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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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The Redskins are going to draft the best available player, unless they aren't

The Redskins are going to draft the best available player, unless they aren't

When their turn comes up in this draft, the Redskins are going to pick the best available player on the board. Unless they’re not. 

That is the mixed message delivered on Tuesday by Doug Williams, the team’s senior vice president for player personnel during his pre-draft press conference on Tuesday. 

Williams was asked what nearly every NFL personnel executive has been asked during this round of draft press conferences: Will the Redskins take the best player on the board or would they draft for need?

And Williams gave an answer similar to the ones that all of the other personnel guys gave. 

“You hear this cliché all the time, it’s always going to be the best player available, because at the same time if you’re looking for a need, the player you’re looking for a need might not be graded as high as the guy that’s on that board,” he said. 

That makes some fans crazy as they believe that you must fill needs in the draft. But reaching to fill needs is a good way to have a mediocre, disjointed draft. 

But there are times when the best available player is not the player the Redskins will pick. The topic of injuries came up and Williams talked about the situation at offensive tackle. Morgan Moses and Trent Williams currently are rehabbing from injuries and they won’t take the field during OTAs and minicamp. 

Doug Williams said that both players should be ready for training camp. He didn’t mention it but Trent Williams and Moses are signed for the next three and five years, respectively. That means that there is no need for a tackle in at least the first two rounds, and Williams agrees. 

“We can’t go into the draft drafting tackles, you know,” he said. 

So if, say, offensive tackle Mike McGlinchey of Notre Dame has the highest grade on the Redskins’ board when pick 13 comes up, they will not be taking the player with the best grade. They will “reach”, perhaps only slightly, to take a player at another position. 

The Redskins have a similar situation at quarterback. They are committed to Alex Smith for at least three seasons and it would be foolish to spend a high pick on a quarterback. Williams said that the Redskins are not in the quarterback business this year. If there is a top QB still on the board at pick 13, it’s likely that Williams and Bruce Allen would be looking for phone calls from teams that want to trade up and get their signal caller. 

The true test of how the team chooses needs vs. best available could well come this year. Let’s say that Da’Ron Payne, Minkah Fitzpatrick, and Tremaine Edmunds are all on the board when the Redskins’ pick comes up. While each team has its own grades, you probably won’t find many that don’t have Fitzpatrick and Edmunds a clear cut above Payne. The Redskins have needs on the defensive line, not so much at inside linebacker or in the secondary. Picking Payne at that point could be interpreted as reaching to fill a need while leaving more talented and more versatile players on the board. Going best available would almost surely mean choosing between Fitzpatrick and Edmunds. 

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

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Need to Know: Final Redskins seven-round mock draft

Need to Know: Final Redskins seven-round mock draft

Here is what you need to know on this Wednesday, April 25, one day before the first round of the 2018 NFL draft.  

Final seven-round Redskins mock draft

Here we go. No trades. If you like big guys you’ll like the first four picks. 

Round 1, DL Da’Ron Payne, Alabama—I think that Vita Vea will be off the board; it’s looking more and more like he will go the Raiders at 10 or Miami at 11. Payne might be the better player anyway, assuming that Jim Tomsula can coach some pass rush out of him. If Minkah Fitzpatrick or Derwin James is on the board the Redskins may have to adjust their thinking. 

Round 2, OL Billy Price, Ohio State—I had a running back in mind here but the run at the position came earlier than expected. Derrius Guice, Ronald Jones, Sony Michel, and Nick Chubb were all off the board. The decision was to get a guy to insert at left guard and complete a home-grown O-line that can hopefully create running room for whatever back takes the handoff. 

Round 4, RB Kalen Ballage, Arizona State—I’m going with the best available running back here. The analytics types really like his combination of size (6-1, 228) and speed (4.46 in the 40 at the combine). Also, he shared carries with the Sun Devils so is a relatively low-mileage back (450 carries in four years). Ballage scored eight touchdowns in a game as a junior so he could be what the team needs in the red zone. 

Round 5, DL R.J. McIntosh, Miami—The Redskins have spent so little draft capital on the defensive line over the past two decades that it’s easy to justify doubling up there in one draft. McIntosh is a project, but he has high-level athleticism and quickness and those are traits you can’t teach. It might take him all of this year and next offseason in the weight room to build up his core strength and to add some weight onto his 286-lb. frame. 

Round 5, CB Nick Nelson, Wisconsin—While working out for the Lions last week, Nelson suffered a torn meniscus. That dropped his draft stock from perhaps being a Day 2 pick to one who should still be on the board on Saturday afternoon. The rehab for the 2017 All-Big Ten selection has been estimated at three to four months, meaning that he could be ready for the start of training camp. One more note: he was the Badgers’ punt returner last year and he averaged 8.6 yards per return with one touchdown. 

Round 6, TE David Wells, San Diego St.—While Jay Gruden and Doug Williams both seem to be confident that Jordan Reed will be healthy and ready to go by the time the regular season starts the truth will emerge in the draft. If they take a tight end early, they are very concerned about Reed. If they wait until this point in the draft and take a project like Wells, they are only moderately worried. 

Round 7, WR Auden Tate, Florida State—He’s coming off of a separated shoulder and that might push the 6-4 Tate down the board. Tate would be a project; he only caught 65 passes in 22 game at Florida State. He doesn’t have blazing speed (4.68 in the 40) but he competes for the ball and he could be a good red zone asset. 

Round 7, CB Greg Stroman, Virginia Tech—You can’t have too many corners or edge rushers and since there aren’t enough of the latter to go around in this draft I took a corner here. Stroman doesn’t have ideal size at 5-11, 182 but he paid attention during his four years with the Hokies and he plays with good technique. 

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

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In response to a suggestion that former kick returner Devin Hester should be a first-ballot Hall of Famer:

Timeline 

Days until:

—Rookie minicamp (5/11) 16
—OTAs start (5/22) 27
—Training camp starts (7/26) 92

The Redskins last played a game 115 days ago. They will open the 2018 NFL season at the Cardinals in 137 days. 

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