play two terrible games in the last month of the season, however, including a three interception stinker in the Week 17 finale.

It's possible that Gruden had that fresh in his mind when he spoke in early January, and with the benefit of a little time, his assessment mellowed by late January. 

Either way, Gruden joked about Cousins deserving a vacation, and even said the QB needs a tan. Gruden often uses humor to defuse touchy situations with Redskins players, and maybe he just did it again. 

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