Chris Cooley and Santana Moss both had a seasons to forget in 2011 and both hope to be with the Redskins in 2012 to turn things around.Cooley had issues with his knee swelling all the way through training camp, problems caused in part by the tight end trying to guide his own way through rehab during the NFL lockout.He was off to a slow start with just eight catches for 65 yards when he suffered a broken index finger in the fifth game of the season. After a few weeks, he wound up on injured reserve.A week after Cooley broke his finger, Moss suffered a broken hand against the Panthers, an injury that cost him four games. He had his worst season statistically since he was a Jet in 2002.Both Moss and Cooley have had younger players added to their respective positions over the offseason. Joshua Morgan and Pierre Garon were added as free agents and their contracts indicate that they will be in line for a significant number of snaps.This comes on the heels of the Redskins adding three wide receivers in the draft last year. Mike Shanahan indicated that Leonard Hankerson, one of last years rookies, will be one of the top receivers along with Morgan and Garon.Shanahan mentioned Moss almost as an afterthought. He did say that Moss has lost 15 pounds since the end of last year and that he is in the best shape he has been in for the last few years.One of the wide receivers drafted in 2011 is changing positions to challenge Cooley. Niles Paul has added some weight and will move to tight end.Cooley, the longest-tenured Redskin, already was looking up at Fred Davis on the depth chart and now he must stave off Paul. Logan Paulsen is in the picture, too. That is four players vying for what is likely to be three roster spots.Shanahan said that health will not be an issue for Cooley.Cooley is looking really good in rehab, Shanahan said. Theres been no setback with him working out, him being able to run his routes, no swelling in the knee area.Financial considerations could come into play. The Redskins are pushed up against the salary cap due to the 18 million penalty the league imposed on them. Cooley counts 6.2 million against the cap while Moss cap hit is 4.8 million. If the team releases Cooley after June 1 they will create 3.9 million in cap space while Moss being released in June would save 3.15 million against the cap.The futures of Moss and Cooley might not be entirely decided by Shanahan. Law professor Stephen Burbank, who is the arbitrator who will decide if the salary cap penalty will stand, could have a big role in deciding if the Redskins can afford to keep him around.Days until: OTAs start 13; minicamp 34; preseason opener 93; Redskins at Saints 124Rich Tandler blogs about the Redskins at www.RealRedskins.com. You can reach him by email at RTandlerCSN@comcast.net and follow him on Twitter @Rich_Tandler.
Former Redskins general manager Scot McCloughan was on a Denver radio station recently.
In case you haven’t heard, many Broncos fans are very anxious for their team to bring in Kirk Cousins to be their quarterback. They likely were looking for McCloughan, who was the GM in Washington for the first two years that Cousins was the starter, to give the QB a ringing endorsement.
They didn’t get one.
“He’s a good player,” McCloughan said on 104.3 The Fan (via Mile High Huddle). “Is he special? I don’t see special.”
For the Broncos, “good” would be an improvement. They got starts from Trevor Simeon, Brock Osweiler, and Paxton Lynch last year. All three of them had passer ratings in the low 70’s and as a group, they threw more interceptions than touchdowns.
But the issue is that Cousins is likely to command a contract that is more in the range of “special” quarterbacks. He may not get the $30 million per year free agent deal that is being talked about, but his next deal won’t be too far south of it.
McCloughan said that they were trying to help Cousins succeed.
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“We were still building a roster around him to make him special,” he said.
He said that Cousins is talented, and he works hard but he needs more to make a team successful.
“You just need to have some talent around him because you don’t want him to be throwing the ball 35-40 times to win the game,” McCloughan said.
“You want to have a running game and have a good defense, good teams. And then let him do what he does.”
But the question is, can you pay Cousins, say, $27 million per year, a salary that would be about 15 percent of this year’s salary cap, and still be able to afford to build that running game and defense? Will the team signing him be able to bring in free agents to bolster weak areas and re-sign its home-grown talent?
That is what John Elway, who calls the shots in Denver, will have to figure out. Cousins is not the only possible solution to the Broncos’ QB problem.
They have the No. 5 pick in the draft and a prime quarterback prospect is likely to be available. That would be a lower-cost option, but even highly-drafted quarterbacks don’t always work out. Elway might prefer the relative certainty of going with a more proven commodity like Cousins.
Of course, the Redskins face the same dilemma. Their attempts to lock up Cousins really haven’t gone anywhere in part because they seem to be reluctant to pay elite quarterback money to a player who is, according to the man who lobbied for Cousins to get the starting job, good but not special.
The chances are that when free agency starts up in mid-March some team will give him the big deal (assuming the Redskins don’t hit him with the $35 million franchise tag) and gamble that they can make the rest of it work. We will see if it’s the Broncos, Redskins or another team.
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Here is what you need to know on this Friday, January 19, 54 days before NFL free agency starts.
—NFL franchise tag deadline (3/6) 46
—NFL Draft (4/26) 97
—2018 NFL season starts (9/9) 233
Things change quickly
Two years ago today, the Redskins were in the process of picking up the pieces after their 35-18 home loss to the Packers in the wild-card round of the 2015 season playoffs. How many of the 22 players who started that game for Washington are still with the team? You may be surprised to find out just how few are likely to be with the Redskins when the season opens in September.
WR DeSean Jackson—Signed with the Bucs as a free agent last year.
WR Pierre Garçon—Signed with 49ers as a free agent last year.
WR Jamison Crowder—Still with the Redskins
TE Jordan Reed—Still with the Redskins
LT Trent Williams—Still with the Redskins
LG Spencer Long—Set to be an unrestricted free agent
C Kory Lichtensteiger—Retired following the 2016 season
RG Brandon Scherff—Still with the Redskins
RT Morgan Moses—Still with the Redskins
RB Alfred Morris—Signed with the Cowboys as a free agent in 2016
QB Kirk Cousins—Set to be a UFA, you know the story here
Of the 11 offensive starters, five are still with the team, one has retired, three are employed by other teams, and two are headed into free agency. The chances of either Long or Cousins returning currently hover under 50 percent, although things can change.
DE Chris Baker—Signed with the Bucs as a free agent last year.
DE Jason Hatcher—Retired following the 2015 season
NT Terrance Knighton—Signed with the Patriots following the 2015 season but was cut and he hasn’t played and subsequently retired
ILB Will Compton—Set to be an unrestricted free agent
ILB Mason Foster—Set to be an unrestricted free agent
OLB Ryan Kerrigan—Still with the Redskins
OLB Trent Murphy—Spent 2017 in injured reserve, set to be an unrestricted free agent
CB Bashaud Breeland—Set to be an unrestricted free agent
CB Will Blackmon—Released last September, currently unsigned
S DeAngelo Hall—Set to be an unrestricted free agent, likely to retire
S Dashon Goldson—Released after 2015 season, currently unsigned
Only one starter, Ryan Kerrigan, is under contract for 2018. Of the free agents, Breeland is likely to depart and things are up in the air regarding Foster, Compton, and Murphy.
To sum it up, out of 22 starters in that game played 740 days ago, only six are certain to be with the team in 2018 while nine have either signed elsewhere, spent 2017 out of football, or have retired (10 if you count Hall).
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In case you missed it
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- Podcast: Kirk Cousins simply didn't have enough help to succeed in 2017
- Which Redskins players will form the core of the defense in 2021?
- Five possible Redskins free agent targets