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Need to Know: Can the Redskins really afford to franchise tag Kirk Cousins in 2018?

Need to Know: Can the Redskins really afford to franchise tag Kirk Cousins in 2018?

Here is what you need to know on this Wednesday, May 24, 20 days before the Washington Redskins start minicamp on May 22.

Timeline

It’s been 143 days since the Redskins played a game. Their season opener against the Eagles at FedEx Field is in 109 days.

Days until:

—Redskins minicamp (6/13) 20
—Training camp starts (7/27) 64
—Preseason opener @ Ravens (8/10) 78

Is the 2018 Cousins tag threat a bluff?

On Monday, Redskins president Bruce Allen reiterated that the team is willing to use the franchise tag on Kirk Cousins for the third straight year.

“In the collective bargaining agreement, we really have one year and an option that we can do at the end of next season if we don’t get a contract,” said Allen when asked if the team would use the franchise or transition tag on Cousins in 2018. He has said something similar on previous media interviews this year.

This year Cousins is getting the tag for the second time in his career. That gives him 120 percent of his 2016 salary which comes to just under $24 million. A third franchise tag in 2018, which would either give the Redskins exclusive negotiating rights or a possible choice between matching an offer sheet from another team or getting draft pick compensation, would get Cousins a 144 percent increase over this season, or a whopping $34.5 million.

The franchise tag would give the Redskins the power to unilaterally lock up Cousins for the 2018 season. It is expensive, by design. Could the Redskins afford to wield that power? Or is Allen just bluffing?

A look at the numbers makes it look like Allen is bluffing.

According to Over the Cap, the Redskins have $127 million in salary cap commitments in 2018. Based on recent growth trends the salary cap will be an estimated $178 million. That gives the Redskins $51 million in cap room.

Cousins’ $34.5 million salary for a third tag would hit the 2018 cap all at once as soon as the tag is applied. You don’t have to be a master capologist to do the math and figure out that such a move would leave the Redskins with $16.5 million in salary cap space.

A look at the top-line number doesn’t seem that bad. Eight teams would have less cap space than Washington so others, like the Cowboys, Eagles, and Chiefs, would be worse off.

But the problem with the Redskins’ situation is twofold. First, 21 of their current players are slated to be unrestricted free agents in 2018. Not all of them are key contributors. But they would have to squeeze to bring back the likes of Zach Brown, Terrelle Pryor, Spencer Long, and Bashaud Breeland. If they don’t re-sign them they will have to go to the free agent market for replacements and that will tough to do with so little money to work with.

The other issue is that they don’t have any fat to cut from their cap. They could save from $4.5 million to $8 million by cutting one of the four players with the highest cap numbers. But they aren’t going to be better if they cut loose Josh Norman, Jordan Reed, Trent Williams or Ryan Kerrigan.

Going down the list of top cap hits, they would save no money by letting Brandon Scherff go since his salary is fully guaranteed. Washington would take a net loss of cap space by cutting Morgan Moses and releasing Vernon Davis would save just $1.1 million. In fact, other than the top four mentioned above there are no players the Redskins could release who would save more than $1.6 million in net cap space.

The Redskins could create more cap room by restructuring some of their highest-paid players. But a simple restructure, where salary is converted to signing bonus, spreading the cap impact over the remaining years of the deal, doesn’t save any real money. The cap hit is merely pushed back into future seasons. Bruce Allen has been reluctant to do this and he is right to think that way. Restructures should only be used in a “break glass in case of emergency” situations, not as a regular way of doing business.

In short, tagging Cousins for $34.5 million would force the Redskins to lose quality players or to use cap management tactics that run against their philosophy, or some combination of both. While you can’t rule out the tag on Cousins, there is enough there to make the possibility remote.

Mike McCartney, Cousins’ agent, can look at these numbers and figure out that Allen is bluffing about a 2018 franchise tag as well as I can. It will be close to a non-factor in negotiations.

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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Chris Simms: Why Dwayne Haskins has 'Big Ben Roethlisberger-type talent'

Chris Simms: Why Dwayne Haskins has 'Big Ben Roethlisberger-type talent'

It did not take long for Dwayne Haskins to win approval from the media and the Redskins coaching staff in a short amount of time at OTAs. 

That excitement from the Redskins OTAs has reverberated across the country and made him the feature of NBC Sports' Chris Simms QB School series. There, the current NFL analyst and former NFL quarterback made big comparisons to the No. 15 overall pick Haskins to Super Bowl champion Ben Roethlisberger. 

