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Need to Know: Redskins' 5 biggest one-year improvements

Need to Know: Redskins' 5 biggest one-year improvements

Here is what you need to know on this Friday, May 23, four days before the start of OTAs.

Nickel coverage

Some are saying that the Redskins have a shot at winning the NFC East title in 2014. If they are going to do that, they likely will have to win nine or more games. That would be the biggest single-season improvement in team history. Here are the top five season-to-season improvements in wins for the Redskins since 1970:

+5, 2011-2012—The Redskins were floundering under Mike Shanahan until a pair of rookies, quarterback Robert Griffin III and running back Alfred Morris, spurred a seven-game winning streak to push the Redskins from five wins in 2011 to 10 wins and the NFC East title.

+4, 2006-2007—It looked like the Redskins were headed to their second straight losing season under Joe Gibbs, especially after the shooting death of star safety Sean Taylor. But they overcame that and an injury to Jason Campbell to roll off four straight wins to finish the season at 9-7. That was up from five wins the year before and it got the Redskins a wild card playoff spot.

+4, 2004-2005—Yes, the Joe Gibbs II era was very up and down. Gibbs’ first year back was a 6-10 disappointment and the second year was shaping up to be the same as the team sat at 5-6. But five straight wins to close out the season got them to a 10-6 finish and a wild card berth.

+4, 1998-1999—The 1998 team was floundering at 2-9 before winning four largely meaningless games in a row to finish at 6-10. Dan Snyder bought the Redskins prior to the 1999 season and his message to Norv Turner was that he could keep his job as long as he made the playoffs. The Redskins did just that, going 10-6 to take the NFC East.

+4, 1990-1991—The 1990 team was pretty good, going 10-6 and winning a playoff game. The 1991 Redskins were one of the best teams of all time. They won their first 11 games, finished 14-2 and steamrolled to the last Super Bowl title.

Note: The Redskins did go from eight wins in 1982 to 14 in 1983, an improvement of +6. However, that ’82 season was shortened to nine games due to a players strike so it’s an uneven comparison.

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Timeline

—It’s been 145 days since the Redskins played a game; it will be 107 days until they play the Texans in the 2014 season opener.

Days until: OTAs 4; Training camp starts 61; Redskins @ Eagles 121

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Morris talks about being a veteran

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As money skyrockets, don't expect Kirk Cousins to give discounts on open market

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USA TODAY Sports

As money skyrockets, don't expect Kirk Cousins to give discounts on open market

Kirk Cousins repeatedly said his free agent decision will not be just about money. Be clear, however, that money will be a huge factor in this decision. 

After the Redskins traded with Kansas City to acquire Alex Smith before the Super Bowl, it became obvious Washington will move on from Cousins. Whether that means the quarterback simply walks away in free agency or the organization attempts a highly risky tag-and-trade scenario, regardless, Cousins will throw footballs for another franchise in 2018.

Cousins wants to choose where he will play via free agency, and might even file a grievance if the Redskins do deploy a third franchise tag to control his rights.

Assuming Cousins hits free agency, a new report out of New York suggests the Jets will pay "whatever it takes" to land the passer. That could even include a fully guaranteed contract, and will certainly get close to a $30 million a year price tag. 

A notion exists too that Cousins might take less to go to a winner, and many think that could be the Broncos. Denver won five games in 2017, same as the Jets, though the Broncos have a strong defense and have been getting particularly awful QB play. 

The important thing to remember for curious Redskins fans watching the Cousins saga unfold: Don't expect much, if any, discount. 

The quarterback himself made that clear. 

"There’s other quarterbacks that come after you and it would be almost a selfish move to hurt future quarterbacks who get in a position to have a contract," Cousins said last year on 106.7 the Fan.

The quotes came after the 2016 season but before the Redskins again used a franchise tag with Cousins for the 2017 season. Washington wanted to attempt a long-term deal with Cousins at that point, though the quarterback decided to not negotiate and instead play on the tag.

The point remains that Cousins, and his representatives, believe the quarterback has a duty to other players to maximize his earnings. 

"If you don’t take a deal that’s fair to you, then you’re also taking a deal that’s not fair to them and you’re setting them back as well. So there’s different reasons. You just do the best you can."

If he hits free agency, Cousins will likely sign the richest contract in NFL history. Those opportunities don't come around often, and the quarterback should take full advantage. 

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Need to Know: Could Ty Nsekhe be the Redskins' answer at left guard?

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Need to Know: Could Ty Nsekhe be the Redskins' answer at left guard?

Here is what you need to know on this Monday, February 19, 23 days before NFL free agency starts.

Monday musings

—One possible solution to the left guard spot is perhaps being overlooked. Ty Nsekhe played there some last year, starting the game in Dallas and playing there until Morgan Moses got injured, forcing him to move to right tackle. Nsekhe is slated to be a restricted free agent but his return is likely. In December I asked Jay Gruden if Nsekhe might move to guard in 2018. “I think Ty is a big man and a very good tackle, but in the offseason when we have more time, maybe we can feature him at some guard when we’ve got all our guys back,” he said. “Feature him some” doesn’t mean that they will make him a starter; perhaps they want him to be the top option to fill in at four of the five OL positions. But it’s something to keep an eye on if they don’t land a left guard solution in free agency or the draft.

—When I posted about Albert Breer’s report that Kirk Cousins would file a grievance if the Redskins put the franchise tag on him in an effort to trade him, I pulled up a copy of the CBA to see the language on which Cousins could base his case. I read through the Article 10, which deals with the franchise tag twice and I saw nothing of it. But Mike Florio found it in Article 4, the one that deals with player contracts. “A Club extending a Required Tender must, for so long as that Tender is extended, have a good faith intention to employ the player receiving the Tender at the Tender compensation level during the upcoming season.” Since the Redskins clearly have no intention of employing Cousins after the Alex Smith trade, this seems to be a fairly simple case. In reality, it never is.

—I tweeted this last week:

However, possible cap casualties from other teams are not included in that group. That won’t turn the pool of players who will become available to sign into a bunch of potential franchise changers. Still, there could be a number of players in whom the Redskins could be interested in like RB DeMarco Murray, WRs Emmanuel Sanders and Torrey Smith, edge rusher Elvis Dumervil, and DL Brandon Mebane. A plus to signing players who have been waived is that they don’t count in the formula that determines compensatory draft picks. The Redskins have never really paid attention to that in the past but with potential high comp picks at stake if they lose both Kirk Cousins and Bashaud Breeland, this could be a good year to start.

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) 10
—NFL Draft (4/26) 66
—2018 NFL season starts (9/9) 202

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