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Redskins fans need to get used to seeing Cousins behind center

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Redskins fans need to get used to seeing Cousins behind center

Redskins fans should get used to seeing No. 8 behind center for their team.

Even before yesterday’s win over the Bills there was a media report that the team wants to lock up Kirk Cousins to a long-term deal sooner rather than later and that the organization would be willing to use the franchise tag on him if necessary.

If the Redskins do decide to use the tag, the non-exclusive variety of that would pay Cousins over $19 million in 2016. Even the most ardent supporters of Jay Gruden’s decision to say, “It’s Kirk’s team” back in August would have had trouble saying that Cousins would be a near-$20 million quarterback.

Chances are that Cousins will end up making less than that on an annual basis but the Redskins will do what they have to do to lock him up. A deal likely will tie Cousins to the Redskins for at least two years and would guarantee Cousins something well north of the $19 million he would get with that franchise tag.

There are those who want to pump the brakes on bringing back Cousins, saying that the Redskins have not beaten a team that currently has a winning record this year with Cousins under center. That’s true but their opportunities to win such games have been extremely limited. they only had three such games on their schedule this year and they played the Patriots, Panthers, and Jets on the road. In fact, there are only 11 teams in the NFL that possess a winning record.

Let’s get some perspective here. Many of the same people who are preaching fiscal restraint with Cousins would have been happy to throw $20 million or more at Robert Griffin III after his 2012 rookie season. But the Redskins won just one game against a winning team that Griffin started and finished. That was against the 9-7 Giants at FedEx Field. The Redskins did beat the 10-6 Ravens, who went on to win the Super Bowl, at FedEx Field but Cousins came in for an injured Griffin and completed the tying drive, scoring the two-point conversion on a QB draw.

The point here is not to denigrate Griffin’s 2012 season. It was a great, magical year. It’s just to point out that the standard sometimes changes depending on the preconceived notions that some people hold.

One thing we are no longer hearing much from Cousins’ detractors is that he is a turnover machine and that the tendency to throw interceptions was ingrained in his DNA. The criticism looked valid through the first six games of this season. At that point he had 27 interceptions in 20 career games.

Since then, starting with the comeback win over the Bucs in Week 7, he has thrown just three interceptions in nine games.

Again, get used to seeing No. 8 behind center. He’s not elite, he’s not perfect but if the team around him improves the Redskins will be able to win with them. Given that there are more NFL teams than there are quarterbacks they can win with, the laws of supply and demand will dictate at least a couple of years’ worth of hefty paydays for Cousins. 

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Need to Know: The five highest-paid 2018 Redskins

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Usa Today Sports Images

Need to Know: The five highest-paid 2018 Redskins

Here is what you need to know on this Saturday, February 24, 18 days before NFL free agency starts.

I’m out this week so I’ll be re-posting some of the best and most popular articles of the past few months. Some may have slightly dated information but the major points in the posts still stand. Thanks for reading, as always.

The five highest-paid Redskins in 2018

Originally published 1/12/18

This is how the five highest-paid Redskins per their 2018 salary cap numbers stack up as of now. The list could change, of course during free agency and if a particular quarterback returns. Cap numbers via Over the Cap.

CB Josh Norman, $17 million—The Redskins do have a window which would allow them to move on from Norman. His $13.5 million salary for this year doesn’t become guaranteed until the fifth day of the league year so it would be “only” a $9 million cap charge to move on from Norman, who turned 30 in December. Don’t look for that to happen but the possibility is there.

OT Trent Williams, $13.86 million—He is one of the best left tackles in the business. Those of you out there who have advocated moving him to left guard should look at this cap number, which is way out of line for what a team can afford to pay a guard. At his pay, he needs to be playing on the edge.

OLB Ryan Kerrigan, $12.45 million—He has delivered double-digit sacks in each of the two seasons that his contract extension has been in effect. That’s good value in a league that values the ability to get to the quarterback.

TE Jordan Reed, $10.14 million—The Redskins knew that he might have a year like last year when he played in only six games when they agreed to Reed’s five-year, $50 million extension. They can live with one such season. If he has another one in 2018 they may rethink things.

G Brandon Scherff, $6.75 million—The fact that a rookie contract is No. 5 on this list is a good sign that, as of now, the Redskins’ cap is not top heavy like it was last year. The top three cap hits from Norman, Williams, and Kirk Cousins totaled $59 million, which was about 35 percent of the cap. This year the total cap numbers of the top three come to $43.3 million, 24.3 percent of the estimated $178 million salary cap.

Next five: OT Morgan Moses ($5.4 million), TE Vernon Davis ($5.33 million), DL Stacy McGee ($4.8 million), DL Terrell McClain ($4.75 million), S D.J. Swearinger ($4.33 million)

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.

Timeline  

Days until:

—NFL Combine (3/1) 5
—NFL Draft (4/26) 61
—2018 NFL season starts (9/9) 197

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Martavis Bryant could make sense for the Redskins, at the right price

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USA TODAY Sports

Martavis Bryant could make sense for the Redskins, at the right price

A 2017 midseason trade for Martavis Bryant made no sense for the Redskins. A 2018 offseason trade for Martavis Bryant, however, might make sense for the Redskins. 

Bryant is on the trade block, per NFL Network's Ian Rapoport, and will be an intriguing prospect for receiver-needy teams across the NFL. In parts of three seasons with the Steelers, Bryant has 17 touchdowns and a 15.2 yards-per-reception average. 

A big play threat from any place on the field, Bryant would immediately make the Redskins receiving unit more athletic and explosive. 

It's not all good news with Bryant, though.

He was suspended for the entire 2016 season after repeated drug violations and caused some distraction for Pittsburgh during the 2017 season when he asked for a trade via social media. 

MORE: CAN YOU GUESS THESE REDSKINS BASED ON THEIR COMBINE NUMBERS?

Is the talent enough to overcome the off-field distractions? Many would say it is. 

Last year, in just eight starts, Bryant grabbed 50 catches for more than 600 yards and three TDs. In their lone playoff loss to the Jaguars, Bryant caught two passes for 78 yards and a TD. 

Remember, too, the Steelers have an explosive offense, and Bryant is coupled with Antonio Brown on the receiver front along with Ben Roethlisberger at quarterback and Le'Veon Bell at running back. The Pittsburgh offense is loaded. 

Washington's offense is not nearly the prolific unit that the Steelers send out, but Jay Gruden does design a good offense. 

The real question surrounding any talk of trading for Bryant is the cost.

The Redskins are not in a position to send away any more draft picks this offseason after giving up a third-round pick, in addition to Kendall Fuller, to acquire Alex Smith. Bruce Allen and the Redskins front office need to improve their team in plenty of spots, and the team's draft picks are quite valuable. 

Bryant only has one year remaining on his rookie deal, and it's hard to balance that sort of short-term investment with the value of adding a rookie committed to the team for at least four years. Perhaps a late-round pick would make sense, but it would need to be a sixth-rounder. 

This could be one of those rare situations in the NFL where a player for player swap could work, though pulling that type of maneuver requires a lot of moving parts. 

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