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The Redskins have always been and still are Kirk Cousins' first choice

The Redskins have always been and still are Kirk Cousins' first choice

There have been plenty of stories written about Kirk Cousins desire to stay in with the Redskins in the long term.

Many have said that he is desperate to get out of Washington, D.C. and join Kyle Shanahan in San Francisco. But even if that couldn’t happen, the conventional wisdom has been that he wants to be anywhere other than where he is.

Cousins directly contradicted that narrative in an appearance on The Grant and Danny Show on 106.7 The Fan.

In an answer to the question, Cousins said that staying is Washington is his preference.

“It has always been my first choice to be with the Redskins,” he said, a day after the deadline for him agreeing to a long-term contract with the Redskins passed without a deal. Cousins will now have to play out the season on the franchise tag with a salary of $23.9 million.

RELATED: Who's next at QB for the Redskins?

Cousins looked to history to explain why he prefers to stay with the team that drafted him.

“When you look around the league and you see quarterbacks, great quarterbacks, nearly all play for only one team,” he said. “And the ones who haven’t, it really wasn’t their choice. It was usually a situation that dictated that they had to move on, it wasn’t their preference. So, I’m no different. I would love to be with the Redskins long term.”

Why, then, did his camp not make a counter to the Redskins’ last contract offer?

“It was really a tough decision for me,” he said. “But ultimately, I just felt peace about not making an offer and leaving it in the team’s court and then based on their offers, let the deadline pass and then play the season out. That’s what I felt the most peace about.”

Even though he has been with the Redskins organization for five seasons, there have been some major changes since the end of the 2016 season.

Offensive coordinator Sean McVay left to become the head coach of the Rams and he was replaced by Matt Cavanaugh. A shakeup in the personnel department led to general manager Scot McCloughan being fired and Doug Williams getting elevated to Senior Vice President of Player Personnel.

It seems that Cousins wants those changes to marinate a bit and see how they work out as the season unfolds.

“I felt like we needed a little more time,” said Cousins. I feel like I wanted the next six months to give me more information about the organization so I can make a more informed decision.”

MORE REDSKINS: Offer to Cousins not nearly enough

After the season ends, the Redskins will hold exclusive negotiating rights for Cousins until the start of free agency in early March. They could use either the franchise tag, which would keep him in Washington for another year at a hefty $34.7 million salary or the franchise tag, which carries a salary of $28.5 million and gives the team the right to match a free agent offer.

Cousins believes that there is plenty of time for all of that to unfold.

“While there was a deadline this summer, the real time to make a decision for next year is next year,” he said. “That’s not where my focus is, my focus is on playing football. There will be plenty of time to figure all that out down the road. Again, my first choice would be to be with the Redskins long term and we’ll see with more information if we can make that happen.”

In all, Cousins said that he would prefer to return to the Redskins for the long term three times in his answer to that one question.

A lot can happen between now and when it’s time for Cousins to decide where he wants to spend the next several years of his football career. The additional information that he gathers could be positive but it may not be. We will see how things unfold in Ashburn.

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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Redskins still absorbing rule changes involving kickoffs, contact with helmet

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Associated Press

Redskins still absorbing rule changes involving kickoffs, contact with helmet

The NFL has passed two major on-field rule changes in the last two months. One, the rule that prohibits players from lowering their helmets to initiate contact with another player. That one passed during the spring meetings in March but it was just recently clarified. The other one changes how kickoffs are executed. 

Both rules, designed to make the game safer for the players, could have a major impact on the game. And the Redskins are still a little unclear about how to handle them. 

Safety D.J. Swearinger is one of the Redskins’ hardest hitters. After saying that the helmet-lowering rule, which is outlined in some detail in this video from the NFL, would not affect him because he hits low, he wondered why he was even wearing a hard hat at work. 

“I’ve got a helmet on, but I can’t use it or hit nobody with it, might as well take the helmet off if you ask me,” said Swearinger following the Redskins’ OTA practice on Wednesday.

As of Wednesday afternoon, coach Jay Gruden had not yet been filled in on the details of the helmet-lowering rule. He said that the team will sort it out over the three and a half months between now and the start of the regular season. 

“The lowering of the helmet, I don’t know which ones they decided to go with, so we’ll see,” he said. “I know there’s been a lot of talk about bull rushes and they’re trying to obviously protect the players, but we’ve just got to be careful.”

Gruden said that special teams coach Ben Kotwica went to meetings to help hash out the kickoff rule. What they ended up with looks a lot like another special teams play according to the player who will be executing the kickoffs. 

“It looks like they’re trying to make it more like a punt,” said kicker Dustin Hopkins. Among the similarities are that the kicking team will not be able to get a running start as the kicker approaches the ball. They will have to be stationary a yard away from the line where the ball is until it is kicked. 

