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Favre, Dungy headline Pro Football Hall of Fame class of 2016

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Favre, Dungy headline Pro Football Hall of Fame class of 2016

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- Brett Favre and the late Ken Stabler, a pair of kindred-spirit QBs who each won a Super Bowl, were elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame on Saturday.

Also voted in for the class of 2016 a day before the Super Bowl were modern-day players Kevin Greene, Marvin Harrison and Orlando Pace, coach Tony Dungy, contributor Ed DeBartolo Jr., and senior selection Dick Stanfel.

The freewheeling Favre, as expected, was a first-ballot entry, a reward for a long and distinguished career, mostly with the Green Bay Packers, that included three consecutive NFL MVP awards from 1995-97 and a championship in the 1997 Super Bowl.

Stabler, a left-hander nicknamed "Snake" for his ability to slither past defenders, goes into the Hall as a senior selection about six months after dying of colon cancer at age 69 -- and just days after researchers said his brain showed widespread signs of chronic traumatic encephalopathy.

CTE is a disease linked to repeated brain trauma and associated with symptoms such as memory loss, depression and progressive dementia. It has been found in the brains of dozens of former football players, including one of last year's Hall inductees, Junior Seau, who committed suicide in 2012 at 43.

Stabler was the 1974 league MVP and helped the Oakland Raiders win the 1977 Super Bowl. He was represented at Saturday's announcement by two of his grandsons.

Favre played for 20 seasons, eventually retiring -- after famously vacillating about whether to walk away from the game -- as the NFL's career leader with 6,300 completions, 10,169 attempts, 71,838 yards and 508 TDs. He never met a pass he was afraid to throw, no matter how ill-advised it might have seemed, and wound up with a record 336 interceptions, the trade-off for his high-risk, high-reward, entertaining style.

Before Green Bay, he briefly was a member of the Atlanta Falcons. Afterward, he had short stints with the New York Jets and Minnesota Vikings.

Five nominees were eliminated in the final vote: coach Don Coryell, running back Terrell Davis, offensive lineman Joe Jacoby, safety John Lynch, and quarterback Kurt Warner.

Earlier Saturday, the selection committee reduced the list of 15 modern-day finalists by cutting wide receiver Terrell Owens, running back Edgerrin James, safety Steve Atwater, guard Alan Faneca and kicker Morten Anderson.

A candidate needs 80 percent of the vote to get in.

The induction ceremony is in August in Canton, Ohio.

Greene was a linebacker and defensive end who accumulated 160 sacks while harassing quarterbacks for four teams across 15 seasons. A three-time All-Pro selection, he broke in with the Rams in 1985 and closed his career with the Panthers in 1999.

Harrison, Peyton Manning's top receiver while with the Indianapolis Colts from 1996-08, holds the record for most catches in a season: a hard-to-fathom 143 in 2002. At the time of his retirement, Harrison ranked second only to Hall of Famer Jerry Rice in NFL history with 1,102 catches and most consecutive games with a catch (190).

Harrison was a six-time All-Pro pick, combining with Manning on 953 completions for 12,766 yards and 112 TDs, all league records for a quarterback-receiver duo.

Pace, like Favre in his first year of Hall eligibility, was an imposing left tackle who blocked for the winners of three consecutive NFL MVP awards during his 13-year career, the first dozen with the Rams. He started all 16 games in seven seasons and was an All-Pro five times.

Dungy coached Manning, Harrison and the rest of the Colts to victory in the 2006 Super Bowl, becoming the first black head coach to win the championship. Indianapolis reached the playoffs during every season he was its coach, from 2002-08. In his previous job, he turned around a woebegone Tampa Bay Buccaneers franchise, taking it to four postseason trips in six years.

DeBartolo was elected, fittingly, in the city where he owned the 49ers for nearly a quarter-century. In 1979, two years after buying the team, DeBartolo hired Bill Walsh as coach and drafted quarterback Joe Montana, leading to an unprecedented run of success that included five Super Bowl titles.

