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Need to Know: Will Cousins sign with the Redskins by the deadline?

Need to Know: Will Cousins sign with the Redskins by the deadline?

Here is what you need to know on this Sunday, February 14, 10 days before the NFL Combine in Indianapolis.

What will Cousins’ deal look like?

March 1, the last day for teams to give players the franchise tag, is about two and a half weeks away. That is the initial deadline for the Redskins and Kirk Cousins to agree to a long-term contract. Will a deal get done or not? Will it be for top dollar or something less than that?

Let’s get $100 in imaginary casino chips and spread them over four potential scenarios according to what I think the chances are. You will note that Cousins leaving and signing with another team is not one of the scenarios; I simply don’t think there is any chance of that happening.

Agrees to contract in $17-$18 million per year range, $20—This would be a relatively short-term deal, perhaps four years with the last one voidable with about $20 million guaranteed. It also would contain some incentives that would pay off for achieving individual and team goals. Cousins’ camp may want a deal like this if he wants another chance to be a free agent at age 30.

Agrees to contract in $19-$20 million per year range, $35—This would a four- or five-year deal with at least $30 million guaranteed. A $20 million per year deal in terms of annual average it would get him up with Drew Brees, Joe Flacco, and Matt Ryan. Yes, those are two Super Bowl winners and a player who has been to multiple playoffs. But the fact that the salary cap has increased dramatically since those deals were signed needs to be accounted for. The key to avoiding future cap issues like the Saints and Ravens are going through is to not backload the deal too heavily.

Gets tagged, signs by July 15 deadline, $25—It’s quite possible that the negotiations will go into overtime. I don’t want to create a new betting category here but I do think that Cousins will sign the tender and participate in the offseason program. He didn’t get first-team reps last offseason since Robert Griffin III was the starter and I doubt that he will want to set himself up for failure by missing a chance to get those reps.

Gets tagged, plays the season on the tag, $15—This really isn’t a good option for anybody. Cousins gets a nice $19 million for 2016 but no security. The Redskins get another year to evaluate Cousins’ worth on a long-term deal but if he is even competent they set themselves up for a bigger contract fight in 2017 with the tag price for Cousins jumping up to $23 million. Despite the downsides I might be underestimating the possibility of this scenario playing out. Stay tuned.

How do you think it will play out? Place your bets in the comments below.

Timeline

—The Redskins last played a game 35 days ago. It will be about 210 days until they play another one.

Days until: NFL Combine 10; NFL free agency starts 24; 2016 NFL draft 74

In case you missed it

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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: