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System QB or solo talent: Redskins still need to determine Kirk Cousins' value

System QB or solo talent: Redskins still need to determine Kirk Cousins' value

With the Redskins mired in a second-straight year of contract squabbles with their starting quarterback, it's obvious the team does not see the same value that Kirk Cousins sees for himself. 

Looking last week at a series of comments from Cousins and his agent Mike McCartney, it's obvious the passer sets his value with the franchise tag. This mindset makes sense, considering Cousins played on a one-year tag last year and is poised to do so again in 2017, making a combined $44 million along the way.

There is a school of thought that says the Redskins need to pay up for Cousins, regardless of the cost. Quarterbacks get paid exorbitant sums in the NFL, and Cousins has proved he can play at a high level the past two seasons.

Another school of thought is unsure what Cousins' true value is, and much of that is based on the quality of the Redskins offense and the QB's true role in it. Consider Andy Benoit of the MMQB.com in the latter camp.

Over the last two seasons Cousins has thrown for more than 9,000 yards and twice broke the franchise's single season passing record. The offense has largely looked efficient with Cousins at quarterback, and in flashes, has looked explosive. 

Yet, plenty of NFL folks, on and off the record, don't think Cousins is the engine driving the offense. Benoit's tweet makes clear he thinks Jay Gruden's offense is a bigger benefit to Cousins than the QB is to Gruden's offense. 

Consider that in 2014, Gruden's first year as coach, the Redskins passed for 4,047 yards. That season saw a combination of Robert Griffin III, Colt McCoy and Cousins start games for Washington, and plenty of subpar quarterback play. 

In 2015, Cousins took the reins and passed for 4,166 yards. The increase from the year before was slight, and that included a stellar final quarter of the season from Cousins. In 2016, Cousins passing yardage jumped to 4,917, but his touchdowns decreased and his interceptions increased by one. 

The reality here may be a chicken and egg scenario. Is Cousins good because of the offensive system? Or is the offensive system good because Cousins runs it? Remember, also, that some folks at Redskins Park believe Colt McCoy could produce similar numbers to Cousins at a much reduced cost. 

2017 will be a particularly interesting case study in this debate, as many of the key pieces of the offense have changed. DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garçon are gone, and Josh Doctson and Terrelle Pryor will take their place as the starting WRs. What impact will that have on Cousins numbers?

For the Redskins, weighing the system against the individual talents of Cousins may prove to be the hardest question to answer before the July 15 franchise tag negotiation deadline. 

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The Redskins are reportedly hosting Adrian Peterson for a free agent visit

The Redskins are reportedly hosting Adrian Peterson for a free agent visit

After sustaining a number of injuries to their running back group, the Redskins need help at the position. 

In that quest, the team will bring in veteran Adrian Peterson for a free agent visit, per Ian Rapoport of NFL Media.

Arguably one of the best all-time running backs in the NFL, Peterson not being on a roster at this point in the season might be a surprise. Last year, Peterson split time between New Orleans and Arizona and rushed for more than 500 yards. 

Peterson built his fame and name with a long run of success in Minnesota, including a 2,000-yard season in 2012. In 123 games with the Vikings spanning 10 years, he rushed for nearly 12,000 yards and 97 touchdowns. 

Washington is in serious need for depth and talent at RB. 

Rookie Derrius Guice went down for the season in the preseason opener, and last week Samaje Perine and Byron Marshall sustained injuries. 

At Sunday's practice, head coach Jay Gruden joked that his son, Jack, should take some practice reps at the position. 

Currently, the Redskins only have Rob Kelley, Chris Thompson and Kapri Bibbs as running backs on the roster, and Thompson hasn't played yet this preseason as he's working back from a broken leg last November.

The Redskins also worked out veteran runners Jamaal Charles and Orleans Darkwa. Peterson has the biggest name of all of them.

This offseason, Peterson also worked out with Redskins tackle Trent Williams.

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For more analysis on Peterson's visit, check out this RB-oriented episode of Redskins Talk.

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Jamaal Charles headlines a group of Redskins running back tryouts

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USA Today Sports

Jamaal Charles headlines a group of Redskins running back tryouts

Jamaal Charles used to be among the best running backs in the NFL, and maybe the Redskins hope to turn back the clock. 

Washington is dealing with a number of injuries at the running back spot, and to get through two more preseason games, the team is bringing in a number of veteran runners for tryouts. Charles is the biggest name coming in for a test drive with the Redskins, as ESPN reported. Former Giants RB Orleans Darkwa is also getting a tryout, per multiple reports. 

How did Washington get to the point where the team needs to add more backfield options in mid-August?

First, Derrius Guice injured his knee in the preseason opener. He will miss the season. 

In the second preseason game, Samaje Perine, Byron Marshall and rookie Martez Carter got hurt. Perine should be back in a week or as he suffered only a sprained ankle. Marshall could miss a month, making a roster spot flimsy, and Carter was waived due to his injury. 

That means the Burgundy and Gold only have Rob Kelley, Kapri Bibbs and Chris Thompson active for practice, and remember, Thompson is working back from a broken leg he suffered last November. He hasn't played yet in the preseason, and might not go at all until Week 1 in Arizona.

Add all of that together and the team was forced to bring in veteran options, if for nothing else than to get through the remaining two preseason games.

Back to Charles.

From 2009 to 2014, Charles put up absurd numbers. He approached 2,000 total yards from scrimmage in both 2013 and 2010, and put up more than 1,700 total yards in 2012. It's worth adding that Charles found great success with Alex Smith when both were playing in Kansas City. Just saying. He was undeniably great, and probably won thousands of people thousands of dollars as a fantasy football MVP.

That time appears to be over though.

In the last three seasons, injuries have robbed Charles of his burst and elusiveness. Last year, he couldn't break through in the Denver backfield despite being healthy for 14 games. He rushed for just under 300 yards. 

Redskins fans will have unfortunate memories of Darkwa.

In an ugly Week 17 loss last season in New York, he busted a 75-yard touchdown run on the first play from scrimmage and finished the game with 154 yards. Last season was the best of his career for Darkwa, he ran for more than 750 yards and averaged 4.4 yards-per-carry. He's only 26 years old and, coincidentally, played college football at Tulane with Rob Kelley

By adding Guice in the second round of the NFL Draft this spring, the Redskins thought they addressed their need for a talent boost at the RB position. With Guice out for the year, the position looks about the same as it did in 2017. 

Adding Charles and Darkwa seem unlikely to change that, at least significantly. And that's if either of the veteran runners even make the 53-man roster. 

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