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Need to Know: Will the Redskins and Cousins get a deal done?

Need to Know: Will the Redskins and Cousins get a deal done?

Here is what you need to know on this Friday, May 13, 11 days before the Redskins start OTAs.

Timeline

At Redskins Park: Rookie minicamp starts; media access will be allowed on Saturday.

—The Redskins last played a game 124 days ago. It will be 122 days until they host the Steelers in their 2016 season opener.

Days until: OTAs start 11; Redskins training camp starts 76; Preseason opener @ Falcons 90

Hot topic

Earlier this week Pat Kirwan of CBS Sports had a post with some “things on my mind”. One of them raised some eyebrows among Redskins was item No. 4:
It looks like the Redskins will get a deal done with Kirk Cousins.  That’s a nice development for both parties.
That was the sum total of what he had to say on the matter. There were no specifics like if one side or the other was about to give in or if a deal is imminent.

Kirwan is a former NFL general manager. He also is tight with Bruce Allen so this “thing on his mind” probably shouldn’t be dismissed out of hand despite the lack of a cited source or much in the way of specifics.

It’s difficult to see why much of anything would happen over the next two months. Neither side has incentive to give any ground. The Redskins can hold out for a lower annual salary and exit ramps after two or three years while Cousins camp is likely to keep up its demands for more money and a deal that locks him in for the next several years.

But two months from today we will be about 48 hours away from the July 15 deadline. After that date, negotiations on a long-term deal must stop and any tagged players must play out the season under the signed tender. If there is going to be movement towards middle ground it will start to happen as the deadline approaches.

Last year four players—Dallas WR Dez Bryant, Broncos WR Demaryius Thomas, Chiefs LB Justin Houston, and Patriots K Stephen Gostkowski all signed long-term contracts on July 15. Less than 24 hours before these players signed there seemed to be little hope that any of them would get a contract. But the deadline drove the four deals.

With Cousins and the Redskins there are strong incentives for both sides to get something done. The team doesn’t want to go through this again next year with the cost to tag Cousins for a second time going up to nearly $24 million (with the salary cap number for Josh Norman running up to $20 million next year the Redskins would be using up about 25 percent of cap for two players). Cousins could decide that he doesn’t want to risk the life-changing money that will be on the table to injury or having an off year and tell his agent to make the best deal that he can.

No quarterback has played out the year on the tag; the team and the QB have always been able to get a deal done. That’s because the position is so important to the team and because the large amounts of guaranteed money in quarterback contracts tug the player towards a compromise. There is too much at stake to let it ride another year.

To be sure, there is always a first time. It’s safe to say that most quarterbacks to get tagged have a more substantial track record than does Cousins so this is an unusual situation. But the same forces that have pushed quarterbacks and teams together in the past still exist.

Ultimately Kirwan’s “thought” is likely to turn out to be accurate. But it is unlikely to happen anytime soon.

Stat of the day

In 2015 the Redskins had 104 rushing plays for either no gain or negative yards. Only six NFL teams had more such plays. Alfred Morris had 37 of his 202 rushing attempts go for no gain or a loss (18%) compare to Matt Jones, who had 38 on 144 carries (26 percent).

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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.