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Need to Know: Should the Redskins give Reed a new contract?

Need to Know: Should the Redskins give Reed a new contract?

Here is what you need to know on this Sunday, January 24, 31 days before the NFL Combine in Indianapolis.

Five thoughts on the state of the Redskins

If you were hit by the Blizzard of 2016, I hope all is well and you and yours got through it safely. Here are a few thoughts on the Redskins:

—Should the Redskins sign Jordan Reed, who is slated to be a free agent after the 2016 season, to a contract extension a year early like they did with Trent Williams and Ryan Kerrigan? As of now, Reed is slated to make $685,888 in 2016, a very cheap pride for one of the top five players at his position. There is a lot to consider, including his injury history. Another consideration, however, is the need to avoid letting a grossly underpaid player take the field. The team is likely to ask some players to take pay cuts this year because they are not likely to play up to their salaries. That is a lot easier to do if your track record says you will reward players who over perform their contracts. If you say, “A deal is a deal” to your best offensive player when he is underpaid then why wouldn’t a player say the same when asking him to take a pay cut? Keeping Reed on the cheap this year could prove to be penny-wise and pound-foolish.

—Another factor to consider in the Reed contract situation is the franchise tag. It’s relatively inexpensive for tight ends. Last year only the kicker/punter tag was worth less than the $8.33 million tight end tag. It will be more expensive in 2017 but it is unlikely to top $10 million and it is a very viable option if Reed plays through 2016 and they can’t come to a contract agreement. However, the franchise tag needs to be available and if they can’t come to an agreement with Kirk Cousins this year and need to tag him they will have to make a choice to tag one or the other a year from now. That is one of the dangers of just tagging Cousins rather than working out a contract with him; you lose leverage down the road.

—The time to rehash the Redskins career of Robert Griffin III will come soon enough but one thing, one misstep, sticks out in my mind. It was the week after he was injured against the Ravens, when Griffin scrambled towards the sideline but instead of running out of bounds he cut back to the middle of the field and met up with Haloti Ngata, who hit him and caused his knee to bend in an unnatural direction. A few days later I asked Kyle Shanahan if they told Griffin he should have proceed to go out of bounds. No, said the offensive coordinator, they were fine with him going for the extra yardage. Griffin also said he did not regret going back into the dangerous area of the field. The play was the beginning of the end of RG3 and the coaches, like Griffin, saw no need to have their high-cost asset protect himself.

—Should the Redskins re-sign Terrance Knighton? Teams didn’t test him very often running the ball, running 74 plays up the middle per the NFL. Only five teams faced fewer runs up the gut. But teams saw success when they did go there, averaging 5.1 yards per attempt, 29th in the NFL. Sure, it’s more complex than that and Pot Roast wasn’t necessarily in the lineup for all of those runs. But if you also look at plays off of left guard (30, 4.1 avg., 15th) and right guard (58, 3.8 avg., 15th), you don’t see some sort of impregnable fortress in the middle of the defense. This doesn’t equal letting Knighton walk necessarily but they will need better play from him if he stays.

 

—During the season I was thinking that there was zero chance that Alfred Morris would be back with the Redskins. I still think the chances are against it but now I’m not so sure. If they let him walk in free agency they would not have a reliable running back on the roster. They would have to sign one in free agency and it’s possible that Scot McCloughan will look around and find that Morris is the best option if they can come to a contract agreement. I still think the chances are against it but at this point I’m not going to rule it out.

Timeline

—The Redskins last played a game 14 days ago. It will be about 231 days until they play another one.

Days until: NFL Combine 31; NFL free agency starts 45; 2016 NFL draft 95

In case you missed it

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No tension between Jay Gruden and Kirk Cousins, but the coach wants improvement 

No tension between Jay Gruden and Kirk Cousins, but the coach wants improvement 

MOBILE -- Jay Gruden is making jokes about Kirk Cousins again, and that's good news for Redskins fans that worried about a fracture between coach and quarterback. 

It all started in the weeks following the Redskins dreadful Week 17 loss to the Giants as Gruden and Cousins seemed to be throwing slight jabs at one another.

Gruden, in his end of year press conference, explained that while Cousins "showed flashes" in 2017, when the team goes 7-9, the coach can't say any player was outstanding: 

You know when you’re 7-9, you know it’s hard to say, ‘Wow, this guy really was outstanding.’ You know there’s a few guys obviously that jump out, Pro Bowlers like Ryan Kerrigan had a solid year. Obviously Trent when he played was Pro Bowl type, Brandon when he was healthy was 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. He did some great things, threw for over 4,000 yards and 29 touchdowns I believe. So, I think he’s a very, very good quarterback without a doubt, but as far as getting us over the hump from 7-9 to winning a division with all the injuries that we had, I think he competed and did some good things.

