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Contract projection puts Redskins' Cousins near the top in pay

Contract projection puts Redskins' Cousins near the top in pay

After Kirk Cousins’ big game against the Packers on national television, the quarterback’s contract status for 2017 has become a topic of national conversation. One thing that everyone agrees on is that the five-year veteran in his second full season as a starter is going to get paid.

And he should. Since becoming a starter, even counting his “slow” start prior to the “You like that!” comeback win over the Bucs, Redskins are 15-10-1. The team’s defense and running game have not been outstanding. Cousins has completed 68 percent of his passes for an average of 7.8 per attempt with 46 touchdowns and no interceptions and a passer rating of 100.4. His full resume at this point is not that of an elite quarterback at this point but those are elite numbers.

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Some think that it is not a slam dunk that Cousins will be back with the Redskins next year, that some in the organization believe that Cousins’ numbers are the result of Jay Gruden’s offensive system and a talented group of receivers. The theory is that they can get comparable production from another quarterback for a lot less money.

I think it’s hard to imagine that the Redskins will let Cousins walk in 2017 especially when they have the option to use the franchise tag on him again for $24 million. I’m not going to rule it out but I think it’s unlikely. But let’s leave the tag aside for the moment and go on the premise that he will sign a long-term deal with the Redskins at some point next year.

We are starting to get some thoughts on what “getting paid” will look like if Cousins signs a new deal. Spotrac, a website that tracks and projects player deals in most major sports, tweeted out this chart outlining their projection of Cousins’ next contract:

(click on the tweet to expand graphic on Twitter.com)

The top-line numbers on the deal are $115 million over five years, an average of $23 million per year. Total guarantees are $62.5 million with a $23 million signing bonus and a total of $40 million fully guaranteed at signing. The prosed deal would have Cousins under contract through the 2021 season, when Cousins will be 33 years old.

The proposed deal doesn’t have any easy exit points. It looks like they could let him go after the 2019 season with a dead cap hit of $17 million or after 2020 for “only” $12 million in dead cap.

The cap hits of $31.25 million in the last two years of the deal look alarming but they’re not. It would be about 15 percent of a 2020 salary cap that early projections have at around $205 million. An equivalent cap hit under today’s $155 million spending limit is around $23 million. It’s a bit of a squeeze but not unmanageable.

Besides, I don’t see the Redskins squeezing a $115 million deal into a cap hit of just $7 million in 2017. They are going to have at least $60 million in cap space available next year. The smarter cap move might be to frontload the contract and make the 2017 cap hit something closer to $20 million by giving Cousins a higher guaranteed salary in the early years instead of the some of the signing bonus, roster bonus, and option bonus.

MORE REDSKINS: LOOKING BACK, LOOKING AHEAD

Except for those few details, numbers like these are going to be on the table starting shortly after the Redskins season ends, whenever that may be. The $23 million per year is about where his market value will be barring a severe slump or a deep playoff run. Yes, it’s higher than the average annual values of all but two quarterbacks, Andrew Luck and Drew Brees. But as the cap goes up and paydays for quarterbacks like Derek Carr, Jameis Winston, and Marcus Mariota come up, and Aaron Rodgers and Eli Manning negottiate extensions, Cousins’ deal will not compare as favorably.

We will see if the Redskins are willing to pay up or if they will again go down the rabbit hole chasing after a competent quarterback.

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After releasing Martez Carter the Redskins are thin at running back

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Associated Press

After releasing Martez Carter the Redskins are thin at running back

The Redskins are very thin at running back right now. 

Today at practice the Redskins had three running backs on the field. Rob Kelley and Kapri Bibbs are fully healthy while Chris Thompson is limited as he recovers from a broken leg he suffered last November. 

Injuries have hit the depth at running back. The most recent casualty was Martez Carter, who was waived with an injury designation. 

The move was surprising since Carter had some good runs against the Jets during their preseason game on Thursday and he did not appear to be injured during the game. 

Coach Jay Gruden did not offer any more details as to what the injury to Carter was, only that he is no longer with the team. 

Also sidelined with lower leg injuries are Samaje Perine and Byron Marshall. According to media reports, Perine will be out one week and Marshall for two to four. Gruden would not confirm the timelines, saying only that they are undergoing treatment and the timetable for their returns in unknown. 

The Redskins will bring in some running backs to try out on Sunday. They will need at least one and probably two in order to get through the upcoming preseason game against the Broncos on Friday. 

In other personnel moves, the Redskins waived linebacker Jeff Knox and defensive end Jalen Wilkerson and signed offensive tackle Kendall Calhoun, defensive back Darius Hillary, and wide receiver Allenzae Staggers. 

More Redskins news

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-AnalysisFive Redskins-Jets observations

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 and on Instagram @RichTandler

 

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RB roster battle is fun to watch, but injuries will force tough decisions

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USA Today Sports

RB roster battle is fun to watch, but injuries will force tough decisions

Too much attention gets paid to roster construction during training camp. Projecting the 53-man roster has become its own August cottage industry, much like Bracketology flourishes in March.

The truth of the matter is regardless of projections, more than anything else, injuries dictate what players ultimately land on the Week 1 roster. 

Right now, that is apparent with the Redskins' running back position. Derrius Guice headlined the group after Washington grabbed him in the second round of April's NFL Draft. After injuring his knee in the first preseason game, however, Guice won't play in 2018. 

That means the other five guys battling for a spot now move up in the pecking order. Rob Kelley and Chris Thompson will make the team, even though Thompson is yet to play in the preseason and is still battling back from a broken leg last November. 

Samaje Perine, Byron Marshall, and Kapri Bibbs played with the 'Skins last season and were locked in a tense battle for spots. Then, Perine and Marshall got hurt Thursday night. Perine is expected to miss a week, while Marshall could miss up to four weeks. 

Can both Perine and Marshall still make the Redskins 53-man roster? 

Of course. 

Is that a certainty? Definitely not. 

Bibbs gets a major opportunity now, and he has looked good so far in camp and preseason games. Additionally, for Bibbs, it often gets lost that he actually played well in Washington last season. In three games he had more than 200 yards from scrimmage and a touchdown. 

If Marshall truly needs a month to get his lower leg injury settled, that won't be until after the deadline to trim rosters. The Redskins could move him to the injured reserve list before then, but that would mean Marshall would not be eligible to play for the Burgundy and Gold until Week 7. Also, the team only gets two moves off of IR for the season. Would they want to use one on their fourth running back?

Perine's injury situation seems less severe, and barring a setback or further injury, he will be on the roster. 

That means Thompson, Kelley, Perine, and Bibbs. Maybe Marshall too, but that will be determined by his rehab schedule. 

Martez Carter made impressive runs against the Jets, and while it seems easy to dismiss his roster candidacy, remember Rob Kelley was an undrafted free agent out of a small Louisiana school just a few years ago.

Complicating matters is the reality that Washington's front office is absolutely going to be watching what other NFL teams do at roster cut time. Other running backs could emerge, especially from teams like Detroit that already have a crowded running back room and added more players via the draft. 

Coaches like to say competition on the field is what makes roster decisions. And yes, that's a big part of it. The violent nature of the NFL, the ultimate Next Man Up league, plays a huge factor as well. 

Trimming a roster because of injuries doesn't mean there aren't mistakes made. It sure looks like Washington screwed up last year by cutting QB Nate Sudfeld, even though the team felt compelled to keep extra offensive linemen. 

It might be trite, but the NFL is a long, grueling season. The Redskins know that. The team lost more players to injury than any other NFL squad last season. 

So when looking at 53-man roster projections, know there are two more preseason games left, and sad but likely, more injuries to come. 

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