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Vegas installs Redskins as underdogs to struggling Cowboys

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Vegas installs Redskins as underdogs to struggling Cowboys

The Dallas Cowboys are in a rut. Actually, they're in a deep rut. Having lost three in a row and starting their fourth different quarterback this season, Jason Garrett's squad is likely ready for the schedule to wrap up so they can begin separating themselves from the disappointing 2015 they've had. They're almost there, too — they square off with the Redskins this Sunday, and then it's offseason time.

Things couldn't be going more differently in D.C., meanwhile. Kirk Cousins has been slingin' the ball around with ease to Jordan Reed, DeSean Jackson and Co., the defense has been pressuring opposing signal callers, and people in the front office are Dabbing all over the place. The 'Skins are playoff-bound and have all the momentum in the world going into their regular season finale in Dallas. 

Vegas seems to think otherwise, however.

The folks over at FootballLOCKS.com currently list the visiting Burgundy and Gold as 3.5-point underdogs to the host Cowboys. This despite the fact that Kellen Moore is making just his second ever start in the NFL, his team has dropped nine of their past 11 games, and the Redskins have won in three straight weeks.

Now is a good time to mention that Jay Gruden's bunch did lose to Dallas back on Dec. 7. But that's likely not the main reason that Vegas favors the NFC East's worst member. There will be a debate all week about how much the Redskins should play their starters against their rivals, considering they don't have anything to truly compete for besides keeping their sweet stretch going. Perhaps the people who set the odds think the division champs will rest some key players for either part or all of the matchup — which is a fair expectation — and that's why the line is where it currently is.

Would a Redskins team with its starters in for at least a half outmatch a Cowboys team playing its starters for the full game? An argument could be made for both sides. Nonetheless, the slight jab handed out to one of the NFL's hottest franchises could provide a little extra motivation for Washington's starters and backups. This is a group who has shown they pay attention to what's being said about them and have admitted they use negative material as fuel each week, after all. In being named the underdog, they may have just found some for what originally appeared to be a fairly relaxed event.

MORE REDSKINS: WILL COMPTON WANTS TO MEET KEVIN DURANT

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

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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. 

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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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