Simms was enthralled with the skillset that Haskins possesses and his potential. Citing his arm talent and the small mechanics of the 22-year-old, Simms thinks he has all the tools to be a top-tier NFL QB.

"He reminds me a lot of a big Ben Roethlisberger with his style of football play. [Haskins] arm is special, there's no doubt about that," Simms said. 

Comparing a rookie QB to a two-time Super Bowl winning quarterback that has made six All-Pro teams is not too shabby. Roethlisberger has thrown for over 54,000 yards in his career with 363 touchdowns across his NFL career. They both wear No. 7, both played their college ball in Ohio, and both are known for their ability to hurl a football down the field. 

Some of the strong qualities of Haskins that Simms highlighted were his tight and quick arm motion, his controlled body rotation, and the accuracy down the field. At the same time, he pointed out that Haskins has a tendency to drop his elbow on passes, forcing his passes to sail high. 

"[Haskins] has Big Ben Roethlisberger-type talent and I know he's already wowed some people down there in Washington in his first few practices." 

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Redskins 2019 Training Camp Schedule: Dates, times, location, how to attend

Redskins 2019 Training Camp Schedule: Dates, times, location, how to attend

Before you blink Redskins training camp will be here, which means preseason football is not far off and the 2019 NFL regular season will come with it.

On Friday afternoon, the Washington Redskins released its 2019 training camp schedule, set to begin July 25. Training camp will take place at Bon Secours Training Center in Richmond, Va. for the seventh straight year. 

This year is set to be the most intriguing training camp since Robert Griffin III was drafted by the team in 2012. Playing in his first NFL training camp first-round draft pick Dwayne Haskins will be the center of attention with the team's quarterback position still up in the air. There will be competition from trade acquisition Case Keenum and Redskins mainstay Colt McCoy. 

More to watch:

-Derrius Guice will be in the backfield practicing with Adrian Peterson for the first time.
-The return of the Alabama Wall in Darron Payne and Jonathan Allen.
-Which wide receiver(s) will step up into holes in the offense.

Here is everything you need to know about the 2019 Redskins training camp.

When is the Redskins 2019 training camp?

The Redskins 2019 training camp begins on Thursday, July 25 at 9:45 a.m. ET and runs to the team's final practice on Saturday, August 11. 

What time does the Redskins training camp start?

Most days of the Redskins training camp schedule starts with a practice at 9:45 a.m. ET with a late afternoon walkthrough at 4:40 p.m. ET.

Where is the Redskins training camp located?

The Redskins 2019 training camp is located at the Bon Secours Training Center at 2401 W. Leigh St., Richmond, Va. 23220.

How much does it cost to attend the Redskins training camp?

The Redskins training camp is free and open to the public. For more information on logistics, head to the Redskins’ official training camp page

Redskins training camp schedule

Date — Camp Opens — Practice — Walkthrough — Camp Closes

Thurs. 7/25 — TBA — 9:45 a.m. — 4:40 p.m. — TBA

Fri. 7/26 — TBA — 9:45 a.m. — 4:40 p.m. — TBA

Sat. 7/27 — TBA — 9:45 a.m. — 4:40 p.m. — TBA

Sun. 7/28 — TBA — 9:45 a.m. — 4:40 p.m. — TBA

Tues. 7/30 — TBA — 9:45 a.m. — 4:40 p.m. — TBA

Wed. 7/31 — TBA — 9:45 a.m. — 4:40 p.m. — TBA

Thurs. 8/1 — TBA — 9:45 a.m. — 4:40 p.m. — TBA

Fan Appreciation Day:
Sat. 8/3 — TBA — 1:00 p.m. — No Walkthrough — TBA

Sun. 8/4 — TBA — 9:45 a.m. — 4:40 p.m. — TBA

Mon. 8/5 — TBA — 9:45 a.m. — 4:40 p.m. — TBA

Tues. 8/6 — TBA — 1:35 p.m. — No Walkthrough — TBA

Thurs. 8/8 — PRESEASON WEEK 1 AT CLEVELAND BROWNS 7:30 P.M.

Sat. 8/10 — TBA — 1:35 p.m. — No Walkthrough — TBA

Sun. 8/11 — TBA — 9:45 a.m. — No Walkthrough— TBA

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