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Need to Know: Redskins-Cousins contract deadline FAQ's

Need to Know: Redskins-Cousins contract deadline FAQ's

Here is what you need to know on this Monday, July 17, 10 days before the Washington Redskins start training camp in Richmond on July 27.

Timeline

The Redskins last played a game 197 days ago; they will open the 2017 season against the Eagles at FedEx Field in 55 days.

Days until:

—Preseason opener @ Ravens (8/10) 24
—Preseason vs. Packers at FedEx Field (8/19) 33
—Roster cut to 53 (9/2) 47

Deadline day FAQ’s

What exactly is the deadline about?

The franchise-tagged Cousins and the Redskins have until 4 pm today to reach agreement on a long-term contract. If they don’t, Cousins will play out the year getting a fully-guaranteed salary of $23.94 million. The team and the player will not be able to talk about a long-term contract until the end of the season.

What are the chances that they will reach an agreement?

As the saying goes, the chances are slim and none and slim is packing up and getting ready to leave town. Things can always change but the two sides are reported to be too far apart for any meaningful negotiations to take place.

Why won’t they make a deal?

Simply put, they don’t agree on what the value of the deal should be. Mike McCartney, Cousins’ agent, wants to base the deal on the leverage that the player has in terms of the $23.94 million tag salary this year and either a tag salary of $28.7 million or $34.5 million or unfettered free agency in 2018. The Redskins are basing their offer more on his value relative to other quarterback salaries and on how a long-term Cousins contract would affect their available salary cap for the coming years. The gap between the two camps is just too big right now.

What would have to happen for a deal to come together?

The one man who could quickly change the dynamic here is Dan Snyder. The Redskins owner has largely left the negotiations in the hands of Bruce Allen and Eric Schaffer. If he decides that it’s in the long-term interest of the franchise to do whatever needs to be done to lock up Cousins, he may be able to forge an agreement. But even a major Snyder push would not guarantee a deal getting done.

What happens if they don’t reach an agreement?

They would move on to training camp and, as Cousins said in the same situation last year, "see you on the other side". After the season, the Redskins and Cousins could again start having contract talks. Washington would have exclusive negotiating rights until the start of the league year in early March. A couple of weeks before the league year, the Redskins will face a decision about tagging him. They could use the transition tag, which would carry a salary of $28.7 million and it would give the Redskins the right to match an offer sheet that Cousins could negotiate with another team after the start of the league year. If they decline to match there would be no compensation. Or they could put the franchise tag on him for $34.5 million and lock him up for the 2018 season. At that salary, the latter option seems to be unrealistic but there have been plenty of surprises in this saga. The third option would be to let Cousins become an unrestricted free agent.

If there is no deal will it be a distraction for the 2017 season?

It’s possible but I think that fears that the situation will be a big problem are overblown. Sure, there will be a flurry of media coverage and when the team is in Richmond, Cousins and Jay Gruden and others will be asked about it. But last year when Cousins was playing on the tag, the talk quickly turned to who was looking good in training camp, who was injured, who was going to get cut and, once the season started, the upcoming game. There is no reason to think it won’t unfold in a similar manner this year. The exception might be if Cousins goes through an extended slump. That might generate some questions. But if the same thing happened after he had signed a big money deal, the questions would be there as well.

Can they trade Cousins if they don’t reach a deal?

By the rules, yes. In any practical sense, no. Just like any player under a contract without a no-trade clause, Cousins can be traded. But if the Redskins were at all inclined to deal their quarterback they would have done it before the draft, when they could have received some immediate return and would have had more time to plan for a 2017 season without Cousins. If there is no deal today it would not really be a surprising development. They knew it was a strong possibility when they decided not to deal him before the draft so nothing really has changed. Plus, why would a team trade anything of value for a good but not great QB who is on a one-year, $24 million deal?

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page Facebook.com/TandlerCSN and follow him on Twitter @Rich_TandlerCSN.

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Of course you do, because that storyline, as well as others like the Vernon Davis fumble(?) and Pierre Garçon penalty have been talked about plenty following the Redskins' 26-24 W over the 49ers on Sunday.

But there are other angles that have been under analyzed from the Week 6 matchup. So as fun as it is to celebrate Chris Thompson's brilliance, put that on hold for a minute and think about these five discussion points.

1) A big recovery by a big man 

One of the most underappreciated plays in football is a fumble recovery by an offensive player. Most of the time, players and fans are just mad that the offense fumbled and ignore the fact that the outcome could've been a whole lot worse.

Do you remember Trent Williams falling on a Chris Thompson fumble early on the Redskins' first drive? Maybe some of you do, but plenty of others probably don't. But because Williams was aware and smothered the ball before a Niner defender could, the Redskins were able to continue their possession and eventually finish it with a touchdown.

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On Washington's previous possession — which concluded with a 21-yard field goal — Cousins scrambled for an 18-yard gain, but instead of sliding at the end, he decided to take on San Fran safety Jimmie Ward. The two collided and thumped each other pretty hard, and while the QB may have earned some respect, he also said postgame that Williams immediately reminded him that he should've slid instead.

Was it entertaining to watch a signal caller try and run over a safety? Sure. But was it smart? Not at all. The Packers saw their star quarterback come out on the wrong end of a punishing hit Sunday, and the Redskins just as easily could be feeling their pain.

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Six snaps before Cousins' rushing TD, the rookie barely converted on a third-and-2 by pushing the pile and refusing to be brought down short of the sticks. Again, his first year as a pro hasn't been excellent, but that was one he deserves credit for.

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