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Redskins' McCloughan doing things the Packers' way

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Redskins' McCloughan doing things the Packers' way

Scot McCloughan learned his craft under Packers Hall of Fame general manager Ron Wolf. So did current Packers GM Ted Thompson. Knowing this goes a long way towards explaining McCloughan’s very cautious approach to free agency.

AN SB Nation Packers writer wrote a very interesting article breaking down why Thompson, who has a successful team that is almost entirely built with its own draft picks, employs an ultra-cautious strategy when it comes to free agency.

The article lists eight rules that appear to guide Thompson as he makes free agency decisions. Not all of them apply to McCloughan in Washington but let’s take a look at a few of them that the Redskins’ GM subscribes to.

Players who are considered "good" will always be overpaid in free agency.

Call this the Jason Hatcher rule. In Bruce Allen’s one year in charge of personnel he gave Hatcher a four-year deal with $10.5 million in guaranteed money. For that the former Cowboy provided 7.5 sacks in two years. Hatcher was considered to be a good player after he posted 11 sacks with the Cowboys in 2013 but he was never going to return enough to be worth his contract. McCloughan liked the player but seeing that he clearly was overpaid he released Hatcher before the start of free agency. The Redskins are eating a $4.5 million dead cap charge in the wake of his departure.

Players drafted in the first 3-4 rounds are about as likely to succeed as free agent acquisitions, and if they fail, the financial impact is far less.

As early as the Senior Bowl in January, McCloughan had already determined that he will not move up from pick No. 21 in the NFL draft. The cost of moving up would be at least his third-round pick and perhaps his second. Giving up a chance to draft players in those rounds will create a hole later on that may need to be filled with a free agent. Like the free agent, the draft pick may or may not work out but at least you’re not going to be stuck with a big pile of dead cap if he doesn’t.

Signing your own players eliminates the biggest peril of free agency—determining system and team culture fit.

This isn’t one of the eight principles in the post, it’s something mentioned earlier in the article. But it’s key in McCloughan’s thinking. He explained when he spoke to the media at the NFL owners meetings last week. “You identify your own – who can play, but not just from a talent standpoint, but from a personality standpoint, character standpoint, a passion standpoint, a competitive standpoint where you know, ‘This guy fits what we’re looking for. We can build on these guys,’” he said. When you sign a free agent you can do background checks and watch a ton of film but you don’t really know if he fits on and off the field until he gets there. You’ve had your own players at practice and in games and in the team facility for years; you know who they are.

For most positions, waiver wire fodder is as good or better than "medium salaried" veterans.

In 2014 the Redskins signed Adam Hayward and Tracy Porter as medium salary free agents. Porter was released a year ago and Hayward’s release after he missed all of seems to be just a matter of time. Meanwhile they picked up Mason Foster and Will Blackmon off of the waiver wire and they were so effective the Redskins re-signed both of them to multi-year deals.

Running backs and inside linebackers are, respectively, the least valuable positions on offense and defense.

Even though Alfred Morris got a relatively modest contract with the Cowboys, signing for $3.5 million over two years, the Redskins did not attempt to match it financially. The Redskins will either pay, say, a fourth-round pick with a 2016 cap hit of $585,000 or a veteran with a cap number not very much higher than that. That back will work with Matt Jones ($689,000) and Chris Thompson ($675,000). McCloughan will have the Redskins paying the value of the position.

It’s an interesting article and at this early stage it doesn’t appear that McCloughan is following the Thompson blueprint to the letter. But Thompson has been building almost exclusively through the draft, with the noted exceptions like Charles Woodson, since to took over as GM in 2005. He has draft picks to replace draft picks who have moved on. McCloughan doesn’t have that luxury yet so it will be a few years before we can see if he will eventually go into full Thompson mode.  

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As money skyrockets, don't expect Kirk Cousins to give discounts on open market

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USA TODAY Sports

As money skyrockets, don't expect Kirk Cousins to give discounts on open market

Kirk Cousins repeatedly said his free agent decision will not be just about money. Be clear, however, that money will be a huge factor in this decision. 

