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New Washington Redskins stadium Q&A

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New Washington Redskins stadium Q&A

There are a lot of questions about the Redskins’ new stadium, something that Dan Snyder told Comcast SportsNet’s Chick Hernandez was in the planning stages. There are only partial answers but here is the best information we have on what to look for.

Where will it be built?

Snyder said that it could go in Maryland, Virginia, or the District of Columbia so that covers a lot of ground. The spot everyone focuses on is the current site of RFK Stadium in Washington. That was late owner Jack Kent Cooke’s preferred site for the stadium that ultimately ended up being FedEx Field. There are obstacles to getting it done there including the fact that the federal government must sign off on it, creating another later of red tape to deal with. But, to be sure, there are obstacles to getting it built anywhere.

Some speculation about a Maryland site centers on the National Harbor in Prince George’s County, just over the Wilson Bridge from Alexandria. That is an attractive area with hotels, restaurants, shops in place and a casino coming soon. But it has no Metro stop and the main access would be the Beltway, something that is considered to be one of the main drawbacks to FedEx Field.

There is no specific site in Virginia but you would have to think that the possibilities are being considered. The state is already home to Redskins Park and the team’s training camp in Richmond and there is little doubt that the state government would love to lure the other phase of the operation—playing the games—to the Commonwealth.

When will it be ready?

The short answer—don’t hold your breath. Cooke first announced his intention to build a new stadium to replace RFK in August of 1988. FedEx Field opened in 1997. The nine-year timetable is not exceptionally long, comparing it to stadiums being built or opened now.

Redskins fans who want to see this happen should hope it doesn’t turn out to be like the 49ers’ quest to replace Candlestick Park. My friend Matt Maiocco, 49ers reporter for CSNbayarea.com, told me that it took 30 years from when the Niners first started to consider a new stadium until the opening of Levi’s Stadium this year. The first funding ballot initiative took place in 1997.

It doesn’t have to take that long. In Atlanta, they started to seriously talk about replacing the Georgia Dome in 2010. Four years later construction is underway and the new stadium with a retractable dome is slated to open in time for the 2017 season.

The other new NFL stadium under construction, in Minneapolis, will end up being about a 10-year process. Plans were first announced in 2007. After some major setbacks in the Minnesota state legislature and a lot of searching for a suitable site, the location and funding were settled in 2013. It is scheduled to open for the 2016 season.

There are other factors that will play in to the opening date. Chief among them is the Redskins’ lease on FedEx Field, which isn’t up until 2027. This is not necessarily a deal breaker to opening a new stadium before that but it will require some negotiation.

What will it look like?

Here’s what Snyder said:

“We've already seen some preliminary drawings and I'm going to be very retro with it. It's gonna feel like RFK. It's gonna move like RFK. I love that, I actually asked architectural firms to do it and they said that they can do it. I said that I think the lower bowl sections are going to want to rock the stadium like the old days.”

The concept of a “retro” feel to a stadium is interesting. The recent stadiums opened in the NFL and the two slated to open in the near future have a very modern, even futuristic look and feel. Snyder could be going for what Baltimore did when Camden Yards was built, an old-time look and feel but with the modern amenities that fans expect these days.

However, fans expecting a cleaned-up version of RFK will be disappointed. That stadium held just over 50,000. That’s too small by today’s standards and way too small to host a Super Bowl, something Snyder said he would like to do in his new stadium.

Snyder said nothing about whether the preliminary drawings he’s had done were for an open-air venue, generally the least expensive option, a domed stadium, more costly than open air, or for a building with a retractable roof, usually the highest-priced way to go.

Who will pay?

Snyder will foot a good chunk of the bill. However, it’s unlikely that he will pay all of the construction costs like Cooke did (he did get some government help for roads and infrastructure). The reason? The costs have skyrocketed.

The $250 million that Cooke spent to build FedEx Field would translate to about $350 million in today’s dollars. But stadium costs have increased much more than just the cost of living would indicate. Levi’s Stadium (open air) cost $1.3 billion. The retractable roof facility in Atlanta will come in at an estimated cost of $1.2 billion. The fixed-roof stadium in Minnesota is now estimated to cost $967 million but nobody would be surprised if it crept up over the billion-dollar mark by the time it opens.

Whatever portion Snyder does not pay will come from some combination of tax money and, possibly, personal seat licenses. Almost half of the teams in the NFL require fans to purchase licenses in order to buy season tickets. The new stadium in San Francisco and the upcoming facilities in Atlanta and Minneapolis all have some sort of PSL plans.

Some PSL’s are relatively inexpensive, others are way out of the reach of the average fan. PSL’s range from a low of $250 per seat in Pittsburgh, Tennessee, and other places to a high of $150,000 at Jerry Jones’ stadium in Dallas.

But before you season ticket holders get up in arms, wait and see. As noted above we are a long way from this happening and perhaps Snyder can find other financing options as the process unfolds.

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Need to Know: Should the Redskins draft Vita Vea in the first round?

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Need to Know: Should the Redskins draft Vita Vea in the first round?

Here is what you need to know on this Wednesday, January 24, 51 days before NFL free agency starts.

Timeline  

Days until:

—NFL franchise tag deadline (3/6) 41
—NFL Draft (4/26) 92
—2018 NFL season starts (9/9) 228

Fan questions—Surprise cuts, finding a playmaker

I put out a call for questions on social media and I got so many good ones that I’m splitting them up. Here are Facebook questions today and I’ll hit the best Twitter questions later this week.

 

Spencer Long could be gone but he is a free agent, so he could not be cut. As far as players under contract, a lot will depend on who they draft and sign in free agency. If they go heavy on the defensive line, Ziggy Hood and Terrell McClain could be in danger of being cut. An influx of defensive back might have Josh Holsey and Deshazor Everett headed out of town.

There won’t be any cuts that save a major amount of cap space. Thek players with the top 15 cap numbers per Over the Cap are all vital to the operation with the possible aforementioned exception of McClain.

The rub is that if you want an instant “bona fide” playmaker you are going to have to invest either a lot of cap dollars or high draft pick. They have invested cap dollars in Reed and, to a lesser extent, Thompson and a No. 1 draft pick in Reed. The plan needs to be to make sure that Reed stays healthy (as best you can) and hope you get 12-14 productive games out of him, get Thompson back in the swing of things, and continue to work with Doctson. Perhaps they can get a mid-round find like the Saints did with Kamara to add to the mix. But for the most part, the Redskins will have to make do with what they have.

The way things stand right now, I’m seeing Vea regarded as more of a late first-round pick than a player who should go in the top half of the round. That could change as the draft process goes on. I think the Redskins need to continue to strengthen their defensive line and if Vea moves up to a high first-round grade or slides to a second they should take a long look at him.

The player I’m keeping my eye on is Jordan Matthews, who spent three years with the Eagles before being trade to Buffalo. He had over 800 yards receiving in each of his three seasons in Philly before a knee injury hampered him last year. He’s 6-3 and still young (26 in Week 1). Sammy Watkins of the Rams is intriguing but he had just 593 receiving yards in 15 games in a Sean McVay’s very productive offense. An older but less expensive option might be Eric Decker of the Titans, who had just 30 fewer receiving yards than Watkins and would be much a much less expensive acquisition albeit as a stopgap.

I see them addressing other needs in the first round. That could change if there is someone there who is just too good to pass up.

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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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. 

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