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What will the Redskins do with WR Andre Roberts?

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What will the Redskins do with WR Andre Roberts?

 In less than a year, the Redskins completed a stunning turnaround, ascending from a laughingstock in 2014 to a division champion in 2015. But now comes the difficult part: taking that all-important next step and improving from a franchise that was fortunate to get into the playoffs to one that can do some damage once it gets there. And that work begins right now for Jay Gruden, Scot McCloughan and the players.

In the coming weeks, Redskins reporters Tarik El-Bashir and Rich Tandler will examine the 25 biggest questions facing the Redskins as another offseason gets rolling.

No. 3—Should Andre Roberts return in 2016?

El-Bashir: Roberts’ tenure in Washington got off to what the wide receiver called a “frustrating” start. Of course, I’m talking about the Redskins recruiting him to be their No. 2 wide receiver in 2014…and then, just a few weeks later, signing DeSean Jackson. Roberts had not played a single snap in Washington and he had already been demoted to the No. 3 spot behind Jackson and Pierre Garcon.

It’s hard to say exactly how much that initial disappointment contributed to Roberts’ struggles, but it couldn’t have helped.

In 2014, Roberts was targeted 72 times and caught just 36 of those balls for 453 yards and two touchdowns. He didn't make much of an impact as a returner, either.

Things actually went downhill from there in 2015. Roberts lost his job as a returner, dropped a couple of passes early and by Week 4 was a healthy scratch. His season ended in December when he opted to have surgery on a knee that had hampered him for a month. In all, the 28-year-old finished with career lows in several categories including games played (9), receptions (11), yards (139) and touchdowns (0).

That sharp decline in production combined with the emergence of Jamison Crowder and Roberts’ $5 million cap hit in 2016 makes it very difficult to see him returning for a third year. 

Tandler: Sometimes a decision appears to be so easy that you have to look for reasons why the obvious may not happen. Rarely are choices involving millions of dollars as cut and dried as a decision to release Andre Roberts seems to be.

The Redskins have paid Roberts $8 million so far. He got a 44 million signing bonus and his 2014 and 2015 salaries, which totaled an additional $4 million, were guaranteed. Despite Roberts’ disappointing production in 2015 should the Redskins just cut bait on the sunk costs or try to et something out it it?

There are two years and another $8 million, in the form of $4 million salaries (not guaranteed) in 2016 and 2017, left on his contract. His $5 million cap number this year makes him 35th highest paid wide receiver in the NFL. It’s difficult to make a case that his performance justifies that salary.

But is he worth keeping around at a lower cap number? Roberts should be open to taking a pay cut since nobody would pay him anything close to $4 million if he hit the open market. They could offer him, say, a $1 million base salary with a chance to make another half a million or so in performance incentives and per-game roster bonuses he can earn if he’s on the 46-man game day active list.

That would give them some experienced depth in case of injury and a guy who can return kicks (remember he had a 99-yard kickoff return for a touchdown against the Panthers).

With all that said, the most likely outcome seems to be an outright release. That would save the Redskins $3 million against the cap and they could add depth to the position via the draft.

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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. 

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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