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Need to Know: What happens after the Redskins tag Cousins?

Need to Know: What happens after the Redskins tag Cousins?

Here is what you need to know on this Sunday, February 29, nine days before the start of NFL free agency.

If Cousins gets tagged tomorrow then what?

It appears likely, but not certain, that the Redskins will put the franchise tag on Kirk Cousins sometime between this morning and the deadline, which falls at 4 p.m. tomorrow. Assuming that happens, what’s next?

Cousins will have to decide to sign it or not—The tag is not a contract until the player signs it. Cousins could sign it right away. That would fully guarantee the contract immediately and ensure against the (unlikely) prospect of the Redskins pulling the tag, which a team can do before it’s signed. It also would require Cousins to attend the mandatory minicamp and report for training camp. As long as the tender remains unsigned Cousins can field offers from other teams. If he accepts an offer sheet, the Redskins would have to match it or lose Cousins and get two first-round draft picks as compensation. Once the tender is signed he can't talk to other teams.

Both the Redskins and Cousins’ camp will watch the free agent market—They will be particularly interested in what Sam Bradford gets from the Eagles or whatever team he signs with. The situation in San Francisco might draw some attention as well; if Colin Kaepernick is released, his new contract would give both sides in the negotiation something more to work with.

The Redskins will look for a new QB in the draft—Even if Cousins signs a long-term deal before the draft Scot McCloughan will carefully consider the quarterbacks in the draft as a developmental project. But if Cousins is still on the tag at the end of April the Redskins will look at the position with considerably more urgency. If they might have Cousins for just one more year taking a quarterback in the fourth round, maybe even the third, would be a wise precautionary move, defense against the possibility that Cousins could be gone in 2017.

The two sides probably don’t move much until July 15 approaches—Talks may or may not formally break off but after the tag has been done the Redskins will turn to other business such as bringing back their own free agents and signing others. And Mike McCartney, Cousins’ agent, will go about representing his other clients with other teams. They probably will stay in touch but there will be no reason for either side to give any significant ground until the calendar turns to July. If no deal has been worked out by July 15 Cousins will play out the season under the franchise tag.

Timeline

—Cary Conklin, who started two games at quarterback for the Redskins in 1993, was born on this date in 1968. So, yes, the Redskins do have a leap day baby among their alumni. Per Pro Football Reference, a total of 19 players who were born on February 29 played in the NFL.

—The Redskins last played a game 50 days ago. It will be about 195 days until they play another one.

Days until: NFL free agency starts 9; Redskins offseason workouts start 49; 2016 NFL draft 59

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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.

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Redskins Fan of the Year bracket: Which Washington supporter deserves the title?

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Redskins Fan of the Year bracket: Which Washington supporter deserves the title?

Every week during the 2017 Redskins season, NBC Sports Washington found two Redskins fans in the crowd and paired them in a head-to-head matchup on Twitter to determine the fan of the game.

And now that the season is over, it's time to take each of those winners, throw them into a NCAA Tournament-style bracket and let Twitter pick the Redskins Fan of the Year.

Starting on January 8 over on the @NBCSRedskins Twitter account, one matchup a day will be posted at 11 a.m., and fans will have 24 hours to vote for their favorite supporter by retweeting or liking depending on their preference. Week 1's winner will face off with Week 17's, Week 2's will play Week 16's, etc.

The winners will advance, and eventually, one member of the Burgundy and Gold faithful will stand above all the rest, earning the coveted title of Redskins Fan of the Year. 

Check out the results below, which'll be updated every day. To see the tweet that corresponded with each matchup, click the link after the date, but remember, retweets and likes submitted after the 24-hour period won't be counted.

ELITE 8 RESULTS

January 18: Round two, matchup one

The first Elite 8 matchup was... not close:

January 19: Round two, matchup two

The Elite 8's second tilt is underway. Vote now:


FIRST ROUND RESULTS

January 8: Round one, matchup one

This was a close one that came down to the last-minute, but at the 24-hour mark, Week 17's winner garnered justtttttttt enough retweets to move on.

January 9: Round one, matchup two

In this tournament, a giant Redskins chain is apparently worth more than a giant football hat.

January 10: Round one, matchup three

In the tournament's third showdown, we have our first winner from the Likes side:

January 11: Round one, matchup four

Was there anyway she wasn't gonna win, especially with the little Hogettes nose?

January 12: Round one, matchup five

Our fifth matchup's winner earned the most retweets of anyone up to this point:

January 15: Round one, matchup six

These three 'Skins fans had to witness Washington's Thursday night flop in Dallas, so it's only fair that they get to advance to the second round:

January 16: Round one, matchup seven

You'd think a turkey hat would be enough to capture a W, but not in this one:

January 17: Round one, matchup eight

The Elite 8 is now set with this showdown going to the retweets side: