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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.


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 and follow him on Twitter @Rich_TandlerCSN.

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It's not just Alex Smith - Derrius Guice also dealt with post-surgery infection

It's not just Alex Smith - Derrius Guice also dealt with post-surgery infection

During the last month, the average Redskin fan learned more about post-surgery infections than most football fans ever considered. 

The news surrounding Alex Smith's recovery from a broken leg has been upsetting, particularly that Smith has dealt with a serious infection and had to undergo multiple procedures to clean up the wound. Smith's situation was unique, he broke the tibia and fibula in his right leg, and the fracture wasn't clean

Still, alarming news emerged this week that Smith was not the only Redskins player to deal with post-surgery infection. 

Rookie Derrius Guice injured his knee in the preseason, ending his season and ruining a full offseason of momentum. Before he ever played a game, Guice became a fan favorite with his engaging enthusiasm. Then, he injured his knee in the preseason and was lost for the year. 

For many players, surgery is tough, but then rehab begins. 

For Guice - like Smith - that wasn't the case.

After his knee surgery, Guice suffered an infection that lasted two months and required three additional procedures, The Washington Post reported. That required seven weeks of antibiotics which included significant use of IVs, swelling, flu-like symptoms and having his knee drained. 

The experience forced Guice to stay in Louisiana for months, closer to Dr. James Andrews office in Gulf Breeze, Florida, and away from his Redskins teammates in Ashburn. 

Now, finally, Guice is feeling better and expects to be all the way back for offseason work in 2019. That's great news for the Redskins.

Guice was considered to be the focal point of the Washington offense before the knee injury in the preseason, and he's a running back with immense potential. 

On some level, however, it's quite alarming that both Smith and Guice suffered infections after major injuries. 

Smith's injury was grotesque enough that there were immediate worries of infection. Even with the advanced concern, the infection still came. 

Guice's injury was severe, but not like Smith. And still, the infection came. 

It would take a forensic medical team to compare the situations and figure out if there is something the Redskins need to address. That won't happen on this page. 

At the same time, however, what were the odds back in training camp that the Redskins' then starting quarterback and running back would not only need surgery on their leg, but both would suffer from post-op infection? 

Like many things with the Redskins' 2018 season, there seem to be more questions than answers. The good news, Guice should be back for 2019. As of now, the same can't be said for Smith. 


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How Redskins quarterback Josh Johnson is cramming for his first start in seven years

How Redskins quarterback Josh Johnson is cramming for his first start in seven years

REDSKINS PARK The surprise has worn off now and the work has begun in earnest for Josh Johnson, who will start his first NFL game in seven years when the Redskins play the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday.

That is not something he or the Redskins would have thought possible during the summer. Alex Smith was going to be the new starting quarterback and Colt McCoy was set to be his backup. Then Smith and McCoy sustained broken legs in a nine-day span last month and the unthinkable happened. 

Behind an offensive line decimated by injuries once again, Johnson at least moved the ball when called upon down 40-0 against the New York Giants on Sunday at FedEx Field. Redskins coach Jay Gruden immediately made the decision to give Johnson the start against Jacksonville. A career backup now on his 12th NFL organization will start for a team whose season has cratered during a four-game losing streak. 

Johnson says he’s ready and that his journey around the NFL is part of the reason why. The Redskins had an extended practice on Wednesday with scripted sessions and walk throughs at the beginning and end to get him comfortable with the offense. He’s familiar with Gruden thanks to their time together in Tampa Bay and Cincinnati, when Gruden was the offensive coordinator. But it’s a lot to cram into one week and the playbook will naturally be limited.      

"It has helped because I’ve been around a lot of different quarterbacks, a couple Super Bowl quarterbacks, a Hall of Fame quarterback, first-round picks, fifth-round picks,” Johnson said. “I’ve experienced coaching from numerous coaches and you pick up on some common traits. You pick up on different things where you can apply it when necessary whether it is preparation, performance, mental stability. Everything becomes a full circle, so it’s getting me ready for Sunday."

But prior to Sunday’s loss to the Giants, Johnson last threw a pass in a game on Dec. 11, 2011. Ironically, that came for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers against the Jaguars in a 41-14 loss. Johnson’s last start was the week before that in a 38-19 loss to the Carolina Panthers. 

Cam Newton was a rookie. So was Redskins linebacker Mason Foster, who was Johnson’s teammate that day, too, as a starting rookie linebacker for the Buccaneers. Johnson appeared in two more games with Tampa Bay and then began his journey around the NFL. 

His stops included Cleveland, Cincinnati and San Francisco twice each, Indianapolis, Buffalo, Baltimore, New York with both the Jets and the Giants, Houston, his hometown Oakland Raiders this past offseason and now the Redskins.

“The one thing that I really respect about Josh Johnson is he is a very confident guy,” Gruden said. “He believes in his ability to be a quarterback in the National Football League despite being on [12] teams. He has a skill set that’s pretty good but hasn’t been able to stick anywhere, but still, the game's not too big for him.” 

Indeed, Johnson came on with 5:31 left in the third quarter and his team down 40-0 against New York and completed 11 of 16 passes and had seven carries for 45 yards with a passing touchdown and a rushing touchdown plus two two-point conversions. He didn’t look nervous. 

With Washington’s situation at both left and right guard so disastrous because of injury, there isn’t much Gruden can do to change the playbook. Johnson’s mobility allows the Redskins to use him a little differently than Mark Sanchez, who originally took over for McCoy but struggled against New York and was benched.

Johnson is still grasping the new terminology, though. He was with Gruden in Cincinnati in 2013, a backup on a team that made the playoffs, but much of that wording was changed when Gruden arrived in Washington in 2014. But Jon Gruden – Jay’s brother and the Raiders’ head coach – once told Johnson to keep a manual on what coaches across the NFL are doing when he was between jobs so he’d be prepared if a call came. It did, but this time from a familiar face. They all hope it helps. 

“To come back and kind of experience a similar culture and being in something that I've been comfortable with before, it's kind of a blessing for me,” Johnson said. “Because I don’t really have to go through the rigors of a coach trying to figure me out. It's more of just figuring me in.”