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Not signing Amari Cooper hurts, but how the Redskins lost Amari Cooper might hurt worse

Not signing Amari Cooper hurts, but how the Redskins lost Amari Cooper might hurt worse

If perception really does become reality, the Redskins might have a significant problem. 

Late Monday night news emerged that wide receiver Amari Cooper chose to stay with the Dallas Cowboys instead of taking more money to play for the Washington Redskins

That’s troubling. 

Age old proxy suggests that people go where the money is highest. That’s mostly true for accountants and architects and plumbers and contractors. It’s also mostly true, almost always true, in the NFL. 

Cooper choosing to stay with the Cowboys despite the Redskins making a very strong offer could suggest many different things, but the overarching message will be Dallas > Washington. That's a problem, because while Redskins fans have almost fully embraced Ron Rivera as the leader to bring the organization out of the Bruce Allen era of darkness, maybe the rest of the NFL hasn't. 

Even with Allen gone, Trent Williams is still requesting a trade. Washington whiffed on almost every big name free agent they seemed interested in, notably Cooper but also tight end Austin Hooper

The narrative that top players don't want to land in Burgundy and Gold will persist, but it doesn't mean it's true. 

For months, Cooper talked about wanting to stay with the Cowboys. Sure, most NFL free agents say that about their incumbent team, but it's usually followed with some form of, "But I have to do what's right for my family." Usually the highest bidder wins. With Cooper that wasn't the case, and it seems like he really did just want to stay with Dallas. 

Add in the fact that the Cowboys' offense is much further along than the Redskins'. Dallas has a strong offensive line, one of the best running backs in the NFL in Zeke Elliott and a quarterback in Dak Prescott that got Cooper to his best ever season in 2019. Looking at that, the Cowboys offense ranked first in yards in 2019, compared to a Redskins offense that struggled for most of 2019, and it's easy to see why a receiver might elect to stay in silver and blue. 

Plus the state of Texas collects no state income tax. The Commonwealth of Virginia would likely charge Cooper close to six percent income tax. On a $100 million contract, that's a big difference, and that's before the Virginia personal property tax gets involved. 

From a football perspective, Cooper's decision makes sense. And from a money perspective, Cooper's decision might make sense, depending how much higher the Redskins' offer was than the Cowboys'. 

That's the nuanced information to provide Redskins fans some sense of relief. Still, it's not enough.

Washington swung big on Cooper, and missed. The Redskins asked the prettiest girl in high school to the homecoming dance, and really thought they had a date. At the last second, the girl went with her old boyfriend, and Washington was left holding a very expensive corsage and no date. 

There will be other options at wide receiver, with Emmanuel Sanders and Robby Anderson topping the list, but neither is Cooper. Sanders is much older, while Anderson has significant off-field baggage. 

Cooper was the real deal, a playmaker on a team that needs more of them. And he didn't just not pick the Redskins, he chose to stay with the Cowboys where he will face Washington twice a year. 

For Redskins fans staring into the abyss, realize it's just the second day of the NFL's legal tampering period. Many more deals are there to be made. Beyond Cooper, DeAndre Hopkins and Stefon Diggs got traded on Monday. There could be more trades on the horizon. 

There was also the good news of a reunion with Kendall Fuller. A local product out of Good Counsel High School and Virginia Tech, many fans hated to see Fuller traded three years ago. Now he's back and will bring professionalism and verstility to the Redskins secondary. 

More secondary help could be on the way, as well as offensive line depth and tight end help. Hooper is gone, signed by the Browns, but guys like Eric Ebron and Tylr Eifert are still available. 

Losing Cooper hurts, be honest about that. But it also isn't the end of the world. Terry McLaurin can ball. That much is known. The 2020 NFL Draft is deep at wideout, and Washington has other young options that could still develop. 

The perception of losing Cooper, especially with more money on the table, may prove worse than the reality of losing Cooper. 

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The NFL 'failed' with pass interference replay rule, NFL exec Troy Vincent says

The NFL 'failed' with pass interference replay rule, NFL exec Troy Vincent says

The NFL admits that it failed last year with a botched implementation of its pass interference replay reviews. That will have an impact on any new rules going forward. 