The league probably will be happy if the play does more closely resemble a punt. The injury rate on punt plays is much lower than it is on kickoffs. 

Some believe that this change will lead to longer kickoff returns. Gruden didn’t disagree, but he said that he needs more information. 

“I think without the guys getting a running start, number one, it could be,” he said. “I think it’s just something I have to see it before I can really make any judgments on it.”

The new rule prohibits wedge blocking meaning that you are unlikely to see any offensive linemen on kickoffs as they were used primarily to create or break wedges. 

“I think for the most part, you’re going to see more speed guys,” said Gruden.

The Redskins will start to wrap their heads around the new rule during the next three weeks, when they have their final two weeks of OTAs and then minicamp before the break for training camp. Gruden said that they will continue to work on it in Richmond. He said that the joint practices with the Jets and the four preseason game will be important for sorting out just how the team will implement kickoffs. 

The best way to handle it might be to just let Hopkins pound the ball into the end zone every time. Last year 72.5 percent of his kickoffs went for touchbacks. He could have had more touchbacks, but he occasionally was told to kick it high to force a return with the hope of getting better field position. But if the rules lead to longer returns it may not be worth the risk. 

More 2018 Redskins

- 53-man roster: Player one-liners, offense
- Tandler’s Take: Best- and worst-case scenarios for 2018
- OTAs: Practice report: Smith sharp
- Injuries: Kouandjio out for the season

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page, Facebook.com/TandlerNBCS and follow him on Twitter @TandlerNBCS.

 

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Need to Know: Redskins' Jay Gruden and Alex Smith from the podium

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Associated Press

Need to Know: Redskins' Jay Gruden and Alex Smith from the podium

Here is what you need to know on this Thursday, May 24, 64 days before the Washington Redskins start training camp.  

What Jay Gruden and Alex Smith had to say from the podium

After yesterday’s OTA practice, Alex Smith and Jay Gruden took the podium. Here are some of their quotes and my comments on them:

Smith was asked about getting together with his new teammates:

So I think every guy these last two days has enjoyed just getting back out there and losing yourself in the game, right? To be limited, it does make you miss it, and I think it makes you appreciate it, so that’s been nice. 

Comment: This is a guy who loves football and everything that goes with it. Smith would start playing games tomorrow if they were scheduled.

Gruden was asked how Smith has looked in these first two days of OTAs:

He’s got good command of the offense already. Great command in the huddle. He’s just getting a feel for the receivers, the players around him, how we call things, but overall, the first two days, I would say I’m very pleased with his quick progression and learning. I knew that wouldn’t be an issue with as much as he’s played in a similar-style system.

Comment: It did seem that Smith was in sync with his receivers, Jamison Crowder in particular. He and Paul Richardson connected on a deep pass after giving each other a look at the line of scrimmage. The encouraging thing is that he is coming from a similar offensive system, so the learning curve should not be too long. 

Smith had a great analogy when asked about similarities to the offenses he has run:

Both from West Coast worlds, so it’s kind of like they are all Latin-based languages, you know, but they are not the same. There are some similarities, structure of the playbook, of how we call things, things like that. There are a lot of similarities but it’s not the same language. I guess that’s the best analogy I can make

Comment: If terminology is the biggest obstacle for Smith to overcome it will be a smooth transition for him. 

Gruden was impressed with the running backs. 

“I’ll tell you what, just today in general, you could see the competition. You could see Rob Kelley step up. Samaje Perine’s had a couple big days. Byron Marshall, I mean, he had a couple great routes today. He’s running the ball between the tackles. [Kapri] Bibbs had some big runs yesterday. Obviously, Derrius Guice has come in here and fueled the fire a little bit.

Comment: I think that the Redskins are going to have to release some good running backs. Rob Kelly never really earned the nickname “Fat Rob” but he looked particularly lean and quick running the ball. He wants nothing to do with being on the roster bubble. Marshall moved quickly and showed his speed. Although Gruden wouldn’t say it, Guice clearly was the best of the bunch; his ability to change direction while maintaining his speed will serve him well. It must be noted that they are not in pads and not getting tackled so more definitive opinions will have to wait until we are in Richmond for a few days. 

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page, Facebook.com/TandlerNBCS and follow him on Twitter  @TandlerNBCS and on Instagram @RichTandler

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Timeline  

Days until:

—Minicamp (6/12) 19
—Training camp starts (7/26) 64
—Preseason opener @ Patriots (8/9) 78

The Redskins last played a game 144 days ago. They will open the 2018 NFL season at the Cardinals in 108 days. 

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