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Need to Know: Redskins invest heavily in weapons for Cousins

Need to Know: Redskins invest heavily in weapons for Cousins

Here is what you need to know on this Wednesday, July 20, eight days before the Washington Redskins start training camp in Richmond.

Timeline

—The Redskins last played a game 192 days ago. It will be 54 days until they host the Steelers in their 2016 season opener.

Days until: Preseason opener @ Falcons 22; Final roster cut 45; Cowboys @ Redskins 60

A week before reporting, some thoughts on the Redskins

The Redskins report to Richmond a week from today. Here are some thoughts on training camp and on the season.

—Everyone wants to know how much Josh Doctson will play this year and what his role will be. The person who ultimately answer that question is Doctson. It all depends on how quickly he picks up the scheme and running routes (the TCU route tree was not exactly challenging) and how well he does in the early season opportunities he will get. He could end up playing anywhere from 400 to 600 snaps (about 40% to 60%).

—The Redskins may not have broken the bank on Kirk Cousins but they have invested in weapons for him to target. They are fifth in the NFL in cap dollars devoted to wide receivers and 11th in tight end spending. They would be higher at tight end but Jordan Reed’s contract extension has him costing just $3.4 million against the cap this year, a number that jumps to $5.8 million next year and $10.3 million in 2018. It also should be noted that they invested a first-round pick in Doctson, a major expenditure of resources that doesn't hit the salary cap very hard. Only two other teams, the Cowboys and Titans, are in the top 11 in spending in both receivers and tight ends. Cousins will have no reason to complain about a lack of support.

—A year ago there was talk that Bashaud Breeland would be better as a safety than as a cornerback. Some in the organization speculated that he was a more natural fit there. Now he is being viewed as a quality player at the much more important cornerback spot. Although I think the fans and media here overrate him sometimes he is pretty good and, perhaps more importantly, he puts in the work it takes to get better. Along with Morgan Moses he is going to be a member of the 2014 draft class the Redskins likely will want to extend next year.

—If the Redskins were going to sign a veteran running back before training camp I would think they would have done it by now. My understanding is that backs like Pierre Thomas are going to be looking for more money if they are going to have to go through training camp. I guess it’s OK to try to save some cap dollars but an injury would be disastrous. It could bring up a scenario like we saw in 2010 when Clinton Portis got injured leaving Ryan Torain and Keiland Williams to handle the carries. This seems to be an unnecessary roll of the dice but we’ll see if it’s a gamble they win.

—Some were wondering if the Redskins tried out Jimmy Clausen with the idea of bringing him in as a fourth quarterback for training camp. I very much doubt it. The need for four quarterbacks in training camp has pretty much gone away with the abolition of two full practices a day. The throws in the daily walkthough are more like soft tosses so that saves the arms for the full practice. If you have four quarterbacks who need to get work in the one full practice none of them are going to get enough reps. So three arms is plenty. I don’t see the Redskins consider signing Clausen unless injuries force them to seek another QB.

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Need to Know: The Redskins week that was-Cousins' value, the Redskins' top pick

Need to Know: The Redskins week that was-Cousins' value, the Redskins' top pick

Here is what you need to know on this Saturday, January 20, 53 days before NFL free agency starts.

Timeline  

Days until:

—NFL franchise tag deadline (3/6) 45
—NFL Draft (4/26) 96
—2018 NFL season starts (9/9) 232

The Redskins week that was

Jags big win could spell bad news for Kirk Cousins—If the Jaguars’ accomplishment of getting to the AFC championship game does indeed make Blake Bortles’ job safe, the laws of economics say that the amount of money that Cousins can command in a free agent contract should go down. It’s the demand part of supply and demand and if demand goes down, prices should, too. But the NFL quarterback market doesn’t follow the laws. If the Lions see fit to pay Matthew Stafford, a quarterback under whom they have had very limited success, a contract with an average annual value of $27 million without any team bidding against them, that sets the price.

