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Redskins Playbook: Plenty of hurdles but 2 possible paths to Kirk Cousins long-term deal

Redskins Playbook: Plenty of hurdles but 2 possible paths to Kirk Cousins long-term deal

With just two business days remaining before the end of the negotiating period, two possible paths to a long-term deal with Kirk Cousins remain for the Redskins. Both are long shots, but that doesn't mean one or the other can't happen. 

ROSTER BATTLES: Left guard | Tight end Nickel cornerback  | Inside linebacker | Running back

Remember, Cousins will be locked into a one-year franchise tag worth $24 million for the 2017 season unless Washington and the quarterback's representatives agree to a new contract before 4 p.m. on Monday. How can that be avoided? 

  1. Cousins blinks - The central part of this contract dispute centers on the major amount of leverage that Kirk Cousins holds in contract talks. If he doesn't sign long-term now, he will make $24 million in 2017, and should the Redskins elect to tag him again in 2018, he will make at least another $28 million. That's on top of the $20 million he made on the franchise tag in 2016. So, projecting out, Cousins will make at least $52 million in the next two years, and potentially much, much more should he hit free agency. There is, however, the allure of guaranteed money. NFL contracts are not guaranteed. Odds are the Redskins will make one legit contract offer, guaranteeing at least the $52 million but likely much more, before Monday's deadline. To actually pursue the free agency path, Cousins will have to look at an offer to make him a wildly rich man, and turn it down. it's possible, though not probable, as the clock approaches the final minutes of this negotiation, Cousins will want the very lucrative bird in hand rather than the millions upon millions possibly in the bush. Some analysts and former players think this exact scenario could play out. Outlook: Unlikely
  2. Money talks - Throughout the contract process with Cousins, both in 2016 and now in 2017, the Redskins have shown a hesitancy to offer Cousins the top-of-the-market money his situation dictates. The argument over if Cousins is worth being the highest paid player in the NFL seems largely moot; scarcity at the QB position throughout the NFL will force the issue. For the Redskins to get a signature on the dotted line, team owner Dan Snyder must decide to get a deal done, regardless of the cost. What that might look like remains to be seen, but assuredly, there is a dollar figure that would get Kirk Cousins to sign with Washington beyond 2017. This could mean more than $75 million guaranteed, an outrageous figure, but the word for weeks has been that Snyder took a more active role in contract talks with the Cousins camp. Outlook: Still unlikely, but more possible than the first scenario. 

If one of the above doesn't happen, and neither seems likely, Monday will probably be a slow news day. 

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Redskins get Trent Williams, Ryan Kerrigan into Pro Bowl and another 5 to alternate team

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USA Today Sports

Redskins get Trent Williams, Ryan Kerrigan into Pro Bowl and another 5 to alternate team

The Redskins landed two players on the Pro Bowl roster in left tackle Trent Williams and outside linebacker Ryan Kerrigan. This marks the seventh and fourth Pro Bowl honors for the players, respectively. 

Williams has been named to the past seven Pro Bowls, a remarkable feat, and joins Ken Houston as the only Washington players to make seven straight Pro Bowls. He trails only Charley Taylor (8) and Chris Hanburger (9) in total Pro Bowl selections.

After a two-sack performance last Sunday in Jacksonville moved him into second all-time on the Redskins sack list, Kerrigan got named to his fourth Pro Bowl and third straight selection. He has 11 sacks on the season, his third straight year with double-digit sacks. 

Beyond Kerrigan and Williams, five other Redskins players were named alternates to the Pro Bowl: D.J. Swearinger, Josh Norman, Jordan Reed, Tress Way, and Adrian Peterson. 

Many thought Swearinger or Way would make the Pro Bowl for the first time in their careers, but both players came up just short. Things look good for Swearinger to make it to Orlando, as Giants safety Landon Collins made the Pro Bowl squad but will miss the game with an injury. 

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How Kirk Cousins' next two games will directly impact the Redskins' playoff chances

How Kirk Cousins' next two games will directly impact the Redskins' playoff chances

A week after it felt borderline irresponsible to talk about the Redskins' 2018 playoff chances, it now feels completely necessary. 

Sure, you can make a pretty easy argument that this team doesn't look like a postseason team. But the fact of the matter is they're in a position to possibly become one in a handful of days.

And who's going to have a lot of say in whether the 'Skins do advance beyond Week 17? Kirk Cousins, because DUH.

Thanks to Dallas' Week 15 loss, Washington isn't out of the division hunt yet. However, their far more likely path to the playoffs is via the wild card, a spot that Cousins and the Vikings currently occupy.

To take that spot, the 'Skins really need to win out (they could still take the sixth seed by finishing 8-8, but that would take a lot more help). That means, first and foremost, Josh Johnson has to lead the Burgundy and Gold to victories over the Titans and the Eagles, which would have them finish the year at 9-7.

If that happens, the Redskins will then only require one Minnesota loss in the next two weeks to steal the second wild card. The Vikings square off with the Lions and Bears to wrap up their schedule, with the former happening in Detroit and the latter taking place in Minneapolis. 

The Eagles are also a factor in all of this, but Jay Gruden's squad could make them less of one by beating them in the 2018 finale.

Earlier this season, when everything was going right for the Redskins, it looked like a January showdown between Cousins' former franchise and his current one could happen. Now, though, the two squads are vying for the same position. 

So, it's really simple, 'Skins supporters — root for your guys to win two more and root against Cousins as well. This time around, No. 8 coming up short down the stretch would really benefit Washington.

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