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If Redskins can't get long-term deal done with Kirk Cousins, one option makes most sense

If Redskins can't get long-term deal done with Kirk Cousins, one option makes most sense

Running out of options, the Redskins will need to deploy the non-exclusive franchise tag on quarterback Kirk Cousins this offseason unless a long-term deal can be reached.

Why? Because nothing else will make sense. 

As the Redskins season nears the final quarter, and thoughts about the franchise’s future come closer into view, the organization must again revisit what to do with Cousins. 

For two straight years, the team used the franchise tag to retain Cousins. In 2016, it cost $20 million. In 2017, it cost $24 million.

In 2018, that figure jumps to a staggering $34 million. 

The $10 million increase is significant, but compared to the other options facing the team, it’s the right path.

RELATED: HOW MANY QBS ARE DEFINITELY BETTER THAN COUSINS? THE LIST IS SHORT

Again, the Redskins should make every effort to get a long-term contract signed with Cousins, but history suggests that will be tough to complete. 

Assuming a deal doesn’t get done by the late February deadline to use a tag, Washington must go with the non-exclusive franchise option. 

Some will argue for the less expensive transition tag. Yes, that carries a lower price tag of nearly $29 million. That $5 million savings, however, amounts to about three percent of the projected salary cap. 

Here's the quick math: This season, Cousins amounts to about 14 percent of the team's $167 million salary cap. Assume the 2018 NFL salary cap comes in around $168 million. The transition tag would eat up about 17 percent of that, the franchise tag would amount to 20 percent. 

That (relatively) minor savings does not warrant losing a franchise passer, and odds are, if the Redskins use the transition tag, Cousins will leave. 

The transition tag basically grants Cousins the opportunity to pursue free agency. He can talk to any NFL team he chooses, and sign an offer sheet. 

The Redskins would have the chance to match any offer sheet, but two problems could arise. First, a team could front-load a contract in a manner that Washington would be unable or unwilling to match. Second, if Cousins signs elsewhere, the Redskins get no compensation. 

By using the non-exclusive tag, Cousins can request permission to negotiate with other NFL teams. Should the Redskins grant permission, and a deal get reached between the QB and another franchise, then the two sides must work out compensation. 

That compensation discussion begins with two first round picks. Losing a franchise passer like Cousins would never be easy, but getting a sizable package of draft picks in return would lessen the blow. 

Remember, too, it’s entirely possible Cousins will not enter into talks about a multi-year contract with the Redskins. That was the route Cousins and his representatives chose during the 2017 offseason.

The quarterback still maintains all the leverage, and throughout this process has talked about his desire to get 'market value' for his services. 

For Bruce Allen and the Washington brass, the priority should be simple: Sign Cousins long-term. If that doesn’t happen, give him the non-exclusive tag and see what happens. 

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Yes, spending the extra $5 million guaranteed to go from the transition tag to the franchise tag could hinder the Redskins ability to bring back or sign new free agents. Of course. But it's also the only track to guarantee Cousins stays with the team, or if he leaves, the team gets compensation. 

Not all free agent decisions are hits either. For example, Terrelle Pryor will cost the Redskins $6 million this season, and nobody would argue that value was comparable to losing Cousins. Plus, the salary cap will increase again next season, further driving down the overall percentage that Cousins will contribute to the entire Redskins salary base. 

Also, under Allen, the Redskins rarely even use their full salary cap allotment. In 2017, the Redskins came in nearly $3 million under the cap. In 2016, the Redskins were $14 million under the cap, astonishing for a playoff contender.

The absolute worst case scenario would be to again pay Cousins for a one-year deal, and lose him to free agency in 2019. Unfortunately for Redskins fans, that worst case scenario remains very much in play.

Don't for a second think that just because the 49ers might have located their quarterback of the future in Jimmy Garoppolo that there will be less interest in Cousins on the open market. There are never enough quarterbacks in the NFL, and Cousins play in 2017 suggests he belongs in the conversation among the league's best passers. Plenty of teams will open up the bank vault for a shot at the Redskins passing yards record holder.

