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Even without Robert Griffin III's return, Redskins-Browns is plenty big

Even without Robert Griffin III's return, Redskins-Browns is plenty big

From the day the 2016 NFL schedule was released, Oct. 2 was a date all Redskins fans circled. And highlighted. And bolded. Because Oct. 2 marked a date with the Cleveland Browns, a game that was supposed to feature the return of Robert Griffin III.

A familiar sight for Washington watchers, however — an injury to RG3, which he suffered in Week 1 against the Eagles — has prevented that storyline from coming true. Instead, the Browns will start Cody Kessler under center, meaning Kirk Cousins won't get a chance to square off with his fellow 2012 draftee, meaning this Sunday doesn't mean nearly as much as it would've if a healthy No. 10 was heading back to FedEx Field.

Or, that's what some are saying.

"This is a dead week," Eric Bickel of the Sports Junkies said on Thursday's show. "This was supposed to be our Super Bowl for sports talk radio. And people are like, 'Eh, this is great, boring's good.' They just don't understand our business."

"They don't work in this biz," John "Cakes" Auville chimed in, lamenting the phone calls and hot takes that were lost when Griffin went down.

"They dont understand how it works around here. And this was supposed to be, really Cakes, one of the best weeks of the year," Bickel said. "We've been pointing to it for months," Cakes added.

"This was really supposed to be an amazing week, and, you know, the big story is, we lost our center," E.B. concluded.

"You're also coming off a win, you can get to 2-2," J.P. Flaim pointed out, trying to prove to his despondent buddies that the game still carries a lot of meaning.

"Even that pales in comparison to Robert's return," Cakes responded.

Now, it's easy to understand why the Junkies are a little down. E.B. is a noted Griffin guy, so not getting a chance to see one of his beloved ex-'Skins definitely hurts. Plus, as mentioned earlier, the morning is a lot quieter when there's no Griffin-Cousins/Griffin's revenge/Griffin's going to get what's been coming for him angles to yell about.

But, RG3's absence notwithstanding, Sunday should still mean plenty for the Burgundy and Gold and their fans. Because, while not having the polarizing passer to watch removes some national intrigue from the contest, the Redskins can't afford to lose an ounce of interest as kickoff approaches.

A win helps the home side even up their record, which absolutely matters in a year where the NFC East looks improved. Building off of last week's victory in New York would be a giant step in the right direction after a lackluster start. A loss, meanwhile, sends this city right back to the edge of the cliff. The edge of the cliff isn't a fun spot to be in.

Therefore, it's necessary for people in the area to ask themselves a question: What's more fun, having a controversial player to talk about from Monday to Friday, or having a franchise coming off of a win to talk about on Sunday?

The answer shouldn't be up for debate. The Redskins need to go all in for Week 4, Griffin or no Griffin.

MORE REDSKINS: DEZ BRYANT HURT AND FINED

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Need to Know: The Redskins week that was—Costly cornerbacks, offseason blueprint

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USA Today Sports Images

Need to Know: The Redskins week that was—Costly cornerbacks, offseason blueprint

Here is what you need to know on this Saturday, February 17, 25 days before NFL free agency starts.

The Redskin week that was

My weekly look at some of the most popular posts and hottest topics on RealRedskins.com and NBCSportsWashington.com.

An offseason blueprint for the Redskins—Should the Redskins focus their free agency money on keeping their own? In addition to unrestricted free agents Zach Brown and Trent Murphy, they need to consider extensions for Brandon Scherff, Preston Smith, and Jamison Crowder. That could chew up a bunch of the approximately $31 million of cap space that they have. They may get some help on the market but most of their improvement should come from the draft and from within.

Redskins offseason will hit warp speed soon—With the exception of the Alex Smith trade, which actually hasn’t happened yet, there hasn’t been much going on with the Redskins. That is going to change soon, check out the post for the calendar and how the events matter for the Redskins.

No mixed messages from Alex Smith—In a radio interview, Alex Smith said that he was “jacked” to be a part of the Redskins. Now, the phrase often repeated here is that you shouldn’t listen to what they say, you should watch what they do. And the moment that he signs the reported four-year extension that he has negotiated with the team, a deal that likely would put him in Washington for the rest of his career, we will see his actions backing up his words. Then we will know.

What we know, and what we think, of the Su'a Cravens situation—This will be a true test of the acumen of the front office. It’s a very tricky situation. The Redskins have to decide if they want to keep Cravens. Should they decide to keep him, there will be a lot of smoothing over of ruffled feelings that would need to be done over and trust in Cravens would have to be restored. If they don’t want him around, they have to make it look like they are willing to go into the season with him in order to be able to trade him. Otherwise, teams may just wait for them to cut him and sign him as a free agent. Again, don’t listen to what they say, watch what they do.

Tweet of the week

Quarterback is not the only NFL position with rising salaries. The players teams hire to try to stop opposing QBs, cornerbacks, are getting expensive, too. Bashaud Breeland is a good cornerback, not a great one. His coverage skills are solid, he’s a good team player (if a bit of a hothead at times) and his work ethic is not questioned. For a fourth-round pick who everybody thought left Clemson a year too early, he has done well for himself But he hasn’t made a Pro Bowl and he hasn’t even come close enough to be considered a snub. Breeland has eight interceptions in four years in the league with a high of three in 2016.

The price tag for good at cornerback is likely to be in the vicinity of $10 million per season. And good for him if he gets it. But with the Redskins employing Josh Norman, who has cap hits in the range of $14.5 million-$16.9 million over the next three years, it would be difficult to fit him in. Truth be told, Breeland has probably been destined to leave as a free agent ever since Norman signed his contract in April of 2016.

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) 12
—NFL Draft (4/26) 68
—2018 NFL season starts (9/9) 204

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Cousins would reportedly look to file grievance if Redskins use franchise tag on him

Cousins would reportedly look to file grievance if Redskins use franchise tag on him

The Redskins might try to franchise tag quarterback Kirk Cousins to try to get some compensation for him as he leaves. But Cousins’ camp might not let that happen without a fight.

According to Albert Breer of the MMQB, Cousins might file a grievance if he is tagged, saying that the Redskins would be violating the spirit of the rules regarding the use of the franchise tag. He would be seeking to have the tag voided because the team clearly isn ’t interested in reaching a long-term deal with him given the acquisition of Alex Smith. The tag is supposed to be used to buy time to get an agreement done, not to squat on a player’s rights in order to trade him.

There is precedent for the tag being used in order to facilitate a trade. In 2009, the Patriots tagged quarterback Matt Cassel. They clearly had no intention of keeping him as they had Tom Brady on the roster. But New England pulled it off, shipping Cassel and linebacker Mike Vrabel to the Chiefs for a second-round pick.

But it is up to the player to object to being tagged and for whatever reason Cassel and his agent went along with the tag and trade rather than fighting for free agency.

It looks like Cousins ’camp won’t go as quietly.

It’s up to the Redskins to make the first move. The window to be able to tag a player opens on Tuesday with the deadline coming on March 6. We will see how things play out after that.

MORE REDSKINS: THE EXPECTATIONS GAME

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