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Upshaw Invokes the "N" Words

Upshaw Invokes the "N" Words

Certainly, it's early and the tough talk is part of the posturing game. Still, NFL Players Association head Gene Upshaw dropped a couple of "N" words in talking about the current status of negotiations for a new contract between the players and the union.

Those two "N" words were NHL and NBA. Upshaw quoted in the Washington Post: Their last proposal to us was totally unacceptable. You see what happened to hockey [a lockout that forced cancellation of the 2004-05 season]. Now basketball is moving in the same direction. I don't see us as being too far off the pace from those two. For some reason, the owners have not moved the ball at all
Just as the NHL has not moved the puck at all in nearly a full calendar year. Its labor problems may be insurmountable and it may well kill the league or at least a lot of its teams. The NBA's labor relations went from friendly but uneasy to hostile at some point last week. A strike or lockout is a strong possibility.

We're still a long ways away from there being a good chance of an NFL strike, but Upshaw's comparisons to the other two labor-strife leagues certainly did ratchet things up a bit.

Said Upshaw:
To sit around and think that labor peace is going to just fall off a tree, they're reading the wrong tea leaves. It's time for them to wake up to the fact that we have a problem, and we need to get it fixed.
The "problem" at hand is over revenues that are not shared by the league's owners and, thus, are not a part of the formula used to calculate the salary cap. Naturally, more revenue going into the top line of the equation means more money in the players' bottom line, their paychecks.

We've covered this here before so I'm not going to retread much ground here. The basic question is this: Should the high-revenue owners such as the Redskins' Dan Snyder be forced to share the revenue generated by luxury boxes and stadium naming rights with the players and/or the other owners playing in older facilities?

It's much easier to make the case that they should be giving the players a cut than it is to argue that other owners should get a piece of the pie. It's like telling Broadway actors that they will get a cut of the ticket sales from the balcony and the far reaches of the lower level of the theater, but nothing from the expensive seats up front.

The effects of a stalemate are closer than you may think. According to ESPN's John Clayton, if a new labor agreement is not reached by this date next year, we will not be talking about June 1 cuts. Since 2007 is currently an uncapped year, there would be no delaying of the acceleration of accrued signing bonuses should a player be cut after June 1. There would be no difference in the cap hits for releasing a player on May 31 and on June 1.

The US Senate recently averted the so-called "Nuclear Option" with a compromise deal. Upshaw is threatening a less severe but still ugly scenario, the "Train Wreck Alternative":
Under the current labor agreement, a salary cap will be in effect for the last time for the 2006 season, and if there is no extension, the 2007 season would be uncapped, meaning teams could spend as much as they want to sign free agent players. Upshaw said if it came to an uncapped year, he would decertify the union, a move that essentially would mean all players would become free agents.

"Once you get to an uncapped year, you can't go back," Upshaw said. "I think that's something they don't want to see happen. I think we need to do this before it gets too late. I'd much rather talk to the players this fall about what we can agree on rather than telling them you better prepare for a train wreck, because that's what it will be."
There's still time but the clock ticking or, should we say, the trains are headed towards each other and they're on the same track.

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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. 

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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Redskins have begun contract talks with Zach Brown, but free agency looms

Redskins have begun contract talks with Zach Brown, but free agency looms

Redskins fans want Zach Brown back. Bad. And for weeks there had been no news about contract talks between Washington and Brown. 

Now that's changed.

"We've been talking to his agent," Redskins head coach Jay Gruden said on Tuesday. 

Gruden, speaking from the Senior Bowl, explained that the team would like Brown back in 2018 but Washington also understands that the linebacker might want to explore the free agent market. 

"It’s a process," Gruden said (full video above). "These guys have a chance to be a free agent, they had a good year and they want to check what the market is sometimes. If we can get them before they get to free agency, great, but if not, the bidding wars will begin."

For Brown, free agency will look different in 2018 than it did last season when he signed a one-year. bargain deal with the Redskins. 

Prior to injuries forcing him to miss the final three games of the season, Brown led the NFL in tackles. For two straight years, 2016 in Buffalo and 2017 in Washington, Brown has proved to be a tackling machine and arguably the fastest linebacker in the NFL. Brown also signed new representation last offseason, Jason and Michael Katz of CSE Football, and should Brown hit the free agent market the Katz brothers will aggresively market their client. 

Washington Senior Vice President of Football Operations Eric Schaeffer will handle the contract discussions for Washington, and is known as a shrewd negotiator. 

Like many business deals, this will come down to money. Brown established himself as a fit in Washington, both on the field and in the locker room. Interior linebackers do not command top dollar like pass rushers do, but Brown will still expect to be compensated appropriately. 

Further complicating matters for Washington, the Redskins only have Josh Harvery-Clemmons, Zach Vigil and Martrell Speight under contract for 2018. 

It's too early to predict what "it's a process" means from Jay Gruden, but Redskins fans should draw some encouragement that talks have begun with Brown. 

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!