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What would a Kirk Cousins contract extension look like?

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What would a Kirk Cousins contract extension look like?

The Redskins have won two of their last three games, with quarterback Kirk Cousins playing a major part in the two wins. Cousins is a free agent at the end of the season and talk is starting to turn towards the possibility of the Redskins and the quarterback beginning discussions on a new deal.

According to reports, no talks have started between the Redskins and Mike McCartney, Cousins' agent. Jay Gruden said yesterday that Cousins "is a guy we'd like to keep around."

Cousins’ signed the standard four-year rookie deal after he was drafted in 2012. This year he is making the fourth-year veteran minimum salary of $660,000 this season. That’s great money for most of America but it’s not much for a starting NFL quarterback.

What would a Cousins extension look like? With seven games left in this, his first season the full-time starter, there are still a lot of variables. But barring either a total collapse or a Cousins-led run deep into the playoffs, we have a comparable deal that we can look at to get an idea.

Nick Foles, also drafted in 2012, recently got a contract extension from his current team, the Rams. He was traded from the Eagles to the Rams this past offseason. In Philadelphia Foles had one very good year as a starter. In 2013 he started 10 games, threw 27 touchdowns and just two interceptions, and posted an impressive passer rating of 119.2. That performance earned him a Pro Bowl selection.

He came back to earth in 2014, missing half the season with injuries and posting 13 touchdowns to 10 interceptions and a passer rating of 81.4.

Despite those pedestrian numbers, the Rams made the trade and got to work signing him to an extension. They agreed on a two-year extension that put a little more cash in his pocket this year (the last season of his rookie deal) and put him under contract through 2017. The two-year extension is worth $24.5 million with $13.7 million of that guaranteed. He can also earn up to $4.5 million in incentives and the last year of his contract can be voided by meeting performance benchmarks.

Foles’ deal also is fairly painless for the Rams to get out of after 2016 since all of the guaranteed money will have been paid out. That is relevant now because he has been benched, although Jeff Fisher said that Foles will return as the starter at some point.

There is a key difference between Foles’ situation prior to this season and the one the Redskins have with Cousins now. Foles had a year left on his contract so the Rams were giving him his payday early. That perhaps led to something of a hometown discount for the Rams.

At most, the Redskins will be buying out less than two months of free agency for Cousins and probably less than that. Between that factor and the fact that the salary cap will grow by some $10 million per team this year could push Cousins’ deal somewhat north of $12 million per year.

I don’t see it going too much higher than that, however, barring a tremendous run by Cousins and the Redskins over the last seven games. There has been speculation that Cousins could end up in the $17 million per year range, perhaps higher. But you won’t find any one-year starters who are making that kind of money. Quarterbacks with contracts averaging from $17-$18 million per year are the likes of Peyton Manning, Alex Smith, Matt Stafford, Tony Romo and Jay Cutler. That’s too high for Cousins, who will have 25 career starts under his belt at the end of the season.

The market is likely to force Cousins to take less per season than most starting quarterbacks will make (a deal averaging $12 million per year would rank 21st among quarterbacks) but he won’t sign a long-term deal at that price. And he will want some incentives and escalators in case he does outperform the contract.

Putting all of that together, we’re looking at something in the neighborhood of three years in the $35-$40 million range with about $15 million guaranteed. Throw in the possibility of adding a couple of million per year in incentives and make the third year void if Cousins plays well and you have the outlines of a deal.

Some of you who are not sold on Cousins as the answer for the future might think that $40 million is an outrageous amount of money to pay him. But quarterbacks are expensive and they are expensive because of simple economics—the demand exceeds the supply. If you don’t pay Cousins, the question becomes who do you pay? There is not a tree somewhere that a team can go to and grab a quarterback who can post a perfect passer rating in a game or lead three fourth-quarter comebacks in a four-game span including one from 24 points down.

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The Redskins finally have a fullback again, and he's ready to pave the way in the run game

The Redskins finally have a fullback again, and he's ready to pave the way in the run game

For the first time since Darrel Young was contributing in the backfield from 2010-2015, the Redskins have a legitimate fullback on their active roster.

Michael Burton got the call from Washington on Sunday night in which they said they were interested in adding him, caught a flight on Monday, worked out for the team on Tuesday and, after signing his contract, took the field for his first practice on Wednesday. He's been a busy man lately, but in a conversation following that Wednesday practice, he used the word "excited" a handful of times to describe his current mood.

He should be feeling that way, too.

Burton's arrival is yet another commitment to running the football by interim coach Bill Callahan. The Redskins have been using Ryan Anderson in a pinch in short-yardage and goal-to-go situations as a lead blocker, but now, they have someone who's played the position in the NFL for multiple seasons. 

Under Callahan, Burton could very well have a role. 

"I think it can give the defense different looks," Burton said of fullbacks. "I think they can do a lot of different things, whether you start us out wide and you bring us in, that can kind of be a tell to what the defense is doing. It just adds another blocker from the backfield. It makes it a little more difficult for the linebackers to fit. We can create more creases. Obviously, I'm a big fullback fan."

Jay Gruden often spoke about how he'd like to keep one on his final rosters, yet he never found room in recent seasons. But when backup tight end Jerome Cunningham was placed on injured reserve on Tuesday, Burton was chosen to take his place.

Of course, a huge chunk of the league continues to emphasize the spread and speedy skill-players and attacking defenses in the air. 6-foot, 240-pounders aren't exactly in high-demand.

That is precisely why Burton feels like he can be a sneaky asset for the Redskins.

"They don't see it in practice all the time," he explained. "When you play that team that hasn't seen it, it's difficult to prepare for that in a week... I think it just adds another element to the offense."

Now, it remains to be seen whether Burton is long for the Burgundy and Gold. These kinds of mid-season acquisitions are often gone before their lockers are fully set up. 

However, with Callahan in charge and Adrian Peterson being a featured piece again, perhaps Burton can become effective and beloved like Young and Mike Sellers were for the organization. He's not worried about that, though. He's instead focused on much simpler goals.

"If Coach Callahan wants to get the run game going, I take pride in that," he said. "I'm going to put that on my shoulders every single day to make sure we have a successful run game."

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Here's who is on the DC Defenders roster, alongside Cardale Jones

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Here's who is on the DC Defenders roster, alongside Cardale Jones

The next step in the XFL's 2020 relaunch was completed on Wednesday, as each team completed the five-phase open draft.

The DC Defenders, one of the eight teams in the revamped football league, pulled in quite the haul.

While he wasn't a draft pick, former Ohio State quarterback Cardale Jones was assigned to the Defenders on Tuesday. He joins the Redskins' Dwayne Haskins as former Buckeye QBs playing in the nation's capital.

Here's a look at their full roster, with the names and important notes to know.

Skill Positions:

Rashard Davis, WR, James Madison
Tre McBride, WR, William & Mary
Jhurell Pressley RB, New Mexico
DeAndre Thompkins, WR, Penn State
Khari Lee, TE, Bowie State
Orson Charles, TE, Georgia
Donnel Pumphrey, RB, San Diego State
Max McCaffrey, WR, Duke
Tyree Jackson, QB, Buffalo
Adrien Robinson, TE, Cincinnati

Offensive Lineman:

Kyle Murphy, OT, Stanford
Logan Tuley-Tillman, OT, Michigan
De'Ondre Wesley, OT, Brigham Young
Jon Toth, OC, Kentucky
Rishard Cook, OG, Alabama-Birmingham
Chris Brown, OG, Southern California
Toby Weathersby, OT, Louisiana State
James O'Hagan, OC, Buffalo
Chase Farris, OG, Ohio State
Casey Tucker, OT, Arizona State

Defensive Front Seven:

James Vaughters, LB, Stanford
Charles Harris, DE, Buffalo
Elijah Qualls, DT, Washington
Scooby Wright, LB, Arizona
Tracy Sprinkle, DT, Ohio State
Jameer Thurman, LB, Indiana State
Sam Montgomery, DE, Louisiana State
Jonathan Celestin, LB, Minnesota
KeShun Freeman, DE, Georgia Tech
Daryle Banfield, DT, Brown

Defensive Backs:

Elijah Campbell, CB, Northern Iowa
Desmond Lawrence, CB, North Carolina
Jalen Myrick, CB, Minnesota
Doran Grant, CB, Ohio State
Bradley Sylve, CB, Alabama
Reggie Cole, CB, Mary Hardin Baylor
Rahim Moore, Safety, UCLA
Tyree Kinnel, Safety, Michigan
Carlos Merritt, Safety, Campbell
Ladarius Gunter, CB, Miami (FL)

Phase 1: Open Draft

Terrence Lee-Alls, WR, James Madison
Dimitrios Tsesmetzis, TE, Western Connecticut State
Duvonta Lampkin, DT, Oklahoma
Tavaris Barnes, DE, Clemson
Jake Ceresna, DE, Cortland
Brian Khoury, DE, Carnegie Mellon
A.J. Tarpley, LB, Stanford
Matt Elam, Safety, Florida
Tre Sullivan, Safety, Shepherd
Hunter Niswander, Punter, Northwestern

Phase 2: Open Draft

Khalid Abdullah, RB, James Madison
Ryan Yurachek, RB, Marshall
Levern Jacobs III, WR, Maryland
Richard Mullaney, WR, Alabama
Ronald Patrick, OC, South Carolina
Cole Boozer, OT, Temple
Randall Harris, OT, Towson
Siupeli Anau, DT, Northern Arizona
Koa Farmer, LB, Penn State
Max Redfield, Safety, Indiana (PA)

Open Draft: Phase 3

John Thomas, RB, Penn State
Jamal Custis, WR, Syracuse
Deion Holliman, WR, Missouri State
Jaylen Smith, WR, Louisville
Justin Thomas, WR, Georgia Tech
Terron Prescod, OG, North Carolina State
Trae Moxley, OT, Colorado State
Josh Augusta, DT, Missouri
Kristjan Sokoli, DT, Buffalo
Jordan Jones, LB, Kentucky

NOTES:

  • One name that is familiar to many college football fans is running back Donnel Pumphrey. He left San Diego State the NCAA's all-time leading rusher. Prior to the XFL, Pumphrey was a fourth-round pick of the Eagles in 2017, but multiple injuries prevented him from making an impact on the field.
     
  • Linebacker Scooby Wright should make an immediate impact for the Defenders. At Arizona State, he won the Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year award. After bouncing around multiple NFL teams, Wright will sue the XFL as hopefully a form of stability in his NFL career.
     
  • Cardale Jones will take the QB headlines, but Tyree Jackson is no slouch, either. Just 21 years old, Jackson went undrafted in 2019 and was released by the Bills during final roster cuts. He was one of the more intriguing prospects coming out and his slip was surprising to many. Expect Jackson to compete with Jones for snaps at the very minimum.
     
  • Maryland's own Levern Jacobs will stay local, as the Defenders selected the former Terrapin in the open draft phase. Jackson spent time with the Redskins during training camp in 2017 but was released during final roster cuts. 
     
  • The older brother of NFL MVP candidate Christian McCaffrey was selected by the Defenders as well. Wide receiver Max McCaffrey had a stellar career at Duke but was unable to find footing in the NFL after going undrafted in 2016. He'll look to revamp his football career with the Defenders.
     
  • One player with significant NFL experience is cornerback LaDarius Gunter. In 2016, he was a full-time starter for the Packers opposite of Damarius Randall. He was released in 2017 and appeared in four games with the Carolina Panthers in 2017. His most recent football came from the AAF, where he was a member of the Orlando Apollos.
     
  • If you want to talk about athleticism, one Defenders' wide receiver is as good as they come. Deion Holliman and his 65-inch vertical will be on display for D.C.
     
  • Former Ravens first-round pick Matt Elam brings incredible experience to the Defenders as well. He spent four years with Baltimore, and off the field issues derailed his NFL career. Expect Elam to use the XFL as a way to catch attention from other NFL teams.