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Need to Know: If the Redskins don't pay Cousins now they will pay dearly later

Need to Know: If the Redskins don't pay Cousins now they will pay dearly later

Here is what you need to know on this Thursday, June 8, five days before the Washington Redskins start their mandatory minicamp on June 13.

Timeline

Days until:

—Franchise tag contract deadline (7/15) 37
—Training camp starts (7/27) 49
—Preseason opener @ Ravens (8/10) 63
—Season opener Eagles @ Redskins (9/10) 94

Redskins must pay Cousins now or pay dearly later

There has been plenty of positive chatter lately about the possibility of Kirk Cousins signing a long-term contract with the Redskins. But are they really any closer to getting a deal done?

Don’t ask Jay Gruden. Although he was aware of an ESPN report saying that that there is a more “positive outlook” when it comes to getting a deal done, the head coach said that he didn’t know much about it.

“I was just alerted of the report,” Gruden said after yesterday’s OTA practice. “I don’t have a reaction. I’m not in the negotiations, unfortunately. I’m going to let everybody handle that. I think Bruce [Allen], Eric Schaffer, they’ll do a fine job and obviously, Kirk’s agent will do his work and hopefully something gets done.”

Nobody expected Gruden to be in there crunching numbers with Schaffer, Allen, and Cousins’ agent Mike McCartney. But he probably does stay updated on the big picture. That’s only natural since his long-term future in Washington has a much better chance of being successful if Cousins is at quarterback.

The present alternatives to Cousins are not appealing. Colt McCoy may be a good fill in for a few games here and there but he’s not a QB you can count on to start 16 games for you. When I asked offensive coordinator (and former quarterbacks coach) about the potential for Nate Sudfeld he spoke more in terms of him learning to become a backup than he did about the possibility that he could start a game.

Per the ESPN article, the positive vibes in the Cousins talks may not lead to a deal by the July 15 deadline. After that, Cousins and the team can’t talk about a new deal until after the season ends.

But it would very much behoove the Redskins to do what it takes to get a deal done by July 15. Here are the options and pitfalls if this goes into 2018:

  • The team could slap him with a third franchise tag. That would cost them $34.5 million. As detailed here, that’s just not feasible.
  • They could give him the transition tag. Cousins could shop his services and the Redskins would have the right to match an offer he gets from another team. He also could sign the tag and get a salary of $28 million for the year. That would be easier to swallow that then franchise tag but it still would create cap issues.  
  • If they don’t tag him, he could shop his services to any other team and all the Redskins could do is get in the bidding.
  • If he goes to free agency or takes offers under the transition tag and has a big year, building on what he has done in his two seasons as a starter, his price tag could go through the roof.
  • Even if he just stays at the level he has played at the last two years, the number of teams desperate for even a competent quarterback will drive his price tag up.
  • Extensions for Derek Carr, Matthew Stafford, and Matt Ryan could raise the bar even further. We probably won’t see the first quarterback contract with an average annual value of $30 million but the deals could come close to that.

In short, the price tag for securing Cousins’ services for the long haul is not going to go anywhere but up if they don’t strike a deal this year. That’s not to say that it can’t happen following this season but that the price tag will increase, maybe astronomically.

ESPN’s report notes that Dan Snyder is now involved in the talks. While I’m not sure why it took him so long since he ultimately has to OK a deal that will make him write out some very large checks, better late than never.

As noted yesterday, this new optimism is all public relations until the Redskins put a realistic contract offer on the table. If they do, things can move in a hurry. If they don’t step up and pay now they either will have to pay a lot later or join the group of teams desperate for a decent signal caller.

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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In case you missed it

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Ranking the 2018 Redskins Roster: Revealing 31-53

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Various sources

Ranking the 2018 Redskins Roster: Revealing 31-53

At NBCSportsWashington.com, we projected the Redskins’ 53-man roster (offensedefense) right after minicamp.

Now we are taking it one step further and ranking the 53 players we think will make the team.

The rankings are determined by who we think will have the most impact on the 2018 Redskins.

No consideration was given for past performance or for what a particular player might do down the road. We’ll be revealing the rankings between now and the start of training camp. 

<<CLICK HERE FOR OUR 2018 REDSKINS RANKINGS, PLAYERS 53-31>>

Today we’re starting up the list with the players we ranked from 31-53, Here are some of the players in our latest update:

— Seven of the team’s draft picks, including the pick they made last week.     

— All three specialists.

— The team’s leading rusher from 2017.   

<<CLICK HERE FOR OUR 2018 REDSKINS RANKINGS, PLAYERS 53-31>> 

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

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USA TODAY Sports

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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