After the Redskins traded with Kansas City to acquire Alex Smith before the Super Bowl, it became obvious Washington will move on from Cousins. Whether that means the quarterback simply walks away in free agency or the organization attempts a highly risky tag-and-trade scenario, regardless, Cousins will throw footballs for another franchise in 2018.

Cousins wants to choose where he will play via free agency, and might even file a grievance if the Redskins do deploy a third franchise tag to control his rights.

Assuming Cousins hits free agency, a new report out of New York suggests the Jets will pay "whatever it takes" to land the passer. That could even include a fully guaranteed contract, and will certainly get close to a $30 million a year price tag. 

A notion exists too that Cousins might take less to go to a winner, and many think that could be the Broncos. Denver won five games in 2017, same as the Jets, though the Broncos have a strong defense and have been getting particularly awful QB play. 

The important thing to remember for curious Redskins fans watching the Cousins saga unfold: Don't expect much, if any, discount. 

The quarterback himself made that clear. 

"There’s other quarterbacks that come after you and it would be almost a selfish move to hurt future quarterbacks who get in a position to have a contract," Cousins said last year on 106.7 the Fan.

The quotes came after the 2016 season but before the Redskins again used a franchise tag with Cousins for the 2017 season. Washington wanted to attempt a long-term deal with Cousins at that point, though the quarterback decided to not negotiate and instead play on the tag.

The point remains that Cousins, and his representatives, believe the quarterback has a duty to other players to maximize his earnings. 

"If you don’t take a deal that’s fair to you, then you’re also taking a deal that’s not fair to them and you’re setting them back as well. So there’s different reasons. You just do the best you can."

If he hits free agency, Cousins will likely sign the richest contract in NFL history. Those opportunities don't come around often, and the quarterback should take full advantage. 

Want more Redskins? Click here to follow JP on Facebook and check out @JPFinlayNBCS for live updates via Twitter! Click here for the #RedskinsTalk on Apple Podcastshere for Google Play or press play below. Don't forget to subscribe!

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Need to Know: Could Ty Nsekhe be the Redskins' answer at left guard?

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Need to Know: Could Ty Nsekhe be the Redskins' answer at left guard?

Here is what you need to know on this Monday, February 19, 23 days before NFL free agency starts.

Monday musings

—One possible solution to the left guard spot is perhaps being overlooked. Ty Nsekhe played there some last year, starting the game in Dallas and playing there until Morgan Moses got injured, forcing him to move to right tackle. Nsekhe is slated to be a restricted free agent but his return is likely. In December I asked Jay Gruden if Nsekhe might move to guard in 2018. “I think Ty is a big man and a very good tackle, but in the offseason when we have more time, maybe we can feature him at some guard when we’ve got all our guys back,” he said. “Feature him some” doesn’t mean that they will make him a starter; perhaps they want him to be the top option to fill in at four of the five OL positions. But it’s something to keep an eye on if they don’t land a left guard solution in free agency or the draft.

—When I posted about Albert Breer’s report that Kirk Cousins would file a grievance if the Redskins put the franchise tag on him in an effort to trade him, I pulled up a copy of the CBA to see the language on which Cousins could base his case. I read through the Article 10, which deals with the franchise tag twice and I saw nothing of it. But Mike Florio found it in Article 4, the one that deals with player contracts. “A Club extending a Required Tender must, for so long as that Tender is extended, have a good faith intention to employ the player receiving the Tender at the Tender compensation level during the upcoming season.” Since the Redskins clearly have no intention of employing Cousins after the Alex Smith trade, this seems to be a fairly simple case. In reality, it never is.

—I tweeted this last week:

However, possible cap casualties from other teams are not included in that group. That won’t turn the pool of players who will become available to sign into a bunch of potential franchise changers. Still, there could be a number of players in whom the Redskins could be interested in like RB DeMarco Murray, WRs Emmanuel Sanders and Torrey Smith, edge rusher Elvis Dumervil, and DL Brandon Mebane. A plus to signing players who have been waived is that they don’t count in the formula that determines compensatory draft picks. The Redskins have never really paid attention to that in the past but with potential high comp picks at stake if they lose both Kirk Cousins and Bashaud Breeland, this could be a good year to start.

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) 10
—NFL Draft (4/26) 66
—2018 NFL season starts (9/9) 202

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