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What does Kirk Cousins' late-season swoon do to his contract value?

What does Kirk Cousins' late-season swoon do to his contract value?

I wouldn’t want to play poker with Kirk Cousins.

When the pending free agent quarterback was asked on Sunday night if he wanted to return to the Redskins in 2017 he said, well, nothing.

“It’s really not my decision to make,” said Cousins. “They chose to tag me and the same is true this year, so if they don’t choose to tag me then I think that question is answered at that point, but right now the ball’s not in my court.”

The part about it not being his decision to make at this point in time is not accurate. Since the Redskins’ season ended at about 7:30 p.m. on Sunday he has been free to negotiate with the team. He could sign a new contract this afternoon.

Of course, that’s not realistic. It will take time for a deal to get hammered out. But Cousins could instruct his agent to negotiate the best deal he possibly can with the Redskins and get it done prior to the March 1 deadline for teams to designate franchise players. There are risks involved in waiting that are outlined below.

And perhaps he has set the gears in motion for a new deal with Washington. Cousins has thrived in Jay Gruden’s offense and the number of teams that have systems that cater to his strengths is limited. The appeal of sticking with what has worked over starting over with a new coach in a new system at the age of 29 has to be strong.

But Cousins has no reason to tip his hand right now. By keeping a neutral public stance he leaves the impression that he’d be just as happy to stay or go. Taking that stance is straight out of Negotiations 101.

One thing that Cousins has to consider is the risk of taking steps back on the field. In 2015, when the team needed him to come on strong down the stretch he delivered. In their last five games of the season when the team had to go on a run to make the playoffs he posted a passer rating of over 100 in each game and the Redskins went 4-1. This year the team needed a similar run in the last five games and Cousins had passer ratings in the 70’s in three of those games. The Redskins lost all three and they missed the playoffs. Here is a more detailed comparison:

The difference is stark. Last year he broke most of the team’s major single-season passing records and it felt like he accomplished a lot. This year, he broke his own records but given the way he finished it feels more like he compiled empty stats.

Don’t get me wrong here. I’m not saying that the Redskins shouldn’t do what they can to try to get him under contract. This is not a reason to put forth a lowball offer (again).

But Cousins needs to tread carefully. If the Redskins tag him again and his late-season passer rating hangs around the mid-80’s again and he throws one touchdown and three picks (including the final, fatal one) in two critical home games in games where they were solid favorites he may find himself with a much lower value than he has now. He could be well advised to get as much as he can now in case he suffers from another late-season swoon.

Now, it’s not like Cousins will have to settle for minimum salary if he plays on the tag in 2017 and he does stumble in crunch time in December. Given the shortage of quarterbacks in the league, his performance could drop off significantly and some team out there would be willing to sign him to a five-year deal making at least $18-$20 million per year in 2018. Perhaps he would be comfortable rejecting a deal worth, say, $22 million per year knowing that the furthest he can fall would still have him near the very top of income earners in the country. That’ a nice cushion to have.

The only member of the Redskins organization who has spoken on Cousins is head coach Jay Gruden.

“I don’t know what Kirk has to do as a quarterback to prove that he belongs in the National Football League as a starter,” he said after the Giants game. “I think he had a great year.”

Gruden, however, doesn’t write the checks. He can lobby Scot McCloughan, Bruce Allen, and Dan Snyder to get a deal done but that’s all he can do.

This is in the very early stages. But decisions need to start taking shape. That franchise tag deadline is just 57 days away and the clock is ticking.

MORE REDSKINS: Ex-agent says 'Skins doubt Cousins, which'll hurt his deal

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Jalen Ramsey has requested a trade. And Landon Collins has made public appeals to him before

Jalen Ramsey has requested a trade. And Landon Collins has made public appeals to him before

The Jacksonville Jaguars 2019 regular season has not gone according to plan.

In Week 1 against the Kansas City Chiefs, starting quarterback Nick Foles broke his clavicle and was placed on IR, and following a Week 2 loss to the Houston Texans, the team's star defensive back Jalen Ramsey has reportedly requested a trade.

Ramsey and head coach Doug Marrone got into it verbally during the loss to Houston and according to multiple reports, the fractured relationship could expedite a potential trade.

The Jaguars are reportedly asking for at least one first-round pick in return for the two-time Pro Bowl cornerback.

It's worth noting that Ramsey's agent, David Mulugheta, also represents Redskins Dwayne Haskins and Landon Collins. Collins tweeted at Ramsey back in April, jokingly recruiting Ramsey to D.C. after Jaguars' VP of Football Operations Tom Coughlin called out Ramsey for missing voluntary offseason workouts and the latter responded

Ramsey, who was the fifth pick in the 2016 NFL Draft, is currently looking for a new contract. He is currently in the fourth year of his rookie deal and the Jaguars have picked up his fifth-year option in 2020.

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Jay Gruden address comments that he doesn't like AP's running style: 'You want north-south running backs'

Jay Gruden address comments that he doesn't like AP's running style: 'You want north-south running backs'

In the early stages of Sunday's Redskins-Cowboys clash, FOX Sports' Pam Oliver dropped a bombshell on the broadcast.

"Jay Gruden, to be perfectly clear, he is still not in favor of Peterson's strength, which is a north-south running style," Oliver said. "He feels like it limits the offense and gives the defense way too many opportunities."

If true, that helps explain the decision the Redskins head coach made prior to Week 1, making the 34-year-old and future Hall of Fame running back a healthy scratch for the first time in his career.

What it doesn't explain is the reasoning behind it. Peterson, who was signed just a couple of weeks prior to the 2018 season, ran for over 1,000 yards for the Burgundy and Gold a season ago, earning the team's Offensive Most Valuable Player award.

In an exclusive one-on-one interview with Gruden, NBC Sports Washington's JP Finlay asked the head coach about Oliver's comments.

Gruden refuted the claim. 

"You want north-south running backs. I don’t think you want east-west backs, that’s for sure," Gruden said. "[Peterson] is a north-south runner....when he gets going north-south, what that does is creates a physical mentality for our offense. Our linemen love it, and it opens up our play-action passes. We do love north-south backs.”

What the fifth-year head coach did touch on, however, is the limited amount of plays that the offense can run with Peterson is in the game. That could explain the origin of where Oliver's comments came from. 

"[Peterson] is a north-south runner," Gruden said. "What that does, sometimes, ya know it’s hard when he’s in the game, like yesterday we were in 11 personnel and they but base on the field and said ‘heck you’re just not going to run it’ and you know we had to throw it." 

It's no secret that Gruden prefers a running back that can be involved in the passing game as well. While Peterson has improved in that facet, the Redskins other options -- Chris Thompson, Wendell Smallwood, and even the injured Derrius Guice -- are currently better pass-catching backs.

Of the Redskins 62 offensive snaps, Thompson, the best pass-catching running back of the bunch, was the one who played the most. Peterson played just 18 snaps, 29 percent of the team's offensive plays.

The flow of the game also could have affected this, as the Redskins found themselves trailing for the majority of the afternoon. 

Still, Gruden insists that there's a role for Peterson in the offense.

"You know, he played last year and had a thousand yards, so..." he said.

Regardless of who the running back has been for the Burgundy and Gold thus far in 2019, they largely have been ineffective.

Against Philadelphia, Guice mustered just 18 rushing yards on 10 carries. Peterson received the same amount of carries in Week 2 vs. Dallas and didn't perform much better. Sure, he found the end zone, but was not a factor otherwise, rushing for a total of just 25 yards.

Through the first two games, the Redskins have been outrushed 336-75. That is not a winning formula by any means.

When asked why the rushing attack has been so poor in 2019, Gruden couldn't point to one specific reason.

"Combination of things," Gruden said. "Philadelphia, we tried to run the ball in the second half and we had a negative play and a holding penalty. You know, there are things that take you out of the running game, and then you lose the lead and you have to try and play a little bit faster, play a little bit of catch up and you aren’t able to run the ball. So, we haven’t been able to stick with the run for four quarters and we haven’t had enough production out of the running game."

That must change immediately, starting next Monday against Chicago, if the Redskins want to turn their season around. Gruden is confident that it will.

"We had a couple of good hits, AP had a couple of good hits [Sunday] against Dallas, we can build off of that," he said. "But I also think that when you have a new left tackle and a new left guard coming in for the first time and you have the tight end issues we’ve had a little bit, I think we’ll get there."

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