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Smokescreens galore swirling around Redskins’ quarterback dramas

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Smokescreens galore swirling around Redskins’ quarterback dramas

Be careful if you are walking around Indianapolis or Ashburn today. There’s a lot of smoke floating around in those places. And some of it smells pretty strange.

In short order, national NFL reporters came out with reports on the Redskins and their two quarterbacks, Robert Griffin III and Kirk Cousins. Let’s go through them one by one. And, again, be careful. Secondhand smoke can be hazardous to your well being as a Redskins fan.

The Redskins have decided to tag Cousins with either the transition or franchise designation—This has long been assumed to be the case, with the franchise tag being the overwhelming favorite. In fact, the transition tag hasn’t come up except with some media speculation. But this report was one more bit of confirmation that the Redskins were not going to let Cousins hit unfettered free agency.

No decision on a tag has been made—Our corporate cousins at Pro Football Talk then countered with a report that the Redskins have not yet decided to tag Cousins and that, indeed, they are currently leaning towards letting him go into free agency without a tag. This would be a very risky strategy as they would lose any control over the situation and could lose their quarterback without compensation. It also would be almost unprecedented; as rare as competent quarterbacks are, QB’s who started 16 games the previous year are almost never allowed to go into free agency.

The Redskins could tag Cousins and then trade him—This one kind of came out of the blue from Ian Rapoport of NFL Network. I suppose that it’s possible that they could trade him if they got an offer they couldn’t refuse, one that included either a suitable quarterback or the means to get one. But that seems very unlikely.

Two teams are interested in trading for RG3—The Redskins have reportedly been holding on to Griffin in order to try to swing a trade for him. I can buy a couple of teams being interested in him—as noted, there is a shortage of competent quarterbacks out there. But to do a deal, Griffin would have to agree to negotiate a new contract that would considerably lower his $16.1 million salary. And he has absolutely no reason to do that. His interests would be best served by getting released by the Redskins and going out and finding his best deal and his best situation.

It appears that the Redskins are trying to send some messages here. It has been reported that Cousins would be perfectly happy with the guaranteed $19.6 million salary that would come with the franchise tag. The team wants to make it clear that the tag is not their only way to go and that some of the other options would not be a lucrative for Cousins. They would like to get him to agree to a long-term deal before the deadline to apply the tag. A new contract likely would give them more salary cap room to work with when free agency starts on March 9.

As far as the Griffin report, I think that this is the team trying to quiet talk that they should just let Griffin go immediately. If this is true, it justifies their strategy of trying to get something for Griffin, even though it remains very much a long shot.

Again, this is just some smoke floating around without any fire. It is still very likely that when 4 p.m. on March 1 rolls around Cousins will have been franchise tagged by the Redskins and that sometime on or near the March 9 start of free agency Griffin will be released.

In the meantime, be sure that smoke doesn’t get in your eyes.  

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Need to Know: Five Redskins who must step up in 2018

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Need to Know: Five Redskins who must step up in 2018

Here is what you need to know on this Sunday, February 25, 17 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.

Five Redskins who will have to step up in 2018

Originally published 12/26/17

WR Josh Doctson—This list is in no particular order but if it was, Doctson would be right here at the top. The watchword for Doctson is consistency. He makes some incredible catches and then there are throws that he drops or doesn’t quite seem to make enough of an effort to catch. There is promise there. The first-round pick has shown his ability and his teammates say he has a chance to be elite. But the potential must translate into production on the field, week in and week out.  

RB Samaje Perine—There is plenty of chatter about the Redskins’ need to sign or draft a top running back. But a look at this team’s recent history tells us that they are unlikely to invest major assets in the position. That means that Perine, a fourth-round pick in 2017, will have to become a more consistent runner. It’s not all his fault that he hasn’t done much since he had back-to-back 100-yard games in Weeks 11-12; tough defense, offensive line issues, and game score situations have slowed his production. But he needs to be consistently productive in 2018 no matter who he lines up against.

CB Josh Norman—Unless he gets a pick against the Giants, he will go through the year without any interceptions. Sure, they don’t throw his way all that often and INT’s don’t give you the complete picture of his play. But a CB taking up $20 million in cap room needs to get a couple of picks almost by sheer accident. Norman battled some injury problems and if he wants to justify the final two years and $23 million of salary remaining on his contract, his age 30 2018 season needs to be more impactful.

OLB Preston Smith—The third-year player started strong, with at least half a sack in the first five games. And he’s finishing strong, with three sacks, an interception, and a forced fumble in the last two games. But in between, he had a total of just half a sack in eight games. This follows the pattern he displayed his first two years in the league of being dominant in some games and invisible in others. If he can develop some consistency in his 2018 contract year, he could cash in huge in free agency the following year.

Head coach Jay Gruden—Normally I only include players on lists like this one but if Gruden doesn’t do something to get the Redskins out of their near-.500 rut then nothing else will matter. He needs to change up something, whether it’s pushing the players hard in training camp or perhaps fine tuning his friendly approach to the players. Sure, better luck regarding injuries and a schedule that right now appears to be a bit less challenging will help. But Gruden needs to look at what he can change, too.

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) 4
—NFL Draft (4/26) 60
—2018 NFL season starts (9/9) 196

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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