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Fear factor: The Redskins are more afraid of cap problems than of losing their QB

Fear factor: The Redskins are more afraid of cap problems than of losing their QB

The Redskins are about to go where no team has ever gone with its starting quarterback after Kirk Cousins played out the 2016 season on the franchise tag.

Only one other quarterback, Drew Brees of the Chargers, has played a season on the franchise tag. The Chargers tagged him in 2005 and he started 16 games for them. The team had acquired Philip Rivers to be their quarterback of the future but they wanted to hang on to Brees for one more year. That’s what they did and they let him become a free agent in 2006.

Why do quarterbacks almost never make it to a first franchise tag season and never to a second one? Because teams are afraid of losing their quarterbacks and usually lock them up before their deals run out, even if they must overpay to get it done. The demand for competent starting quarterbacks exceeds the supply and if you have one you do whatever you must do to hang on to him for as long as he still is effective.

RELATED: Redskins-Cousins deadline FAQ’s

While you can argue where Cousins fits into the pantheon of current NFL quarterbacks, he certainly is competent. The past two years he has thrown for over 9,000 yards with an average of 7.9 yards per attempt with 54 touchdowns and 23 interceptions. With him behind center, the Redskins won the NFC East in 2015 and posted their first back-to-back winning seasons since 1996-1997.

So why aren’t the Redskins doing whatever they must do to keep Cousins in the fold? It appears that they have a different fear. They are afraid of paying top-tier money to a quarterback who in terms of career accomplishments and future potential is maybe in the lower part of the top dozen quarterbacks in the league.

Is Cousins good enough to compensate for the holes in the roster that may develop because they are cap strapped after paying Cousins some 14 percent of the available money every year for the next five years or so? The Redskins are not sure that he is and they fear entering the realm of being hamstrung by the cap and unable to build a roster that can win with a good but not great quarterback.

MORE REDSKINS: What will happen on deadline day?

The odd angle on the Redskins’ fear factor is that they paid Cousins $20 million last year and likely will end up paying him $24 million this season. They could tag him for either the $28 million transition tag or the $34 million franchise tag in 2018. Potentially paying Cousins between $72 million and $78 million for three seasons seems to be an odd way to show concern about overpaying for an above-average quarterback.

The problem with prioritizing your fear of cap problems over your fear of losing your quarterback is that you can always create cap room. Yes, you will pay for it down the road but if you really need money you can find it. If you really need a quarterback you can’t just pluck one off of a tree somewhere. Even throwing a tremendous amount of resources at trying to get a QB (see the RG3 trade) is no guarantee that you will find one.

We will see if the Redskins’ fears are in the right place or if they are misguided. Given the Redskins history, there are plenty of reasons to be skeptical. 

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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Prediction time: What will happen with Kirk Cousins on franchise tag deadline day?

Prediction time: What will happen with Kirk Cousins on franchise tag deadline day?

Time is slipping away for the Redskins if the team has any remaining hopes to sign quarterback Kirk Cousins to a long-term deal. 4 p.m. marks the deadline for negotiations, and if the team and passer cannot reach an agreement by that time, Cousins will play 2017 on a one-year $24 million fully guaranteed deal. 

So what will happen? JP Finlay and Rich Tandler give their best look:

Finlay: What will happen? Nothing. By all accounts and with conversations from plugged in folks, there is no deal to be had. Perhaps the Redskins can get something done with Cousins in 2018, but there is so little incentive for the QB to sign a multi-year contract now. 

He stands to make $24 million this year with the prospect of a much bigger payday next year, either with Washington or in free agency. As tiring as this contract saga continues to be for Redskins fans, don't expect it to stop just yet. 

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

Tandler: I wish there was a more optimistic viewpoint to take here if for no other reason than to hold everyone's interest today. But a deal just doesn't seem to be a realistic possibility. Cousins' camp apparently wants to utilize the leverage provided by the franchise tag and the possibility of either a more lucrative tag or unfettered free agency in 2018. The Redskins may recognize Cousins' leverage but they are trying to cut a deal based on how much of the salary cap they can commit to a player who has put up some nice stats but is not one of the elite players in the game. 

The one thing that can change the dynamic here is for Dan Snyder to jump into the negotiations and try to make a deal happen. This probably would have happened by now if it was going to happen. But you can't rule out an 11th-hour push by the team owner. 

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Adam Schefter: Kirk Cousins unlikely to sign by Monday, open to long-term deal

Adam Schefter: Kirk Cousins unlikely to sign by Monday, open to long-term deal

Kirk Cousins agreeing to a long-term deal by Monday afternoon's deadline is continuing to look unlikely. 

The most recent sign comes from ESPN's Adam Schefter, who reported that a deal is unlikely to take place by 4 p.m. tomorrow.

While not a surprise, an interesting bit of the story - which you can find here - is Schefter's intel about how negotiations are progressing: 

"There has been a positive, constructive tone to recent contract talks, per sources," he says. "However, Cousins prefers to wait to do a deal at this time, just as the Redskins preferred to wait to do a deal at this time last year."

[RELATED: WHAT WOULD A LONG TERM CONTRACT FOR KIRK COUSINS LOOK LIKE]