DeBartolo became embroiled in the corruption case against former Louisiana Gov. Edwin Edwards and was suspended for the 1999 season by the NFL after being found guilty of failing to report a bribe. After the suspension, DeBartolo gave control of the team to his sister.

Stanfel, who died last year, was a guard for the Detroit Lions and Washington Redskins for a total of seven seasons, earning first-team All-Pro honors five times. While still at top of his game, he retired at age 31 to pursue a coaching career.

MORE NFL: Report: Joe Jacoby falls short in Hall of Fame vote

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Jacksonville is out, so who's still in the Kirk Cousins sweepstakes?

Jacksonville is out, so who's still in the Kirk Cousins sweepstakes?

Jacksonville locked up their quarterback situation during the weekend, agreeing to a three-year contract extension with Blake Bortles worth more than $50 million. 

That means one less team competing for Kirk Cousins when he likely hits free agency in March. 

With the Jaguars out of the picture, what teams are left to pursue Cousins? Let's take a look at the revamped QB market with some analysis below:

  • New York Jets - Oddsmakers have installed the Jets as the heavy favorite to land Cousins. Reports out of New York have made clear that the team intends to pursue Cousins, and the Jets have more than $70 million in salary cap space to spend this offseason. New York can afford Cousins and has a need for a QB. The Jets also pick 6th in the NFL Draft, which does mean drafting a new franchise QB remains an option. Status: Favorite
  • Cleveland Browns - The Browns have a ton of cap space, more than $100 million, and certainly a need at QB. Cleveland also has the Nos. 1 and 4 pick in the draft, so should new GM John Dorsey decide to draft a passer, the opportunity will be there. The Browns could pay Cousins more than any other team, but also need to completely rebuild their roster. Does spending $30 million or more on Cousins make sense for a team that has won one game in the last two years? Maybe, but it would also likely mean former Redskins GM Scot McCloughan has a change of heart. McCloughan is working with the Browns front office now, and has said repeatedly that a team should not overpay for Cousins. Status: Somewhat possible
  • Minnesota Vikings - If the Vikings decide to open up their wallet, Cousins should absolutely listen to the offer. Minnesota has one of the best defenses in the NFL and made the NFC Championship Game in 2017. The Vikings are good, have a ton of weapons on offense, and would be a great fit for Cousins. The problem here is the Vikings first have to decide what to do with Case Keenum, who played at a high level for in Minnesota last season. The Vikings also have a decision to make with former QB Teddy Bridgewater. Minnesota should be Cousins' first choice, but it's not clear if Cousins will be the Vikings first choice. Status: Somewhat possible
  • Denver Broncos - Plenty of people want to establish the Broncos as the favorite landing spot for Kirk Cousins. Until Denver makes some moves to clear salary cap space, they aren't. Right now, Denver has about $25 million to spend for the 2018 offseason. Maybe Cousins will take a slight discount to land with John Elway in Denver, but it won't be significant enough for the Broncos to pay him and other free agents without making some major cap space. Also, don't forget the Broncos hold the 5th pick in the NFL Draft. Elway might have his eye on a potential rookie star like Josh Allen or Baker Mayfield, a pair of young passers that would count far less on the salary cap than Cousins. Status: Possible, but need to make cap space
  • Arizona Cardinals - Similar to the Broncos, Arizona makes sense for Cousins until you look at the books. The Cardinals actually have less money available under the cap than the Broncos do. The team could always clear space, and with the 15th pick, it seems unlikely Steve Keim and the Cards brass are counting on one of the top rookie QBs in the draft. Status: Possible, but need to make cap space
  • Buffalo Bills - The Bills want better QB play than they've been getting from Tyrod Taylor. That became clear in 2017 when they benched Taylor for Nathan Peterman, who was terrible.  What makes this hard to figure out is Taylor is still under contract in 2018, and at a reasonable $11 million salary. Taylor guided the Bills to the playoffs in 2017. Would Buffalo be better off paying Cousins $30 million than it is paying Taylor a third of that? Those are decisions for the Bills brass. Buffalo also has two 1st-round draft picks, the 21st and 22nd picks, and could be looking to make a move in the draft to acquire a rookie passer. Status: Somewhat possible
  • Miami Dolphins - They might need better QB play in South Beach, but the Dolphins have no cap space. Could Miami dump Ndamukong Suh ($26M) and Ryan Tannehill ($19M) to free up cash? Sure. Plus trading away Jarvis Landry ($16M)? Sure. But that's a lot of moves to be made. Status: Longshot 
  • New York Giants - Eli Manning is 37 years old and will cost $22 million in 2018. That's not a good equation. New Giants GM Dave Gettleman seems committed to Manning at least for 2018, and New York has the No. 2 overall pick in the 2018 Draft. Big Blue can draft a new franchise passer should they choose to. This just doesn't make sense. Status: Very longshot

