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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.

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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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Quinton Dunbar had a reaction to the Redskins signing Ronald Darby, and it wasn't positive

Quinton Dunbar had a reaction to the Redskins signing Ronald Darby, and it wasn't positive

Soon after the Redskins signed Ronald Darby on Sunday, that news made it to the corner Darby will largely be asked to replace in Washington.

On a popular Burgundy and Gold Instagram fan page, Quinton Dunbar dropped a few comments on a post that announced the Darby move. They weren't of the positive variety, though.

Here's the post:

Initially, Dunbar wrote, "Great signing but I wasn't worth the extra mill 😂joke." There, the now-Seahawk is referring to how his former club wouldn't bump up his 2020 salary, which will total $3.25 million (none of which is guaranteed).

Then, in that same thread, Dunbar added that he's "happy" to be in Seattle, called Washington an organization that "lies" and makes excuses and concluded that he won't be talking about them again.

The two NFC squads will meet at some point in 2020 at FedEx Field. That'll be a fun one!

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Ranking these 11 low-cost Redskins signings from least likely to most likely to contribute in 2020

Ranking these 11 low-cost Redskins signings from least likely to most likely to contribute in 2020

Aside from their signing of Kendall Fuller, the Redskins have opted to approach free agency by handing out smaller deals to many players as opposed to huge money to a few pieces.

Washington has added 11 outside guys to their roster in addition to the ex-Chiefs corner. Of those 11, not one inked an agreement that carries an average annual value that tops $4.5 million, and all but one are tied to the team through just this season or next.

Ron Rivera is clearly choosing to bring in all of these low-cost options in order to increase competition all over the depth chart in 2020. That said, he'd no doubt like at least a few of these pickups to perform in a major way and provide sizable returns on the franchise's modest investments, too.

So, who are the new Redskins that seem capable of doing just that? Here's a ranking of the non-Fuller free agent signings on a scale of least likely to most likely to truly contribute in Rivera's debut at the helm.

Richard Rodgers

Rodgers is a 28-year-old who has more trips to injured reserve the last two years (2) than he has catches (1). 58 of his 121 career grabs came in 2015, meaning it has been quite some time since he played his best football.

Kevin Pierre-Louis

Pierre-Louis will bring some needed speed to the linebacker group, but he's likely going to be using that speed a lot more on special teams than on defense. As of now, it's hard to envision him getting lots of snaps for Jack Del Rio's unit, and until that changes, his potential impact is restricted.

Logan Thomas 

Redskins supporters are surely stressing that Rivera and the front office have addressed tight end by bringing in Rodgers and Thomas. At least with Thomas, though, there is some hope that he can become more dangerous as he continues to learn the position.

Perhaps longtime assistant and new-to-DC coach Pete Hoener — who's worked with Vernon Davis and Greg Olsen at previous stops — can also help Thomas ascend.

Cody Latimer

The good news with Latimer is, much like Thomas, he's coming off of his most productive campaign in the NFL. That's promising.

The problem with Latimer is, much like Thomas, he still only finished with very moderate numbers (just 24 catches, 300 yards and two scores).

With Terry McLaurin, Steven Sims, Kelvin Harmon and the possibility of a rookie or two coming at receiver, Latimer will line up as the fourth or fifth wideout at best to start 2020. Something close to a repeat of what he did for the Giants in 2019 is probably a realistic thing to ask for, which would be fine but also far from a breakout. 

Wes Schweitzer

Schweitzer's a versatile interior lineman who's made 36 starts since 2017. He won't be doing that at right guard or center — Brandon Scherff and Chase Roullier occupy those slots, respectively — but he could give Wes Martin a run for left guard.

Even if he does ultimately beat out Martin, his track record suggests he's just an average starter. However, he's the first player on this list who feels like he could be relied on to be more than merely a depth signing, upping his chances of becoming a factor in the fall. 

Cornelius Lucas

Lucas allowed just one sack for the Bears while starting eight times this past year, meaning he can be effective. Plus, the Redskins have had a host of injures up front as of late and also currently have no clear solution at left tackle, meaning he could be called upon for meaningful reps.

Schweitzer and Lucas are essentially in the same tier for the sake of this exercise, but because Lucas' path to starting is slightly more open as of now, he lands ahead of his fellow blocker.

Peyton Barber

Barber's arrival definitely caught the attention of some people. Could it mean that Derrius Guice and/or Bryce Love aren't as on track to be healthy for practices and games as the team would like? That's absolutely possible.

Barber's career 3.6 yards per carry average is far from impressive, but he's a durable running back and someone who has 13 total touchdowns since 2018. Rivera elected to bring him in to what many felt like was a stocked position, so don't be shocked if he has a role come Week 1.

JD McKissic

McKissic is ahead of Barber because he's the Redskins top pass-catching running back. Sure, that's a designation Guice or Love could mature in to, but McKissic has already done it in the league, posting two 30-plus catch years since turning pro in 2016. 

Now, McKissic isn't a lock for the 53-man roster, but his ability to help with his hands does make him appear more secure than Barber and maybe even Love. New coordinator Scott Turner can get creative with the 26-year-old. 

Thomas Davis 

Here is the first free agent who projects to be an immediate starter.

At this point in his career, Davis isn't going to reach a new level. At 37 years old, his best days are certainly well behind him, and Rivera is taking a risk by calling on him. 

Still, the linebacker played in all 16 contests for the Chargers in 2019, is the Redskins' most established name there by far and his impact won't just be felt for four quarters every weekend. Expect Davis to make the Burgundy and Gold better, and do so in some ways you won't even get to really see.

Sean Davis

The other new Davis will have to prove he's healthy again after a shoulder injury derailed his last go-round with the Steelers. As long as he is, there's plenty to like about his skill set.

Davis ran a 4.46 40-yard dash at the 2016 Combine; that kind of speed suggests he could be a nice complement to Landon Collins. He's also just 26 and could be now entering his prime. 

In agreeing to a one-year contract with the Redskins, Davis is banking on himself to bounce back and show the NFL he can be a viable defender. He's got the ability to do so. 

Ronald Darby

The two Davises are the safer choices for the top of this list, yet in terms of a ceiling, Darby may just have the highest. The major question with him is: will he be able to even try and reach it?

The former Eagles corner has been sidelined for 20 games since 2017 because of injuries. He's a liability when it comes to health and there's no arguing about it.

Here's the flip side, though: When he's able to suit up, he can blanket opposing receivers and break up lots of passes. Those are traits the Redskins badly need.

No one should be surprised if Darby joins the likes of Jordan Reed and Paul Richardson and Chris Thompson — players who were often missed — and makes this pick look really dumb. But don't be shocked, too, if his $4 million deal eventually looks like a steal, because he has serious talent. He just needs to be right to use it. 

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