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Need to Know: Redskins' QB Cousins recognizes value of continuity

Need to Know: Redskins' QB Cousins recognizes value of continuity

Here is what you need to know on this Friday, December 16, three days before the Washington Redskins host the Carolina Panthers.

Timeline

Today's schedule: Joe Barry news conference 12:40; Practice 1:00; Jay Gruden and Sean McVay news conferences and player availability after practice approx. 3 p.m.

Days until: Panthers @ Redskins 3; Redskins @ Bears Christmas Eve 8; Giants @ Redskins, New Year’s Day 16

Injuries of note:
Out:
LB Compton (knee), LB Cravens (elbow)
Limited: G Lauvao (groin), C Long (concussion), OT Nsekhe (ankle), TE Reed (shoulder), S Blackmon (concussion)
Thursday injury report

Around Redskins Park

Did Kirk Cousins leave a strong hint that he wants to be back in Washington in 2017 and beyond? He was asked whether the possibility of Chris Thompson taking a knee instead of continuing into the end zone on his go-ahead 25-yard touchdown run just after the two-minute warning had been discussed prior to the play. The fifth-year veteran said no, but the interesting part came near the end of his answer.

“The longer we play together as a unit – and when I’m talking about we, I mean  from Jay [Gruden] to Sean [McVay] to myself to Chris Thompson to Trent Williams to Pierre [Garçon] – the longer we play together, the more you can become situational masters and be very good in situational football like that situation at the end of the game, where we all know, ‘We’ve been here before, hey, let’s handle this the best way possible and be a mature football team,’” said Cousins.

The appeal of playing on a "mature" football team is one reason why good quarterbacks rarely change teams. They get into a system with a coach and a group of receivers and other players and have success. When it comes time to gn a new contract he weighs the risk of starting all over again with a new coach, a new system and different players against the attraction of possibly making a few more dollars. Of course, that’s really a few million dollars and the quarterback’s current team has to make a competitive offer. But quality quarterbacks are rarely lured away.

In fact, by one definition they are never lured away. No quarterback who has passed for 4,000 yards in at least two consecutive seasons has never changed teams the next year (stats via Pro Football Reference). Cousins has now surpassed 4,000 yards passing for the second straight year.

There’s a first time for everything and the past does not necessarily guarantee the future. Just because Cousins pointed out an advantage to staying put doesn’t necessarily mean that he will be back. But they are part of the tea leaves pointing to the probability of a Cousins return to Washington in 2017.

The Redskins can force a return by using the franchise tag on him for a second season. That would cost them just under $24 million for the season but with the salary cap slated to rise some $10 million-$15 million next year they will be able to handle that.

The better solution would be to sign him to a long-term deal. They can’t even start to negotiate such a contract until the Redskins play their last game so it’s difficult to assess the chances of Cousins and the team coming to an agreement. But if Cousins sees a lot of advantages to staying put and continuing what he has had going with the Redskins the chances are considerably better.

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Ex-Panthers tight end Greg Olsen signing with Seahawks over Redskins, Bills

Ex-Panthers tight end Greg Olsen signing with Seahawks over Redskins, Bills

When tight end Greg Olsen was released from the Carolina Panthers last month, many pegged the Redskins as a possible destination due to his connection with new head coach Ron Rivera and the team's need at the position.

But the 34-year-old will not be reuniting with his old head coach. ESPN's Adam Schefter reported that Olsen has agreed to a one-year, $7 million deal with the Seattle Seahawks, including $5.5 million guaranteed.

After parting ways with the Panthers, Olsen took visits with the Redskins and Buffalo Bills in addition to the Seahawks.

According to Schefter, Olsen strongly considered signing with both Washington and Buffalo, but the lure of playing with Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson was the major difference-maker.

By missing out on Olsen, the Redskins have plenty of decisions still to make at tight end. Jordan Reed is still in the concussion protocol recovering from one he suffered last August and is not expected to be back with the organization. Vernon Davis retired earlier this month. 

With Jeremy Sprinkle currently the Redskins top tight end and Olsen now heading west, the team could show interest in tight ends Austin Hooper and Eric Ebron in free agency, among others.

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Redskins Free Agent Targets: Darqueze Dennard

Redskins Free Agent Targets: Darqueze Dennard

NBC Sports Washington is taking a long look at potential free agents that could help the Redskins in 2020. 

Cincinnati Bengals CB Darqueze Dennard
2014 first-round pick by Cincinnati
Unrestricted free agent
5-foot-11 | 200 lbs. | 28 years old

Cornerback is a significant need for the Washington Redskins and one they were likely expected to address in free agency. With the release of veteran Josh Norman last Friday, upgrading the position now becomes a necessity. 

One cornerback the Burgundy and Gold should target in free agency is a name many Redskins fans are not familiar with: Cincinnati Bengals cornerback Darqueze Dennard.

The 28-year-old was drafted in 2014 and has spent all six of his NFL seasons with the Bengals. During his time in Cinci, he played the majority of his snaps from the slot but proved he has the ability to play on the outside as well. The 5-foot-11 cornerback has a strong frame and is one of the best at his position defending the run. 

Injuries have hampered Dennard throughout his career, but he's been productive when on the field.

Last season, although he played in just nine games, Dennard posted the 15th best coverage grade from Pro Football Focus. The 28-year-old excelled in coverage downfield, allowing just four catches of 10 or more yards all season. In contrast, Redskins' cornerbacks posted the fourth-worst grade by PFF in such situations.

Dennard was a first-round pick in the 2014 NFL Draft, but never blossomed to the shutdown cornerback the Bengals hoped they drafted. Nonetheless, he's a very viable starter and one that could greatly benefit a Washington secondary that struggled mightily a season ago.

As it stands now, the Redskins starters at cornerback are Quinton Dunbar and Fabian Moreau starting on the outside with Jimmy Moreland in the slot. 

Dunbar, who had a career-best season a year ago, was rumored to request a trade from the Redskins a couple of weeks ago. He later backtracked on his statement, saying the situation had been blown out of proportion.

Regardless, Dunbar enters his final season under contract with Washington and has zero guarantees remaining in his contract; there's no assurance he's back with Washington in 2021 and beyond. Moreau also enters the final season of his rookie year as well.

So, the Redskins likely need to sign at least one, if not two, cornerbacks in free agency. Dennard could be an ideal fit and a cheaper option than other cornerbacks on the market.

Head coach Ron Rivera said that part of the reason he released Norman was so the team could get younger at the position, and at 28, Dennard still has plenty of football ahead of him.

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