Cousins, in his year-end radio appearance with 106.7 the Fan, explained that he wants the team to do better but doesn't think the 7-9 record should fall on his shoulders alone. (Quote via Washington Post)

What I gathered from the comment was 7-9 and the quarterback play are causally related and that quarterback play is 7-9, 7-9 is the quarterback play. I saw that and I thought, ‘I think it’s slightly more complicated than that.’ I think there’s a few more dynamics in play as to what your final record is. … At the same time, his job is to evaluate. That’s a big part of his role and his position. In that comment, he’s just doing his job, he’s evaluating the position and he has the right to say what he wants to say.

Both comments were fairly innocuous, but also clearly at odds. Combine that dialogue with the undercurrent of another offseason contract negotiation, and it seemed things between coach and quarterback weren't quite right. 

On Tuesday, speaking at the Senior Bowl, Gruden cleared the air. Asked directly about tension between he and Cousins, the coach was blunt. 

"No." 

Gruden went on to explain his answer about Cousins 2017 play, the now infamous 7-9 line.

"When I say 7-9, if I say one player played great that means I'm saying everybody else was not very good," the coach explained (full video above). "I think we all have to stick together, we all have to improve from a 7-9 season, coaches, players, everybody."

Cousins was good in 2017, throwing for more than 4,000 passing yards for the third straight season. He also showed that he can produce offensively without a great supporting cast, as injuries robbed the Redskins of many of their best passing game threats and seriously damaged the offensive line. 

The quarterback did play two terrible games in the last month of the season, however, including a three interception stinker in the Week 17 finale.

It's possible that Gruden had that fresh in his mind when he spoke in early January, and with the benefit of a little time, his assessment mellowed by late January. 

Either way, Gruden joked about Cousins deserving a vacation, and even said the QB needs a tan. Gruden often uses humor to defuse touchy situations with Redskins players, and maybe he just did it again. 

Want more Redskins? Click here to follow JP on Facebook and check out @JPFinlayNBCS for live updates via Twitter! Click here for the #RedskinsTalk on Apple Podcastshere for Google Play or press play below. Don't forget to subscribe!

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Redskins have begun contract talks with Zach Brown, but free agency looms

Redskins have begun contract talks with Zach Brown, but free agency looms

Redskins fans want Zach Brown back. Bad. And for weeks there had been no news about contract talks between Washington and Brown. 

Now that's changed.

"We've been talking to his agent," Redskins head coach Jay Gruden said on Tuesday. 

Gruden, speaking from the Senior Bowl, explained that the team would like Brown back in 2018 but Washington also understands that the linebacker might want to explore the free agent market. 

"It’s a process," Gruden said (full video above). "These guys have a chance to be a free agent, they had a good year and they want to check what the market is sometimes. If we can get them before they get to free agency, great, but if not, the bidding wars will begin."

For Brown, free agency will look different in 2018 than it did last season when he signed a one-year. bargain deal with the Redskins. 

Prior to injuries forcing him to miss the final three games of the season, Brown led the NFL in tackles. For two straight years, 2016 in Buffalo and 2017 in Washington, Brown has proved to be a tackling machine and arguably the fastest linebacker in the NFL. Brown also signed new representation last offseason, Jason and Michael Katz of CSE Football, and should Brown hit the free agent market the Katz brothers will aggresively market their client. 

Washington Senior Vice President of Football Operations Eric Schaeffer will handle the contract discussions for Washington, and is known as a shrewd negotiator. 

Like many business deals, this will come down to money. Brown established himself as a fit in Washington, both on the field and in the locker room. Interior linebackers do not command top dollar like pass rushers do, but Brown will still expect to be compensated appropriately. 

Further complicating matters for Washington, the Redskins only have Josh Harvery-Clemmons, Zach Vigil and Martrell Speight under contract for 2018. 

It's too early to predict what "it's a process" means from Jay Gruden, but Redskins fans should draw some encouragement that talks have begun with Brown. 

Want more Redskins? Click here to follow JP on Facebook and check out @JPFinlayNBCS for live updates via Twitter! Click here for the #RedskinsTalk on Apple Podcastshere for Google Play or press play below. Don't forget to subscribe!