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Don't expect Redskins to offer top QB market price to Kirk Cousins, analyst says

Don't expect Redskins to offer top QB market price to Kirk Cousins, analyst says

Negotiations between the Redskins and Kirk Cousins broke down last year as the two sides were far apart on money. Washington offered as much as $16 million per year in a long-term deal, but the Cousins' camp rebuffed those offers before the organization placed the franchise tag on their quarterback for the 2016 season.

With the countdown on for the team to decide to use the franchise tag for the 2017 season before the March 1 deadline, the 'Skins must again decide what they are willing to offer Cousins in a multi-year contract. ESPN's Andrew Brandt, speaking with ESPN980's Kevin Sheehan on Thursday morning, explained that Washington brass is not expected to go to the top of the quarterback market.

"The Redskins are in a position of strength on the long-term aspect," Brandt said. "A long-term deal can happen if Kirk Cousins' camp is willing to not negotiate on the level of the franchise tag number. That did not happen last year."

Last year that meant the Cousins camp wanted the deal to start at $20 million per season, the amount guaranteed by the franchise tag. This year, that number jumps to $24 million. 

Many have used the Andrew Luck contract, and it's $87 million guaranteed, signed last year as a barometer for what Cousins should make, regardless if the Washington passer is as good as the Colts QB. Brandt disagreed.

"They don’t have to be a slave to the Andrew Luck deal," he said.

Brandt made clear he doesn't expect the Redskins to "negotiate with the top of the market" and that if the Cousins camp demands to be paid at that level, expect another contract impasse. 

Last year's negotiations followed a similar pattern, in that the team and the player were miles away from a compromise when it came to annual salary and guaranteed money. Redskins' decision makers have already showed they are willing to use the tag, and in 2017, it again seems like a viable option. 

Cousins spoke earlier this year about his desire to be paid at the top of his worth, both for his own contract and for quarterbacks down the road. Interestingly, Brandt didn't believe the market for Cousins quite matches the "hysteria" suggested by fans and some media.

"Much more hyped than the reality will show," he said. "I don’t think somebody's going to put together this massive Kirk Cousins' contract."

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Kyle Allen can handle anything, and that includes being the backup

Kyle Allen can handle anything, and that includes being the backup

Since Ron Rivera took over as the Redskins head coach in early January, he has insisted on finding competition for rising second-year passer Dwayne Haskins. Rivera found that competition when the Redskins acquired Kyle Allen from the Carolina Panthers a few weeks ago, and the two are expected to compete for the starting job come training camp.

Rivera spoke to the local media on Tuesday for the first time since the trade and explained he envisions "a good competition" between the two. But as Rivera went on to rave about Allen's character, it's clear the Redskins new head coach brought in Allen for multiple other reasons besides just competing with the Redskins first-round pick from a year ago.

Allen -- an undrafted free agent in 2018 who started 12 games a season ago -- has played every role a quarterback can possibly have at some point during his first two seasons in the league. His mindset, and the ability to handle different roles and responsibilities, is something that stood out to the new Redskins head coach.

"What he's really concerned about is doing the best job he can," Rivera said. "If he ends up starting and being the guy, great. He'll be fired up about it. And if he's not, if he's in a backup role, he'll be fired up about that as well."

Although there will be some sort of QB competition, the Redskins don't necessarily expect Allen to win the job. Rivera even said as much during a radio interview last week, as the team plans to enter training camp with Haskins as QB1. Others, such as former Redskins tight end Chris Cooley, simply think Haskins is the better player.

But should Allen have to step in as the team's starter for one reason or another, Rivera has full confidence in the 24-year-old. Allen is familiar with new offensive coordinator Scott Turner's system, one he called difficult to grasp but a system that has plenty of potential once learned. 

When in Carolina, Allen spent two seasons in the same room as Cam Newton, someone Rivera referred to is having a "strong personality." Rivera was impressed with how Allen handled himself there, especially with there being constant change at the position due to multiple injuries to Newton and former Panthers QB Taylor Heinicke. 

"Having been around Kyle for two seasons, I've kind of watched him interact with the quarterbacks that were in the room," Rivera said. "He was in the room with a very strong personality in Cam Newton, and Kyle handled himself tremendously. I just know what kind of person he is and feel like he's the kind of guy going into this, he's not threatened by anything."

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Outside of Haskins and Allen, the Redskins still have Alex Smith under contract as the veteran QB continues to recover from his gruesome leg injury. While Rivera has said not to rule out Smith in the past, the move to acquire Allen was something the head coach called "insurance," as Smith is still rehabbing and a ways away from returning to the field.

When taking the Redskins head coaching job, Rivera knew he would be tasked with turning around the culture in Redskins Park, a culture that has not seen playoff success in over a decade. Turning around a culture means finding people that will buy into the team mindset and the overarching goal within the organization, and that's something Rivera thinks Allen will do tremendously.

"He's the right kind of person for that room, and that's what I felt very strongly about," Allen said. "That's why we were able to make the deal with Carolina and bring him in. I just think he's got that real good sense about him, you known, being part of something is better than being an individual."

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Ron Rivera confirms the Redskins wanted Amari Cooper and would’ve paid him ‘substantial’ money

Ron Rivera confirms the Redskins wanted Amari Cooper and would’ve paid him ‘substantial’ money

On a Tuesday conference call with reporters, Ron Rivera confirmed what had been previously reported: The Redskins wanted Amari Cooper. 

In fact, the Redskins wanted Amari Cooper really, really badly.

"Amari is someone we chased, and we chased very hard all the way up to the very end when he decided to return to Dallas," Rivera said. "We were in it. We were talking about a substantial amount of money."

Rivera is serious, too, when he uses the word "substantial." Cooper ended up signing a five-year, $100 million contract to stay with the Cowboys, and Washington apparently offered him more than that.

Overall, some have questioned how Rivera and the Redskins approached free agency in his first season as coach, wondering why the organization ended up bringing in so many cheaper, less-established players despite a 3-13 record in 2019. His comments, though, indicate that wasn't necessarily their initial strategy.

They had a Plan A, and it stood for Plan Amari.

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"That's a tough one," Rivera added. "We would've loved to have him, have him as a part of what we're trying to do. We believe he'd have been a great veteran presence in the room, especially for those young guys, the young guys who played last year and had success for this football team. So, you'd have felt good about having a veteran guy like that who's had success in this league as part of what you're trying to do."

Cooper would've added a ton of explosion to what was the NFL's worst offense in 2019, and the idea of pairing him up with Terry McLaurin no doubt fueled Rivera's desire to pursue him. Plus, Cooper's arrival would've meant a departure from the Cowboys, weakening the Burgundy and Gold's longtime rival.

Unfortunately, none of that came to fruition, and now Rivera and the Redskins will be forced to see the wideout twice a season. Hopefully, the 58-year-old will be able to build the franchise up soon and get them to a place where they're the ones winning battles for prized stars again. It just didn't happen this time around. 

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