Here is what you need to know on this Thursday, March 3, six days before the start of NFL free agency.
After Cousins tag, when will the Redskins draft a quarterback?
The sharp reader will notice the wording in the headline referring to “when” the Redskins will draft a quarterback, not “if” they will. With Kirk Cousins essentially on a one-year deal with the franchise tag, Robert Griffin III set to leave town, and Colt McCoy a free agent and possibly headed elsewhere for a better opportunity they need depth at the position immediately and a backup plan for the longer term.
I don’t think that the Redskins will take a quarterback in the first two rounds. Even if there is one that Scot McCloughan likes available when the Redskins are on the clock other needs, including the defensive line and a young wide receiver for whoever the quarterback is to throw to, will be viewed as the better available player.
But anytime from Round 3 on, I would not be surprised to see the Redskins turn in a card with a QB’s name on it. It could be Dak Prescott of Mississippi State in the third or fourth, or Kevin Hogan of Stanford sometime on Saturday.
Regardless of who the Redskins take, if McCoy does depart to a place where he thinks he has a better shot at starting some games they will have to find a veteran backup. Perhaps they could go after Matt Schaub or Charlie Whitehurst or one of a few other McCoy types. It’s not ideal but a later-round rookie is not going to be ready to step in if Cousins is sidelined.
But the Redskins do need to be prepared for the possibility that Cousins will move on in 2017 if he and the team can’t come to an agreement and the Redskins don’t think he will be worth the $23.9 million it would cost to tag him for a second year. That’s why they need to get a young QB in the system.
I believe the Cousins will end up staying. I think the Redskins and Cousins will end up agreeing to a long-term contract either this year or possibly in 2017. But McCloughan and the organization can’t gamble with the future of the most important position on the field. They haven’t drafted a QB since they took Cousins in 2012 and they need to get one in the system.
—The Redskins last played a game 53 days ago. It will be about 192 days until they play another one.
—Days until: NFL free agency starts 6; Redskins offseason workouts start 46; 2016 NFL draft 56
In case you missed it
The Giants shipped out Jason Pierre-Paul for life as a Buccaneer, and in turn, Tampa will send a third and fourth round draft pick to New York.
Moving Pierre-Paul comes at a curious time for the Giants. The team will eat $15 million of dead money in the move, and New York also sent a fourth-round pick to Tampa as part of the transaction.
What it definitely signals is that Big Blue looks to be moving from a 4-3 base defense to a 3-4 look. Additionally, with the second overall pick in the NFL Draft in April, maybe the Giants will seriously look at NC State defensive lineman Bradley Chubb.
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For the Redskins, seeing Pierre-Paul leave the NFC East is welcome news. He has 12.5 career sacks against Washington QBs, the same amount he has against the Eagles and Cowboys combined.
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The Redskins and linebacker Zach Brown agreed to a three-year contract that will require Brown to continue to play at a high level if he is going to collect all of the $21 million the deal contains.
Brown’s camp reportedly was shopping for a contract that had some $20 million in guaranteed money. The actual deal fell well short of that.
Brown, who was leading the league in tackles before an assortment of injuries forced him to sit out the last three games, got a total of $5.5 million in fully guaranteed money. He got a $4.5 million signing bonus and his $1 million salary for 2018 is fully guaranteed.
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After that, the remaining two seasons essentially are team options. In 2019 he has a $6.75 million salary and $4.5 million of that is guaranteed for injury. His 2020 salary is $7.5 million with no guarantees of any kind.
The contract also has per-game roster bonuses available at a rate of $15,625 for each game he is on the 46-man game day roster in 2018 (total of $250,000 for the year) and $31,250 per game in 2019 and 2020 ($500,000 total).
The salary cap hits per year are as follows:
2018: $2.75 million
2019: $8.75 million
2020: $9.5 million
The average annual value of $7 million ranks ninth among inside linebackers.
Brown will need to continue to play well to collect on the contract. The team will be able to save $5.75 million on the 2019 cap if they terminate the deal after one season and $8 million if they do it in 2020.
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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/TandlerNBCS and follow him on Twitter @TandlerNBCS.