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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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2018 NFL Draft order has Redskins pick nearing top ten as losses stockpile

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USA Today Sports Images

2018 NFL Draft order has Redskins pick nearing top ten as losses stockpile

LOS ANGELES — Some years, the December talk is of playoff tiebreakers.

Other years, it’s about draft position.

This is one of those “other” years.

The Redskins’ current skid of four losses in their last five games has knocked them out of playoff contention but into more favorable position in the 2018 NFL Draft, which is scheduled to take place in late April.

The Redskins' record is 5-8 through Week 14,  and if the season ended today, Washington would be picking either 11th or 12th in the first round.

Here’s the big picture: As of Monday, there are eight teams that have fewer wins than Washington. All of them would be picking ahead of the Redskins. 

The Bengals and Jets also have eight losses so the one and only draft order tiebreaker would be applied.

RELATED: NEW 2018 NFL MOCK DRAFT 3.0

This does not work out well for the Redskins.

The NFL Draft tiebreaker is strength of schedule with the teams with the weaker schedules getting the better picks. I am sure you have heard about how tough a schedule the Redskins have all year long. It was a point of pride for many fans. But now it comes back to bite them.

The Jets (opponents winning percentage .488) and the Bengals (.444) have faced weaker schedules than the Redskins (.574). That pushes Washington back to 11th.

RELATED: FEW UPS, MANY DOWNS VS. CHARGERS

But there is a Week 14 game pending. The Dolphins, who have seven losses, play the Patriots on Monday Night Football. If they lose and join the eight-loss group, they would jump ahead of the Redskins based on the SOS tiebreaker, pushing Washington back to 12th.

Of course, the season doesn’t end today and a lot can happen.

But if the bottom doesn’t completely fall out it seems likely that they will end up somewhere between 10th and 12th in the first round.

We will be looking at what that might mean for the Redskins in the coming days and weeks as the offseason comes early for the Redskins one more time.

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NFL Playoff Picture: NFC bracket projection starting to come into focus

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USA Today Sports

NFL Playoff Picture: NFC bracket projection starting to come into focus

The NFC Playoff picture is no clearer in Week 14 than it was in Week 8.

Throughout the 2017-18 NFL season, the NFC in particular has been a gauntlet. So much of a gauntlet that one of the league’s best in the past five years, the Seattle Seahawks, sit outside of the postseason with an 8-5 record.

As of the conclusion of Week 14’s action, only the Philadelphia Eagles (11-2) have locked up a postseason spot.

The Eagles claimed the NFC East for the first time since 2013 with a win over the Los Angeles Rams on Sunday. The will clinch a first round bye with a win and losses by the Saints and the Panthers this weekend.

The Minnesota Vikings (10-3) with their loss remains second in the conference, still within striking range over the overall No. 1 seed.

With losses to the two teams ahead of them, the Rams (9-4) have a tough hill to climb to claim a first-round bye, but first they need to get back in the win column.

For the WildCard berths there was a wrench thrown into many teams plans with the Atlanta Falcons (8-5) defeating the New Orleans Saints (9-4) on Thursday night. Atlanta owns a tiebreaker over pretty much every team chasing them for the final playoff spot.

For the five remaining unclaimed spots in the postseason, 10 teams are still alive.

After Week 15 though, that number could dwindle down significantly.

RELATED: NEW 2018 NFL MOCK DRAFT 3.0

NFC Playoff Picture Week 15

NFC PLAYOFF BRACKET PROJECTION:
— #1 Philadelphia Eagles* (11-2) vs. BYE
— #2 Minnesota Vikings (10-3) vs. BYE
— #3 Los Angeles Rams (9-4) vs. #6 Atlanta Falcons (8-5)
— #4 New Orleans Saints (9-4) vs. #5 Carolina Panthers (9-4)

NFC TEAMS IN THE PLAYOFF HUNT:
— Seattle Seahawks (8-5)
— Detroit Lions (7-6)
— Green Bay Packers (7-6)
— Dallas Cowboys (7-6)
— Arizona Cardinals (6-7)

NFC TEAMS ELIMINATED FROM PLAYOFF PICTURE:
— Washington Redskins (5-8)
— Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-9)
— Chicago Bears (4-9)
— San Francisco 49ers (3-10)
— New York Giants (2-11)

SEEDING NOTES:
— Eagles own the head-to-head tiebreaker over the Rams, Panthers.
— Vikings own the head-to-head tiebreaker over the Rams, Saints, and Falcons.
— Saints own the head-to-head tiebreaker over the Panthers.
— Rams own the head-to-head tiebreaker over the Saints.
— Panthers own the head-to-head tiebreaker over the Vikings.

WILD CARD NOTES:
— Panthers own the head-to-head tiebreaker over the Lions.
— Falcons own the head-to-head tiebreaker over the Lions, Packers, Cowboys, and Seahawks.
— Lions own the head-to-head tiebreaker over the Cardinals.
— Packers own the head-to-head tiebreaker over the Seahawks, Cowboys.
— Cowboys own the head-to-head tiebreaker over the Cardinals.

Week 15 NFC Games With Playoff Implications:

Sat., Dec 16: Bears at Lions (4:30 p.m.)
Sun., Dec 17: Bengals at Vikings (1:00 p.m.)
Sun., Dec 17: Jets at Saints (1:00 p.m.)
Sun., Dec 17: Eagles at Giants (1:00 p.m.)
Sun., Dec 17: Cardinals at Redskins (1:00 p.m.)
Sun., Dec 17: Panthers at Packers (1:00 p.m.)
Sun., Dec 17: Rams at Seahawks (4:05 p.m.)
Sun., Dec 17: Cowboys at Raiders (8:30 p.m.)
Mon., Dec 18: Falcons at Buccaneers (8:30 p.m.)