Setting the odds on what happens with Kirk Cousins—Despite his happy talk at the 106.7 The Fan event earlier this month, the possibility that Cousins will play in a Redskins uniform in 2018 does not warrant a large bet of imaginary casino chips. If you missed the post, take a look and let me know what you think of my assessment.

Don't freak out about latest Zach Brown tweet—It’s that time of year. A player sends out a tweet with no context and fans assign the worst possible meaning to it. In Brown’s case, a tweet about not getting respect was interpreted as a sign that contract negotiations with the Redskins were not going well. But JP Finlay found out that the tweet was about Brown being upset that another alternate getting selected to the Pro Bowl and not him. It still is unclear if Brown will return to the Redskins but at least there are no indications of rocky negotiations at this point.

Bang for the free agent bucks for the Redskins? Brown was a solid free agent acquisition for the Redskins last year. Terrelle Pryor, not so much. Take a look at the post for the other hits and misses in free agency.

Tweet of the week

Even though the draft is over three months away there are plenty of opinions out there as this tweet drew a ton of reaction. On the offensive side of the ball, the suggestions ran towards quarterbacks Lamar Jackson and Baker Mayfield although some want a running back. It will be interesting to see how those two non-conventional quarterbacks look after they spend the next few months under the microscope of the NFL draft process. The defensive name that kept coming up was Washington defensive lineman Vita Vea, a large specimen who could play the nose in base defense and move to three-technique in nickel.

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.

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Scot McCloughan simply said what plenty of others think about Kirk Cousins

Scot McCloughan simply said what plenty of others think about Kirk Cousins

Redskins fans were frenzied when Scot McCloughan said that Kirk Cousins is a good quarterback, but not a special one. The #KirkHive shuddered and the Kirk Haters celebrated.

McCloughan, the former Redskins GM who's wildly popular with fans, explained what few people will say publicly: Cousins is a skilled player but probably not deserving of the money he might make in free agency. 

Let's start with the obvious: Cousins is good.

He's a durable passer in a league that doesn't have enough of them. He's started the last 49 games for the Redskins and thrown for more than 4,000 yards each of the past three seasons. 

Now more obvious: He isn't great.

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Bleacher Report's Chris Simms, speaking on the #RedskinsTalk podcast, said Cousins ranks about 12th among NFL passers. It's top half of the league, but it's not Top 5 or even Top 10. 

Cousins has had tremendous games with the Redskins, like a near perfect performance against Oakland in 2017 or a dominant performance against Green Bay in 2016. 

Cousins has also been awful, as recently as Week 17 in New York a few weeks ago, or an equally stinky Week 17 game against the Giants two seasons ago. 

While some might view McCloughan's statement as controversial — "He’s a good player. Is he special? I don’t see special," he told Denver radio station 104.3 the Fan — it's not. 

Plenty of people agree with McCloughan, including some in Redskins Park. Last year, a source told NBC Sports Washington that the team believed they could get nearly as much production from Colt McCoy as Cousins provided. 

Even this year, Washington head coach Jay Gruden offered lukewarm praise of his quarterback.

When the season ended, asked to evaluate Cousins' play, the coach said, "When you’re 7-9, it’s hard to say, ‘Wow, this guy really was outstanding.’ There’s a few guys obviously that jump out, Pro Bowlers like Ryan Kerrigan had a solid year. Obviously Trent [Williams] when he played was a Pro Bowl-type and Brandon [Scherff] when he was healthy was a Pro Bowl-type guy. Kirk had his flashes where he was really good. From a consistent standpoint, over the course of 16 games, you know, we’re 7-9."

That quote made headlines when Gruden said it, much like McCloughan's comments now are circulating faster than Beltway traffic. 

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Truth is, it's not new. And it's not news.

There are coaches that think Cousins is only scratching the surface of his capabilities. Kyle Shanahan and Sean McVay come to mind, but both of those coaches have other QBs likely for the long-term future. 

Cousins might end up being paid like a Top 3 quarterback in the NFL, and that might be the right move given the demand at the position. Will that make him a special passer?

Not if special is defined as Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers or Drew Brees. Even Cousins wouldn't argue with that.