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Need to Know: Are the Redskins afraid of making the wrong choice with Cousins?

Need to Know: Are the Redskins afraid of making the wrong choice with Cousins?

Here is what you need to know on this Thursday, February 16, 21 days before the March 9 start of NFL free agency.  

Timeline

Days until:

NFL Franchise tag deadline (3/1) 13
—Redskins offseason workouts start (4/17) 60
—NFL Draft (4/27) 70
First Sunday of 2017 season (9/10) 206

Are the Redskins playing scared?

The Redskins appear to be afraid to make a decision regarding Kirk Cousins.

Perhaps a year ago, some degree of trepidation was justified. After three seasons of occasional, spotty play he was elevated to the starting job and after a rocky start to 2015 he played very well down the stretch. Cousins’ contract was up and the Redskins were leery about giving Cousins in the neighborhood of $20 million per year over multiple seasons. While there was plenty of talk about the Redskins wanting to make Cousins their guy for the long term, a deal never came close to getting done and he played the 2016 season on the franchise tag.

RELATED: #RedskinsTalk Podcast - It's tag day

The bottom line, in 2016 they were afraid to make a decision. Perhaps the fear had some justification but there was fear nonetheless.

Fast forward to now. Once again, it appears that the Redskins are going to end up tagging Cousins. Again, they act as though they are paralyzed by fear. They are afraid that if they sign him long term he will not perform up to his salary, drag down the franchise, and stick them with a so-so quarterback into the next decade.

They also appear to be afraid to let him go in case they are wrong about him. If he goes elsewhere and lights it up the Redskins will look bad. They will look worse if whoever they have behind center doesn’t play up to Cousins’ standards. The Redskins have let a few good players get away over the years but this would take the cake.

The thing is they are running out of time to be afraid. They must make up their minds in the next few weeks. If they are going to sign him to a long-term contract they have to do that by March 1, before Cousins gets a tag that he’s perfectly happy to play on. If they are going to trade him they have to tag him and work actively to let teams know that if they sign Cousins, they are amenable to negotiating compensation down to something less than two first-round picks.

More Redskins: Silence is golden in Cousins talks

But my sense is that they are afraid to trade him. The tag provides an easy way out, a non-decision. They can say that it gives them more time to work out a long-term deal. OK, but what can they accomplish between March 1 and July 15 that they couldn’t accomplish between January 2, when they could start negotiating with Cousins, and February 29? There will be no more evidence, no more games played, that will help the organization decide if Kirk is the guy.

He either is or he isn’t. They need to decide which one he is and proceed without fear.

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Stay up to date on the Redskins! Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page Facebook.com/TandlerCSN and follow him on Twitter @Rich_TandlerCSN.

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10 Questions in 10 days: What is Kevin O’Connell's new role in Redskins offense?

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10 Questions in 10 days: What is Kevin O’Connell's new role in Redskins offense?

With Redskins Training Camp set to begin July 26th, JP Finlay takes a look at 10 of the most pressing questions for the Burgundy and Gold. 

No. 10: Major questions at linebacker on Redskins depth chart 

No. 9: What is Kevin O’Connell's new role in Redskins offense?

It might be hard to remember now, but there was a week late last season for the Redskins where most informed people considered Kevin O'Connell on his way out. The talented young quarterbacks coach was being pursued by Chip Kelly to be offensive coordinator at UCLA, and the smart money suggested O'Connell would take the job. 

Except he didn't. 

O'Connell decided to stay with the Redskins and continue to work on Jay Gruden's staff. In turn, Washington promoted O'Connell to passing game coordinator, a new title that likely means much more involvement in game-planning. 

Working for Gruden comes with some perks. Sean McVay ran the offense for Gruden for a few seasons and landed a prime head coaching job with the Rams. McVay has plenty of his own talent, but throughout the NFL, Gruden's offense is widely respected. 

How will O'Connell's influence shape things this fall?

Consider that he deserves some credit for Kirk Cousins improved play out of the pocket in 2017. Now combine a coach that schemes plays for QBs on the move with new Washington passer Alex Smith, a strong runner and serious athlete, and this offense could look much more mobile in 2018. 

Gruden still has the final call on gameday, but O'Connell's voice will matter this year, more so than before. Bill Callahan and Matt Cavanaugh retain their roles and prominence in the offensive game-planning, for sure, but as Washington imports more run-pass option plays and QB movement, know that O'Connell is playing his part. 

Things will look different with Alex Smith running the Redskins offense than they did with Kirk Cousins at the helm. 

Just remember, O'Connell didn't turn down a job in Hollywood for no reason. 

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Need to Know: The best receivers the Redskins will face in 2018

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Need to Know: The best receivers the Redskins will face in 2018

Here is what you need to know on this Tuesday, July 17, nine days before the Washington Redskins start training camp.  

The five best pass catchers the Redskins will face in 2018

This week we’ll be looking at the best of what the Redskins will face during the 2018 season. Today the pass catchers are up. They are roughly ranked 2017 receiving yards, although I did some juggling based on offseason moves and other factors. Prior to this, we looked at the best teams and quarterbacks

Julio Jones, Falcons—Somehow the perception is that he had an off year in 2017 even though he still had 1,444 yards receiving. His touchdowns were down; his total of three TDs was a career worst for a full season. Still, he’s a beast to try to cover and even if you have him perfectly covered he can still make the catch on you. 

DeAndre Hopkins, Texans—Despite working with some shaky quarterbacks, Hopkins has managed to gain over 1,100 receiving yards in three of the last four seasons. He is a highlight show regular and his 13 touchdowns led the league in 2017. 

Michael Thomas, Saints—The third-year player doesn’t have high name recognition outside of New Orleans and maybe fans of the other NFC South teams. Defensive coordinators certainly don’t sleep on him. Thomas is as consistent as they come, posting nine games with 80 or more receiving yards last season. 

Larry Fitzgerald, Cardinals—I keep wondering when he will show signs of his age (he’ll be 35 before the season starts). He didn’t last year, posting 109 receptions despite the fact that his quarterbacks were an aging Carson Palmer plus journeymen Blaine Gabbert and Drew Stanton. 

Mike Evans, Buccaneers—At 6-5, he is able to physically beat most cornerbacks. Evans will turn 25 just before the season starts and he got a five-year, $82.5 million contract extension. He is worth every bit of it. If Jameis Winston gets a big contract (something that is up in the air right now), he owes a good chunk of it to Evans. 

Best of the rest: T.Y. Hilton, Colts; Davante Adams, Packers; Alvin Kamara (RB), Saints; Zach Ertz (TE), Eagles

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page, Facebook.com/TandlerNBCSand follow him on Twitter  @TandlerNBCSand on Instagram @RichTandler

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Timeline 

Days until:

—Training camp starts (7/26) 9
—Preseason opener @ Patriots (8/9) 23
—Roster cut to 53 (9/1) 46

The Redskins last played a game 198 days ago. They will open the 2018 NFL season at the Cardinals in 54 days. 

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