Working out a long-term deal with Cousins should be the goal in Washington this offseason, but the non-exclusive franchise tag should absolutely be the contingency plan. 

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Report: Months after major leg injury, Reuben Foster regains feeling in toes

Report: Months after major leg injury, Reuben Foster regains feeling in toes

The Redskins signed linebacker Reuben Foster late in the 2018 season after his release from San Francisco amid domestic violence allegations. The signing caused tremendous backlash towards the organization, but in the end, it was supposed to be worth it for what Foster could do on the field. 

Eventually, charges against Foster got dropped and he wasn't suspended by the NFL. Unfortunately for him and for the Redskins, Foster got injured in his first snap of offseason team activities in May 2019, and it was a major injury. 

The scene on the field that day was traumatic as Foster was visibly in intense pain. In the news that emerged after the injury, Foster had torn multiple ligaments in his knee and NBC Sports Washington reported there was nerve damage in the leg as well. 

Now, it seems like there is finally some positive momentum for Foster's injury. His agent Malki Kawa spoke to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport: "He's got feeling in his toes, the underside of his foot, the side of his foot. The nerve is starting to fire again."

The alarming part here is that Foster had lost feeling in his toes, and for a long period of time too. Foster's injury happened last May. 

Rehabbing a knee is one thing, football players do that all the time. But nerves operate almost on their own, and some nerve damage is irreperable. 

"He's regaining feeling and power," Kawa said. "It shows the nerve is firing. When he moves his leg upward, he can feel around the ankle and the top part of the foot. That's a new thing. The next 60 days are going to be big as far as getting back to normal."

The Redskins know about scary nerve injuries. Promising rookie safety Kyshoen Jarrett sustained nerve damage in his arm in Week 17 of the 2015 season, and never played again. Two years ago, cornerback Quinton Dunbar dealt with a nerve issue in his leg and was basically lost for the year. 

What happens next for Foster will be interesting to watch. 

Kawa said the next 60 days will be important, and that timeline also coincides with more Redskins offseason work. After such a significant injury, it would be premature to make any assumptions about Foster's return to the field, and if/when that happens, his level of play. 

Foster has been seen around the Redskins training facility at times since he was signed in 2018. At various points he was using a scooter and then walking on his own with a significant brace.

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Report: Jay Gruden interviewing for Jaguars offensive coordinator job

Report: Jay Gruden interviewing for Jaguars offensive coordinator job

Jay Gruden’s absence from football might only last a few months. 

The former Redskins head coach is reportedly interviewing for the Jacksonville Jaguars vacant offensive coordinator position, according to NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo. Jacksonville parted ways with John DeFlippo last Monday after just one season with the team. 
 

The few times Gruden has spoken since being fired by Washington in October, the former head coach has expressed a strong desire to get back into coaching. Gruden recently told NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport he’s been “itching to do something” and “would like an office to go to,” according to Garafolo. 

Interviewing for an offensive coordinator position is not unfamiliar territory for Gruden. He spent the past six years as the head coach in the nation’s capital, but perhaps his most success in the NFL was when the 52-year-old was the offensive coordinator of the Cincinnati Bengals. 

Behind the solid play of Andy Dalton and A.J. Green, the Gruden-led offense in Cincinnati resulted in three straight playoff appearances. 

Should be be hired in Jacksonville, Gruden would have some promising pieces to work with. Rookie quarterback Gardner Minshew showed plenty of hope in the 12 games he started, and second-year wideout D.J. Chark enjoyed a breakout season in 2019. Additionally, running back Leonard Fournette finished with a career-high 1,152 rushing yards last season. 

Former Giants head coach Ben McAdoo and former Cowboys offensive coordinator Scott Linehan have reportedly interviewed for the gig as well. 

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