The Redskins decided to move on from Cousins and traded for Alex Smith. Reports of Washington's contract extension with Smith seem like good value for both sides. Smith will get guaranteed money of at least $50 million and Washington gets a Top 10 QB for less than $25 million per season. 

Jacksonville's decision to extend Bortles leaves some interesting questions. Since becoming a starter in 2015, Cousins has been undeniably better than Bortles. It's also obvious than Cousins will cost much more than Bortles on the free agent market. Maybe Jacksonville decided the team would be better off with Bortles at $20 million per year than Cousins at $30 million year.

If that's the case, and it seems like it was in D.C., might other teams think the same thing?

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Need to Know: Five Redskins who must step up in 2018

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Need to Know: Five Redskins who must step up in 2018

Here is what you need to know on this Sunday, February 25, 17 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.

Five Redskins who will have to step up in 2018

Originally published 12/26/17

WR Josh Doctson—This list is in no particular order but if it was, Doctson would be right here at the top. The watchword for Doctson is consistency. He makes some incredible catches and then there are throws that he drops or doesn’t quite seem to make enough of an effort to catch. There is promise there. The first-round pick has shown his ability and his teammates say he has a chance to be elite. But the potential must translate into production on the field, week in and week out.  

RB Samaje Perine—There is plenty of chatter about the Redskins’ need to sign or draft a top running back. But a look at this team’s recent history tells us that they are unlikely to invest major assets in the position. That means that Perine, a fourth-round pick in 2017, will have to become a more consistent runner. It’s not all his fault that he hasn’t done much since he had back-to-back 100-yard games in Weeks 11-12; tough defense, offensive line issues, and game score situations have slowed his production. But he needs to be consistently productive in 2018 no matter who he lines up against.

CB Josh Norman—Unless he gets a pick against the Giants, he will go through the year without any interceptions. Sure, they don’t throw his way all that often and INT’s don’t give you the complete picture of his play. But a CB taking up $20 million in cap room needs to get a couple of picks almost by sheer accident. Norman battled some injury problems and if he wants to justify the final two years and $23 million of salary remaining on his contract, his age 30 2018 season needs to be more impactful.

OLB Preston Smith—The third-year player started strong, with at least half a sack in the first five games. And he’s finishing strong, with three sacks, an interception, and a forced fumble in the last two games. But in between, he had a total of just half a sack in eight games. This follows the pattern he displayed his first two years in the league of being dominant in some games and invisible in others. If he can develop some consistency in his 2018 contract year, he could cash in huge in free agency the following year.

Head coach Jay Gruden—Normally I only include players on lists like this one but if Gruden doesn’t do something to get the Redskins out of their near-.500 rut then nothing else will matter. He needs to change up something, whether it’s pushing the players hard in training camp or perhaps fine tuning his friendly approach to the players. Sure, better luck regarding injuries and a schedule that right now appears to be a bit less challenging will help. But Gruden needs to look at what he can change, too.

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) 4
—NFL Draft (4/26) 60
—2018 NFL season starts (9/9) 196