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Redskins entering uncharted waters in Cousins contract situations

Redskins entering uncharted waters in Cousins contract situations

Last year, the Redskins gave Kirk Cousins the franchise tag on the last possible day. It looks like that is what will happen this year, with the deadline coming at 4 p.m. on Wednesday.

However, Cousins getting tagged and then signing the offer shortly after that was the end of the process. This year it looks like it could be the beginning of it. And when it starts, the Redskins will be going into territory where no NFL team has gone before.

It appears that the Redskins and Cousins will have difficulty coming to terms on a new contract. The gap between the team’s valuation of Cousins’ worth in a long-term contract and what Cousins believes he can get on the open market appears to be vast, perhaps several million dollars a year or more. And since Cousins likely will be on the open market in 2018 if he plays out this year on the tag there is no incentive for Cousins to compromise.

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This leaves the Redskins in a box. They can either pay Cousins a significant amount more than they think he is worth, a move that would hamper their ability to pay other players what they are worth. Or they can let another team pay him and move on at the quarterback position.

When faced with such choices in the past, NFL teams have just paid the quarterback whatever it took to get the deal done. The Redskins don’t appear to be inclined to do that.

Since it doesn’t look like they are willing to bite the bullet and pay Cousins they must figure out the end game. Their options are limited. Just letting him go into free agency does not appear to be a realistic way to go. They can franchise tag him, pay him $23.94 million in installments of $1.41 million due each of the 17 weeks of the regular season, and then figure out how to handle 2018 when it comes around. Next year they could let him walk, franchise tag him a third for whopping $34.5 million (unlikely) or give him the transition tag. That tag would be less expensive at $28.7 million and it would give the Redskins the right to match any offer sheet.

None of those 2018 options seems to be particularly attractive. The franchise tag is prohibitively expensive, the transition tag is only slightly less so but it gives the Redskins only the chance to match an offer made to Cousins without the option of taking draft pick compensation. And with either tag, Cousins could simply sign the tag, play out the year on it and become a free agent in 2019 with all tag options off the table.

Their other option is the tag and trade this year. This would entail Cousins getting tagged and then working out a trade that may bring less than the two first-round draft picks as compensation. In fact, it could bring a lot less.

No matter how they proceed, the Redskins will be in uncharted waters. No quarterback has played a second season on the franchise tag. And no quarterback who has thrown for over 4,000 yards in back-to-back seasons has played the next season for another team. So, either way the Redskins are doing something that never has been done before.

MORE REDSKINS: #RedskinsTalk podcast: Is Kirk too nice for his own good?

If the Redskins move on from Cousins, whether it’s this year or next, they will be saying no to the NFL conventional wisdom that says you pay whatever it takes to hold on to your quarterback. When, say, the Patriots do something unconventional or when the Seahawks don’t follow the NFL orthodoxy the assumption is that they know what they are doing and that everything will turn out fine.

However, the Redskins do not enjoy a sterling reputation for being smart operators. Their last major quarterback decision, trading three first-round picks and a second for Robert Griffin III, quickly turned into a disaster. They will get no benefit of the doubt no matter how they proceed here.

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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Why an aggressive move to get Dwayne Haskins is starting to feel possible for the Redskins

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USA TODAY Sports

Why an aggressive move to get Dwayne Haskins is starting to feel possible for the Redskins

It’s been quite the week for the Redskins and Ohio State quarterback Dwayne Haskins. 

The Buckeye star, who threw for 50 touchdowns in 2018, participated in his Pro Day on Wednesday and drew quite the crowd. Coaches, GMs and executives were there from a number of NFL teams, including Jay Gruden and Bruce Allen. 

Of course they were. Haskins is arguably the best QB prospect in this class. He has prototypical size and a big arm, is accurate on his throws and doesn’t turn the ball over much. He might get drafted after Oklahoma’s Kyler Murray, but there are a few teams that prefer the bigger, stronger Haskins to the diminutive Heisman Trophy winner out of Oklahoma. 

Haskins seems unlikely to make it to the 15th pick, where the Redskins are currently slotted, but that didn’t stop Sports Illustrated from putting the quarterback to Washington in their latest mock draft. 

Beyond that, ESPN reported that Haskins is set to visit the Redskins in the coming weeks.

Add all of that up, and it’s quite obvious the Redskins have real interest in Haskins. With a quarterback situation described kindly as in flux, Washington has to draft a rookie QB. 

Case Keenum and Colt McCoy are only under contract for the 2019 season, and while Alex Smith is guaranteed money for the next two years, nobody seems to know if he can ever play again. 

And let’s be clear, while Haskins has plenty of potential, joining a team with two veteran signal callers might serve him well. He started just one year at Ohio State and still seems raw when testing defenses. He has a big arm but not much mobility, and being thrust into a situation too early could thwart his development. 

As a thrower, Haskins is elite. 

As an athlete, Haskins is not. 

He ran a slow 40-yard-dash and didn’t seem particularly agile. He does move well inside the pocket, and that has worked out just fine for a number of big-time QBs.

CBS reported that the Redskins have become enamored with Haskins and might consider moving up to draft him. Washington Senior VP of Player Personnel Doug Williams mentioned that trading up could be a possibility in the upcoming draft, and the Jets with the third pick have long been rumored as willing partners to trade down. 

Moving up to the third pick would take a lot, but keep in mind the history of the situation. 

Washington hasn’t made the playoffs for three seasons and the fans are growing increasingly frustrated. 

The last time Washington missed the playoffs three straight seasons? 2012. 

The same year they traded up to draft Robert Griffin III. 

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'There is no next Sean': Clinton Portis is against Landon Collins wearing No. 21

'There is no next Sean': Clinton Portis is against Landon Collins wearing No. 21

Landon Collins wore No. 21 with the Giants to honor Sean Taylor and now that he's with the Redskins, Collins wants to continue to do so if he gets permission from Taylor's family.

"I hope, that's big shoes to fill," the safety said at his introductory presser last week.

Clinton Portis, though, doesn't like the idea at all.

Portis, one of Taylor's closest friends and a longtime teammate of the beloved defensive back, has said in multiple interviews he has no interest in seeing Collins, or anyone for that matter, put on that jersey again.

"That's the one thing fans have to hold on to," Portis said while on 106.7 The Fan's Grant and Danny show. "I don't think he's going to be Sean Taylor. There is no next Sean."

"21, that’s sacred," he told The Athletic. "Why even play with people? Why even spark people’s memories? Retire that jersey." 

During a recent poll on NBC Sports Washington's Redskins 100 that more than 2,000 fans participated in, 52 percent said they wouldn't want to see Collins don the uniform, while 48 percent approved.

Like Portis, JP Finlay thinks Collins should find another set of digits, too. He explained why on the Redskins Talk podcast:

Of course, the decision really comes down to how Taylor's family feels about it, and there's no doubting how much Collins would appreciate the chance to take the field with No. 21 on his back.  

The fact that this is such a prominent discussion, though, shows how much Taylor means to the Redskins community. 21 isn't just a number when it's in burgundy and gold. In D.C. it means much, much more.

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