Troy Vincent, the NFL’s executive vice president of football operations, told NBC’s Peter King on Friday that the league has learned its lesson: Rules will not be rushed. The NFL will do its best to figure out the real-world consequences before pushing changes that do more harm than good. 

That was clearly the case with the pass interference rule, which was applied so inconsistently last season that the Competition Committee didn’t even forward it for a vote to extend it at an owners’ meeting last month. Upcoming proposed rule changes on onsides kicks and the use of a sky judge – a member of the officiating crew who would be in the press box at a video monitor – are on the table during an NFL owners’ video conference meeting on May 28. 

“We cannot fail this year,” Vincent told King. “We saw, a year ago, when [the pass-interference rule] played out, starting with myself, what we put in place last year . . . Those outcomes were not good for professional football. Because we didn’t do the proper due diligence, it played out publicly. The last thing people should be talking about is the way the game is officiated. They [officials] should be faceless objects, managing and facilitating game flow.

“We failed. I’m first in line. I shared that [with league officials]. I failed, as the leader of that department. I failed. We cannot allow that to happen again. What did we learn from that? We’ve got to do our due diligence. You can’t rush and just shove something in there without knowing all the consequences. And we found that out last year, live and in action, publicly.”

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Ron Rivera's first meeting with Redskins: Nick Sundberg, Tress Way share details

Ron Rivera's first meeting with Redskins: Nick Sundberg, Tress Way share details

Ron Rivera spoke to roughly 130 people on Zoom last week — including players, other coaches and support staff — in what was his first truly team-wide meeting with the Redskins.

Rivera's goal that day was to establish the kind of culture he's aiming to build in Washington, and while he clearly would've preferred to lay that foundation in person, he still hoped everyone came away from the meeting with a solid idea of his vision.

Well, according to Tress Way and Nick Sundberg, the coach accomplished that — and much more. 

"I think I ran downstairs and I might’ve tackled my son Beau at two years old," Way told the Redskins Talk podcast during a long interview that also featured Sundberg. "It was like six or seven minutes and it was just intense."

Rivera's voice, Way explained, never became too loud as he addressed multiple levels of the organization. What he lacked in volume, however, he made up for with his message and the conviction he delivered it with, stressing to those in the conference that the Redskins would control their attitude, preparation and effort as long as he was leading the franchise.

"Now everybody knows the standard that is set," Way said. "And I’m telling you, in and out, this dude went through a few slides, there was no ifs, ands or buts. There was no confusion. You could not have misunderstood."

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Sundberg agreed with Way's assessment.

"That is exactly how he comes across in person, too," the longest-tenured Redskin said. "Super nice guy, easy to talk to, you can sit and tell stories and laugh and that sort of thing. But when it comes to talking shop, he’s honest and I appreciate that about him. I want to know exactly what you’re looking for from me and how you want me to do it. If I can’t do it, that’s on me. But at least give me the opportunity to tell me every single thing that’s expected of me."

Rivera will be Sundberg's third full-time coach with the Burgundy and Gold, following Mike Shanahan and Jay Gruden. Because the long snapper didn't leave the area until February, he had the chance to interact with Rivera face-to-face in the building. Those run-ins, as well as what Sundberg's seen online, have invigorated him.

"Any time you get new leadership," Sundberg said, "it should motivate you to look at yourself in the mirror and say, ‘Was I a part of the problem or am I part of the solution?’"

In this virtual offseason, the two experienced specialists have actually found themselves acting like rookies at times. While both typically get to every team function early, they're making sure to really stay on top of that now. Way is even doing what he can to spruce up how he looks in front of his laptop.

"Five minutes before that meeting was supposed to start, I logged on, made sure my lighting was good, made sure there was not anything going down on this side," he said.

"He definitely gets that out of people," Sundberg added. "They want to make sure everything is perfect because they don’t want to come off the wrong way."

Rivera's job with the Redskins is going to be a demanding one. Washington is starting this decade on the heels of one of its worst ever, and he's being trusted to right the entire operation. 

Judging by these reviews, though, he's already pulled off one extremely challenging task, and that's holding a smooth Zoom meeting where what was supposed to be communicated was successfully communicated. If he can do that, then the whole winning football games thing should be a breeze.

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